Best-Ever Succotash


Think of this classic succotash as a greatest hits list of summer veggies.

Active Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
30 mins

The list of ingredients for this succotash recipe—including fresh corn, tomatoes, lima beans, and okra—are practically synonymous with summer. And the combination of these five complementary flavors is only heightened with the additions of crumbled bacon and fresh basil.

This crowd-pleasing side dish is a great option both for serving at home or packing up for a picnic or potluck: It travels and reheats well, and can easily be doubled.

To transform it into an entrée, just top it with grilled shrimp, chicken, pork chops, or salmon.

Why Is It Called Succotash?

Succotash dates back to 17th century Native Americans. The name is derived from "msickquatash," the Narragansett Indian term for a simmering pot of corn, with additional ingredients depending on the season. Fresh corn, beans, and summer squash were common ingredients during the warm months; dried beans, corn, and pumpkin were used in colder months when fresh produce wasn't available.

Over the centuries, succotash evolved into a side dish that usually includes tomatoes and lima beans—sometimes in addition to green beans, bell peppers, and other veggies. Most recipes also call for salty bacon or pork belly, rich dairy like butter or cream, and fresh herbs.

The options to riff on this super-versatile side dish are practically endless, so keep it in mind for times when you have an abundance of any of the fresh produce on the ingredients list.

Southern Living Best Ever Succotash in the pan ready to serve

Jen Causey; Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn; Prop Stylist: Josh Hoggle

What's in Succotash?

Fresh corn, tomatoes, lima beans, and okra are the perfect quartet of complementary Southern summer veggies, and the stars of this dish. Sautéed sweet onions bring all the flavors together, and butter and bacon drippings add richness. A final sprinkle of sliced basil adds a punch of fresh flavor, and bacon crumbles add a salty, meaty crunch.

Ways To Customize Succotash

We think this combination of vegetables, herbs, and bacon is perfect as-is, but it's also super adaptable.

  • If you don't have basil on hand (or just want to add more herbs), anything from parsley to dill, thyme, chives, tarragon, or even sage or cilantro will work well.
  • Large, chopped tomatoes can be swapped in for smaller cherry varieties; just drain off the excess liquid.
  • And if you're not a fan of lima beans, you can substitute cooked black-eyed peas, green beans, or other shell beans like cranberry for the boiled limas.
  • To add a little smoky heat, add a generous sprinkling of smoked paprika. Or for sweetness, stir in a jar of drained pimiento peppers.

How To Make Succotash

Like many good summer suppers, succotash won't heat up your oven with a long cook time. This one is done in about 30 minutes. Here's how to make it:

Step 1: Cook the lima beans. Simmer fresh or frozen lima beans until just tender, then drain.

Step 2: Fry the bacon. While the beans simmer, cook bacon strips until crisp-tender and transfer to paper towels. But don't rinse out the skillet! You'll use those delicious drippings in the next step.

Step 3: Sauté the vegetables. Add onion, okra, and garlic to the skillet with the bacon drippings, and cook until tender. Then add the corn, beans, and seasonings and cook until the corn is bright yellow. Stir in the butter and remove the skillet from the heat.

Step 4: Add the final ingredients. Finish the dish by stirring in fresh tomatoes and basil, then topping with crispy bacon. Serve the dish right away while the veggies are warm and the bacon is crispy.

Can Succotash Be Made Ahead of Time?

This dish is best when the corn, tomatoes, and other produce is fresh, and the bacon is crisp. But it can be made through step three a day or two ahead of time. Then, when you're ready to serve, reheat it in a skillet with a small knob of butter, stir in the tomatoes and basil, and top with bacon.

Southern Living Community Tips and Praise

"Made this pretty much as directed and it was delicious! Warms up well," wrote reviewer Pamala Coker.

"Best-Ever is accurate, and I don't use that expression often! The recipe stays true to the essence of succotash but adds complexity that makes this classic even better," wrote another reviewer. "[Preparation] isn't complicated, proportions are good, and it feels 'southern' with the addition of okra. Delightful, and just as good as leftovers for breakfast with eggs and sourdough toast."

Editorial Contributions by Elizabeth Brownfield.


  • 10 ounces fresh or frozen baby lima beans (2 cups)

  • 4 center-cut bacon slices

  • 1 cup chopped sweet onion (from 1 small onion)

  • 4 ounces fresh okra, cut into ½-inch-thick slices (1 cup)

  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped (1 tsp.)

  • 3 cups fresh corn kernels (4 ears)

  • 1 ¼ teaspoons kosher salt

  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

  • 3 tablespoons butter

  • 5 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved (1 cup)

  • ¼ cup thinly sliced fresh basil


  1. Cook lima beans:

    Place lima beans in a medium saucepan, and add water to cover. Bring to a boil over medium-high. Reduce to medium-low, and simmer until beans are just tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

    Southern Living Best Ever Succotash cooking the lima beans

    Jen Causey; Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn; Prop Stylist: Josh Hoggle

  2. Cook bacon:

    While beans simmer, place bacon slices in a large cast-iron skillet over medium. Cook until crisp, about 8 minutes, turning once after 5 minutes. Transfer bacon to paper towels; crumble and set aside. Reserve drippings in skillet.

    Southern Living Best Ever Succotash cooking the bacon in the skillet

    Jen Causey; Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn; Prop Stylist: Josh Hoggle

  3. Sauté the veggies:

    Add chopped onion, fresh okra, and garlic to skillet over medium, and cook, stirring often, until onion is just tender, about 6 minutes.

    Southern Living Best Ever Succotash cooking the okra and onions

    Jen Causey; Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn; Prop Stylist: Josh Hoggle

    Stir in fresh corn kernels, salt, pepper, and drained beans, and cook, stirring often, until corn is tender and bright yellow, 5 to 6 minutes. Add butter, and cook, stirring constantly, until butter is melted, about 1 minute. Remove from heat.

    Southern Living Best Ever Succotash after adding the corn, lima beans, and butter

    Jen Causey; Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn; Prop Stylist: Josh Hoggle

  4. Stir in halved cherry tomatoes and sliced basil; sprinkle with crumbled bacon, and serve immediately.

    Southern Living Best Ever Succotash adding the tomatoes

    Jen Causey; Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn; Prop Stylist: Josh Hoggle

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can you use frozen ingredients?

    Make this recipe year-round by substituting frozen corn, and frozen or dried limas, when fresh varieties aren't available. But fresh tomatoes, okra, and basil are usually sold in Southern grocery stores throughout the year, which is good news since the taste and texture of these fresh ingredients really make this dish sing.

  • Can you make this succotash vegetarian?

    While pork is a traditional ingredient in many Southern variations of succotash, it's easily omitted to make this recipe vegetarian. Just leave out the bacon crumbles and replace the drippings with two tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil.

Additional reporting by
Elizabeth Brownfield
portrait of a woman with brunette hair wearing purple shirt

Elizabeth Brownfield is a writer and editor specializing in food and cooking with over 20 years of experience in the print and digital publishing industry.

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