Gigantes Plaki (Greek Baked Beans)

5 from 4 votes

These buttery, tender gigantes beans are baked in a rich tomato-based sauce and seasoned with the flavors of the Mediterranean. A little spicy, very tender, and topped with tangy feta cheese, this vegetarian dish can be served on the side or as the main dish!

overhead: gigantes beans in a large casserole dish

Gigantes beans, or gigantes plaki, hail directly from Greece. They’re essentially huge butter beans or lima beans (they’re the same thing) and make for a hearty meal. And while these take a little while to prepare, they’re well worth the effort!

There’s so much to love about gigantes plaki: the creamy beans are full of plant-based protein and the tomato sauce is rich and robust. There’s so much flavor in the Greek baked beans, vegetables, and cheese that you almost forget that this is a pretty healthy, high-fiber, and low-calorie dish.

closeup: spoonful of baked gigantes plaki topped with crumbled feta cheese

Along with this dish and flavorful sides like zesty lemon rice or crispy roasted potatoes, the vast Mediterranean menu presents a number of options for vegetarian meals!

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

  • Dried Gigantes Beans – You will need 3 or 4 cans of butter beans to substitute for 1 lb of dried. If using precooked canned beans, skip to step 3 on the recipe card.
  • Crushed Tomatoes – I prefer crushed tomatoes to tomato sauce because it’s more flavorful and still has plenty of chunky texture.
  • Yellow Onions – I like to use yellow onions, but red onions are also very common in Greek cooking and are a great substitute. 
  • Celery – Chop two stalks to yield ½ cup. This isn’t a vegetable to skip – once it’s roasted, the stalks become so tender and savory!
  • Mint – While it adds a really refreshing flavor to the bake, mint isn’t for everyone and can be simply omitted if preferred.
  • Flat Leaf Parsley – A robust alternative to the curly-leaf parsley you might be more familiar with! Curly leaf will work — just use a bit more to get the same flavor. 
  • Feta Cheese – Goat cheese is far and away the best substitute for feta. But if it isn’t your favorite, try halloumi or parmesan. 
  • Red Pepper Flakes – You’ll get a little more heat, and preserve that Mediterranean flavor, by substituting red pepper flakes with cayenne. For less heat, use paprika.

Tip From Kevin

Gigante, butter or lima beans?

Gigante beans are giant butter beans (also known as giant lima beans). In this recipe you can substitute with traditional sized dry lima or butter beans if you wish. For every pound of dried beans called for you’ll need 58 ounces of canned beans (3 or 4 cans, depending on size).

If you use precooked, canned beans rather than dried, start with step 3 of the recipe instructions. Bake covered for 30 minutes, then uncovered for 15 minutes.

overhead: gigantes plaki in tomato sauce

How to Make Gigantes

  1. Soak the Beans. Add the dried gigantes plaki to a bowl of cold water – make sure they are covered by at least 2 inches so they stay submerged as they soften. Cover and soak overnight. 
  2. Rinse & Boil. The next day, rinse the beans. Transfer to a pot and fill it with enough water to cover the beans by an inch. Boil for 5 minutes, then drain.
  3. Season. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Meanwhile, add the cooked beans to a large bowl with the tomatoes, garlic, celery, olive oil, water, and all of the remaining herbs and spices. Stir everything together.
  4. Bake. Pour the mixture into a baking dish and cover with foil. Bake for 90 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 30 minutes uncovered.
  5. Top & Serve. Stir the Greek baked beans, then sprinkle the crumbled feta on top. Garnish with the chopped parsley and serve warm.
  • Baking Dish – Between the water, olive oil, tomatoes, and other vegetables, you’ll need an oven-safe dish with tall edges to contain all of that moisture. 

Storing and Prep-Ahead

One great thing about this gigantes bake is that it can be prepared up to 3 days ahead of time before baking. Just cover and store, then throw into the oven 2 hours before serving.

It can also be frozen – before or after baking – for up to 3 months. It’ll take a while to thaw, so stick it in the fridge the night before you want to bake it.

Leftover Greek baked beans can then be refrigerated for up to 4 days.

overhead: casserole dish of Greek baked beans in tomato sauce with parsley and feta cheese

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best substitute for gigantes beans?


Regularly-sized butter beans or lima beans are the best substitutes. Remember: they’re all the same bean, and the flavor will be consistent whether you choose the giant beans or not.

Fava beans are a decent substitute but are different. They have a thicker skin, so they’ll take longer to bake and will have a nuttier flavor. 

Are Greek baked beans a meal or a side dish?


They can be either! They’re commonly served as a side dish, but they can also serve as a filling main course.

That said, a ½ cup serving of this recipe has around 331 calories. So if you’re planning on this as your main course, then be sure to scoop out a larger portion!

What is the best way to reheat beans?


This is a rare circumstance in which microwaving is actually the best method. We can’t use the stovetop because there isn’t a lot of broth or runny sauce to simmer and reheat these beans.

Transfer leftovers to a microwave-safe bowl, cover, and heat for 30 seconds. Give the beans a stir and microwave for another 30 seconds, repeating until softened.

spoonful of healthy side dish of gigantes

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overhead image of Mediterranean baked beans

Gigantes Plaki (Greek Baked Beans)

5 from 4 votes
Greek gigantes beans feature butter beans baked in a rich tomato sauce with spices, herbs and feta cheese on top for an amazing side dish.
Servings: 12
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 2 hours 5 minutes
Total: 2 hours 20 minutes

Ingredients 

Instructions 

  • Place the dried beans in a deep bowl and cover with cool water by 2 inches. Cover the bowl with a light kitchen towel and all the Greek beans to soak overnight.
  • After soaking, drain and rinse the beans. Place in a stockpot with enough water to cover them by an inch and bring to a rolling boil. Cook for 5 minutes, then drain.
  • Transfer the beans into a large mixing bowl along with tomatoes, garlic, onions, celery, herbs, spices, olive oil and water. Stir to combine.
  • Pour into a 9×13″ baking dish. Cover with foil and bake at 350°F for 90 minutes. Remove the foil and cook, uncovered, another 30 minutes.
  • Stir, then serve with crumbled feta cheese on top (or stirred in) and chopped parsley for garnish.

Notes

  1. Gigante beans are giant butter beans (also known as giant lima beans). You can substitute with traditional sized dry lima or butter beans if you wish. If you use precooked, canned beans rather than dried, start with step 3 of the recipe instructions. Bake covered for 30 minutes, then uncovered for 15 minutes. For every pound of dried beans called for you’ll need 58 ounces of canned beans (3 or 4 cans, depending on size).

Nutrition

Serving: 0.5cup | Calories: 331kcal | Carbohydrates: 29g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 7mg | Sodium: 734mg | Potassium: 850mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 376IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 165mg | Iron: 5mg

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

Course: side dishes
Cuisine: Greek, Mediterranean
Author: Kevin
Have You Made This Recipe? Let Me Know on InstagramTag @keviniscooking or tag me #keviniscooking!
titled image (and shown): gigantes plaki Greek baked beans

Kevin

I was bitten by the cooking bug as a kid cooking and baking along side my mom. After an ROP restaurant course in high school, I went to work in restaurants and catering. My love of travel and food has led me across the world and I love to share those foods with family and friends.

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17 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Kevin Happy New Year.. I have greatly enjoyed your wonderful site for over a year!! Yassoo!!

    Cannot wait to see you with a new show on The FoodNetwork !!
    ..

  2. Hello ,
    If you buy the canned beans do you need to cook it in the over for the two hours or would it take less time?

    1. Hi Amanda! If you use precooked, canned beans rather than dried, start with step 3 of the recipe instructions. Bake covered for 30 minutes, then uncovered for 15 minutes. Enjoy!

  3. 5 stars
    I made this recipe last week and it was so delicious and easy to make. I used dried Cannellini beans as they are easy to find here. I used a couple of extra spoons of beans as Cannellini seem to absorb less. Lovely herb fresh flavours in this dish which I highly recommend with some fresh crusty bread. Thanks Kevin!

  4. I’m currently soaking my lima beans and they’re splitting and peeling-is this normal? I’m finding conflicting reasons.

    Admittedly this is the first time I’ve tried making dried limas. I really wanted to make this for dinner!!

    1. You’re OK Samantha. As the Vegan Coach says “It’s totally normal for some beans – especially red/kidney – to wrinkle and split while soaking and in no way indicates that the beans are ‘old’. And some beans will split; it’s just the way it goes. Doesn’t make them any less safe, edible or tasty.” Thisis a house favorite, hope it becomes one for you too. Also, you could purchase canned butte ror lima beans if the final result after soaking is not what you wanted, but the beans are fine.

  5. 5 stars
    My Husband made this tonight and it was amazing and he doesn’t really like Lima beans! He reduced the amount of olive oil and it was fine. Must try!