All About Fava Beans (Broad Beans)

How to Buy, Store, Shell, and Use Fava Beans

Fava beans, also widely known as broad beans, come in soft green pods that yield tender, sweet, spring-y beans perfect in salads and other spring-time dishes. Learn how to use them (and get great recipes) below.

  • 01 of 11

    Fava Bean Season

    Harvested fava beans
    Meyer-Rebentisch, Dr. Karen / Getty Images

    Fava beans are thought of as a spring vegetable, but they are harvested well into the summer in cooler climates. They tend to be on the earlier side of harvested vegetables, and in temperate and warmer areas they are often put in to fix nitrogen in the soil before being pulled up for other produce to be planted.

  • 02 of 11

    Fava Selection

    Fava Beans. Photo © Molly Watson

    Look for firm pods that feel soft or at least smooth on the side. (Fuller, more mature pods will have larger, starchier beans which can be tasty and even preferable for stews or soups.) Once home, store fava beans loosely wrapped in plastic in the fridge for up to a week (depending on how fresh they are when you buy them).

  • 03 of 11

    How to Shell Fava Beans

    Photo © Molly Watson

    Shelling fava beans is a wee bit of a production - you need to remove them from their pods, blanch them, and remove the husk from each bean - but don't let that stop you from enjoying them! See how to shell (and double shell) favas with this Step-by-Step Guide to Shelling Fava Beans.

  • 04 of 11

    Braised Fava Beans

    Braised Fava Beans. Photo © Molly Watson

    Wait, wait! You don't need to shell fava beans - you can cook them slowly in a bit of liquid to tenderize the pods and make the whole thing edible. See how to make Braised Fava Beans.

    Continue to 5 of 11 below.
  • 05 of 11

    Fava Bean and Sweet Corn Risotto

    Corn & Fava Bean Risotto. Photo © Molly Watson

    There is usually just a brief window of opportunity to make this corn and fava bean risotto - the very end of spring turned first glimpse of summer, when, if you're lucky, both fava beans and sweet corn are available. Click over to see the recipe for Fava Bean and Sweet Corn Risotto.

  • 06 of 11

    Cream of Fresh Fava Bean Soup

    Fava bean soup
    The Picture Pantry / Getty Images

    This soup couldn't be more simple - fava beans and cream, pretty much. It has a luscious texture that results as much from the pureed fava beans as from the cream and rich taste (ditto) that comes alive with a sprinkle of minced chives on top. Get the recipe for Cream of Fresh Fava Bean Soup.

    Smooth and rich sound good? You might also like this Fava Bean Puree.

  • 07 of 11

    Farro Spring Salad

    Farro Spring Salad. Photo © Molly Watson

    Favas are double-shelled and tossed with farro - whole wheat kernels - in a light lemony dressing and plenty of other spring vegetables like asparagus, peas, and scallions along with fresh herbs. Get the recipe for this hearty and healthful Farro Spring Salad.

  • 08 of 11

    Fava Bean Pecorino Salad

    Fava Bean Pecorino Salad
    Fabio Bianchini / Getty Images

    Fava beans and fresh pecorino cheese is a classic Italian preparation and is a wonderful way to enjoy the fresh, spring flavor of fava beans. Be sure to serve it by itself (maybe with a bit of bread) as a first course so the fava beans (and all the work that went into shelling them) get plenty of attention. Check out the recipe for Fava Bean Pecorino Salad.

    Continue to 9 of 11 below.
  • 09 of 11

    Marinated Fava Beans

    Photo © Molly Watson

    This easy recipe makes the most of the small amount of beans you can glean from the pods. Add these favas to a salad or an antipasto platter. See how to make Marinated Fava Beans.

  • 10 of 11

    Spring Vegetable Couscous

    Photo © Molly Watson

    Fava beans, garden peas, snap peas, and spring onions cooked with large pearl couscous and topped with a spring onion-lemon relish and feta cheese makes an easy spring vegetable couscous. Serve as a side dish, a light main course, or let it cool and serve it as a pasta salad. Try Spring Vegetable Couscous.

  • 11 of 11

    Spring Vegetable Risotto

    Spring Vegetable Risotto. Photo © Molly Watson

    Whether you only have a small harvest from your garden or you just don't feel like shelling all that many fava beans, a small number of fava beans really shine alongside other spring vegetables in this rich, creamy spring risotto. See the recipe for Spring Vegetable Risotto.