The Best Succotash Recipe

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Photo from the Acme Lowcountry Kitchen – they often serve their succotash with pan-seared scallops, a slab of fresh flounder perfectly coated and fried, or shrimp.

I wouldn’t call myself a “succotash” person, but after we had the amazing succotash at Acme Lowcountry Kitchen on Sullivan’s Island / IOP (Charleston, SC), I was on a mission to recreate that taste and depth of flavor. (I got a lot of good info from the YouTube clip linked at the bottom of this post.)

This succotash version isn’t a perfect copy, but it’s damn good!

Lori’s Superb Succotash

Inspired by Acme Lowcountry Kitchen, Isle of Palms SC

Serves 6 as side or add more protein (see below) and serve 4 as a main dish. Cook time: 1 hour on stove


  • half pound of high quality smoked bacon – something with a genuine smoked flavor and a thicker cut, one that will render a good amount of very tasty bacon fat.
    • Do not skimp on the bacon! It sets the flavor profile for much of the dish!
    • We use Trader Joe’s applewood smoked uncured bacon for pretty much everything, and I swear by it for flavor and quality at an affordable price
    • Alternatives: a very good smoked sausage; something like kielbasa; locally made andouille or similar, but watch the spice/heat levels
    • I supplemented the bacon with a few ounces of pancetta since my local store carries it.
  • 2-3 T unsalted butter, divided – do not substitute margarine, crisco, or oil for the butter used at the end
  • one sweet onion, diced
  • 8 oz of high-quality chicken broth – I use box broth in 8oz packages, but you could also use 8oz of water and chicken bullion (crumbles or cubes) or any neutral broth on hand
  • 6-7 ears of corn, roasted in the oven* OR 1 bag (the smaller bags – check sizes) of frozen corn – use 1.5 to 2 cups of corn
    • *see below for this extra prep step
  • 1 bag frozen baby lima beans – use about 1 to 1.5 cups of beans (not the huge bag, or use half a big bag)
  • 1 small bag snow peas (you can usually find these pre-packaged in the produce section) or a small box of frozen green peas (you will use half), or around 1 cup of peas or 1.5 cups of chopped fresh snow peas
  • optional: cherry tomatoes, diced, about 1 cup – could dice a larger tomato as well
  • around 1 cup of heavy cream
    • don’t skimp and use milk or half and half if you can help it; the fat in the cream is important for the fulness of the dish
    • that said, how much cream you need depends on how “thin” you want the sauce to be once it’s cooked down. If you aren’t using chicken broth as suggested above, you’ll need more cream.
  • fresh tarragon (check your grocery store’s produce section for fresh herbs) or 1-2T of dried tarragon
  • 1-2T fresh or dried thyme
  • other handy seasonings: a dash of garlic powder, plus salt and pepper to taste; we also included a heavy shot of “california blend” seasoning from The Spice and Tea Exchange as well as French Picnic salt by The Beautiful Brny Sea

*EXTRA PREP FOR FRESH CORN: If using fresh corn, a few hours before cooking (or a day before), set oven to 375′. Shuck corn and clean off silk. Lightly oil the ears with any neutral oil and season with salt and pepper and any spice blend you like that’s not weird. Roast in the oven on a cookie sheet or tray (and we use parchment paper to keep cleanup easy) for at least 20 minutes, or until well roasted and dark brown on the edges. Don’t burn it, but don’t undercook it either. Let cool, then stand up ears (cut off end to make flat first for safe cutting) and slice down the cob repeatedly to trim off all kernels. **You need at least 1.5 cups of roasted corn kernels; the exact amount isn’t too important as long as you keep it in balance with the baby limas.

To make:

This is truly a quick and easy dish; it doesn’t need a lot of babying from you. It’s also a stovetop dish, so might be a good Thanksgiving side if you have a burner free.

Equipment: heavy bottomed pot. I used my Dutch oven, but any heavy soup pot will do fine.

  1. Chop bacon into small pieces and put into pot on medium-low heat and slowly render fat and begin cooking the bacon. This step should take a while to fully render the fat before the bacon cooks to much – aim for 15-20 min or longer.
    • Set the heat enough that the bacon is cooking without being so hot that it pops and sizzles until it’s more than halfway cooked. Stop before the bacon is cooked completely, but it should be mostly done. *Add pancetta or other proteins at the appropriate cooking time for their size and needs.
    • About halfway through the bacon stage, throw in 1 T of good butter. Stir the melted butter throughout the bacon pieces – this will help them prevent the bacon from sticking, and it’s building a base for more flavor later. You could use a drizzle of oil instead.
  2. Add the onion and scrape the bottom of the pan, using the liquid that’s naturally in the oven to help deglaze the pan a bit. (Optional: add a splash of white wine, cream sherry, or vodka – a tablespoon or two – for deglazing if your bacon got pretty brown in step 1.) Cook until onion just barely begins to brown – turn up the heat a bit, but not so much that the onion cooks more than halfway to “fully browned.”
  3. Deglaze the pan with 8oz of chicken broth. Raise heat to around medium and get the broth hot before adding frozen veggies (which will cool things back down again – we’re prepping for that).
  4. Stir, then add the roasted (or frozen) corn and the baby lima beans (frozen) – about equal parts each, according to taste. You need at least a few cups of vegetables at this point. If using frozen, turn up the heat a bit at this point to counteract the slowdown to the pot’s cooking temperature but don’t let it burn. Medium heat (or just past that) is good.
  5. Simmer lightly until vegetables are no longer cold, then taste and season: keep salt light at this point, but add some pepper and salt to taste.
  6. Add heavy cream then add tarragon and thyme and any other dried spices (California seasoning, just the lightest touch garlic powder).
  7. Turn up heat to at least medium and simmer the cream until it begins to reduce – this can take 10-20 min, depending on heat, cream, and other factors. Continue to salt to taste; this is when I added a good dose of French Picnic salt or sea salt because the cream will really lower the “saltiness” you might have had from the bacon.
  8. About 3 min after adding cream, stir in peas. I used fresh snow peas which I chopped into smaller pieces, so I added them back in step 3. If using frozen, I’d add them here. Skip if you hate peas; maybe throw in a chopped zucchini or yellow squash instead.
    • Stir regularly during this stage while the cream is reducing.
    • You are done when the cream has lost most of its liquid, leaving behind a thick cream sauce.
  9. Stir in 1T of very good butter and add the fresh chopped tomatoes if using. Give it another round of pepper after checking seasoning levels.

Done! There’s a lot of tasting and seasoning along the way, because salt levels will vary based on the bacon you’re using, how the vegetables were handled before they were packaged (frozen vs fresh vs you already have garden produce put up in your pantry, etc).

The flavors improve the longer it sits, so consider making this recipe the morning of or the night before a meal and then reheat with a splash of milk, and you’d noticed a depth of flavors that you don’t get right off the stove.

Alternate: Easily turn this into a whole meal!

At the Acme Lowcountry Kitchen, this dish was served with a beautiful piece of fried flounder on top, making a heavenly marriage of creamy fish, crunchy fish batter, and the flavorful succotash. You can turn this succotash into a full main course by adding your favorite protein and maybe some cornbread on the side.

  • fried or baked fish
  • seared shrimp or pan seared scallops
  • pork loin roast or thick-cut pork chops
  • oven-roasted or grilled chicken, something flavorful that can pack a punch
    • cheat and get a rotisserie chicken at the store! Carve into pieces and serve

That’s it! I am 100% going to add this recipe to my regular rotation of late summer and throughout fall and winter. It incorporates frozen corn, peas, and baby lima beans easily, meaning you can raise your vegetable intake and it still tastes GREAT without a lot of fuss.

I got the basic form of the recipe from this YouTube clip from a low country TV station segment featuring the chef at Acme Lowcountry Kitchen.


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