Lupini Beans: How to Cook and Eat This Rich in Proteins Ingredient

  • by Nonna Box November 21, 2018
  • |
  • Last Updated on August 21, 2020
Lupini Beans ready to be served

What are Lupini beans?

Lupini beans are the seeds of the Lupinus albus, a plant belonging to the Leguminous family.  It grows up to one meter tall and has palmate leaves. This legume has been widely known and used since ancient times in the Mediterranean basin and the Middle East.

Lupin flowers

In times of famine, children would go around with their pockets full of lupini beans to eat, leaving a trail of peels. Today, it is more than a food. We find this peculiar legume as a pastime at village festivals and fairs in Italy, where they are sold in stalls.

This legume has been cultivated for different purposes throughout the centuries. Some are to improve the soil for grazing, as a nutritious food and for its therapeutic properties. Archaeologists have found these seeds in the Egyptian and Mayan pyramids. The first crops can be traced back to about 4000 years ago, both in the Mediterranean and in the Andean region of South America.

Are Lupini beans healthy?

Lupins are composed of 10% water, 40% carbohydrates, 38% proteins and 3.2% ashes, with the remaining percentage made up of fats.

Dried Lupini Beans

Dried lupins

They contain zinc, which promotes immune function. Manganese, which neutralizes free radicals and prevents cell damage. Copper, selenium, magnesium, help keeping bone density perfect and protects muscle support. Other nutrients are calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and iron, as well as vitamin A, B vitamins and vitamin C.

The presence of amino acids such as glutamic acid and aspartic acid is also very high. Lupines contain arginine, beneficial on endothelial function, improving the performance of blood vessels.  Thiamin (vitamin B1), essential for the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats, helping to keep the nervous system healthy. And lastly, folic acid (vitamin B9), which helps the body to metabolize proteins and controls the activity of genes.

These legumes are an excellent alternative to animal proteins, providing a remarkable contribution. In fact, the proteins present in them are 38 gr. to every 100 gr. of protein, a quantity comparable to that of meat and superior to that of eggs.

They are easy to digest, prevent hypertension, reduce the levels of bad cholesterol and increase the good one thanks to their omega 3s. They contain tocopherol, which helps to prevent type 2 diabetes and colon cancer. And also the protein conglutin, found in the seeds, that helps to fight the accumulation of glucose in the blood, mimicking the action of insulin.

Their fibers exert also an essential function. It accelerates the intestinal transit, contrast constipation, give a sense of satiety. They are helping in weight loss in a low-calorie and balanced diet.

Lupini beans are gluten-free. The flour is used in the preparation of bread, pasta, biscuits, and crackers for those with a gluten intolerance. Other uses are in sausages and canned meat.

How to prepare Lupini?

Lupini Beans ready to be served

Lupini beans contain 116 kcal per 100 gr. of product. They contain two basic alkaloid substances, the lupaina and the lupine, that are very bitter and toxic if ingested in high quantities. For this reason, in order to eliminate them, they need to be soaked for 3-4 days and then boiled for 20 minutes. (Lupinus in Greek means “bitter taste”).

Lupini Beans ready to be served

How to prepare Lupini Beans in its brine

This legume is rich in proteins and healthy nutrients and very common in Italy. It is mostly eaten as a snack during Christmas time or in festivals and fairs.
4.65 from 14 votes
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Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: lupin, Lupini beans
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Soaking time: 7 days
Total Time: 3 hours 10 minutes
Servings: 500 gr
Calories: 1kcal
Author: Nonna Box


  • 500 gr Lupini beans dry

For the rinsing and soaking

  • water as needed

For the brine

  • 100 gr salt
  • 1.5 liter water


Washing and cooking

  • Wash the lupini beans under running water and leave them to soak in a pot for 24-26 hours. Make sure to change the water in the morning and in the evening.
  • After soaking, wash the lupini beans again under running water, fill the pot with cold water and put the water to boil.
  • Prepare another pot with the same amount of water and put it to boil.
  • Once the water boils, cook for about 2 hours, 2½ hours and, halfway through cooking, transfer the lupini to the other pot and continue to cook for rest of time.


  • After cooking, let the lupini beans cool for 10 minutes.
  • Then rinse them with running water, and put them back in a pot with cold water.
  • Keep them soaked for 4-5 days. Changing the water 2-3 times a day: more often they change the water and first they'll become sweeter.

Preparation of the brine

  • To complete the preparation of the lupins, but also to preserve them until you eat them all, you need to prepare a brine with 60-70 g of salt per liter of water.
  • Put 1.5 l of water in a pot and bring it to boil.
  • When the water begins to boil, pour 100 g of salt and stir with a wooden spoon to completely dissolve the salt.
  • Add the lupins and leave them cooking for a minute.
  • The lupini beans are finally ready to eat!


You can store the lupini beans in the fridge, covered by their brine, even for more than a month.


Calories: 1kcal | Sodium: 7mg | Potassium: 2mg
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You can enjoy this tasty snack as is, or salted like they do in Italy.

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1 year ago

Do they need to be refrigerated while they soak for 5 days after they are boiled?

1 year ago

Is there any recipes with lupini beans and noodles? I bought a little bucket from an Italian grocer and a woman told me that they would be delicious with noodles and garlic but I can’t find a recipe for such a thing.

2 years ago

Here in Ecuador, lupini beans are called ‘chochos’ and are most often marinated in lime juice and topped with crumbled plantain chips and toasted corn. Sometimes the chochos are made into a cold vegetarian ceviche in a base of tomato sauce with sliced onion and topped with the plantain chips and toasted corn. This is called ‘cevichocho’ and you can buy it from street vendors. It is so delicious.

1 year ago
Reply to  Maia

Hi Maia, I spent a semester studying in Ecuador several years ago. I miss Quito sooo much!! I love cevichocho too! I’m trying to make it now. I have a ceviche recipe that I usually use with shrimp, but I’d love your cevichocho recipe if you’d be willing to share. 🙂

2 years ago

Lupini beans are a classic for Christmas! Thank you they remind me of my traditions! Buon Natale!

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