Gigantes plaki (Φασόλια γίγαντες)

Gigantes plaki

A classic Greek recipe for baked gigantes plaki.

What was that?  You want something satisfying, luxurious, super easy and vegan?  Oh, good.  We’ve got just the thing for you.  Gigantes (or gigantes plaki) is a dish that we think you will come back to again and again. In this recipe, beans are prepared into a stew-like casserole, giving you a meal which is at once elegant, yet simple.

Maybe because gigantes are not the most common of beans, people often refer to them as giant lima beans.  Despite the fact that they look similar, gigantes are creamier, meatier and hold their shape better than lima beans when cooked; they are not the same thing.  When they aren’t mislabeled as lima beans, gigantes are sometimes colloquially referred to as elephant beans.  In actual fact, they are white runner beans (which we think sounds much more appetizing than elephant beans…no offence to elephants).  Even more officially, and officially Latin, they are classified as Phaseolus coccineus . We think these distinctions are important, particularly because gigantes are so special in Greek cooking.  They are so special, in fact, that certain regions of Greece have varieties of gigantes which have been accredited  as Protected Geographical Indication products. Take that, lima bean.

Gigantes plaki

Watch us make Gigantes Plaki!

Helpful hints:

The hardest part of making this meal of gigantes plaki may actually be finding the gigantes.  If you happen to live near a Greek grocer, or a large supermarket with a lovely ethnic food section, you might be in luck.  If not, you can certainly find these beauties on-line.  If, despite all of your best efforts, you still can’t get your hands on these beans, you can substitute them for dried lima beans.  If you must make this substitution then call your dish lima bean plaki. Let’s not contribute to the madness and confusion.


As with all other pulses, it is best to buy these beans where there is high legume turnover. The older the bean, the longer it will take for them to cook.  Avoid buying beans which look dry and shrivelled.

Dried gigantes must be soaked in cool, unsalted water for approximately 6 to 8 hours.  Don’t skip this step; if you do, your beans will take forever (or what seems like forever, especially when you’re hungry) to cook.

This is one of those wonderful dishes which could be prepared in stages, making it a very non-onerous task.  If time is limited, you can plan this recipe as follows: Day 1, soak your beans.  Day 2, boil your beans.  Day 3, bake your beans and eat your beans.  Day 4, reheat any leftover beans and eat them.  Be grateful that you don’t have to cook.  Day 5, repeat (trust us, you will want to).

When you are boiling your beans you will have to be somewhat attentive to the pot.  The gigantes may create a bit of foam which should be skimmed off and discarded.  Also, do not add salt to the water.  Adding salt can apparently toughen up the outer skin of the bean, which is not what you want.

Gigantes plaki (Φασόλια γίγαντες)

Our parents make the gigantes using a glass baking pan which is 10 by 15 inches large (or 23 X 33 cm).  You may not have this exact size pan.  No need to run out and buy one (save your money for the gigantes).  You can use a slightly smaller pan, and things should work out just fine.  The key is to make sure that you have enough space to spread the gigantes out evenly, without them being overly crowded in the pan. This will help you make the best gigantes plaki.

Gigantes plaki (Φασόλια γίγαντες)

Gigantes are delicious warm or at room temperature, making them a super dish to bring along to a potluck or to incorporate as part of a buffet.  Whatever your preferred temperature, make sure you have a hunk of lovely bread handy to sop up all of the sauce.

Gigantes plaki

Speaking of sauce, the recipe below will give you beans coated in a thick and rich sauce.  If  you would prefer to have more sauce, or a thinner sauce, you can adjust the amount of tomato sauce and water.  We recommend, however, that you first make the recipe the way our parents do, and make adjustments afterwards, if necessary.

Gigantes plaki
Gigantes plaki

Looking for more vegan meals? Try these:

Green beans with potatoes

Fasolatha with tomato

Eggplant stew (Μελιτζάνες στιφάδο)

Palikaria (or Polysporia or Fotokolyva)

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Gigantes plaki

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A classic and authentic Greek recipe for baked gigantes plaki.

Gigantes Plaki

A classic Greek recipe for baked gigantes plaki.
5 from 22 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Greek
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Soaking time: 12 hours
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 529kcal
Author: Mia Kouppa


  • 500 grams gigantes (white runner beans)
  • 1 cup chopped carrot
  • 1 leek, chopped (only the white portion)
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 onion, sliced into rings, which are then halved
  • 2/3 cup (160 mL) Greek olive oil
  • 1 ⅔ cup (410 mL) tomato sauce or passata
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) tomato paste
  • 1 ⅓ cup (330 mL) boiled water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper


  • The night before you want to prepare your meal, rinse and then soak the gigantes.
    500 grams gigantes (white runner beans)
  • The next day, bring a pot of water to a boil and boil your gigantes for approximately 60 minutes, until you are able to bite into them.  They will still have a crumbly inside texture at this point. This is fine, as they will finish cooking in the oven.
  • Take a baking pan which is approximately 10 x 15 inches large.
  • Drain the gigantes and then place them in the baking pan.  Mix in the chopped vegetables, the tomato sauce, the tomato paste, the olive oil, the water and the salt and pepper.  Stir well to combine and spread the ingredients evenly throughout the pan.
    1 cup chopped carrot, 1 leek, chopped (only the white portion), 1 cup chopped celery, 1 onion, sliced into rings, which are then halved, 2/3 cup (160 mL) Greek olive oil, 1 ⅔ cup (410 mL) tomato sauce or passata, 1 tbsp (15 mL) tomato paste, 1 ⅓ cup (330 mL) boiled water, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • Cover tightly with aluminum foil and place in a pre-heated oven (350 degrees Farenheit).  Bake for 30 minutes.  Remove from oven, lift the aluminum foil carefully, so you don’t get burned, and stir the gigantes around, and if the pan looks dry, add a bit more liquid (equal parts tomato and water).  Re-cover with the aluminum foil after you have stirred everything, and bake for another 30 minutes.
  • Remove from oven, remove the aluminum foil, stir carefully (add more liquid if it’s too dry) and place back in oven, uncovered for another 25-30 minutes, to thicken up a bit.
  • Remove and let sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes before eating. This will thicken up the liquid. The interior should be smooth and somewhat creamy.
  • Enjoy!



The longer it sits out, the thicker it will get, allowing the dish to get to a great creamy texture, and to allow the flavours to really come out.


Calories: 529kcal | Carbohydrates: 41g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 38g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 26g | Sodium: 1206mg | Potassium: 1213mg | Fiber: 10g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 6596IU | Vitamin C: 45mg | Calcium: 99mg | Iron: 6mg

Thanks for sharing!


  1. I like beans and reason why I eat them not very often, is the preparation time. I celebrate person who invent quicker option to prepare beans 🙂

  2. Cooking For The Time Challenged says:

    This looks very good. I made something similar, without tomato sauce. I have to try it this way now too!😋

    1. miakouppa says:

      Sounds great, hope you enjoy it!

  3. Would love to have your recipe for homemade tomato sauce.

    1. miakouppa says:

      We are very excited about sharing it, as soon as we make it with our parents sometime in August / early September. Thanks for your interest in our recipes 😀

  4. Nikole Amanatides says:

    I have tried making Gigantes so many times, but they have never come out right. Now that I’ve found your recipe, I make them every other week and they come out perfect every time! Thank you for the delicious recipe.

    1. miakouppa says:

      Oh wow!! That’s so great to hear Nikole! Thank you so much for taking the time to write. We’ve got to say, this is one of our favourite recipes too…one of us makes it every couple of weeks. So happy that you love it! 🙂

  5. George Hirrel says:

    What greens can I use in Liverpool for Horta. Please.

    1. miakouppa says:

      Oh gosh! Thanks for sending us a message all the way from Liverpool! The horta here are dandelion greens. Not sure if those are available in Liverpool. We also love to cook up amaranth greens and rapini. Not quite the same, but maybe more easily available where you are. xoxo Helen & Billie

  6. raphaela dernocoure says:

    Is it normal for the skins to come of during soaking and some beans to split ?

    1. miakouppa says:

      It is! Don’t worry too much about it! Remove any of the loose skins that come completely off and that should be good to go!

  7. I tried this recipe in this ultra record cold spell we are having in the northeast USA,I just tweaked it a bit and it came out great. First of all they were the american lima beans but they worked! I soaked the beans early in the Morning when I indeed discovered them.about 7. I didnt have tomatoes in a can,so I used 2 small cans tomato sauce and i small can of tomato paste. I also threw in some older fresh tomato. I used one teas of cinnamon .I had no leeks put used plenty of onion. I put the beans to boil for 2 hours and they were soft. I mixed everythingnand baked for an hour.
    efcharisto.san tin mamamoy!!

  8. This is such a wonderful, authentic and delicious version of this dish and I have tried many. Velvety, not heavy but hearty and satisfying. To be enjoyed with good bread, salad and a piece of Feta and wine. Thank you Mia Kouppa. .

    1. miakouppa says:

      You are so welcome Helen! So happy you enjoyed our recipe. This is one of our favourite meals! xoxo Helen & Billie

  9. absolutely delicious5 stars

    1. miakouppa says:

      Thank you!!! So happy that you loved it! xoxo Helen & Billie

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