How to Cook Lentils (Recipes and Tips)

By Alexandra Caspero on January 6, 2024
A full tutorial for how to cook any type of lentil.
Makes 2 cups Lentils

Everything you need for how to cook lentils perfectly (and not make them mushy!) With tips and tricks for various types of lentils, this is your step-by-step guide for how to cook lentils with recipes. 

Lentils are incredible! Versatile and inexpensive, lentils are great to add to your diet. As a Registered Dietitian, I think that adding beans and lentils is one of the best things you could do for overall health. They are the cornerstone of the Blue Zones diet and are packed with both protein and fiber.

A single serving of lentils meets 32% of the recommended fiber intake needed each day. Diets rich in fiber are associated with lower cholesterol levels and protect against diabetes and colon cancer.

Lentils are the dried seeds of the lentil plant, a legume. Beans are also in the legume family, but beans can be eaten fresh while lentils cannot. Lentils are always dried after ripening and then cooked from their dried form. 

Lentils have different sizes, colors, shapes, textures, and flavors depending on which type you are preparing. Like beans, they are mostly interchangeable, but depending on what recipe you are following, you may want a specific lentil that’s right for that dish.

Unlike cooking beans, you do not have to soak lentils first. Rinse your lentils with fresh water before boiling to remove dust or debris. Now, you are ready to cook!

As a general rule, one cup of dried lentils yields 2 to 2 1/2 cups of cooked lentils. Because of their delicate flavor, they work well in almost any cuisine.

See below for tips and favorite recipes for various types of lentils, or scroll down to the bottom for a basic lentil recipe.

How to Cook Red Lentils

Red Lentils

Red lentils have a different texture and cooking time than regular lentils. They don’t have to cook for as long, and they tend to be a bit softer. The flavor of red lentils is earthy, mild, and slightly sweet. Red lentils break down quickly when they are cooked, and their texture is soft and creamy, so they are frequently used in soups or curries. 

To cook your red lentils on the stovetop, you will need three cups of water to one cup of lentils. Bring the water to a boil, reduce it to a simmer, then cover and cook them until they have reached your desired texture, usually between 5 and 12 minutes. Strain any excess water, season, serve, and enjoy. 

Spicy Red Lentils

Favorite Red Lentil Recipes

How to Cook Green Lentils 

Green lentils have a firmer texture that will hold its shape even after cooking and have an earthy, peppery flavor. Not to be confused with French green lentils, green lentils are sometimes referred to as brown lentils. Green lentils can be used in curries, soups, salads, and sauces.

Give your lentils a quick rinse under cool water to remove any dirt and debris.

To cook your green lentils, place them in a saucepan with four cups of water to one cup of lentils. Bring the lentils to a boil and then cover and simmer them on very low heat for 18 to 20 minutes. Drain the water from your lentils and season as desired. 

Vegan Tacos With Lentils

Favorite Green Lentil Recipes

How to Cook French Lentils

French lentils are smaller than regular lentils and they have a greenish-gray color, they are firmer than other lentils and have a peppery flavor. French lentils are also known as le puy or puy lentils. They are my favorites for salads as French lentils retain their firm texture even after cooking.

To cook your French lentils, place them in a saucepan after rinsing. You will need four cups of water to one cup of lentils, bring the water to a boil, and then reduce the heat to low and simmer the lentils for 20 to 25 minutes. Drain the excess water and season to your taste. 

Marinated Lentil Salad

Favorite French Lentil Recipes

How to Cook Black Beluga Lentils 

Black Beluga lentils are small black lentils that were named for their similar appearance to Beluga caviar. They are less common than most other types of lentils, and they have a nutty taste that some say reminds them of chestnuts. Black Beluga lentils are firm and will retain their shape even after cooking. 

When you are ready to cook them, give them a quick rinse and add one cup of lentils to four cups of water. Bring the lentils and water to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, cover them, and cook them for 25-30 minutes. Once they are done, drain the excess water and season as desired. 

Instant Pot Lentil Tacos

Favorite Black Beluga Lentil Recipes

How to Cook Lentils on the Stove

Cooking lentils on the stove is easy. Rinse them well to remove any rocks or debris. Put your lentils in a saucepan with a one-to-four ratio. One cup of lentils to four cups of water. Bring the lentils to a boil, and then reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for the recommended cooking time for your type of lentils. Once they are done, drain the excess water, season, and serve. 

How to Cook Lentils in an Instant Pot 

Yes, you can cook lentils in your Instant Pot. Lentils cooked in the Instant Pot are cooked in a one-to-three ratio, so you will need one cup of lentils to three cups of water. 

Pressure cook them on high for seven to ten minutes, seven minutes for firmer lentils, and ten minutes for tender lentils. Allow the pressure to release naturally for 15 minutes and then drain the excess water, season, and serve!

You can also enjoy lentil recipes specifically made for the Instant Pot– like my Instant Pot Lentil Soup, Instant Pot Lentil Tacos and Instant Pot Lentil Chili.

Instant Pot Vegan Lentil Chili! Looking For A Healthy, Quick Chili? Try This Vegan And Gluten-Free Lentil Chili. Made In The Instant Pot/Pressure Cooker For Ease, With Directions For The Slow-Cooker. | Www.delishknowledge.com

Lentil Recipes 

Now that you know all about lentils and how to cook them let’s talk about some ways that you can use your lentils. Here are a variety of delicious lentil recipes that you are going to love!

Red Lentil Soup

Bowl Of Lentil Vegan Soup With Bread

This red lentil soup is easy to make but has a complexity of bold flavors that will keep you coming back for more. This healthy soup is packed with vegetables and spices for a delicious and comforting soup perfect for soothing the soul on a cold winter day. 

Greek Lentil Salad

Greek Lentil Salad Edited

If you are looking for a hearty salad that you can serve for a quick dinner, then this Greek lentil salad is for you. French lentils, quinoa, tomatoes, zucchini, and red onions are combined with a homemade dressing for a hearty salad that will keep you full and happy!

Lentil, Mushroom, and Spinach Quesadillas

Vegetarian Quesadillas With Lentils, Spinach And Mushrooms

If you need a quick but healthy and tasty weeknight dinner, look no further than these lentil, mushroom, and spinach quesadillas. These quesadillas will fill you up, and they are full of healthy ingredients, too. Great for when you need dinner on the table in a flash. 

Lentil Loaf

Vegan Lentil Meatloaf

Looking for a way to get more plant-based foods into your diet to stretch your grocery budget further? Then check out this lentil loaf. It’s easy to make, and delicious, and you can even serve it as part of your holiday menu. 

Favorite Lentil Soups

Green Curry Soup Recipe With Lentils

We eat lentil soup at least once a week in the Fall and Winter as they are easy to put together, delicious and inexpensive. Depending on the type of soup you want, lentil soup is incredibly customizable to various flavor profiles.

There are lots of great ways for you to include lentils in your diet, and you should; they are an inexpensive plant-based protein, and they are full of fiber for a healthy diet.

Print
How To Cook Lentils

Want to save this recipe?

Enter your email and get it sent to your inbox! Plus, you’ll get new recipes from us each week.

Name(Required)
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

How To Cook Lentils

How to Cook Lentils (Recipes and Tips)

  • Author: Alexandra Caspero
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: lentils, side dish, healthy
  • Method: stove top
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

Everything you need for how to cook lentils perfectly (and not make them mushy!) With tips and tricks for various types of lentils, this is your step-by-step guide for how to cook lentils with recipes. 


  • Author: Alexandra Caspero
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: lentils, side dish, healthy
  • Method: stove top
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegan
  • Author: Alexandra Caspero
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: lentils, side dish, healthy
  • Method: stove top
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegan
Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 cup lentils
  • 3 cups liquid (water, broth)

Instructions

  1. Rinse lentils first to remove any dust or debris. 
  2. Place in a saucepan and cover with liquid of choice. Make sure to use a big enough saucepan, as the lentils will double or triple in size when cooked. 
  3. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat, and simmer until tender. Season with salt after cooking, if salt is added to the lentils before cooking, then the lentils will become tough. 

Lentil Cooking Times:

Red/Yellow Lentils: 25-30 minutes
Black Lentils: 20-25 minutes
Brown and Green Lentils: 25-30 minutes
French Lentils: 25-30 minutes

Notes

You can add aromatics to your lentils first while cooking if you’d like. Carrots, celery, onions or garlic to the saucepan while cooking and then remove after cooking. 

did you make this?

Tag @delishknowledge on Instagram and hashtag it #delishknowledge

Meet Alex Caspero

Alex Caspero is a Registered Dietitian, New York Times Bestselling Chef, and mom of two. She aims to cut through the nutrition noise by providing real-life, nourishing tips for body and mind. Learn more about Alex.

(no comments) leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe rating 5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Flipboard