Skip to content

How to Cook Lentils

    How to Cook Lentils

    Learn how to precisely cook lentils every time! They’re a delicious, healthful, and simple way to add protein to salads, side dishes, and more.

    Lentils are a good place to start if you want to incorporate more plant-based meals into your diet. These tiny beans are high in protein and fiber, are simple to prepare, and have a great earthy flavor that complements a variety of recipes. Continue reading to learn my preferred way to cook lentils, as well as information on different types and my favorite lentil dishes.

    Lentil Cooking Instructions

    My lentil cooking method is simple! It boils down to two simple steps:

    • Rinse. Tiny rocks or debris will sometimes be mixed in with the dry lentils. Rinse the lentils in a fine mesh strainer and pick them over before cooking to avoid ingesting them. Remove any shriveled lentils as well as any trash.
    • Then let it simmer! Unlike with couscous or quinoa, there is no need to utilize a certain lentil cup of water ratio. Half-fill a large pot with water, boil, and add the lentils. Simmer until the potatoes are cooked. The cooking time will vary depending on the variety of lentils used.

    Types of Lentils and How to Use Them

    Not all lentil kinds are interchangeable, and each performs best in different recipes. Here are the most common types you’ll find in stores, along with some ideas for how to use them:

    Le Puy or French Green Lentils

    Lentils are my favorite kind! These guys keep their shape when cooking and have a delicious crisp texture. They’re great in lentil salad and pasta sauce, and their substantial texture is also great in curried lentil soup.

    Beluga Lentils

    These black lentils are remarkably similar to the green lentils seen in France. In fact, in most lentil dishes, you could use them interchangeably! They cook in approximately 20 minutes and have a good bite to them. I use them to add lentils to a salad or offer them as a robust side dish.

    Regular Green or Brown Lentils

    Regular green or brown lentils would be a wonderful choice for a hearty soup or stew. They soften and become mushy as they cook instead of keeping their shape. I like to add the dried lentils to a large pot of soup and let it simmer for approximately 30 minutes or until they are soft.

    Red Lentils

    Red (or yellow) lentils cook faster than any other type. After only 15 minutes of boiling, they are soft and delicate! They melt and dissolve as they cook, providing a lovely creamy texture. As a result, they’re an excellent addition to thick curries, stews, or Indian dals. I even make a wonderful hummus-like dip out of them!

    Favorite Lentil Recipes

    My tried-and-true method for flavoring cooked French lentils is detailed below. To make a healthful side dish or base for plant-based bowls, I toss them with lemon juice, Dijon mustard, fresh herbs, and red pepper flakes. They stay in the fridge for up to 5 days, making them one of my favorite proteins to meal prep and have on hand.

    There are other applications for them aside from this simple preparation. Aside from the lentil recipes I listed above, here are a few others that I enjoy:

    • To make a substantial filling for vegetarian tacos, sauté cooked French green lentils with garlic, cumin, coriander, cayenne pepper, salt, and black pepper. For added crunch, toss in a handful of chopped walnuts!
    • Replace the chickpeas in my many-veggie soup by adding them to the saucepan with the liquid.
    • To add protein, toss them with a simple vegetable spaghetti.
    • Use them in a salad with Moroccan spices, such as Roasted and Raw Carrot salads.
    • Stuff them into vegetables for a protein-rich vegetarian main dish like the Mediterranean Stuffed Eggplant. Alternatively, stuff them inside a warm, cooked sweet potato!
    • Make homemade falafel with them!

    Learn more: How to Clean a Fish Correctly