How to Cook Lentils

Believe it or not, lentils are easy to make, and they are healthy. Lentils make a great side dish or even a main dish. Best of all, they are inexpensive to make and ready in about 30 minutes.

cooked lentils in a serving dish

If you are looking for an easy, healthy, protein-packed, and full of fiber side or meal to make, lentils are perfect. Lentils can be made normally in 30 minutes or less! Unlike beans, there is generally no soaking required to make this dish!  This is a pantry staple you will want to have these legumes at all times. 

With this easy cooking technique, you will have the texture you love without any mushiness. So you can use these lentils in your favorite stew recipes, veggie burgers, or you can cook up some veggies and enjoy these as a flavorful side dish.

          

Types of Lentils

When you are learning how to cook lentils, whether you are wanting to know how to cook lentils on the stove or in an instant pot, you need to start by deciding which lentil recipe you want to make and what type of lentils you’ll need.

There are a surprising number of lentils you can make. Did you know there are 5 types of lentils? 

  1. Brown Lentils
    These you can make on the stove top in about 15-20 minutes. You will want to use 3 cups of liquid to 1 cup of dried brown lentils. Make sure to grab a big enough pan as these will double or triple in volume as they are cooked. These tend to have a mild earthy flavor.
  2. Green Lentils
    Green lentils are the ones with the highest cooking time. These will need to cook upwards of 45 minutes in order to cook completely. Green lentils will also be brought to a boil and then covered while simmering for 25-30 minutes.

Though even when they are done, they will be a bit harder outside then most, making these great for salads or to mix into other side dishes. These lentils do tend to be a little spicier and give off a peppery taste.

  1. Red and Yellow Lentils
    These are made similar to brown lentils. You need to use 3 cups of liquid to 1 cup of lentils. Bring them to a boil and then turn down the heat and let them simmer covered until they are tender. They should only have to simmer for 15- 20 minutes as well.

    Red and Yellow lentils also have an earthy flavor, but also lined with a sweeter flavor as well. They also are some of the softer lentils so they can break down quickly when cooked.
  2. Black Beluga Lentils
    For these you are going to boil the water ahead of time, once the water is boiled, add in the black lentils and cook them uncovered for 20 minutes. When they are done, drain the water and then rinse them and then drain the water again.

    Black lentils are the earthiest flavor of the lentils. They are also the most nutrient dense. Beluga lentils pair wonderfully with fish or chicken.
  3. Puy Lentils
    For puy lentils, you will do the same as the brown, red, and yellow lentils. Rinse the lentils, and then transfer them into a pan that can fit one cup of lentils and 3 cups of liquid. They will expand so make sure to use a large pan. Bring them to a boil, then reduce the heat and cover them to let the puy simmer for 40-45 minutes or until they are tender.

    Puy lentils have a very similar rich peppery flavor like the green lentils. However, these take a little longer to cook than green lentils.

How to Cook Lentils

Most lentils,  have generally the same type of technique to make them. You will want to rinse the lentils before cooking them. I like to use a cheesecloth to make them easy to wash and I don’t lose any to the drain. You could use a fine mesh sieve if you like, they both work equally well. 

Then, transfer them to the pan either with cool or boil water (whichever the recipe calls for) then, reduce the heat and let the lentils simmer until they are tender.

Popular Recipes for Lentils

You can use lentils in quite a few recipes. Here are a few lentil recipe suggestions! 

Soups

Salads

Tacos

These are just a few ideas! Take one of your favorite recipes and add some lentils and give it a shot. They are a great way to add some healthy protein! 

How to Store Dried Lentils

Storing lentils is no different than any of your other dried pantry goods. You need to make sure they are in an airtight container and stored in a cool dry place. Lentils do well kept in a pantry or cupboard. 

How to Store Cooked Lentils

To store cooked lentils you will want to place them in an airtight container and then store them in the fridge for up to 4-5 days. 

To reheat them, the microwave will do just fine! Just know, the red lentils might become a little mushier as the days go on. 

Lentils Recipe Ingredients

Here’s a list of what you need:

  • Dried lentils
  • Onion
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Butter
  • Chicken stock
  • Salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • Bay leaves
lentils recipe ingredients on a tray

Other flavors you can add to lentils

  • Fresh garlic 
  • Cumin 
  • Thyme
  • Coriander
  • Rosemary

Ingredient Notes

We use chicken stock when cooking lentils. Stock gives it a richer flavor. You can use chicken broth instead.

For vegetarian lentils, use plain water, vegetable stock, or vegetable broth.

How to Cook Lentils

  1. Wash lentils, and drain them with a fine mesh strainer.
  2. Finely chop onion, carrots, and celery.
  3. Melt butter in a medium-sized pot.
  4. Add the vegetables to the pot and sauté until lightly browned.
    diced vegetables in a skillet
  5. Add bay leaves, salt, and pepper.
  6. Add chicken stock and lentils.
    dried lentils, vegetables, chicken stock, and bay leaves in a pan
  7. Cook on medium-low heat until the lentils are done, about 20 to 25 minutes.
cooked lentils in a rectangular serving dish

Love beans? Try these recipes!

Favorite Beginner Recipes and How to Articles

Check out more of my easy side dish recipes and the best recipes for beginners here on CopyKat!

cooked lentils in a serving dish

Easy Lentils Recipe

Learn how to make lentils for a healthy and delicious side dish.
5 from 1 vote
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Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Lentils
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 356kcal

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces dried lentils
  • 32 ounces chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • salt to taste

Instructions

  • Finely chop onion, carrots, and celery.
  • Melt butter in a medium-sized pot.
  • Add the vegetables to the pot and sauté until lightly browned.
  • Add bay leaves, salt, and pepper.
  • Add chicken stock and lentils.
  • Cook on medium-low heat until the lentils are done, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Nutrition

Calories: 356kcal | Carbohydrates: 47g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 21mg | Sodium: 410mg | Potassium: 944mg | Fiber: 18g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 5630IU | Vitamin C: 6.9mg | Calcium: 63mg | Iron: 5.1mg

About Stephanie Manley

I recreate your favorite restaurant recipes, so you can prepare these dishes at home. I help you cook dinner, and serve up dishes you know your family will love. You can find most of the ingredients for all of the recipes in your local grocery store.

Stephanie is the author of CopyKat.com's Dining Out in the Home, and CopyKat.com's Dining Out in the Home 2.

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