How to Cook Lentils

Learn How to Cook Lentils (how to cook dried lentils) so they turn out perfect every time.  They’re great to toss into soups, stews and salads, or simply eat them plain with a drizzle of olive oil and some seasoning.  

pot with dried lentils

Lentils are a rich source of plant protein, iron and fiber and they make a healthy addition to your wellness plan.  Learn how to cook dried lentils with this easy fool-proof recipe.

colander with dried lentils

EASY LENTIL RECIPE

If you’ve ever wondered how to cook dried lentils from scratch, this recipe is a good place to start.  It’s super quick and easy and the lentils turn out delicious tasting and perfect every time.

  • 2-3 cloves garlic, smashed or sliced
  • 2 cups dried lentils
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1-2 basil sprigs
  • salt
  • water

COOKING LENTILS

Lentils are quick and easy to make and unlike other legumes, they don’t require soaking first. Learn how to cook dried lentils with this easy recipe. 

  • Prepare lentils.  Place green lentils in a fine mesh colander and pick through removing any little stones and debris you may find.  Rinse under cold water.
  • Combine ingredients.  Add lentils, garlic, bay leaf and basil to a large pot.
  • Add water.  Pour in enough water to cover lentils by 1-1/2 inches.
  • Simmer.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low, cover with lid, and simmer for 30-40 minutes or until lentils are just tender.
  • Drain.  Drain lentils and season with salt and pepper.  

colander with rinsed dried lentils

WHAT ARE LENTILS

Lentils are part of the legume family and they’re a rich source of plant protein, iron and fiber. Dried lentils are a staple in my pantry for making rich and hearty soups and stews and for tossing into salads. 

TYPES OF LENTILS

There is a variety of different types of lentils to cook with, such as green lentils (also called French lentils or Le Puy lentils), red lentils, black lentils (also called beluga lentils) and brown lentils.  

French Green Lentils

Le Puy lentils (also called French Green Lentils) hold their shape when cooked retaining a slightly firmer texture.  They’re great for adding to soups and salads.  They cook in about 40-45 minutes.

Beluga Lentils

Black lentils (also called beluga lentils) are similar in texture to green lentils as they hold their shape pretty well when cooked. Beluga lentils cook in about 25-30 minutes.

Brown Lentils

 Brown lentils are used in a lot of soup recipes.  They don’t hold their shape as well as green lentils when cooked and become a little more stewy like. These lentils take about 30 minutes to cook.  Be careful not to overcook them, as they can turn to mush.

Red Lentils

Red lentils cook much quicker than green or brown lentils (taking only about 15 minutes to cook) and they become very soft and practically fall apart when cooking.  These lentils also make a good soup, but they’re also good to add to some curry recipes.  They really fall apart if overcooked.

white pot with lentils, garlic and basil

LENTILS BENEFITS

Lentils have a lot of nutritional value to offer.  They’re low in fat, high in protein, they’re a good source of iron, fiber, folic acid and magnesium.  They’re also rich with polyphenols.  Polyphenols are compounds found in plant foods (such as fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices, dark chocolate, wine and tea),and they act like antioxidants neutralizing free radicals and help to reduce inflammation which is linked to chronic disease.  (1) (2)

  • Low-fat
  • Nutrient dense
  • High in fiber
  • Good source of iron
  • High in protein
  • Good source of folic acid
  • High in magnesium

LENTILS NUTRITION FACTS

According to some experts, green lentils provide more nutritional benefits than the other variety of lentils. (3)

SPLIT RED LENTILS 

One-half cup of cooked Split Red Lentils contain: (4)

Amount per Serving

Calories: 150

  • Total Fat:  0.5g 
  • Saturated Fat: 0g 
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg 
  • Sodium: 5mg 
  • Total Carbohydrate: 25g 
  • Dietary Fiber: 4g 
  • Total Sugars: 0g
  • Includes 0g Added Sugars 
  • Protein: 12 g
  • Vitamin D: 0mcg 
  • Calcium: 12mg 
  • Iron: 3mg 
  • Potassium: 273mg 
  • Folate: 55mcg DFE 

GREEN LENTILS

One-half cup of cooked Green Lentils contain: (5)

Amount per Serving

Calories: 140

  • Total Fat:  0.5g 
  • Saturated Fat: 0g 
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg 
  • Sodium: 5mg 
  • Total Carbohydrate: 23g 
  • Dietary Fiber: 9g 
  • Total Sugars: 0g
  • Includes 0g Added Sugars 
  • Protein: 12 g
  • Vitamin D: 0mcg 
  • Calcium: 25mg 
  • Iron: 2mg 
  • Potassium: 252mg 
  • Folate: 39mcg DFE

LENTILS PROTEIN

When compared to other legumes, lentils are No. 2 in protein, coming in second place to soybeans.  When lentils are consumed with whole grains (like brown rice) they can provide you with the same quality of protein as meat.  A 1/2 cup serving of cooked lentils provide approximately 12 grams of protein.

white pot with cooked lentils

ARE LENTILS GLUTEN FREE

Yes.  Lentils, like other legumes (beans, peanuts, peas, and soy) are naturally gluten-free.

bowl with cooked lentils and tomatoes and parsley

EASY LENTIL RECIPES

MORE LEGUME RECIPES

These are some of my favorite legume recipes!

pot of cooked lentils
Yield: 8 servings

How to Cook Lentils

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2-3 cloves garlic, peeled, smashed or sliced
  • 2 cups dried lentils
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1-2 basil sprigs
  • salt
  • water

Instructions

    1. Place lentils in a fine mesh colander and pick through removing any little stones and debris you may find. 
    2. Rinse under cold water.
    3. Add lentils, garlic, bay leaf and basil to a large pot.
    4. Pour in enough water to cover lentils by 1-1/2 inches.
    5. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low, cover with lid, and simmer for 30-40 minutes or until lentils are just tender.
    6. Drain lentils and season with salt and pepper.  

Notes

TYPES OF LENTILS

There is a variety of different types of lentils to cook with, such as green lentils (also called French lentils or Le Puy lentils), red lentils, black lentils (also called beluga lentils) and brown lentils.  

French Green Lentils (also called Le Puy lentils) hold their shape when cooked retaining a slightly firmer texture.  They’re great for adding to soups and salads.  They cook in about 40-45 minutes

Black lentils
(also called beluga lentils) are similar in texture to green lentils as they hold their shape pretty well when cooked. Beluga lentils cook in about 25-30 minutes.

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