Learn How to Cook Lentils (how to cook dried lentils) so they turn out perfect every time.  This is one of those easy dried lentils recipe you can make any night of the week.  I love cooking lentils to toss into soups, stews and salads, or simply eat them plain with a drizzle of olive oil and 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 legumes

If you’re wanting to add more meatless meals to your diet, lentils is a great place to start.  They’re quick and easy to cook and there’s so many ways you can serve them.

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 in 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 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.  
  • Beluga Lentils – These are also called beluga lentils, and they’re similar in texture to green lentils as they hold their shape pretty well when cooked. 
  • 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. Be careful not to overcook them, as they can turn to mush.
  • Red Lentils – These cook much quicker than the green or brown variety and they become very soft and practically fall apart.  They also make a good soup, and they’re good to add to some curry recipes.  

Easy Lentils 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.

  • Lentils – We use green lentils for this recipe since they hold their shape better.
  • Aromatics –  Garlic, bay leaf and basil sprigs adds a lot of flavor.
  • Seasoning – We just use a little salt for seasoning.
  • Water – We use purified water instead of broth for this recipe.

Find printable recipe with measurements below.

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 and season with salt and pepper.  

Tips for Cooking Dried Lentils

  • Add plenty of water when cooking. You’ll want to use 3-4 cups of water to cover 1 cup of dried lentils, giving them plenty of room to cook in so they won’t get dried out during the cooking process. You will drain any excess water.
  • Seasoning. You can add a lot of flavor by simmering them in vegetable or chicken broth instead of water. Adding bay leaves, basil, parsley, cilantro and other herbs while cooking also enhances the flavor of cooked lentils.
  • Simmer. Be sure to cook the lentils on a low simmer so they can cook evenly and absorb any flavor you’ve added to the pot.
  • Testing tenderness. The easiest way to check if lentils are fully cooked is to remove one or two from the pot and mash it with a fork.

How Long Will Cooked Lentils Last

Keep cooked lentils in an air-tight container for up to 1 week in the refrigerator and up to 6 months in the freezer.

Serving Suggestions

  • These lentils make a delicious and protein-packed side dish or vegan main. Just drizzle with a little extra-virgin olive oil and garnish with tomatoes and herbs like parsley and basil and serve with grilled chicken or fish.
  • Add them to soup and salads for added protein and fiber.

colander with rinsed dried legumes

How Long to Cook Lentils

Unlike other legumes, lentils don’t require any soaking before cooking. They cook quicker than other legumes, taking between 20-40 minutes, depending on the type that you’re cooking. For the specific types of lentils, you can typically cook in the following times (or follow the directions on the package that the lentils were purchased in):

  • Green Lentils – Cook in 40-45 minutes.
  • Beluga Lentils –  Cook in 25-30 minutes
  • Brown Lentils – Cook in 20-30 minutes
  • Red Lentils – Cook in 15 minutes

white pot with legumes, 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

Lentils Protein

When compared to other legumes, lentils are No. 2 in protein, coming in second place to soybeans.  When 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, like other legumes (beans, peanuts, peas, and soy), they are naturally gluten-free.

bowl with cooked lentils and tomatoes and parsley

Looking for More Lentil Recipes to Cook?

Want More Legume Recipes?

More Cooking Tutorials 

pot of cooked lentils
Yield: 8 servings

How to Cook Lentils

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

Learn How to Cook Lentils (how to cook dried lentils) so they turn out perfect every time.  This is one of those easy dried lentils recipe you can make any night of the week.  I love cooking lentils to toss into soups, stews and salads, or simply eat them plain with a drizzle of olive oil and seasoning.  

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

Tips for Cooking Dried Lentils

  • Add plenty of water when cooking. You’ll want to use 3-4 cups of water to cover 1 cup of dried lentils, giving them plenty of room to cook in so they won’t get dried out during the cooking process. You will drain any excess water.
  • Seasoning. You can add a lot of flavor by simmering them in vegetable or chicken broth instead of water. Adding bay leaves, basil, parsley, cilantro and other herbs while cooking also enhances the flavor of cooked lentils.
  • Simmer. Be sure to cook the lentils on a low simmer so they can cook evenly and absorb any flavor you’ve added to the pot.
  • Testing tenderness. The easiest way to check if lentils are fully cooked is to remove one or two from the pot and mash it with a fork.

Types of Lentils

There is a variety of different types of lentils to cook with, such as green lentils (also called French lentils or 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.  
  • Beluga Lentils – These are also called beluga lentils, and they’re similar in texture to green lentils as they hold their shape pretty well when cooked. 
  • 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 – These cook much quicker than the green or brown variety (taking only about 15 minutes to cook) and they become very soft and practically fall apart.  They also make a good soup, and they’re good to add to some curry recipes.  

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 59Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 75mgCarbohydrates: 10gFiber: 4gSugar: 1gProtein: 5g

theharvestkitchen.com attempts to provide accurate information, however, this nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate only. The nutritional information provided comes from online sources and calculations.