How To Cook Lentils: {Plus 20 Dishes To Try}

Here’s a versatile food item that can be used in a variety of ways and they’re a great budget saver too. Lentils are a staple pantry item for both frugalites and survivalists alike since they are so inexpensive to buy and their shelf life can’t be beat.

Cheap & Easy FoodStore them (dried, uncooked) in airtight containers or glass jars and they’ll last for years (though up to a year is best for color preservation, flavor isn’t affected that much when stored longer).

They’re loaded with iron, fiber and protein and filling too (making them a great option to bulk up light meals such as soups and salads).

Ready to try them? Here’s how they’re cooked:

To prepare, pour dried lentils in a bowl and cover with water. Pick out any bits such as rocks, empty shells, etc., then rinse with running water. They don’t need to be soaked first.

2 cups water
1 cup dried lentils
1 tsp salt

  • Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for approximately 25 to 30 minutes until they are tender but not yet mushy (cooking time will vary depending on the type and size). This will yield approximately 2 1/4 cups cooked lentils.
  • For extra flavor: Simmer with wedges of onion, a couple garlic cloves, a diced carrot, a stalk of celery (diced). When they’re done, strain and remove the vegetable bits before serving (or refrigerate to be used later in salads).
  • Mix with cooked rice (both white and brown are suitable) for a satisfying, cheap and easy meal.

How easy is that! If you’re interested in trying some dishes they can be incorporated in, here are several different recipes you can try…

  1. Slow Cooker Turkey Soup: Ingredients include organic vegetable broth, a smoked turkey leg, celery, onion and bell pepper mix, chopped fresh oregano, freshly ground black pepper and nonfat greek yogurt (optional garnish). From My Recipes.
  2. Oven Baked Casserole With Brown Rice: A cheap and easy meal made with vegetable broth (or water), uncooked brown rice, diced onion, chopped carrots, chopped celery, garlic cloves, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper (to taste). Items are mixed in a 2 qt baking dish, covered then baked for an hour. From The Lively Kitchen.
  3. Baked With Shredded Coconut: An Indian-inspired version of baked beans, ingredients include coconut oil, yellow onion, ground ginger, turmeric, pitted dates (chopped), tamari soy sauce and shredded coconut. From Whole Foods Market.
  4. With Pasta Shells & Arugula: Ingredients include olive oil, onions, coarse salt and ground pepper, plum tomatoes (cored and diced), orecchiette pasta (or fusilli or farfalle), arugula (or fresh Italian parsley leaves) and finely grated Parmesan cheese. From Martha Stewart.
  5. With Sweet Potatoes & Barbecue Sauce: Ingredients include garlic cloves, salt, olive oil, diced onion, sweet potato, cayenne pepper, ground ginger, ketchup, Dijon mustard, dark brown sugar, balsamic vinegar and Worcestershire sauce. From Serious Eats.
  6. Spiced With Rice: Made in a rice cooker or on the stovetop, ingredients include brown rice, cinnamon sticks, cloves, cumin, ground black pepper, salt and minced parsley. From Fat Free Vegan.
  7. Mujadara: A pilaf made with white onions (that are caramelized), white wine or vermouth (optional), brown or green lentils, long grain white or brown rice, ground cinnamon, ground cumin, salt and pepper. From Herbivoracious.
  8. Curried With Sweet Potatoes: A richly flavored, aromatic dish made with extra virgin olive oil, onion, garlic, fresh ginger root, garam masala, curry powder, jalapeno pepper, vegetable broth, sweet potatoes, bay leaf, swiss chard, Kosher salt, fresh cilantro, zest and juice of lime, scallions and ground black pepper. From A Hint of Honey.
  9. With Roasted Pork & Root Vegetables: A one-pot meal made with pork shoulder roast (rubbed with salt, ground pepper, paprika and dried rosemary), carrots, parsnips, onions, red wine (or beef stock with balsamic vinegar), water, thyme, rosemary, sage, garlic cloves. From Beyond The Peel.
  10. Stew With Butternut Squash: Made with celery, onion, butternut squash, vegetable broth, dried rosemary, Parmesan or Romano cheese, salt and pepper, fresh parsley. From Delish.
  11. Hearty Meat-Free Pasta Sauce: Ingredients include olive oil, yellow onion, carrots, minced garlic, chili flakes, fresh thyme, tomato paste, chopped tomatoes (canned), red split lentils, passatta or stock, sea salt and black pepper. From Kitchenist.
  12. With Kale & Bacon: Ingredients include bacon, diced onion, diced carrots, diced celery, minced garlic, diced tomatoes (canned), chicken broth, chopped kale, cumin, salt and freshly cracked black pepper. From Eating For England.
  13. Salad With Roast Beets & Balsamic Onions: Served slightly warm or at room temperature, ingredients include sherry vinegar, roast beets, balsamic onions and roasted almonds. From The Stone Soup.
  14. Soup With Vegetables: A quick homemade soup made with carrots, onion, diced tomatoes (canned), vegetable broth, dried red lentils, cumin and seasonings. Baby spinach is added before serving. Yields 7 1/2 cups. From Delish.
  15. With Brussels Sprouts & Proscuitto: (proscuitto can be omitted for almonds, walnuts or pecans) The brussels sprouts are stir fried in garlic and olive oil then canned lentils are added and cooked until warm. Red wine vinegar, salt and pepper are added then dish topped with proscuitto (if using). From The Stone Soup.
  16. Smoked Cheddar Burgers: Freshly cooked lentils are mashed then mixed with sauteed onions and carrots, shredded smoked cheddar cheese, dry breadcrumbs, fresh thyme, salt, garlic powder, paprika, freshly ground black pepper, ground red pepper and egg whites. Mixture is chilled then shaped into 8 (1/2″ thick) patties and cooked on a grill pan. From My Recipes.
  17. Oven-Braised With Sausage: Onion, celery, carrot and garlic are sauteed in a Dutch oven for a few minutes then tomato paste, dry white wine, water, thyme sprigs, chicken broth, a bay leaf, dried lentils and turkey kielbasa are added, covered and popped in the oven to bake for just over an hour. From My Recipes.
  18. Salad With Rice: A diced carrot, cooked (or canned) lentils and brown rice are mixed with a simple dressing of sherry vinegar, Dijon mustard, extra-virgin olive oil, sherry vinegar or red-wine vinegar, chopped shallot, paprika, salt and pepper. From Eating Well.
  19. Dahl: Onions, carrots, garlic and spices are cooked for a few minutes then red lentils, water and canned plum tomatoes are added to simmer for an hour. From Just Don’t Add Kiwi.
  20. With Wine Glazed Winter Vegetables: Made with onion, celeriac, parsnip, carrot, tarragon, salt, tomato paste, garlic, dry red wine, Dijon mustard, butter, black pepper. From My Recipes.

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