How To

How To Cook Lentils


How To Cook Lentils

Share this article

How To Cook Lentils

A Comprehensive Guide to Cooking Lentils: A Versatile and Nutritious Superfood

Lentils, a staple food in many cuisines worldwide, are gaining increasing popularity due to their nutritional prowess and versatility. Rich in protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, lentils are an excellent choice for health-conscious individuals and vegetarians alike. While cooking lentils may seem like a straightforward task, understanding the nuances of their preparation can unlock their full flavor potential.

Types of Lentils

There are several varieties of lentils, each with distinct characteristics:

  • Brown Lentils: The most common type, known for their earthy flavor and firm texture.
  • Green Lentils: Similar to brown lentils but slightly smaller and with a milder flavor.
  • Red Lentils: Split and skinless, these lentils cook quickly and have a mild, creamy texture.
  • Black Lentils: A type of black beluga lentil, these have a distinctive black color and a slightly firmer texture than other varieties.
  • Yellow Lentils: Also known as "Chana Dal," these lentils are split and have a mild, sweet flavor.

Choosing and Soaking Lentils

Select lentils that are whole, unblemished, and free from stones or debris. Rinsing the lentils thoroughly before cooking removes any impurities. Soaking the lentils for at least 30 minutes is optional but recommended, as it reduces cooking time and aids in digestion.

Cooking Methods


  1. In a large pot, combine lentils, water (ratio of 1 cup lentils to 2 cups water), and a pinch of salt.
  2. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer.
  3. Cook for 20-30 minutes, or until the lentils are tender but still hold their shape.
  4. Drain any excess water and use the cooked lentils as desired.

Pressure Cooker:

  1. Add lentils, water (1:1 ratio), and salt to the pressure cooker.
  2. Secure the lid and cook on high pressure for 12-15 minutes.
  3. Allow the pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes before opening the lid.
  4. Drain any remaining water and use the cooked lentils.

Slow Cooker:

  1. Combine lentils, water (1:2 ratio), and desired seasonings in the slow cooker.
  2. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours.
  3. Check for doneness and adjust cooking time as needed.
  4. Drain excess water and utilize the cooked lentils.

Flavoring and Enhancements

To enhance the flavor of lentils, consider adding:

  • Spices: Cumin, coriander, turmeric, paprika, or chili powder
  • Herbs: Bay leaves, thyme, oregano, or parsley
  • Liquids: Broth, tomato juice, or wine
  • Vegetables: Onions, garlic, carrots, celery, or bell peppers

Nutritional Benefits of Lentils

Lentils are a powerhouse of nutrients, including:

  • Protein: A one-cup serving of cooked lentils provides approximately 18 grams of protein, making it an excellent source for vegetarians and vegans.
  • Fiber: Lentils are rich in dietary fiber, which promotes satiety, improves digestion, and lowers cholesterol levels.
  • Iron: Lentils are a good source of iron, essential for red blood cell production and oxygen transport.
  • Potassium: Lentils are high in potassium, which helps maintain healthy blood pressure.
  • Folate: Lentils contain folate, a vital nutrient for cell growth and DNA synthesis.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can I eat lentils raw?

No, lentils should not be consumed raw. Cooking them destroys toxins and makes them easier to digest.

How do I store cooked lentils?

Store cooked lentils in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Can I cook lentils without soaking them?

Yes, but soaking reduces cooking time and improves digestibility. If not soaking, increase the cooking time by 10-15 minutes.

How do I prevent lentils from becoming mushy?

Avoid overcooking lentils. Test for doneness after the minimum cooking time and stop cooking when they are tender but still hold their shape.

Can I use different liquids to cook lentils?

Yes, you can substitute water with broth, tomato juice, or even wine to add extra flavor.

Can I add ingredients to lentils while cooking?

Yes, you can add spices, herbs, or vegetables to enhance the flavor during cooking.


Cooking lentils is a simple and rewarding task that can enhance your meals with a nutritious and versatile ingredient. By understanding the different types of lentils, their cooking methods, and the nutritional benefits they provide, you can unlock the full potential of this culinary gem. Experiment with various seasonings and flavors to create delicious and satisfying dishes that will keep you coming back for more.