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How To Cook Lentils

Learn how to cook dried green lentils in this step-by-step tutorial. You can cook a whole bag at once and freeze for future use!

Hi friends!

This is a post that has been several years coming! Pretty much ever since I posted my recipe for Lentil Banana Muffins back in 2011, I’ve been getting questions about how to cook lentils. I finally got my act together to write out the process for you so that anyone can learn!

How To Cook Green Lentils

This post is specifically about how to cook green (or brown) lentils. This is the kind I use most often and always have in my pantry. They are high in fiber and potassium and they’re full of antioxidants. They hold their shape when cooked and can easily be combined with ground meat in things like tacos, sloppy joes and pasta sauce.

Beyond our favorite banana muffins, I also use them in Chocolate Lentil Bars, Lentil Sloppy Joes and Pesto Lentil Balls. You can also learn How To Make Roasted Lentils or How To Sprout Lentils.

Need more ideas? Here are 20+ Healthy Green Lentil Recipes.

How To Cook Red Lentils

Red lentils are another great option. I use them in my Apple Cinnamon Red Lentil Muffins and my Vegan Red Lentil Curry. However, they cook differently than green and brown lentils. Red lentils cook in only 5 minutes and tend to lose their shape. They’re best used for baking and in soups and stews where they can help thicken the broth. Or try them in my Red Lentil Pancakes!

Here are 15+ Red Lentil Recipes for you to try!

How Long Do Lentils Take To Cook

The great thing about lentils is that they cook super quickly. Once the water is boiling they just need to simmer for 12-15 minutes! This means if you don’t have any on hand in the freezer, you can easily cook some up while preparing other meal components and add them to a 20-minute meal.

How To Cook Lentils on the Stove

So let me show you how to cook lentils on the stove top:

Add lentils to a pot.

Add water. Lentils tend to triple in size once cooked so I recommend about 4 cups water per 1 cup dried lentils.

Cover the pot and bring water to a boil. Once it boils, reduce to a simmer and let cook for 12-15 minutes. Exact cooking time will depend on your desired degree of doneness. I prefer mine on the firm side so 12 minutes works well for me but you can continue to simmer them until they’re as soft as you want.

Drain the excess water. There will be water left. Lentils do not absorb all the water you put in like when cooking rice. Rinse lentils with cold water to stop the cooking process.

Let cool completely before freezing (if desired).

How To Freeze Lentils

When I cook lentils, I tend to cook a whole bag at once and freeze most of them. Since I most often use them for baking and most of my recipes call for 1 cup, I freeze in once cup portions but if you plan to use for meals you could freeze in 2-3 cup portions.

Simply let the lentils cool completely, then scoop into storage bags, remove excess air and freeze flat.

When you’re ready to use them, transfer a bag to the fridge overnight, or put frozen lentils in a bowl and microwave to defrost.

How To Cook Lentils


How To Cook Lentils

Learn how to cook dried green lentils on the stove top in this step-by-step tutorial. You can cook a whole bag at once and freeze the extras for later.

Author: Lindsay


1 bag dried green or brown lentils

8 cups water (approximately 4 cups per 1 cup dried lentis)


Place lentils in a large pot.
Add water.
Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer.
Simmer for 12-15 minutes or until lentils reach desired tenderness.
Drain excess water and rinse with cold water to stop cooking.
If freezing, let cool completely and portion into storage bags to freeze.

Did you make this recipe?

Tag @theleangreenbean on Instagram

See how easy it is?! I can’t wait for you to make some because they’re such a versatile plant protein option.

How To Cook Lentil Soup

Lentils are also a great option for soup because they can cook right in the broth. Simply add a cup to your favorite soup and let them simmer. Need a recipe? Try these:

Lentil Soup from Recipe Tin Eats

Best Lentil Soup from Cookie + Kate

Lentil Soup Recipe from Alton Brown


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