How to cook lentils


A Lentil is a small, flat, round edible seed. It’s a member of the bean and pulse (legume) family, but is one of the quicker cooking members.

Lentils come from an annual vine that produces pods, with two flat seeds inside to a pod.

Lentils can’t be eaten raw; they need to be cooked. You can buy them already cooked and ready to heat or use in cans, though most are sold dried.

Though consumers today are mostly familiar with only three types of lentils (brown, green and orange), there are many more varieties. In India, they grow over 50. Canada is the largest exporter of lentils in the world, with most being grown in the province of Saskatchewan.1

You can buy dried lentils with the skin (“seed coat”) on, or with the seed coat removed, or with the seed coat removed and split in half. These are termed “split lentils.” Split lentils are desirable when you want lentils to quickly cook down to a purée; whole lentils with the seed coat on are useful when you want lentils to retain their shape, such as in soups and salads.

Cooking Tips

Allow 60g (2 oz / 1/4 cup) uncooked per person.

Cooking instructions for lentils vary by type of lentil. For specific directions, see specific entry on on the type of lentil you have in mind.

The following advice applies to all lentils:

Dried lentils do not require soaking before cooking, but wash well, and remove any that float.

Cooking lentils in anything acidic, that has for instance vinegar, wine, tomatoes or lemon juice in it, will increase cooking time slightly.

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When using canned lentils, which are already cooked, just rinse in a sieve before using.


Lentils© Denzil Green


Canned Lentils can have a great deal of added sodium, usually around 200 to 300 mg of sodium per 100 g (1/2 cup) depending on brand; rinsing them before use will remove up to 60% of the sodium.2

Per 200 g (1 cup), cooked


Here’s Your Recipe!

Yields 8 to 10 servings

Slow Cooker Moroccan Lentil Soup

10 minPrep Time

8 hrCook Time

8 hr, 10 Total Time

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  • 1 pound brown lentils, rinsed and sorted for debris
  • 2 quarts vegetable broth
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 tablespoon ras el hanout
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4 cups chopped chard leaves
  • 1 lemon, sliced into 8 wedges
  • Toppings: yogurt, mint, cilantro


  1. Place the lentils, broth, onion, carrot, garlic, ras el hanout, and salt in the crock of a large slow cooker. Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours, until the lentils are tender.
  2. Stir in the chard leaves and allow to warm for half an hour.
  3. Serve with lemon wedges for squeezing and optional toppings.

This versatile recipe uses a slow cooker to make tender Moroccan Lentils. Serve the lentils over rice, or puree it into a soup. The choice is yours!

Flavoring Lentils Fast

I have 5 ways to enjoy the heck out of your first lentils experience. The first is the easiest:

French Fry Style

  1. Get Lentils
  2. Add a fast food amount of olive oil
  3. Add a fast food amount of salt

Make your first experience with lentils a good one. If you like it, next time don’t add as much oil and salt. However, they are so healthy and cost efficient, one splurge day using extra oil and extra salt is worth it.

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Peppered Lentils


Similar to French Fry style, but adding fresh pepper. Grounded up pepper doesnt seem to do the trick.

  1. Lentils
  2. Olive Oil (or Sour Cream)
  3. Fresh Ground Black Pepper
  4. Salt
  5. (optional) Rice

Garlicky Lentils And Rice


I usually don’t like using premade stuff, but seasoning shakers are pretty close to the same price as regular spices and give decent flavor to anything. I’ll recommend them for a quick and easy way to flavor something. Make note, they have salt already, so there isnt a need to add your own. Add everything to taste.

  1. Lentils
  2. Olive Oil
  3. McCormick Grill Mate Montreal Chicken (Garlic, Salt, Onion, Black Pepper, Parsley, Red Pepper, Orange Peal, Paprika, Green Bell Pepper)
  4. (optional) Rice

Herb And Lentils


Sour cream adds a different dimension to these flavors, highly recommended when mixing spices and rice.

  1. Lentils
  2. Sour Cream
  3. McCormick Grill Mate Roasted Garlic & Herb (Salt, Onion, Black pepper, Coriander, Parsley, Garlic, Paprika)
  4. (optional) Rice

Fast Mujaddara


I often cheat when I make this, using Onion Powder and a little sugar, with salt. My advice is to taste as you go. When you brown onions they get sweet.

  1. Lentils
  2. Sour Cream
  3. Onion Powder(even better with an onion browned in olive oil for 10-20 minutes on medium low)onions2
  4. Salt
  5. (optional) Rice
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