15 Best Lentil Recipes

Low in calories, high in nutrition, and budget friendly, lentils are a plant protein that’s pretty darn perfect. Here are our best lentil recipes.

Best lentil recipes

Low in calories and high in nutrition, lentils are a plant protein that’s pretty darn perfect. And they’re budget friendly too! Luckily lentils also have that most important final element: they’re delicious. If you prepare them correctly, lentils can be a great way to make filling and healthy meals as part of a plant based diet. So what are you waiting for? Here are our 15 best lentil recipes, from soups to nachos. (Yes, lentil nachos!)

Red lentils

Types of lentils

Before we start with lentil recipes, a quick primer on lentil types. All lentils are not created equal! Here are a few of the most popular types of lentils:

  • Brown & green lentils: These are the most “standard” varieties when you think of lentils. They cook quickly (in 20 to 30 minutes), and tend to fall apart when cooked instead of hold their shape. This makes them ideal for soups and curries.
  • Red lentils: These lentils are a bright orange color most commonly found in Indian curry dishes like daal. They take about 20 minutes to cook and break down easily into a “mush”. When you’re looking for a cozy pile of mushy soup or curry, think red lentils (they break down even faster than brown and green).
  • French lentils (also called Puy lentils): These lentils hold their shape when cooked, making them very different from brown, green and red lentils. They’re small and greenish-gray. Instead of using them in soups, these lentils are great for salads or stuffing baked sweet potatoes.
  • Black lentils (Beluga lentils): Black lentils are the most flavorful around. They’re very small and dark, like a combo of French lentils and brown lentils. That means they’ll hold their shape when cooked which works for salads, but if you cook longer they’ll also fall apart like in curries.

How to cook lentils

There are lots of different methods for cooking lentils, depending on how you’d like to use them. Head to How to Cook Lentils for all about how to do it.

And now…our favorite lentil recipes!

Quick Coconut Lentil Curry

Best lentil recipes | Quick coconut lentil curry

This 30-minute coconut lentil curry is one of our most popular lentil recipes to date. It’s a fast and easy dinner idea that’s healthy and full of flavor. One of our fan favorites, we hear things like: “This is a new favorite!” and “Absolutely LOVED IT! Definitely am making again.” It’s surprising how much humble brown lentils can inspire so much enthusiasm!

Tuscan Artichoke Lentil Stew

Best lentil recipes | Tomato artichoke lentil stew

Another favorite of our lentil recipes is this tomato artichoke lentil stew. Alex created it on a whim, and it’s grown into our family favorite. In fact, we eat it each year on Christmas Eve–and other days in between! Starring fire roasted tomatoes, tangy artichokes, and kale, it’s flavor and nutrient packed.

Masoor Dal (Indian Red Lentils)

Masoor dal

Masoor dal is Indian for “red lentils”: and man is this recipe good! It’s an authentic Indian lentil recipe from Chef Asma Khan, the force behind the all-women staffed London restaurant Darjeeling Express and author of the cookbook Asma’s Indian Kitchen. These red lentils are equal parts flavorful and cozy: serve them with naan or chipati for dipping.

Instant Pot Tacos with Smoky Lentils

Instant Pot Tacos with Smoky Lentils | Best lentil recipes

Lentils in tacos? Heck yes! These vibrant Instant Pot tacos with smoky lentils and rice are a delicious vegetarian dinner recipe that carnivores enjoy too! The lentils are meaty and savory, and topped crunchy fresh veggies and salsa.

Baked Sweet Potatoes with Moroccan Lentils

Healthy Baked Sweet Potato with Moroccan Lentils | Best lentil recipes

This healthy baked sweet potato recipe with Moroccan lentils is exceptional! The sweet potatoes are baked whole, until flaky and tender. Then they’re topped with lentils mixed with Moroccan flavors: cumin seeds, cinnamon paprika and harissa, and veggies, then smothered in a creamy  Lemon Tahini Sauce that brings it all together.

Red Lentil Curry with Rice (Mesir Wat)

Best lentil recipes | Red lentil curry with rice (mesir wat)

One of our most special lentil recipes is this Ethiopian red lentil curry called mesir wat. It’s similar to Indian curry, but is flavored with cardamom and ginger. Serve over rice for a hearty meal. The recipe was contributed to us by a refugee from Ethiopia; head over to read her story.

The Best Vegan Nachos

Vegan nachos | Best lentil recipes

Lentils on nachos: why not? These loaded vegan nachos are the best because they’re piled high with smoky, meaty lentils, crunchy veggies, and topped with our vegan nacho cheese. To keep them healthy, look for organic corn chips with minimal ingredients (ideally corn, oil, and salt).

“Verde” Lentil Vegan Tacos

"Verde" Lentil Vegan Tacos | Best lentil recipes

Next up in our lentil recipes: more tacos! These “verde” lentil tacos are color-themed (green!), featuring green lentils, green cabbage, and a bright green cilantro drizzle. Bring on the green!

Butternut Squash Lentil Soup

Butternut squash lentil soup | Best lentil recipes

This hearty butternut squash lentil soup comes together in about an hour and is perfect for serving on colder winter days. It’s filled with nutrient-rich foods like lentils, butternut squash, leeks, and chard: and a splash of white wine for some class.

Sweet Potatoes with Goat Cheese & Lentils

Sweet potatoes with goat cheese & lentils | Best lentil recipes

Now for one of our showstopper lentil recipes: these lentil stuffed sweet potatoes! Imagine: the savory sweet combination of sweet potatoes stuffed with black lentils, fresh herbs and tangy goat cheese. It’s one of our house favorites over here.

Easy Dal Makhani

Easy dal makhani | Best lentil recipes

This easy dal makhani recipe uses canned beans and black lentils to shorten the cook time for this flavorful vegetarian dish. It’s super savory and rich, featuring lots of garlic, ginger, and garam masala. Serve with naan and enjoy!

Creamy Red Lentil Soup

Red lentil soup | Best lentil recipes

This lentil soup cooks down red lentils until they form a creamy body, then it’s garnished with lemon juice and cilantro. It’s an easy vegetarian dinner recipe that’s ready in under an hour. Serve it with a side salad or fresh bread for a full meal.

Smoky Instant Pot Lentils and Rice

Smoky Instant Pot Lentils and Rice (Pressure Cooker) | Best lentil recipes

These smoky lentils and rice are featured in two of our lentil recipes: our incredible vegan nachos and Instant Pot lentil tacos! When we developed this smoky lentils and rice recipe, it was too delicious not to use more than once. So we created a few recipes with it! Here’s the base recipe so you can dream up your own creations.

Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie with French Lentils

Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie with French Lentils | Best lentil recipes

Another in our showstopper lentil recipes is this vegetarian Shepherd’s pie with French lentils. Make this for a special occasion, since it requires a bit of prep. But it’s absolutely worth it! Imagine: rosemary scented Parmesan potatoes over a layer of savory lentils and vegetables. It’s a true treat!

Rice & Lentil Salad

Lentil and Rice Summer Salad | Best lentil recipes

This carefree salad is a mix of French lentils and rice, mixed with ripe cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, and a tangy sherry vinaigrette. It’s sophisticated, yet simple, and keeps everyone at the table coming back for more.

Hearty Sprouted Lentil Stew

Vegan stew with sprouted lentils | Best lentil recipes

And to round out these lentil recipes, this sprouted lentil stew! Sprouting lentils makes them easier to digest. While you can sprout your own, you can also buy dried sprouted lentils, which we found at our local grocery. Sprouted lentils also add a unique texture to this Italian style stew, filled with colorful vegetables and kale.

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Best Lentil Recipe & More Ways to Use Lentils


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (2 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja
  • Prep Time: 0 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: About 5 cups 1x

Description

Low in calories, high in nutrition, and budget friendly, lentils are a plant protein that’s pretty darn perfect. Here are our best lentil recipes.


Scale

Ingredients


Instructions

  1. Place the lentils in a saucepan with 6 cups warm water.
  2. Bring to a low boil, then boil for about 20 minutes until tender (taste to assess doneness). Drain, then add a few pinches of salt to taste.

  • Category: Essential Recipes
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Global

Keywords: Lentil Recipes, Basic Lentil Recipe

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.

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