Instant Pot Lentils

Wondering how to cook Instant Pot lentils? Here’s how to cook lentils in a pressure cooker, whether you want them straight up or seasoned for a fast dinner!

Instant Pot Lentils

If you’re looking to eat more plant based recipes, you’ve probably heard this: eat more lentils! Right? Alex and I have been trying to eat our good share of lentils for years. But we admit: it can be hard to know where to start! We’ve created this recipe to be a delicious basic lentil recipe that can be served many different ways: as part of a bowl meal, in a taco, and more! (Our two-year-old Larson adores them.) The great part: pressure cooker lentils are totally hands off! Keep reading for our Instant Pot lentils recipe and more about how you can serve them.

Want to make these on the stove? Seasoned Brown Lentils

Instant Pot Lentils

How to make lentils in an Instant Pot

Making Instant Pot lentils is one of the easier things you can make in your pressure cooker! Now that we’ve become Instant Pot experts, let me be the first to admit: I’m all about the Quick Release. Why? Because I’m impatient. If you’ve used your Instant Pot a lot, you’ll know that many recipes call for a natural release: which is perfectly well and good, except it does tack on extra time to the recipe.

We’re happy to report that this Instant Pot lentils recipe is seriously quick. How long do you cook lentils in an Instant Pot? 9 minutes. Then, do a Quick Release and you’re done! The only other time you have to factor in is the “preheat” time, which takes about 5 to 10 minutes depending on your Instant Pot. Overall, this Instant Pot lentils recipe has about 5 minutes of hands on time, and 15 to 20 minutes start to finish.

For our Instant Pot lentils recipe, we wanted to add seasonings so that you could serve these lentils as part of a dinner recipe without having to add anything more. Here are the pressure cooker lentils ingredients:

  • Brown or green lentils (either will work)
  • Vegetable broth (you can sub water in a pinch, but veggie broth adds great flavor)
  • Onion powder
  • Paprika
  • Garlic powder
  • Oregano
  • Salt & pepper

And that’s it! The lentils come out perfectly spiced and very moist. You’ll notice that the bowl of the pressure cooker comes out with a bit of broth left over: stir it in and the lentils will absorb the broth upon sitting. They turn out perfectly moist (being overly dry can be a complaint when cooking lentils)!

Instant Pot lentils

How to serve these lentils

As I noted above, Alex and I wanted to make this Instant Pot lentils recipe to function as a base recipe. It will work both if you need lentils for another recipe–but it’s seasoned so that you can eat it as an easy lunch or dinner recipe!

If you’re making these Instant Pot lentils as a component for another recipe, you can omit the spices: unless you think they would go with the flavor! Keep in mind that this recipe uses salt: so if you use them as a component in another recipe, adjust the salt accordingly based on that recipe.

If you’re making these Instant Pot lentils as an easy lunch or dinner, here are a few ways that we would serve them:

  • As a bowl meal (pictured): Throw them in a bowl with pita bread, a dollop of Greek yogurt, tomato wedges, and chopped cilantro
  • In a taco: Throw them into a tortilla with salsa and sour cream: or try them in place of the filling in our Verde Lentil Tacos
  • With eggs: This morning Alex and Larson ate a delicious brunch of scrambled eggs and lentils! Here’s our Best Scrambled Eggs recipe.
Instant Pot lentils

Looking for lentil recipes?

Here are a few of our favorite lentil recipes:

Instant Pot Lentils

This Instant Pot lentils recipe is…

Vegetarian, gluten free, plant based, dairy free and vegan.

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Lentils nutrition

Instant Pot Lentils


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (331 votes, average: 3.84 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4 (about 4 cups) 1x

Description

Wondering how to cook Instant Pot lentils? Here’s how to cook lentils in a pressure cooker, whether you want them straight up or seasoned for a fast dinner!


Scale

Ingredients

  • 3 cups vegetable broth (or water)
  • 1 1/2 cups brown or green lentils
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Instructions

  1. In the Instant Pot, place all ingredients and give them a stir. Lock the lid and place the vent in the “Sealing” position.
  2. Cook on high pressure for 9 minutes: Press the Pressure Cook button (making sure the “High Pressure” setting is selected) and set the time for 9 minutes. Wait while the Instant Pot cooks. (Note: It takes about 5 to 10 minutes for the pot to “preheat” and come up to pressure before it starts cooking. During cooking, avoid touching the metal part of the lid.)
  3. Quick release: Vent the remaining steam from the Instant Pot by moving the pressure release handle to “Venting”, covering your hand with a towel or hot pad. Never put your hands or face near the vent when releasing steam. Open the pressure cooker lid.
  4. Open the lid and stir; there will be some leftover broth but the lentils will soak it up as they sit and become perfectly moist. Serve warm. (Storage info: Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator; reheat on the stovetop.)

  • Category: Base recipe
  • Method: Instant Pot / Pressure Cooker
  • Cuisine: Vegetarian

Keywords: Instant Pot Lentils, Lentils Recipe, How to Cook Lentils

Looking for Instant Pot recipes?

Outside of this Instant Pot lentils recipe, here are some of our favorite things we’ve made in our Instant Pot (pressure cooker):

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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.

44 Comments

  • Reply
    Brian
    December 14, 2019 at 11:08 pm

    Do you let the lentils soak before cooking, and if so how long?

    • Reply
      Alex Overhiser
      December 15, 2019 at 11:22 am

      No! Straight into the pot.

  • Reply
    Josh Gleason
    December 17, 2019 at 11:46 pm

    SO GOOD!!! This is my new go-to lentil recipe. Can this be doubled in a 6 quart pot?

    • Reply
      Alex Overhiser
      December 18, 2019 at 9:12 am

      Glad you love it! We haven’t tried it, but I think it would still work to double in a 6 quart.

      • Reply
        Alberto Gonzalez
        January 21, 2020 at 11:17 am

        Of course!

  • Reply
    Mon
    February 2, 2020 at 5:43 pm

    Do you know the time difference for red split lentils rather than whole brown or green? I would assume it’s less because of size and split but not sure how much less. Thank you for this recipe, though!

    • Reply
      Alex Overhiser
      February 3, 2020 at 10:03 am

      Hi! We haven’t tested red lentils yet, but it would definitely be a few minutes less.

    • Reply
      Ellen
      March 2, 2020 at 7:55 pm

      I tried 6 min with red split lentils and it came out a bit mushy but still good, might try 4 min next time.

      • Reply
        Alex Overhiser
        March 3, 2020 at 9:15 am

        Thanks for the comment! We need to add a version for red lentils :)

      • Reply
        C. S.
        May 18, 2020 at 8:31 pm

        Wish I’d seen this before cooking my red lentils. Ended up with a dish the consistency of refried beans. Still tasty, but not as good looking as the picture

        • Reply
          M
          June 16, 2020 at 4:10 pm

          Me too! I normally read comments but was in a rush.

  • Reply
    Sarah Dickison
    February 16, 2020 at 4:02 pm

    Came out perfect at 10 minutes on high for my elevation (1200ft). Used 6qt IP. Out of oregano substituted cumin. Out of broth substituted beef bouillon. Ate it on a flour tortilla. Would make a great taco bowl too. Thank you for this recipe

  • Reply
    Cathy
    February 20, 2020 at 8:06 pm

    This is awesome! I am fairly new to using my IP, and I love lentils, but every time I cook them on the stove they turn into mush. This was perfect thank you!

  • Reply
    Iris
    March 22, 2020 at 7:56 pm

    Just made this and it was sooo good! Only had 3/4 cup lentils so I halved everything and did a little less paprika since I only had smoked paprika. It is soooo good alone as it is! Quick and delicious. Thank you for this recipe!

    • Reply
      Alex Overhiser
      March 23, 2020 at 8:08 pm

      You’re welcome! Glad you enjoyed.

  • Reply
    Mr user.
    March 22, 2020 at 10:42 pm

    Mine were mushy. Not happy with the turnout.

  • Reply
    Gerry
    March 28, 2020 at 2:08 pm

    Timing on this is spot on for lentils that are not mushy. I doubled the recipe keeping the timing the same and they came out great! Big thanks for this recipe.

  • Reply
    Terri
    April 3, 2020 at 2:34 pm

    I should have read the comments before making. Without thinking, I used a mixture of brown lentils and red lentils. The red lentils were mushy, but the flavor is good and I will still be eating them, though not in the salad I had planned. haha

  • Reply
    Sarah
    April 5, 2020 at 3:18 pm

    The cook time on this is perfect! I saw other recipes with a much longer cook time and was skeptical. So glad I tried yours instead. Thanks for the great, easy to follow recipe!

    • Reply
      Alex Overhiser
      April 6, 2020 at 11:45 am

      You’re welcome! Glad you enjoyed.

  • Reply
    Kat
    April 16, 2020 at 11:16 am

    If I like my lentils softer, do you think I should up the time? Or just allow for a natural release and keep the 9 minutes cook time. I’m weird and I like mushy lentils.

    • Reply
      Alex Overhiser
      April 16, 2020 at 5:52 pm

      I’m not positive, but I’d try a 9 minute cook time with 5 minute natural release. I think this would allow for a softer bite without them falling apart.

  • Reply
    Kristin
    April 27, 2020 at 3:30 pm

    Loved the recipe. Didn’t have onion powder so subbed TJ’s onion salt (1tsp instead of 1 1/2 tsp) and lowered amount of kosher salt to just a couple of pinches. Used some chicken bone broth I just made instead of veggie broth, too.

    At 9 mins cooking time mine turned out slightly mushy, but was cool with it. Everyone was happy. Even, to an extent, my 3 YO :-)

    Quick question; would you advocate freezing? Or do you think it’ll ruin them?

    • Reply
      Sonja Overhiser
      April 27, 2020 at 8:36 pm

      Thanks for the comment! We have noticed that there is some variation in Instant Pots, so you may want to try 8 minutes next time just to compare! Re freezing, good question: you can! It does make them a little more mushy, but with lentils that’s ok and not offensive texture-wise. Let us know if you try!

  • Reply
    Amber
    April 30, 2020 at 7:15 pm

    I loved that I could choose 2x or 3x for the recipe. The adjustments were great not only for the ingredients (which wouldn’t have been too hard to figure) but for the duration of time cooking was very helpful in not having to guess how much longer doing a recipe at double or triple would be. How can I save this to my pinterest board so I don’t have to remember where to find this recipe again?

    • Reply
      Alex Overhiser
      April 30, 2020 at 7:17 pm

      Hi! You can just press the “Pin Recipe” button right above the ingredient list.

  • Reply
    Carl
    May 13, 2020 at 1:52 pm

    Thank you for the recipe. Very good !

  • Reply
    Melissa Clark
    May 14, 2020 at 7:32 pm

    This was so delicious , weekly recipe for sure !!!
    Thank you soo much ❤️ I am a vegan , so lentils are essential , now I have supper yummy ones in my meals because of you 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼

  • Reply
    Teresa
    May 17, 2020 at 8:43 am

    Growing up my mom made lentils all the time, I love them! Your instant pot recipe made it fast, easy and delicious. I drizzled olive oil and fresh cracked peppercorn medley on top so good! I should have read the comments first though, I doubled the recipe and added 3 minutes cooking time. Still getting to know the IP. Some of it came out soft but I didn’t mind. Next time I’ll stick with the 9 minutes. Thanks for the recipe, It’s a keeper!

  • Reply
    Luisa
    May 17, 2020 at 11:55 am

    Made this today using green lentils and they turned out great. They were a bit on the soft side, which was perfect b/c I was mashing them into a plant-based meatloaf. For dishes where I want them whole, I think I will decrease cook time by one minute and see what happens! Great recipe and I will make again and again!

  • Reply
    Rochelle
    July 2, 2020 at 2:24 pm

    This was so good! often green lentils taste funny or go mushy but this recipe was so easy and I found myself eating them straight from the pot.

    • Reply
      Alex Overhiser
      July 2, 2020 at 3:36 pm

      Glad you loved it!

  • Reply
    Erin
    July 10, 2020 at 6:57 pm

    Hi there :) I’m curious if you’d decrease the time if only making 1 C of lentils, as opposed to the full 1 1/2 C. I’d scale down the water to 2 C, but wasn’t sure about changing the time. By now, I’m feeling pretty confident about cooking rice, steel cut oats, and eggs in the IP…but I’m getting used to other things. Thanks for so many great recipes on your blog!

    • Reply
      Alex Overhiser
      July 11, 2020 at 3:24 pm

      Hi! I think it’d be pretty close to the same. The overall “heating up” time would decrease because of the lower liquid amount so I’d maybe try a 10 minute pressure cook.

  • Reply
    Staci
    July 11, 2020 at 3:37 pm

    9 minutes and mine were a bit mushy. I’ll try 7 minutes next time. The spices are delicious!

  • Reply
    Sun
    July 22, 2020 at 2:19 am

    90% dry mush and 10% hard lentils that feel not cooked all the way. :/. Still edible but nothing like lentils cooked on the stove.

    • Reply
      Alex Overhiser
      July 23, 2020 at 8:23 am

      Sorry it didn’t work for you!

  • Reply
    Anonymous
    July 26, 2020 at 1:53 pm

    This recipe does not disappoint! You both nailed it again! Eating them directly out of the pot! Thank you! No more store bought for us!

  • Reply
    Jill Mitchell
    July 27, 2020 at 6:18 pm

    Didnt work for me. I absolutely will do slow release for a good ten minutes next time. Undercooked.

  • Reply
    An Engineer .... does it show?
    August 19, 2020 at 4:36 pm

    This is a real puzzle. I am finding I need more cook time. Comments vary significantly on cook time.

    This is what I observe:

    Recipe summary at top of recipe block says 10 minutes. Recipe says 9 minutes. One Alex & Sonja comments suggest 8-10 minutes. Okay.

    Here are my results: I am using IP duo, 6 qt. Altitude: 1350 ft. Recipe as shown above but I used 10 minutes with quick release. It took 12.5 minutes to come up to pressure.

    High Pressure Cook 10 minutes
    Quick Release (about 2 min until safety float valve drop)
    Result: uneven texture, many crunchy.

    So… quickly close up and come to pressure: 3 min
    Cook at high pressure: 1 min
    (This gives a total high pressure time, 11 min) (total atmospheric “boiling time” = high pressure time plus warm up time plus QR time = original 10 min at pressure, plus 2 min quick release + 3 min re-pressure time + 1 minute extra high pressure time + 2 minute second quick release = 18 minutes)

    Result: Some crunchy

    So…. quickly re-pressurize and cook 3 more minutes: Total time at pressure: 14 min, Total time atmospheric pressure boiling: 25m 45 s.
    Result: Crunch gone, some are grainy or mealy.

    So… added 1/2 cup water for the quick release losses and quickly re-pressurize and cook 2 more minutes.
    Total time at pressure: 16 min, Total time atmospheric pressure boiling: 32 minutes

    Result: All seeds intact. Grainy texture gone, Most seeds are smooth texture , some are verging on too soft.

    So what is going on here? Do we have different seed quality? Are some using whole seeds and some split seeds? Are Instant Pots so wildly different in calibration of temperature and pressure. Are the Overhiser’s or some of the other contributors seeking a different mouth feel than I am?

    For my palate, the 10-minute crunch is impossible. I like where I ended up with all seeds intact and mostly smooth (16 minutes high pressure time, plus additional 16 minutes atmospheric boiling time during quick releases and re-pressurizing heating.

    As to the other flavoring, for my palate, the tastes are too strong. I like the flavor mix – but I will the amount of spices in my next try. Thanks.

    • Reply
      AN ENGINEER .... DOES IT SHOW?
      August 19, 2020 at 5:31 pm

      I posted another comment but do not see it appearing ….so I hope you read this here:
      **ERROR** this fourth cycle of cooking says the seeds are all intact. They are *not*. This is not suitable for use in a salad as separate seeds. It will be great for burritos, and other presentations – but there is a lot of mash. Sorry about that.

  • Reply
    AN ENGINEER .... DOES IT SHOW?
    August 19, 2020 at 5:28 pm

    Opps, ERROR …. in the fourth cycle, the text continues to say “all seeds intact”. That is not true. At this cooking level it would *NOT* work for a salad of something needing discrete seeds. There is a lot of mash. So great for burritos, and other presentations, but not for intact seeds. Sorry about that.

  • Reply
    Tina
    September 13, 2020 at 4:22 pm

    I was looking for instant pot cooking times for lentils and came across your recipe. These taste amazing! I did have to put mine back in for another two minutes to get the consistency I like. Otherwise, they are great and omg taste so good. I needed them for a lentil loaf recipe but if I keep eating them, I won’t be having a lentil loaf lol.

    • Reply
      Alex Overhiser
      September 14, 2020 at 12:18 pm

      Haha! So glad you enjoyed!

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