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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

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


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!


  • 3 cups vegetable broth (or water)
  • 1 ½ cups brown or green lentils (do not use red lentils)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt


  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):

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. 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!

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

      1. 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

        1. Same! Horrible outcome for red lentils. I wish I had read or seen some disclaimer before starting the whole process. Now I just have lentil mush. Such a waste.

          1. This recipe is for brown or green lentils, as specified in the ingredient list. Red lentils cook much faster and should not be substituted! I added a note to the recipe so that it says “brown or green lentils (do not use red lentils)”. Thanks!

  2. 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

  3. 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!

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. 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

  7. 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!

  8. 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.

    1. 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.

  9. 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?

    1. 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!

  10. 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?

  11. 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 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼

  12. 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!

  13. 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!

  14. 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.

  15. 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!

    1. 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.

  16. 90% dry mush and 10% hard lentils that feel not cooked all the way. :/. Still edible but nothing like lentils cooked on the stove.

  17. 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!

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

  19. 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.

    1. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. 3 QT instant pot

    In Mayer, Arizona not sure about altitude.


    Time: Recipe needed additional 11 minutes to cook. Used quick release both times.

    Salt: Too salty because the buillion used for vegetable base and seasonings like garlic and onion, both contain salt. Perhaps can be salvaged with water.

  23. Here’s my experience —

    I live 4500 feet above sea level so I set the timer for 10 minutes instead of 9, and did a 10 minute natural release. The lentils came out a bit undercooked, but totally edible. I used the sauté function for a few minutes to cook them a bit more. Worked fine. Next time I’ll probably try 11 or 12 minutes with a natural release.

    Also, as another commenter noted, using broth instead of water upped the salt content quite a bit, making the end product a bit too salty, but still salvageable. Next time I doubt I’ll add any extra salt at all, or at least significantly less than the recipe calls for.

    On a more positive note, the flavor was INCREDIBLE. I absolutely loved the spice choices, versatile and delicious.

    After some fine tuning this is sure to be a recipe I keep coming back to!

  24. I want to try this recipe, but I would like to have more veggies on the side than the tomatoes. What kind of salad would pair well with the lentils? Any suggestions?

  25. I made this recipe, and my lentils were still half-hard when I took them out. I put them in for another 9 minutes and they still did not cook much more :(

    We ate them a bit hard, then I put them back for 15 minutes and left them to release naturally for a couple hours. Then they were delicious. I will have to alter the recipe when I put it in my book. I think they could use some spice too!

  26. The lentils were still hard. Had to cook an additional 5 minutes. And it was so salty I couldn’t eat it. My mistake for adding the salt at all. Better to add after it’s cooked and suit to taste.

  27. So I have a bag of Autumn Blend lentils that I would like to cook in my instant pot. I read in your recipe to not use red lentils. The mix I have is red lentils, brown lentils, yellow moong dal lentils and yellow split peas. I’m curious why one should not use red lentils?

    1. Hi! The spit peas, dal and red lentils will all turn to mush with these instructions. You would only need 3 to 4 minutes cook time for those.

  28. Second time making and they are delicious and great for meal prep. Curious if one serving is 1 cup?

  29. Oh my! These were so good! Thank you for telling me NOT to use red lentils, as they are what we had on hand and I did not like them when we made them before! We bought green and they were amazing! We served them with the sheet pan veggie bake and used fat free greek yogurt as a dipping sauce. Sooooo good! My hubs did not even miss the meat!

    1. Hi, Nicole,
      Does this help your question about lentil servings?
      One-half cup of cooked lentils has: Calories: 140. Fat: 0.5 grams. Carbs: 23 grams. › benefits-…
      Health Benefits of Lentils – WebMD

  30. I love this recipe but when I go to my parents house they don’t hace an instant pot. How can I make this recipe on the stove?

  31. Sigh. Success.
    After years! Struggling to make an edible pot of Lentils, this morning l reached Lentil Nirvana.
    I’ve had no luck cooking lentils, not even sure I liked them at all with their mudlike consistency, gritty uncooked bits and lackluster taste. It was a war, a standoff.
    But as we move toward WFPB, dirty vegan-hood, l saw more and more recipes using healthy beneficial Lentils.
    I researched and found Your IP method and braved the voices in my head. I put them in the Instant Pot plain, set the 9 minutes, waited the extra 10 and opened the pot.
    Beautifully cooked, firm and soft, melt in my mouth Lentils. They even Tasted good. They’re now sitting in the fridge, heading for Taco Bowl dinner tonight. Thank you for publishing this recipe and all! The information.

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