Lentil to Water Ratio

Want to cook green or brown lentils without a recipe? All you need is this lentil to water ratio, which works every time.

Lentil to water ratio

Wondering how to make lentils without a recipe? All you need is that lentil to water ratio, which works every time. This ratio is for brown and green lentils only (since red and yellow lentils cook differently — they become mushier when cooked and are used for stews). Here is is:

Lentil to water ratio (brown & green): 
1 part lentils to 3 parts water

That means if you’re planning to cook 1 cup of lentils, you’ll combine it with 3 cups of water in a pot. Simple as that! Here are a few other things to keep in mind:

  • Do you have to boil the water first? No! Place the lentils and water in a pot together and bring to a high simmer, then cover and simmer.
  • How long do you cook brown and green lentils? 20 to 25 minutes, until the lentils are tender but still hold their shape. You can drain any excess liquid.
  • Can I make lentils with broth instead of water? Yes! Cooking with broth brings in extra flavor.

Want a recipe? Scroll down to our full recipe below!

Lentil to water ratio
Seasoned Brown Lentils

Types of lentils and lentil recipes

This lentil to water ratio works for cooking brown and green lentils, but the cook time for yellow and red lentils is a bit different. Here’s a primer on the different types of lentils and a few examples of recipes to use with each:

Lentil serving sizes

But how much lentil to cook? It’s all in the math. Here are a few handy formulas to remember:

  • How much does 1 cup of dry lentils make? 1 cup dry lentils = about 2 1/2 cups cooked lentils. Lentils increase in volume about 2 1/2 times when cooked.
  • How much is 1 serving of lentils? Plan for about 1 to 1 1/2 cups of lentils per serving.
  • How much dry lentils do I need for about 4 cups cooked? Since lentils increase 2 1/2 times when cooked, divide the cooked volume by 2 1/2. 1 1/2 cups dry lentils = About 4 cups cooked lentils

Got a pressure cooker or Instant Pot?

You can make lentils in an Instant Pot too! That’s got a different lentil to water ratio; here’s our recipe! Instant Pot Lentils

Print
Lentils nutrition

Lentil to Water Ratio


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  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: About 4 cups 1x

Description

Want to cook green or brown lentils without a recipe? All you need is this lentil to water ratio, which works every time.


Scale

Ingredients


Instructions

  1. Place all ingredients in a large saucepan.
  2. Bring to a rapid simmer, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 to 25 minutes until the lentils are tender but still hold their shape. Drain any excess liquid. Add the salt and serve warm. (Storage info: Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator; reheat on the stovetop.)

  • Category: Base Recipe
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Vegetarian

Keywords: Lentil to Water Ratio

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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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