Want vegan lentil recipes? Lentils are low in calories, high in protein, and budget friendly: making them perfect for plant based eating!
Lentils are perfect for eating plant based. Why? They’re full of plant-based protein, making them feature often as a stand-in for meat in vegetarian and vegan recipes. Lentils are so versatile: they can be made into traditional dishes like lentil soup or dal, or feature as a taco filling! Here are our top vegan lentil recipes for making the most of this protein-filled vegetable!
Before we start, let’s talk lentils nutrition. Lentils are not only tasty: they’re full of nutrition benefits and are inexpensive to buy! Here are a few of the major nutritional benefits of lentils:
- Protein & Fiber: Lentils have a large amount of plant-based protein. 1 cup of cooked lentils has about 18 grams of protein and 15 grams of fiber. (Source)
- Low in Fat & Calories: Lentils have virtually no saturated fat and are low in calories.
- Protect Against Heart Disease: Lentils are rich in polyphenols, micronutrients thought to help protect against cardiovascular disease. (Source)
Types of lentils
All lentils are not created equal! There are many varieties of lentils: the most popular varieties are brown, green, yellow, red, and French lentils. To learn more about the different varieties of lentils, see What are Lentils?
And now…our top vegan lentil recipes!
First up in our vegan lentil recipes...ready for the best ever soup? Yes, we’re pulling out the expletives because this one is so delicious, you won’t even remember that you’re doing your body and the planet good. You’ll just feel like you’re wrapped in a cozy hug. Did we mention it’s a totally plant based dinner recipe, too? This vegan lentil soup is ready to amaze you.
Got an Instant Pot? Here's a pressure cooker version: Instant Pot Lentil Soup
Lentil nachos? Yes, please! These loaded vegan nachos are the BEST. They're piled high with smoky, meaty lentils and crunchy veggies. What really takes the cake?Our vegan nacho cheese. It's creamy, it's savory, it's cheesy...and you'll never believe it doesn't have an ounce of cheese! Look for organic corn chips with minimal ingredients (ideally corn, oil, and salt).
Dal is one of the quintessential vegan lentil recipes. Masoor dal translates as “red lentils” in Hindi. There are many types of dal: you may have heard of chana dal (chickpeas) or urad dal black lentils). Or you may have dried dal makhani, literally “buttery lentils.” This authentic masoor dal recipe is a basic dal and it comes out cozy and nuanced, with just the right amount of gentle flavoring from the turmeric. You'd never imagine lentils could taste this good.
Lentils are the perfect stand-in for meat in tacos. These Instant Pot tacos are filled with our smoky Instant Pot lentils and rice, loved by plant-based eaters and carnivores alike! The lentils stand in for taco meat, then they're loaded up with colorful veggies, salsa, and cilantro sauce or chipotle cream. Don’t have an Instant Pot? No problem. Make the stovetop Lentil Tacos filling!
Here's a knockout in our vegan lentil recipes: baked sweet potatoes with Moroccan lentils! The flavor here is truly exceptional. The sweet potatoes are baked until moist and tender, then topped with Moroccan-spiced lentils featuring cumin seeds, cinnamon, paprika and harissa. To top it all off: a creamy lemon tahini sauce brings it all together. The vibrant sweet potatoes against the savory spiced lentils are the perfect match: drop-dead delicious!
Here's a tasty basic lentil recipe that can be served many different ways: as part of a bowl meal, in a taco, and more!! The great part: pressure cooker lentils are totally hands off. The lentils come out perfectly spiced and very moist, cooked with veggie broth, onion powder, paprika, garlic powder, and oregano. Serve them with pita wedges, sliced tomatoes, and a dollop of cashew cream, and they're divine.
One of our most special vegan lentil recipes is this Ethiopian red lentil curry called mesir wat. It’s similar to an Indian curry, but is flavored with cardamom and ginger. Serve over rice for a hearty meal. The base recipe was contributed to us by a refugee from Ethiopia; head to the recipe to read her story!
This tomato artichoke lentil stew is all about flavor! It's Italian style and seriously cozy. 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.
Another fantastic lentil stew? Try our Superfood Butternut Squash Lentil Soup.
While this red lentil soup is quite simple to make, it turns out with a complex flavor and lovely warm color. It's flavored with garlic, cumin and paprika. But what takes the cake in this red lentil soup recipe is the garnish – don’t skimp on this one! The combination of crunchy toasted almonds, fresh cilantro, and tangy lemon juice took the soup to a new level.
And for the last in our vegan lentil recipes: more tacos! And these are themed around....a color! FIrst we've got a filling of green lentils, spiced with taco seasoning. Combine that with crunchy green onion and green cabbage, and spoon on a bit of green salsa (salsa verde). Then to top it all off...drizzle with a bit of bright green cilantro sauce. They're seriously tasty...and done in just 30 minutes!
More vegan lentil recipes…
Of course, we have more where those came from! Here are a few more vegan lentil recipes that we love, and some additional lentil resources:
- Quick Coconut Lentil Curry
- Smoky Instant Pot Lentils and Rice
- Hearty Vegan Stew with Sprouted Lentils
- Rice & Lentil Salad
- How to Cook Lentils
- 15 Best Lentil Recipes
- Lentil to Water Ratio
More plant based resources
If you eat a mostly plant based diet, here are a few more resources, including meal plans:
- 28 Day Plant Based Diet Meal Plan
- 10 Filling Plant Based Recipes Perfect for Dinner
- What is a Plant Based Diet?
- How to Get Protein as a Vegetarian
- 28 Day Vegan Meal Plan
About the Authors
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 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.