If you’re trying to make your meal plans healthier while also adding more vegetarian protein into your diet, lentil recipes are a useful protein to focus on. Packed with essential vitamins and minerals, this versatile legume can be cooked and flavored in many different ways.
Below you’ll find a guide containing fifty of the most delicious and healthy lentil recipes across the Internet. From soups to salads and everything in between, you’re sure to find a lentil recipe your family will love.
Lentil Nutrition Information
One of the biggest advantages of incorporating more lentils into your diet is that these mighty legumes are a nutritional powerhouse. Here are the basic macronutrients found in a cup of lentils:
- 230 calories
- 9 grams of carbohydrates
- 9 grams of protein
Along with providing plenty of protein and carbohydrates in a small package, lentils also contain healthy amounts of folate, fiber, potassium, and antioxidants.
Health Benefits of Lentils
Lentils are one of the healthiest vegetable proteins you can add to your weekly meal rotation. In fact, they offer several health benefits if eaten as part of your regular diet.
Here are the main advantages of eating lentils when it comes to your health:
- Full of vitamins and minerals: Nutritional deficiencies can lead to many different disorders and health problems that a healthy diet can prevent. Fortunately, lentils contain a wide range of plant-based vitamins and minerals that can help you maintain a balanced diet.
- Good source of fiber: Lentils contain a high amount of plant-based fiber that can help improve digestive health. So, they keep a person’s bowels moving regularly.
- Healthy meat substitute: Going vegetarian or vegan can cause nutritional deficiencies if you don’t maintain a healthy amount of protein in your diet after removing meat from it. Lentils provide a practical replacement for meat that is delicious and easy to cook.
Ways to Eat Lentils
A great thing about eating lentils is that these legumes are easy to integrate into many different kinds of meals. Here are just a few of the ways that you can eat lentils:
- Fillings: Lentils can be used as a savory filling in dumplings, empanadas, and pies. In fact, a common use of lentils is as the “meat” component in shepherd’s pie, a casserole made of lentils layered with roasted vegetables and mashed potatoes.
- Meat substitute: Any dish such as casseroles and appetizers that usually call for ground beef or pork can usually work just as well with lentils as a substitute. These types of meals include everything from tacos to fritters.
- Filler in one pot meals: Soups, chilis, and stews are a convenient match for lentils because the texture of the lentils blends easily with the texture of other ingredients in these mish-mash dishes. The extra liquid helps keep lentils tender, too.
- Salads: The texture of cooked lentils works well with many different types of salads. It can either be served alongside vegetables and fruits in salads or combined with a light animal protein such as shrimp or chicken.
Best Meats That Go With Lentils
Even though lentils are commonly used as a meat substitute, their flavor and texture also mesh well with different animal proteins and meats. Here are some of the best meats that go with lentils in cooking:
- Pork (especially sausage)
Lentils don’t have a strong flavor on their own, so fattier cuts of meat help lend lentils the flavor they need. If they are paired with leaner meats, lentils should be spiced or seasoned to help keep them from making a dish too bland.
How to Cook Lentils
Lentils are easy to cool regardless of which recipe you use them in, but cooking them correctly is important. Undercooked lentils will contain lectin, a toxin that will cause abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting in people who consume it.
To cook lentils properly, follow these steps:
- Soak the lentils. First, soaking lentils isn’t necessary for them to cook correctly. However, soaking them for several hours prior to cooking can reduce their cooking time by half. Therefore, if you need quick weeknight meals, soaking lentils ahead of time can be worth the extra time you save in the kitchen later preparing them.
- Boil the lentils. Lentils need to be boiled for 15-20 minutes if dry, or 7-10 minutes if pre-soaked. Lentils can be boiled in either water or broth to give them additional flavor. During this stage, herb sachets can also be added.
- Perform a taste test. Lastly, the easiest way to tell if lentils are cooked thoroughly is to chew on one. If the lentil is tender when you bite down on it, this is a sign that the lentils are cooked through. If the lentils are chewy at all, return them to the heat. After that, continue boiling them until they soften.
Once cooked, lentils can be seasoned and added to a wide range of different recipes. Keep reading to check out fifty lentil recipes that will satisfy even the most skeptical eaters.
50 Tasty Lentil Recipes
Red Lentil Recipes
1. Easy Smoky Vegetarian Lentil Chili
Lentil soup might not always be the most exciting thing in your meal rotation. But you won’t hear any complaints if you serve this smoky vegetarian chili from Lemons for Lulu. The chili gets its namesake smoky flavor from poblanos and fire-roasted chilies in adobo sauce.
2. Masoor Dal
Masoor dal is a red lentil dhal, or thick seasoned soup, from the country of Bangladesh. The food of Bangladesh has a lot of overlap with neighboring Bengali and Mughlai cuisines. Learn how to make masoor dal at Polka Dot Passport.
3. Turkish Lentil Balls
Turkish lentil balls like these balls from Aegean Delight are a classic Middle Eastern snack. The balls are made of lentils and bulgur and seasoned with onions, herbs, and spices. After they have been formed into balls, they are baked to perfection.
4. 6 Ingredient Lentil Pancakes
If you want some bread that has a punch of protein, look no further than these breakfast lentil pancakes from That Vegan Nephew. These pancakes are easy to make and a good vehicle for either savory or sweet toppings.
5. Masoor Dal Pakodas
Regular masoor dal soup is delicious enough, but these golden brown fried nuggets of masoor dal at My Annoying Opinions are better suited to snacking or serving as an appetizer at a party. Rice can also be added to the batter to make the pakodas extra crispy.
6. Tangy Red Lentil Dip
If you’re tired of eating the same old hummus dip, try this tangy red lentil dip from Fermenting for Foodies. The dip can be served with either pita or tortilla chips. In addition, this recipe is also delicious as a vegan spread for sandwiches and wraps.
Green Lentil Recipes
7. Green Lentil Curry with Black Rice
The green lentil curry at Delectabilia is packed with complex flavors and is striking in appearance when served over sticky black rice. Green lentil curry originates from Thailand. The recipe combines spices such as garlic, shallots, green chilies, galangal, lemongrass, and coriander.
8. French Green Lentils with Sausage
Green lentils served with sausage is a classic French dish. The recipe is satisfying and warming on a cold winter’s evening. Season these lentils at Masala Herb with Dijon mustard, thyme, and bay leaf for a savory meal that can come together in half an hour.
9. Green Lentil Fritters
Fritters are crispy balls of fried batter that contain spices and usually some kind of protein. These green lentil fritters at That Vegan Nephew are best served with a creamy tahini-dill sauce that acts as a smooth contrast to their crunchy base texture.
10. One Pot Easy Green Lentil Taco Meat
One of the biggest advantages of cooking lentils is that they are easy to season with the same flavor profiles you’d usually use to season animal protein. The green lentil taco “meat” at Knead to Cook offers a healthy vegan alternative to using ground meat that is still filling and delicious.
11. Lentil Shepherd’s Pie
Shepherd’s pie is a mixture of protein and vegetables that is traditionally topped with mashed potatoes and gravy. A practical option to clear out refrigerator leftovers, this shepherd’s pie from Tasty Thrifty Timely combines green lentils with roasted vegetables for a vegan version of the classic dish.
12. Instant Pot Green Moong Dal
Instant Pots have become popular over the past few years because they can speed up cooking times on busy weeknights. Cooking the green moong dal at Sweet Simple Masala in the Instant Pot lets you get dinner on the table in less than half an hour.
13. Hiravya Mugacha Dosa
Dosa are lentil-based pancakes that act as a yummy vehicle for a variety of Indian condiments and toppings. Hiravya Mugacha dosa like these dosa from The Spicy Cafe are both vegan and gluten-free. Try serving them with green coconut or garlic chutney.
14. Festive Lentils
If you’re looking for a lentil side dish, look no further than these festive lentils at Tasty Thrifty Timely. These lentils are seasoned with bay leaf and anise and can cook up more quickly than other grain-based side dishes like rice.
15. Kale-Topped Lentil Shepherd’s Pie
Kale is a powerhouse vegetable that can add tons of essential vitamins and minerals to your meal. However, it can be a challenge to find ways to prepare it so the entire family will enjoy.
Mixing the kale with a buttery potato mash in this vegan lentil shepherd’s pie at Purple Sprouting Kitchen will convince anyone to eat their veggies.
16. Crispy Beef and Lentil Noodle Bowl
Even though lentils are often used to replace meat in dishes, that doesn’t mean they can’t be served together. The crispy beef and lentil noodle bowl at Simmer and Sauce is a delicious mash-up of fresh Lebanese flavors.
Lentil Soup Recipes
17. Instant Pot Turkish Red Lentil Soup
Red lentil soup is a comforting way to use up red lentils. The soup goes well with a variety of toppings such as yogurt and fresh snipped herbs. A homemade roux is the secret to making this Instant Pot soup recipe at Lemons for Lulu buttery, smooth, and rich.
18. Coconut Curry Lentil Soup
The coconut curry lentil soup at The Garden Grazer is full of complex spices and flavors. Fortunately, the recipe is simple to put together for a quick and easy winter meal. The beneficial garlic, ginger, and dinosaur kale make this soup a healthy option as well as a tasty one.
19. Lentil and Ham Soup
Ham and bean soup has been a staple in Western cuisine for hundreds of years. This version with lentils, zucchini, and carrots from Fab Food 4 All is a good way to use up leftover holiday ham while still keeping your supper light.
20. Healthy and Hearty Vegetarian Sweet Potato Lentil Soup
Sweet potatoes are a good match for either sweet or savory dishes. In this sweet potato lentil soup at Lemons for Lulu, they’re paired with roasted vegetables, spinach, and spices for a nutritious vegetarian dish that will give you a pop of warming flavor with every bite.
Black Lentil Recipes
21. Black Lentil Salad with Sweet Potatoes
Salads are an impressive way to show off the flashy coloring of black lentils. Pairing black lentils with roasted sweet potatoes and slices of red onion in this salad at Kitchen Skip makes for a beautiful one-dish meal that can be served either cold or hot.
22. Black Lentil Bolognese
Bolognese is an Italian pasta sauce that is traditionally made with ground beef and pork. The black lentil version from Palouse Brand is a satisfying vegan option that still contains the flavor profile of the traditional version. Use high-quality balsamic vinegar and red wine for a rich, complex base.
23. Black Lentils with Spinach Labneh
How do you make healthy black lentils even healthier? Throw them together with a bunch of fresh spinach, like in this recipe at Alexandra Cooks. These lentils can be served either with a strained yogurt sauce (labneh) or with a ball of burrata cheese.
24. Instant Pot Black Lentils
Instant Pots are a useful way to slow-cook grains and proteins. Certainly, lentils are no exception. The Instant Pot black lentils from The Eat Down are combined with garlic and onions and slow cooked for a savory mash that pairs well with rice, curry, or fresh flatbread.
25. Blackout Onigiri
Onigiri is popular Japanese street food. The dish is traditionally formed from steamed rice that is formed into balls or triangles and served fresh or grilled. In this version from Lisa Is Cooking, the onigiri is seasoned with gochujang sauce and rolled in cooked black lentils to give the onigiri its distinctive black look.
Lentil Salad Recipes
26. Butternut Squash and Lentil Spinach Salad
Roasted butternut squash is a classic pairing with lentils in fall salads. The lentil salad at Lively Table combines lentils with squash, red onion, cranberries, and toasted pecans for a flavorful salad that is packed full of nutrients, too.
27. Spicy Roasted Carrot Salad with Tahini and Lentils
The key to an amazing salad is to use a combination of several different textures and flavors. In this recipe, the ingredients are creamy, crunchy, savory, spicy and sweet. The carrot and lentil salad from Occasionally Eggs is spiced with tahini, lime, and chili powder for a salad that packs a punch.
28. Warm Roasted Lentil and Potato Salad
While cooked lentils are filling enough on their own, combining them with roasted potatoes turns lentils into a side dish that will satisfy no matter whether you’re craving protein or carbs. Check out the recipe to make the salad here at Cooking for Peanuts.
29. Mediterranean Lentil Salad
Lentils can mesh well with several different cuisines. In fact, one of the cuisines that they fit in best with is the cuisine of Greece. Lentils can add needed protein to a Greek salad like this version from Recipe Runner.
The recipe combines lentils with cucumbers, tomatoes, and feta. Serve it as either a starter or a main dish since it has plenty of nutrition to go either way.
30. Chopped Lentil Salad
A common criticism of cooked lentils is that they can lack texture and flavor compared to other proteins. The chopped salad recipe from Kathleen Ashmore combines lentils with cabbage, tomatoes, scallions, and feta before tossing everything in a honey walnut dressing.
31. High Protein Vegan Lentil Salad Jars
Need a lentil recipe that transports well for a lunch at work or school? These lentil-based layer salad jars at Cooking for Peanuts are vegan with gluten-free and oil-free options. The jars can be made ahead of time for healthy lunches all week long.
32. Plumcot, Orange, and Lentil Salad
Plumcots are a hybrid fruit that are a combination of plums and apricots. The sweet tender flavor of these fruits pairs well with more savory ingredients like cooked lentils, goat cheese, and toasted pecans. Check out a salad with this winning combination at Nutrition in the Kitch.
33. Healthy Kale Lentil Breakfast Bowls
Lentils might not be what immediately jumps to mind when you think of breakfast. But these kale and lentil breakfast bowls from Lively Table will make you reconsider. By combining cooked lentils with kale, fried eggs, and yogurt, you’ll have a filling and tasty breakfast that will keep you going all morning.
34. Lentil Pomegranate Salad with Cider Dressing
Lentils are often used in salads that combine sweet and savory flavors. Combine lentils with pomegranate seeds and cider dressing in this tossed salad at From My Bowl for a tangy alternative that will provide plenty of texture, flavor, and crunch.
35. Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Lentils and Lemon Vinaigrette
Combining lentils with roasted vegetables is a practical way to increase their nutritional value, and cauliflower is a delicious option. In this recipe, The Healthful Ideas uses roasted cauliflower with lentils and a tart vinaigrette made with lemon and sherry.
Lentil Curry Recipes
36. Masala Khichdi
If you’re looking for a one-pot dish that is flavorful and healthy, check out this masala khichdi curry from Whisk Affair. This classic Indian dish combines lentils with curry, green peas, onions, garlic, spices, and potatoes for a curry that will have your tastebuds dancing.
37. Daal Tarka
Daal Tarka, also known as “Sunday daal”, is a simple lentil curry that is spiced with asetifida and cumin seeds. Serve it with rice and condiments like pickles and tomato salad for a meal that is simple but satisfying. Check out the recipe here at Veg By Swati.
38. Nav Dhan Dal
Along with lentils, nav Dhan dal includes nine other kinds of beans along with a wide variety of spices for a curry that is full of texture and flavor. Serve this nav Dhan dal from Living Smart and Healthy with fresh roti, jeera rice, and a vegetable salad.
39. Malwa Dal
If you’re looking for a lighter lentil curry, this dal from Whisk Affair is from the Malwa region of India. The recipe showcases Kashmiri red chili powder, ginger, and garlic for an aromatic dish that goes well with fried wheat dumplings or rice.
40. Dal Bukhara
Dal Bukhara is a lentil curry that originated in a famous Bukhara restaurant in New Delhi. This dal is a recipe from Indian Masala Recipes that combines black lentils with spicy tomato gravy and aromatic spices that will be sure to please your dinner guests.
41. Chickpea and Lentil Curry
Chickpeas are a delicious partner for lentils in this vegetarian curry at Whisked Away Kitchen. Each ingredient provides its own dose of plant-based nutrients and fiber. In fact, these two legumes together can take the nutritional profile of your vegetarian curry to the next level.
42. Vada Curry
In India, there are over twenty different kinds of traditional curry. Vada curry is made by deep-frying lentil balls and serving them in an aromatic coconut curry. Learn how to make the recipe here at Hatty Foods.
Vegan Lentil Recipes
43. Vegan Pumpkin Lentil Chili with Quinoa
If you’re trying to make a vegan chili, that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice the smoky, savory flavors of traditional meat-based chili recipes. The pumpkin lentil chili from Lively Table combines lentils with pumpkin, quinoa, and black beans for a gluten-free one-pot dish that will be sure to satisfy.
44. Easy Vegan Red Lentil Soup
Instant Pots make lentil soups a snap to throw together. Use this recipe at Vegan With Gusto to whip up an easy vegan red lentil soup that is seasoned with warming Indian spices and aromatic vegetables like carrots, onions, and garlic.
45. Vegan Taco Soup
Popular in Indian food, lentils are also famously good at taking on the flavors of Mexican cuisine. Try this vegan taco soup from Connisseurus Veg for a taco soup so delicious and spicy that you’ll never even miss the meat.
46. Vegan Shepherd’s Pie
Shepherd’s pie is a classic vegan dish since it relies heavily on roasted vegetables and mashed potatoes, with the traditional ground meat filler almost an afterthought.
In the recipe at The Conscientious Eater, the meat is replaced with spiced lentils for a casserole that freezes well. The dish can be made ahead of time for a quick weeknight meal.
47. Vegan Coconut Curry Lentil Soup
Lentils are a go-to legume for many vegan curry meals since they are traditionally used in vegetarian Indian dishes. Check out this recipe for vegan curry lentil soup from The Garden Grazer that combines stewed lentils with a savory coconut curry and fresh kale or spinach.
48. Vegan Dolma
Lentils are a versatile vegan option for meals that usually include protein-based fillers, like rolls and casseroles. Dolma are a Greek appetizer of pickled grape leaves stuffed with rice and meat.
In this vegan version from Full of Plants, two kinds of lentils combine with aromatic rice for a spicy dish that can serve as either an appetizer or a light meal.
49. Rich Lentil Ragu
Ragu is a classic Italian sauce made of ground meat, onions, tomato puree, and red wine. For a vegan variation, check out this recipe at Everyday Healthy Recipes. Lentil ragu has all of the texture and flavor of classic meat-based ragu with half the cooking time, making it a practical choice for a quick dinner.
50. Lentil Empanadas
The best thing about these vegan lentil empanadas from Vegan Food on a Budget is that they can be made in large batches and frozen ahead for a fast plant-based snack any time you’re feeling hungry.
Serve them at a party as a savory appetizer that will be sure to impress, or just heat them up in the oven for a no-effort meal once you’ve got them prepped.
Lentil Recipes FAQ
Why Are Lentils Toxic?
Lentils are toxic because they contain lectin, a classification of plant proteins that can’t be effectively broken down by the human digestive system. This can lead to digestive problems like abdominal pain, diarrhea, and vomiting.
Which Color Lentils Are the Healthiest?
Black lentils contain the highest amount of essential vitamins and minerals out of any other lentil type. As a result, they are considered the healthiest lentils. These nutrients include iron, potassium, protein, and calcium.
How Long Do Lentils Last in the Fridge?
Cooked lentils that are stored in an airtight container can last for up to three or four days in the refrigerator, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (USDA). For longer storage, cooked lentils can be stored in the freezer for up to two months.
What Do Lentils Taste Like?
Lentils have a mild, earthy taste that can range from slightly sweet to nutty, depending on the type. The reason these legumes have such a varying taste is that their natural flavor is relatively mild. Therefore, they are good at absorbing other flavors and can be seasoned with a wide variety of herbs and spices.
What Happens If You Soak Lentils Too Long?
If lentils are soaked for more than twenty-four hours, this may cause the lentils to sprout. While sprouted lentils aren’t dangerous to eat, they may no longer be suitable for whatever recipe you were going to use them for. Sprouted lentils still need to be completely cooked before eating.
Lentil Recipes Conclusion
There you have it – some lentil recipes that are not only tasty but also packed with nutritional value. While lentils might not be a go-to protein for many households, these delicious and versatile legumes deserve more attention outside of Indian cuisine. Healthy and easy to cook, lentils can be incorporated into almost any kind of meal.