If you’re not sure what to do with lentils, check out this collection of vegan lentil recipes. Discover how versatile and delicious these healthy legumes are!
What are lentils?
Lentils are the tiny edible seeds of legumes and are related to beans, peanuts and peas.
Lentils come in a variety of sizes and colours. Their high protein content make them a staple in vegan and vegetarian kitchens.
They can be bought dried or canned, both of which are shelf-stable and can be stored for many months.
Lentils are versatile and, as you will see below, are delicious in a wide variety of vegan lentil recipes.
What are lentils good for?
Lentils are good for a multitude of different vegan lentil recipes!
They make an excellent ground beef replacement for bolognese sauce, stuffed vegetables, shepherd’s pie or other vegan casseroles.
They add texture and heartiness to soups, stews and chilis.
They’re a great protein addition to salads or as a filling for veggie wraps, tacos or burritos.
Red and yellow lentils are the main ingredient in dhal and many other Indian dishes.
Lentils can be used mashed as a binder for burgers and meatloaf, or kept whole for their texture.
They’re a great addition to top off your favourite vegan bowl recipes.
Types of lentils
There are hundreds of different types of lentils but just a small handful that are commonly used and easy to find in most supermarkets.
Brown and green lentils: These are the most common types of lentils. Green lentils are a bit larger and take a few more minutes to cook than brown lentils, but they can often be used interchangeably in recipes. They hold their shape fairly well but will start to break down if overcooked. These are the most common type of canned lentil.
Red and yellow lentils: Red and yellow lentils are even smaller than brown lentils and cook very quickly. These types of lentils break down easily and are used when you’re trying to achieve a creamy consistency such as in dhal or soup.
French or Puy lentils: Puy lentils are greyish-green in colour and are only grown in a specific region in France. They have a unique peppery flavour and hold their shape better than green lentils, making them ideal for salads or stews where you want to retain their texture.
Black or beluga lentils: Beluga lentils are renowned for their flavour. Their small size and dark colour makes them resemble caviar, hence the name beluga. Their thicker skin means they hold their shape well during cooking and are a popular choice for salads and can also be marinated.
Are lentils good for you?
Yes! Lentils are nutritional powerhouses and something that everyone should be eating on a regular basis.
They are one of the best sources of plant-based protein while also being low in fat.
One cup of lentils will give you one third of you daily intake of iron and 20% of your fibre.
They’re also a great source of calcium, potassium, magnesium and folate.
Just as important as what they do have, is what they don’t have: cholesterol and saturated fat.
A recent study concluded that the most important dietary changes necessary to increase life expectancy by up to 10 years is eating more legumes like lentils, whole grains and nuts.
Canned lentils vs. dried
Most supermarkets will carry lentils in both dried form and in cans.
Dried lentils are much more economical than canned, but canned lentils will sometimes save you time when making a recipe since they’re already cooked.
With canned lentils, the sodium content can be a concern. Rinsing them well under running water can remove up to 60% of the salt they’ve been packaged in.
If your recipe called for canned lentils and you prefer to use dried, or vice versa, the conversion are as follows:
1 cup of dried lentils will make 2 ½ cups of cooked lentils
A 19 oz can of lentils is approximately 2 cups of lentils
A 15 oz can of lentils is equivalent to 1 ¾ cups cooked lentils
⅔ cup dried lentils equals a 15 oz can
How to cook lentils
Canned lentils are already cooked. To prepare canned lentils, drain them into a sieve and run them under cool water. They are ready to be added to your recipe.
Dried lentils also need to be rinsed to remove any dust. Take a close look at them and remove any small stones that might have made it into the bag.
Unlike beans, lentils do not need to be soaked before cooking.
Soaking lentils may reduce their cooking time by a few minutes, but since lentils are quick cooking, it usually doesn’t save you too much time in the end.
However, if you find you have digestive problems after eating lentils, soaking may help with that.
Some vegan lentil recipes, for example soups and stews, will call for cooking the lentils together with the rest of the ingredients. Simply follow the recipe’s instructions.
To cook lentils for a recipe that calls for cooked lentils, place the rinsed dried lentils in a pot and cover with 3 times as much water.
Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until tender.
Brown lentils typically need 15 - 20 minutes, green lentils and Puy lentils need 20 - 35 minutes, red and yellow split lentils can cook in as little as 5 - 10 minutes.
Do not add salt until after the lentils are cooked since adding salt to the cooking water can prevent the lentils from softening.
Use your cooked lentils as directed in your recipe calling for cooked lentils.
How to store lentils
Dried and canned lentils have a long shelf life and are excellent to keep on hand for vegan pantry recipes.
Store dried lentils and unopened canned lentils in the cupboard for up to one year. Ensure that dried lentils are in an airtight container where moisture and insects can’t get in.
Store cooked lentils or opened canned lentils in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 - 4 days.
Cooked lentils can be frozen in freezer bags or an airtight container for up to 6 months.
Use a ratio of 1 part lentils to 2 parts water or stock. Add in salt and your preferred herbs or seasonings. Cook on high pressure for 9 minutes. Allow natural release for 10 minutes then manual release any remaining pressure before removing the lid.
Use a ratio of 1 part lentils to 2 parts water or stock. Cook on low for 6 - 8 hours or on high for 3 - 4 hours.
No, you do not have to soak lentils before cooking. However, if you find you have digestive problems after eating lentils, soaking may help with that.
Brown and green lentil recipes
Red and yellow lentil recipes
French and Puy lentil recipes
Black and beluga lentil recipes
Vegan Lentil Recipes
- 1 cup dried lentils
- 4 cups water
- seasonings to taste
- Place the lentils in a sieve and rinse them under cool water. Remove any debris or stones.
- Place the rinsed lentils and water in a pot. Bring the pot to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the lentils are tender but not falling apart.
- Red and yellow lentils cook in 15 minutes; brown, black and green lentils cook in 20 - 30 minutes. Older lentils may take a bit longer to cook.
- Drain off any remaining water and season to taste.