How To Make Perfect Lentils

How to make lentils

Are you watching your food budget like a hawk?

If so, meet lentils. One of the cheapest, most bang-for-your-buck items in the supermarket.

One bag of lentils – good for several meals – costs right around $1.50. They are super versatile, healthy, and easy to make once you know the basic steps.

While lentils can certainly be eaten plain, they are really easy to dress up. Here are some of my favorite ways to use lentils:

How To Make (Perfect) Lentils

These instructions are for green, brown, or French lentils. Red and yellow lentils are cooked slightly differently. You’ll need:

  • 1 part dried lentils (green, brown, or French)
  • 2 parts water
  • Salt

1: For best results – and to help aid in the digestion of lentils – soak in hot water for at least 15 minutes and up to 24 hours before cooking. If you’re crunched for time, simply start with step two.

2: Place lentils in a strainer and rinse with cold water. Remove any discolored lentils or ones that are unusually small.

3: Place lentils in an appropriately-sized saucepan (use a large saucepan if you are making a large amount of lentils, a small saucepan if you are making a small amount of lentils, etc.). Add water.

4: Turn heat to medium-high and cook until the water comes to a rapid simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low so that the water gently simmers. Simmer for about 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. You can add a bit of water to the pot if it dries out before the lentils are done cooking, but don’t overdo it. You’ll know the lentils are done when they are fork tender but not mushy.

5: Remove from heat. To remove unwanted skins, place lentils in a strainer and rinse with cold water.

6: Use immediately or store lentils in the fridge for up to a week.

Please note: Don’t salt the lentils until they are done cooking! If you add to the pan while cooking, the lentils may get tough.

How to make perfect lentils

5 Responses to “How To Make Perfect Lentils”

  1. 1

    SnoWhite @ Finding Joy in My Kitchen — February 24, 2013 @ 3:39 am

    We love lentils at our house – and you are right, dirt cheap! I’ve learned that to best aid in the digestion of the lentils you should soak them before cooking. Soaking for at least 15 minutes but up to 24 hours (in hot water) will disrupt a compound contained in lentils that actually inhibits the good enzymes in our small intestine that digest the protein!

    Since we tend to use lentils in soup, so it’s helpful for me to know how to store them in the fridge and that they last up to a week! Thanks!

    • Haley replied: — February 25th, 2013 @ 4:38 pm

      Thank you so much for this tip! I will add it to the list. Leave it to a scientist to know this stuff 🙂

  2. 2

    Weight Loss Recipe — February 24, 2013 @ 2:19 pm

    Well, I like home cooked lentils a lot and I can say it will give you the best taste only if soaked properly. Better to use luke warm water by adding some salt to it while soaking.

  3. 3

    Barb — August 9, 2016 @ 12:35 am

    Hi. I need lentil advice. Last Saturday, I made some, and they seemed adequately cooked, but the skins came off, and there were SO many of them…I couldn’t figure out how to separate them, so I tossed them. What did I do wrong? I soaked them for 8-10 hours, then cooked them per your directions. Thanks.

  4. 4

    QuantumLotus — December 23, 2016 @ 2:30 pm

    140° F is the Ideal temp to soak lentils for 3 – 24Hrs to remove phytates which inhibit enzyme activity and make them difficult to digest (gas producing),

    Higher or lower temp still remove phytates just not as many.

    If you add baking soda, salt or vinegar before cooked, or the lentils are old they may turn out tough.

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