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Wondering how to cook lentils? In this article, I share how to cook lentils the easy way, as well as how to sprout lentils. I also share several of my family-favorite recipes.

How to Cook Lentils

This article was originally published in December 2011.

I did not grow up eating lentils. And to be quite honest, the first time I made them, I wasn’t overly impressed. They fell apart when I cooked them and resembled something like oatmeal instead of a bean. The taste was nothing to write home about either. They weren’t bad, just kind of blah. But I stuck with it and found some recipes that really work for our family. And I found out how to cook lentils so they provide the best taste. Now I really enjoy both eating and cooking lentils. And I really enjoy sprouted lentils.

I like to make big batches of food and turn it into other meals over the next few days, and originally that was how I cooked lentils also. A blog that is no longer available (Lentils and Rice) was where I first read about cooking up a batch of lentils and brown rice (together). Day one would be lentils and rice with a green salad. On day two, the lentils and rice would become patties. And then on day three they would be used in a soup or maybe a frittata.


Lentil Recipes Your Whole Family Will Love


How to Cook Lentils

This is how to cook lentils in the crockpot, but you can also cook them on the stovetop, in the Instant Pot, or with alternative cooking methods. Here are instructions for six different ways to cook beans.

For ease of cooking and digestion, we soak and/or sprout our lentils. My goal is to make one pot of lentils and then reinvent that pot into three meals to enjoy during the week.

Start with 5 cups of picked-over lentils (to remove any stones or debris) and rinse thoroughly.

In the crockpot, soak the lentils in plain water the night before you want to cook them (or up to 24 hours, changing the water at least one time).

The next morning, drain the soaking water off and put the lentils back in the crockpot, then cover them with homemade broth, water, or a mixture of both.

Cook on low for 5 to 8 hours. When they’re thoroughly cooked, lightly season the entire pot with salt, pepper, and garlic.

Take out enough lentils for supper, then divide the remaining lentils into two or three other portions, depending on your menu plan for the week.


How to Cook Lentils


How to Sprout Lentils

There are many ways to sprout. You can buy fancy sprouting equipment or jars with special lids. But I’m all about economy and shortcuts. My favorite method for sprouting legumes is to use a bowl and a colander—two items that are already in most kitchens. And because I sprout a large amount of lentils at one time, the bowl and colander are a better size than many other options.

Start with 5 cups of picked-over lentils(to remove any stones or debris) and rinse thoroughly.

Soak the lentils in plain water the night before you want to sprout them or up to 24 hours (be sure to rinse and replace the water at least one time if you’re doing a long soak). Put them in a big bowl, stockpot, or other container. Make sure you’ve added plenty of water because the lentils will swell and nearly triple in volume.

In the morning, drain the lentils into a colander and rinse thoroughly. Give the colander a good shake to remove as much water as possible. Set a plate or similar dish on the counter, then place the colander on the dish and cover with a towel. Your lentils may drain a little more, but the plate should prevent a mess. The towel will keep dust off of the lentils.

Rinse every 12 hours for 3 to 5 days. After they have sprouted and have tails, give them a final rinse. Drain and shake to remove as much water as possible and then store in the fridge until ready to use. They can be rinsed every two days to keep fresh.

While the 3 to 5 day sprouting method is perfect for producing a nice, long tail, I tend to use my lentils in various stages of sprouting.


Sprouted Lentil Patties


Sprouted Lentils Meal Plan

Day 1

I don’t always cook my lentils and rice together. Instead, I soak the lentils on day one and use them that night in something like this wonderful Mujadareh. Wardee states that this is an authentic recipe, but I’m not sure it still is by the time I make my changes 🙂 We certainly do enjoy it, though.

Majadareh changes:

My changes are fairly minimal. Since I want to have lentils for not just one night but for several, and to use them in different meals, I soak about 5 cups of lentils overnight. The following morning, I rinse them in a colander and allow them to begin the sprouting process during the daytime. I also soak brown rice to soak during the day (in its cooking container).  Or if I already have leftover cooked brown rice, I’ll just use that and add it at the end of cooking.

By late afternoon, the well-soaked and beginning to sprout lentils have plumped up and increased in size. I remove about 6 cups of lentils to use for my Mujadareh. I then proceed with the recipe as listed, substituting broth for half of the water. Since I get rid of the soaking water from my lentils I do have to keep an eye on the liquid as everything cooks. Sometimes, I need to add more water/broth. Other times, it works out fine.

Wardee indicates that the authentic way to serve Mujadareh is with a green salad (tossed in olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper) and plain yogurt, serving all three on the same plate. And possibly alongside a roast, meatballs, or salmon. We usually just have the Mujadareh, salad, and yogurt, but sometimes I’ll make these delicious Arabic meatballs. This makes a very generous amount of Mujadareh, which means we usually have this for lunch the next day too.

When we are having lentils, day one is almost always Mujadareh now. I really love this dish!


Day 2

By day two, I have lightly sprouted lentils that are perfect for Sprouted Lentil Tacos, which are spectacular, or I just pretend they are soaked lentils and use them as such. During the winter, we especially like Garam Masala Lentil Soup with Coconut Milk. I use about 2 cups of the slightly sprouted lentils in this soup, along with 1 cup of soaked rice. And I substitute broth or broth/water for the 8 cups of water.


Day 3

By this point, I usually have well-sprouted lentils. And one totally fun thing about lentils is they expand tremendously when sprouted. Truth be told, I often have enough sprouted lentils left for not just one but two meals from my original 5 cups (about 2 pounds). I’ve discovered the best Sprouted Lentil Burgers from Cara at Health, Home & Happiness. They are delicious!

Other great sprouted lentil meals are the tacos previously mentioned, Lentil Slaw, Spicy Sprouted Lentils, or a Lentil Salad. I love doing a lentil salad or lentil slaw because they can easily be adapted to whatever ingredients we have on hand. With the amount of lentils I have left, I can make a big batch, allowing us to enjoy it for a couple of days since this salad seems to improve with age (especially with a vinaigrette-style dressing). Of course, there is a chance by that point that we could get a little tired of lentils. That doesn’t usually happen since I’ve created different dishes with different flavors, but by making that salad/slaw, I can turn it into a side dish instead of the main focus. A slab of meat sitting next to a sprouted lentil salad looks quite nice.


Quinoa Enchilada Baked Eggs


More Lentil Recipes


More Bean Recipes


Useful Tools for Home Cooking


Useful Tools for Cooking Beans


Want More Ways to Cook Beans?

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Now that I’ve shared how to cook lentils and some of our favorite recipes, let me know what yours are! Leave a comment below!

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