Learning how to cook Lentils is easy! The best part is that, unlike most dried beans, there’s no pre-soaking required. Because brown lentils are super thin, they only need to be simmered for 20 minutes max!
I know it’s easy to buy canned lentils, but when you cook your own, you can control their doneness and texture. They can be cooked so that they have a bit of a bite (like al dente cooked pasta) or cooked until soft. Also, freshly cooked lentils have a nutty flavour, something you won’t get from the mushy canned variety.
The most common question I get about lentils is “what’s the difference between brown and red lentils”? The easiest answer is – If you’re looking for a lentil to hold it’s shape – choose brown, green, black or Puy lentils. If you’re looking for a lentil to add thickness to a recipe (think pureed lentil soup), choose red lentils – they turn to mush as they cook.
Lentils can be simmered in boiling water, but I like to add some flavour enhancements – a piece of onion, a small carrot, a bay leaf, and a clove. These enhancements will have you snacking on the lentils as soon as they are done!
How To Cook Brown Lentils
- ½ cup brown/green dried lentils
- 1 ¼ cups water
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 small carrot
- ¼ onion
- 1 clove optional
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Rinse lentils in a colander, removing any dried up lentils or stones.
- Place lentils, water, bay leaf, carrot, onion, and salt in a small pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer partially covered for 15 to 20 minutes until the lentils have softened, but still have a bite. Drain, discard bay leaf, onion, carrot, and clove. Enjoy.
- Lentils simmered in water taste great, but if you want to kick up their flavour, simmer lentils in a flavourful liquid – stock, beer, wine, or even just water flavoured with diced onion, peppercorns, and a bay leaf will do.
- To stop lentils from cooking or to cool them quickly for a salad, rinse them under cold running water.
- Cooked lentils will last up to 1 week covered in the fridge, or they can be frozen for up to 2 months.
- It’s worth it to make a batch, store them covered in the fridge, and use them throughout the week.
- 1 cup of dried lentils will yield 2.5 cups of cooked lentils.