How to Cook Lentils

It's actually just like rice.

Food, Dish, Cuisine, Ingredient, Produce, Vegetable, Plant, Legume, Recipe, Lentil,
Parker Feierbach

If you know how to cook rice, then you basically know how to cook lentils. And if you don't know how to cook rice? No fret, because we have a great how-to on that. 

Cooking lentils is easy as remembering 1:2. For every one cup of dry lentils, you need two cups of cooking liquid. After that, it's just simmering until tender. Setting a timer and checking on your lentils will be important because lentils can get mushy quickly and there's not nothing worse than that! Here's the breakdown, so you can avoid mushiness at all costs. 

1. Rinse them. 

Measure out one cup lentils into a fine mesh strainer and rinse under cold water until water runs clear. 

2. Boil. 

Add your lentils to a medium pot and cover with 2 cups of water (or chicken stock for bonus points!) then add a hefty pinch of salt. Bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and cover. 

3. Let simmer. 

Let it simmer until lentils are just soft but not falling apart—around 20 minutes. If your lentils aren't soft after 20 minutes check on them every 5 minutes. 

4. Strain and season. 

Strain out any excess liquid, then season lentils however you desire. I like mine with more salt, pepper, and some good olive oil, but a bolder cumin and paprika combo is delicious as well. 

Which lentils should I use?

This depends on what you are looking for! If you want a lentil that holds its shape and won't turn to mush then you are looking for a green or brown lentil. These hold their shapes well and are the most common variety in American grocery stores. Know that both brown and green lentils vary in color and either kind can go from light green to dark brown and even almost black. It's confusing, I know. 

Red or yellow lentils don't hold their shape as well and are better suited for soups or in Indian dal. 

Made this yet? Let us know how it went in the comments below!

Editor's Note: The introduction to this recipe was updated on September 11, 2020 to include more information about the dish.

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Yields: 4 servings
Prep Time: 0 hours 5 mins
Total Time: 0 hours 30 mins
Ingredients
1 c.

green lentils

2 c.

water

Kosher salt 

Freshly ground black pepper

Directions
  1. Rinse lentils in a fine mesh strainer. In a medium pot over medium-high heat, add lentils and water and a big pinch of kosher salt. Bring to a boil then reduce heat, cover, and let simmer until tender, 20 minutes. Drain excess liquid from lentils then season with salt and pepper and serve as desired. 

 

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