This recipe for making green lentils in the Instant Pot is so easy and versatile. Lentils are full of nutrition and a great source of plant-based protein. Use them in soups or salads, or make them into gluten-free lentil burgers.

bowl of cooked green lentils with wooden spoon

Types of Lentils

Lentils are a type of legume that come in various colors. The most common lentils you’ll find in the market include:

  • brown or green lentils (the most common types)
  • red or yellow lentils (often used in Indian cooking)
  • black lentils, also called beluga lentils
  • French green puy lentils

Here’s a picture I snapped in the bulk section of my local health food store so you can see the variety of colors. You’ll notice that what we typically call green lentils are actually more brown in color. That’s why green lentils are also known as brown lentils.

lentils in bulk bins

True green lentils are known as French green puy lentils and have a different texture than the brown or green lentils that are most common in the United States.

There is also a similar confusion around red lentils as they are sometimes called yellow lentils (likely because they turn yellow-ish when they are cooked). See my recipe for Instant Pot Red Lentil Indian Dal.

green uncooked lentils in pot

Cooking Lentils

Lentils are actually very easy to cook. Unlike other beans that require soaking before cooking, lentils can just be rinsed and cooked in water right away. They only need about 20 minutes cooking time on the stovetop to be tender and ready to eat.

Lentils are an awesome meal prep recipe because they store up to a week and can be used in such a variety of ways. I have several lentil recipes including my Vegan Lentil Shepherd’s Pie, Wild Rice & Lentil Salad, my Baked Lentil Burgers, and my easy Coconut & Lentil Curry.

See my entire index of healthy vegan recipes.

Stovetop Directions

So, to cook green or brown lentils on the stovetop, here are the directions.

  1. Rinse and drain the lentils in a fine-mesh sieve. Pick through the lentils to pick out any debris.
  2. Place the lentils in a medium saucepan. Add water to cover the lentils, plus about 2 inches. You will usually need 2 cups of cooking liquid for every 1 cup of lentils. You can use water, chicken broth, or vegetable broth.
  3. Bring to a boil and cook for 20-25 minute, or until the lentils are soft and most of the water has been absorbed. You can always drain off any excess cooking liquid, if necessary.

Pressure Cooker Lentils

instant pot lentils in liner of pressure cooker

An even easier alternative is to cook lentils in an electric pressure cooker. Pressure cooking legumes like lentils can even reduce or inactive their lectin content, making it the preferred cooking method for anyone with a sensitive digestive system or with lectin sensitivities.

To make Instant Pot green lentils, all you have to do is:

  1. Rinse and drain your dry lentils (use brown or green lentils). Pick them over for any debris.
  2. Combine the rinsed lentils with 1 3/4 cups of water into the base of your Instant Pot.
  3. Lock on the lid and set the timer to high pressure. The cook time will depend on what type of lentil you are cooking (see below).
  4. When the cooking time is up, wait 10 minutes, use the quick release to get rid of any remaining pressure, and then remove the lid.

Here’s a handy chart with pressure cooker cooking times for the different types of commonly found lentils:

  • Brown lentils (most common): 10 minutes
  • Green lentils (sometimes also called brown lentils): 10 minutes
  • Red lentils: 3 minutes
  • French green puy lentils (these are smaller than the other type of regular green lentils): 6 minutes
  • Black lentils: 6 minutes

You can feel free to add salt or other seasonings into the pot before you cook them. It’s common to add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 of ground black pepper. It just depends on how you are going to use the cooked lentils.

cooked lentils served with peas and spices

Recipe Tips & Substitutions

  • For an easy way to serve cooked lentils. add a tablespoon of olive oil, sea salt, and a squeeze of lemon juice. Ta-da, you have a simple and great recipe for lentil salad.
  • Feel free to add other seasonings to your cooked lentils. Curry powder, garam masala, smoked paprika, or Italian seasoning are all good options.
  • Cooked lentils can also be made into a complete meal by adding cooked rice or cooked quinoa, plus a simple vinaigrette dressing. See my Copycat Costco Quinoa Salad for an actual recipe.

FAQs

What are lentils?

Lentils are a small legume. They come from a bushy plant that is mostly grown in Canada, Turkey, and India. Lentils are a great source of plant-based nutrition, including protein, non-heme iron, folate, and magnesium.

What do lentils taste like?

Cooked lentils have a mild flavor, making them an excellent base of recipes. Depending on which type of lentil you use and how long you cook them, lentils can either have a firm texture or be quite mushy.

Do I need to add olive oil to the Instant Pot when cooking lentils?

Some people like to add some olive oil to the pot to prevent foaming. In my experience, lentils do not create that much foam so you do not need to add olive oil.

More Healthy Instant Pot Recipes You Might Like

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cooked green lentils in bowl with spoon

Lentils in Instant Pot


Description

This recipe for Instant Pot Brown or Green Lentils is so easy and versatile. Lentils are full of nutrition and a great source of plant-based protein. Use them in soups or salads, or make them into gluten-free lentil burgers.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 cup brown or green lentils, rinsed well and drained
  • 1 3/4 cup filtered water
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions

  1. Place the rinsed lentils and water in the base of a 6-quart pressure cooker. Add the salt and pepper.
  2. Lock on the lid and set the time to 10 minutes at high pressure.
  3. When the cooking time is complete, let the pressure come down naturally for about 10 minutes. Then, use the quick-release to release any remaining pressure. 
  4. Serve the lentils hot or at room temperature.

Notes

  1. Store your cooked lentils in a tightly-sealed container in the refrigerator for up to a week. You can also freeze cooked lentils in a tightly-sealed container for up to 2 months. 
  • Category: Basics
  • Method: Instant Pot pressure cooker
  • Cuisine: Healthy

Keywords: pressure cooker lentils, how to cook lentils, brown lentils

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