How To Cook Lentils In An Instant Pot

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How To Season Lentils


The recipe below will guide you on cooking plain lentils that you can use in any meal or recipe, but if you want to season them at the same time, heres my favorite combination for a taco-inspired flavor.

Per cup of dry lentils:

  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

When the lentils are done cooking, add a squeeze of fresh lime or lemon juice, and adjust the seasoning as needed to your taste. If you use this seasoning with red lentils, their mushy texture reminds me of refried beans! You can use the Instant Pots sauté function if you want to cook some chopped onion and garlic first, then you can add in the lentils and water and cook them together using the timing below.

Serving Suggestions And Storage

I actually prefer to eat this lentil curry on its own because its just so good! Of course, it also pairs well with potatoes, quinoa, and rice.

If you have other veggies that need to be used, feel free to add them to the pot. Try chopped carrot, bell pepper, or mushrooms. For something green, stir baby spinach into the pot after cooking.

Garnish with fresh cilantro and lime, and if youre into spiciness, a dash of cayenne plus extra black pepper is also great.

And not that this curry is especially spicy, but a dollop of Instant Pot Cashew Yogurt adds a nice, cooling element.

This red lentil curry reheats beautifully and is a great dish to add to weekly meal prep. It can also be frozen for longer storage.

I love hearing from you! If you try the recipe be sure to leave a comment and a star rating below to let us know how it turned out.

Can You Cook Lentils With Salt

When cooking lentils in a recipe, I prefer to omit the salt until the lentils are 100% tender, as salt can sometimes interfere with the lentils softening. This is definitely the case when you cook lentils with soy sauce, so dont add soy sauce to a recipe until after the lentils are tender.

In my experience, this happens more often with pressure cooking than with stove top cooking, and it usually happens more often when an acidic ingredient is in the recipe, too, like tomatoes or lemon juice. So, keep that in mind when cooking with lentils, and add the salt at the end if you want to stay on the safe side.

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How Long To Cook Lentils

Most lentils cook in just 9 minutes, with a quick release. Keep in mind that it can take up to 10 minutes for the pot to come to pressure, so be sure to factor in that extra time when planning your meals.

Heres how long different varieties need to cook:

  • Green lentils: 9 minutes
  • Brown Lentils: 9 minutes
  • Black Lentils: 9 minutes
  • Red Lentils: 5 minutes or more

In each case above, I use a quick release when the cooking time is completed. That means I move the steam release valve to venting to release the pressure as soon as the screen reads LO:OO on my Instant Pot. If you dont hear the pressure cooker beep when its done, its okay if you dont release the pressure right away the lentils will just be a little softer when you get around to them.

To see a demonstration of the quick release be sure to check out my How To Use Your Instant Pot tutorial, where I show you the 10 things you need to know about your Instant Pot in a quick 3-minute video.

Make From Frozen Serving Day Directions

Instant Pot Lentil Soup

These directions help you cook or reheat this meal AFTER its been frozen for when you are ready to eat it.

  • Prep from frozen
  • **Depending on your container size/shape and your serving size, you may need to adjust cooking times given as it is based on 4 servings frozen in indicated container.**
  • Add frozen contents to Instant Pot.
  • Lock lid into place and seal steam nozzle.
  • Cook on high pressure for 9 minutes.
  • Naturally release pressure for 5 minutes then release any remaining pressure.
  • Top with parsley.
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    Water Ratio For Lentils

    When cooking red lentils in an Instant Pot or boiling lentils on a stovetop, combine 1 cup lentils with 2 cups water or 3 cups water . Or, just make sure there is about 2 to 3 inches of water above the lentils. If youre making red lentil soup, youll need to add more water so more liquid remains after cooking. Most red lentil soup recipes call for anywhere between 4 to 8 cups of water/broth.

    How To Make Green Lentils In The Pressure Cooker

    • Rinse and drain the green lentils to clean out any debris.
    • Add the green lentils to the pressure cooker alongside the liquid and garlic clove.
    • Close the lid and set it to sealing. Set the pressure cooker to 9 minutes and quick release immediately when done.
    • Set aside to serve or store in an airtight container for later.

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    Other Instant Pot Beans And Lentils Tips:

    • Beans will generally double in volume after cooking. All recipes are for one cup of dried beans which will yield two cups of cooked beans.
    • Your beans must be fully submerged in water. They need to absorb the water, and it will run fast! If you dont add enough water, you will burn your beans. Generally speaking, you will use 8 cups of water per cup of beans, so as a rule of thumb, follow the 1:8 ratio. For lentils, you will generally use 2 cups of water per cup of lentils. Use a 1:2 ratio.
    • Dont increase the recipe so much that you cant accommodate with enough water. You should never fill your Instant Pot past the max line with liquid. You wont get consistent cooking results with this. Make sure your pot has the capacity for the recipe youd like to make before cooking.
    • Get spicy with it! Plain beans are great to use in different cuisines throughout the week. To boost flavour, add whole spices or bay leaf to inject flavour. Another thing you can do to boost umami is to cook your legumes in chicken broth or vegetable broth. Finally, you can add things like dried mushrooms which pack a punch.

    Types Of Lentils And How To Cook Them In The Instant Pot

    How to Make Vegan Lentil Soup | Instant Pot Recipe

    Red Lentils: These are commonly used in Indian dal and soft dishes like soups and curries. Red lentils break down quickly and become creamy, making them the perfect thickening agent for stews, soups, and purées. If youre new to red lentils and open your pot to see a pile of mush, dont be alarmed. Thats exactly what red lentils do!

    For a soup/stew/curry, I like cooking red lentils for about 10 minutes in the Instant Pot at high pressure. This gives them plenty of time to disintegrate and melt into the other ingredients, thereby naturally thickening the texture. But if youre just cooking red lentils in plain water, they need just 2-3 minutes. And theyll still get mushy in this short amount of time.

    Note: At Indian grocery stores, you will also find split red lentils, AKA masoor dal. These are red lentils that have had their skins removed and therefore cook a bit more quickly. Youll also find split yellow lentils, AKA moong dal. If youd like to learn more about the varieties of lentils used to make Indian dal, check out this blog post on Restaurant-Style Dal Tadka.

    Brown and Green Lentils

    French Green Lentils: These lentils also hold their shape when cooked, making them perfect in salads. If you find brown or green lentils to be too mushy for your taste or use, try these French green lentils instead. They have a pleasant, peppery taste.

    French green lentils take 6-8 minutes in the Instant Pot and will stay nice and firm. I prefer to cook them for 6 minutes.

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    How To Cook Lentils On The Stove In A Slow Cooker Or Instant Pot

    Do you have a bag in your pantry but are not really sure how to cook lentils? Or use them? These are my go-to, tried-and-true ways of cooking green and brown lentils from dry on the stove, in a slow cooker or in an Instant Pot.

    Lentils are a wonderful plant based protein that has the ability to step in for meat in many recipes. Soups, sauces and even meatloaf. Plus, when bought dry, they make for a great pantry staple that makes throwing together a healthy dinner easy!

    Health benefits of lentils

    Lentils are part of the legume family right there with beans and come in lots of different colors. For these particular recipes, I used brown and/or green lentils since they are cheap, easy to find, and work in lots of different recipes .

    Brown lentils and green lentils are also the most commonly used lentils. They also hold their shape really well in recipes. Red lentils are also a common lentil in recipes, but tend to not hold their shape as well and require less cooking time and liquid.

    Not only are lentils inexpensive and versatile, but they also pack a serious nutritious punch. They are packed with goodness like

    • B vitamins
    • iron

    Tips For Flavoring Lentils:

    • Add spices when the lentils go into the instant pot I like to add cumin, onion powder, and paprika. But you can use any spices you enjoy cayenne, oregano, thyme and rosemary are all great additions.
    • Before cooking, use the saute function of your Instant Pot to brown up some onion and garlic. Then, add in the lentils and cook.
    • I like to cook my lentils in broth to give them great flavor.
    • When the lentils have finished cooking, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar or lemon juice will add some great acidity and brighten the lentils up a bit.
    • Fresh herbs sprinkled over the cooked lentils are delicious. Try parsley or cilantro.

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    How To Cook One Pound Of Lentils In An Instant Pot

    March 22, 2021 By Adrienne Harvey

    Finally, the answer youve been searching for at least its what I was looking for and NOT finding. How to cook one pound of dry lentils in an Instant Pot. Because lentils seem to be sold in 1 pound bags and because so many of us like to prepare them ahead. My favorite lentil recipes are cooked then cooled so theyre great for both the benefits of resistant starch, but also as make-aheads. And what good is it to make ahead 1 cup of lentils? Thats not even worth cleaning the Instant Pot for afterwards. Seriously.

    Fava Beans Instant Pot Cooking Times:

    Instant Pot Lentil Soup Recipe
    • Important note: If you dont buy dried or canned fava beans, you will need to remove the skins. The skin is tough and its not tasty. This will be easiest to do after cooking.
    • For one cup of soaked fava beans: Cook for 8-12 minutes on high pressure in enough water to fully submerge the beans.
    • For one cup of dry fava beans: Cook for 22-28 minutes on high pressure in enough water to fully submerge the beans.
    • Recipe:Persian Rice with Dill, Lima Beans and Leftover Chicken from My Heart Beets

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    Adding Flavor To Lentils

    But if you want to make your lentils more flavorful, youll need to add some more flavorings . Lentils are sponges, so they absorb the flavors of the ingredients in which theyre cooked.

    I like to begin my lentils by sautéing some aromatics in oil, such as onion and garlic. And because I like things spicy, I often sauté some chili peppers too. If Im cooking Indian food, Ill also add in cumin seeds and ginger before adding the lentils. Or, if Im making Mexican-flavored lentils, I might sauté an onion, green pepper, and jalapeño pepper.

    After you cook your aromatics, its time for more seasonings. You can keep it simple with just salt and pepper, or you can add an array of your favorite spices, such as cumin, paprika, or turmeric. The exact spices will depend on the flavor profile/specific cuisine you are cooking. I also love adding fresh herbs to the cooking liquid for more depth of flavor. Sturdy herbs like thyme, rosemary, oregano, sage, and bay leaves work excellently.

    Finally, I like to cook the lentils in vegetable broth instead of water since it gives the lentils a little more richness and flavor.

    Below you will find four incredibly easy recipes for Instant Pot lentils. And in case you are a fan of other legumes , here are more Instant Pot recipes featuring lentils and other legumes!

    • Spiced Lentil, Kale and Sausage Soup
    • Red Lentil Almond Curry
    • Red Curry Rice Noodle Soup
    • Lentil-Walnut Gyros with Vegan Tzatziki
    • Lentil Shepherds Pie
    • Khichdi / Kitchari

    Easy Instant Pot Red Lentil Curry


    Inspired by red lentil dal, this somewhat non-traditional red lentil curry emphasizes convenience and ease, relying on pantry staples and the Instant Pot. Just 5 minutes of prep, then sit back and relax! Comforting and full of flavor. Vegan, gluten-free, and oil-free.

    With endless days at home plus a hot and humid summer, lately Im often so tired by dinner time that even the thought of whipping up one of my go-to weeknight veggie sautés is too much. And thats exactly how this Instant Pot Red Lentil Curry was born.

    I also had some pantry items that really needed to be put to use, like fire roasted tomatoes, red lentils, and soy curls. But mainly, I just wanted to just throw some ingredients in the Instant Pot, press a button, and sit the heck down.

    You know what I mean? I wanted zero fuss and zero standing at the stove.

    To my surprise, that first experimental batch was AMAZING! It was so delicious I couldnt wait to make it again.

    Ive changed the recipe a bit each time, trimming down ingredients and choosing only the most essential ones to make this lentil curry as easy and accessible as possible.

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    Should I Soak Lentils Before Cooking

    Many legumes, like dried raw beans, are typically soaked for several hours, even overnight, to neutralize lectins. However, lentils are low enough in PHA that they dont require soaking.

    For this Instant Pot Lentils recipe, both soaked and unsoaked lentils will work. Youll just need to adjust the cooking times. Personally, I always soak my lentils. Ive found theyre much easier to digest this way. Plus, lentils soak quickly compared to most other legumes, only requiring 2-4 hours of soak time. If youre pressed for time, then you can quick soak your lentils with some boiling water for 20 minutes or so before rinsing and cooking.

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    The Easiest Lentil Curry

    EASY INSTANT POT LENTILS | Jordan Cornwell

    The only chopping involved in preparing this curry is for the onion and garlic. If you have a microplane zester, use that to zest the fresh ginger. If not, go ahead and mince the ginger, as well.

    Now, the fun part:

  • Toss everything in the Instant Pot, give it a stir, and cook on high pressure for 5 minutes.
  • Place a dish towel over the steam vent, and quick release the pressure.
  • And thats it. Youre ready to eat!

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    How To Cook Perfectly Firm Lentils In An Instant Pot

    By Anna Young

    Arent lentils great? Theyre such a cheap and convenient source of protein to buy in bulk, and they go so well in so many different recipes. Today Ill be sharing one of my favorite recipes that will show you how to make perfectly firm lentils in an instant pot. Youll of course be needing your choice of brown or green lentils. Along with the lentils, youll add in some garlic, onion, and either water or vegetable broth. Add a bit of salt and pepper to taste and thats really all you need to make a fantastic lentil meal that provides you with a solid amount of protein, iron, folate, and disease-fighting polyphenols.

    How Long To Cook Lentils In The Instant Pot

    If you’re lucky enough to have an Instant Pot, you know it makes everything easier to cook, including lentils. Here’s how you do it:

  • Rinse. Place the lentils in a strainer and pick out any debris or shriveled lentils. Thoroughly rinse under running water.
  • Cook. Combine 2 cups of liquid for every 1 cup of dried lentils in the inner pot. Season as you like . Turn the pressure valve to the sealing position and cook on high pressure. Refer to cooking times below for how long to cook each type of lentil in the Instant Pot.
  • Release pressure. Once the timer is up, allow a natural pressure release for 10 minutes. Then turn the pressure valve to the venting position to quickly release the remainder of the pressure.
  • Stir. Open the lid and stir the lentils. Note there will be some extra liquid â allow the lentils to soak it up as you stir and serve.
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    How To Use Cooked Lentils With Onion

    If you have some prepared onion tomato bhuna masala in your fridge, add ½-cup of the masala to the lentils and simmer on medium heat for 6 to 8 minutes. Add a few tablespoons water if needed. Adjust seasoning and serve with rice or roti.

    If using from frozen, thaw it in the microwave for 30 to 40 seconds, then add to cooked lentils and follow the remaining instructions.

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