How to Cook Red Lentils

Published on May 1st 2022 by Jennifer Dodd.
Last updated on March 4th 2024
This recipe, developed through the collective effort of at least six experts, underwent meticulous research and testing for over three months. Learn more about our process in the art and science behind our recipes. This post may contain affiliate links. Read our Disclosure Policy.
Front View of cooked Red Lentils

Keeping up with a vegan lifestyle can be rewarding yet challenging for those trying to get the proper recommenced daily amounts of protein, only utilizing plant-based ingredients. However, one legume may fly under the radar, which is red lentils. Red Lentils contain 12.4 grams of protein in 1 cup of cooked red lentils, about 1/4 of the recommended amount of 46-56 grams. In addition, lentils are high in dietary fiber, an excellent iron source, and are very simple and quick to cook. Red lentils are also naturally gluten-free. 

There's no need to soak red lentils as they are predominantly sold spilled with no outer shell; just a good rinse will suffice. Red lentils cook in 8 minutes and can be used in multiple ways. Add them to soups and salads, curries, lentil hummus, falafel, spice-infused side dishes, or coconut vegetable stir-fry, to name just a few. 

You'll learn how to cook red lentils and two different recipes to try at home in this recipe. The nutritional facts only reflect the cooked red lentil recipe. 

If you love lentils, try our Lentil Bolognese for your next culinary adventures.

*Tip, adding salt or acid to the lentils while cooking will slow the process. Add these items after they are cooked. 

Author: Jennifer Dodd
Average: 5 (2 votes)
Total rating includes sum of all comments and anonymous votes.

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Time & Serves

Prep Time
2 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
12 mins
4 persons


How to Cook Red Lentils
  • 1 cup Red Lentils, rinsed underwater, using a fine mesh strainer

  • 3 cups Water 

Chilled Red Lentil, Avocado, Cherry Tomato Salad
  • 3 cups, Cooked Red Lentils, chilled  

  • 2 cups Mixed Greens, washed and cut into small pieces 

  • 1 Avocado, pitted, peeled & thinly sliced 

  • 15 Cherry Tomatoes, cut in half

  • 2 springs Fresh Basil, torn

  • 1 tablespoon Honey

  • 1/4 cup Red Wine Vinegar, or another Vinegar of your choice. 

  • 1/2 cup Olive Oil

  • 1/4 teaspoon Sea Salt

  • 1/8 teaspoon Fresh Cracked Black Peppercorns

  • 1/2 Lemon, juiced 

  • 1/4 Red Onion, thinly sliced 

Caribbean Red Lentils with Coconut Rundown
  • 1/4 small Yellow Onion, diced 

  • 1 thumb Fresh Ginger, peeled and minced

  • 2 cloves Garlic, minced 

  • 2 small Seasoning Peppers, seeded and chopped

  • 1 small Scotch Bonnet, whole 

  • 2 teaspoons, Fresh Thyme, chopped

  • 3 cups Cooked Red Lentils

  • 1 tablespoon Coconut Oil

  • 1 cup Unsweetened Coconut Milk

  • 1/4 teaspoon Sea Salt

  • 2 tablespoons Fresh Cilantro Leaves


How to Cook Red Lentils

Place a medium-sized pot onto the stovetop setting the heat to high. 

Once the water starts to boil, add the lentils, turn the heat down to a simmer, and place the lid onto the pot, leaving a slight opening for some steam to escape. 

Cook for 8 minutes. They should still have some texture. Red lentils tend to overcook easily. Keep an eye on them. Remove them from the heat, uncover, and set them aside for future use. 

Chilled Red Lentil, Avocado & Cherry Tomato Salad

Place salad & lentils into a medium-sized bowl.

Using a 2 cup measuring cup, add the honey, lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, basil, salt & pepper. Whisk together using a small whisk or fork to form a vinegarette. 

Toss the vinegarette in the bowl with the salad and lentils, toss together and portion out into bowls. Top each bowl with sliced avocado, cherry tomatoes & sliced red onion. Enjoy this refreshing salad. 

Caribbean Red Lentils with Coconut Rundown

Place a medium-sized heavy-bottomed pot onto the stovetop on medium heat. 

Heat the coconut oil & add in the onions, and sauté for 2-3 minutes until translucent.

Using a wooden spoon or spatula, stir in the garlic, ginger, and seasoning peppers, sauté together for an additional 3 minutes.

Add in the scotch bonnet and coconut milk & turn down to low heat. Reduce the coconut milk by 1/2 for 5-7minutes. Stir occasionally, being careful not to let the scotch bonnet burst. The flavor should be infused without having too much heat. 

Once the coconut milk is reduced, add in the red lentils & simmer for 2 minutes to coat & flavor the lentils. 

Add the fresh thyme, salt & pepper, and remove and discard the scotch bonnet. Portion out into bowls, garnish with fresh cilantro leaves, enjoy on its own or as a side dish. 

Jennifer Dodd

Savor the taste of culinary excellence with Jennifer, where each dish tells a story of tradition and adventure.

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