16 Best Lentil Recipes

Lentils are tiny but mighty legumes that pack a flavor punch, are super versatile, and show up in a bunch of delicious dishes that range from soups, stews, and salads to curries, pies, and even burgers. And if you are a self-proclaimed lentil lover, you know it's not just about the taste, as they are nutritional powerhouses too. These little guys are loaded with protein, fiber, and plenty of vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial compounds. Thus, they're great for both vegetarians and meat-eaters, providing you with long-lasting energy and keeping your cholesterol and blood pressure in check thanks to their heart-friendly properties (via Healthline).

Moreover, besides the fact that adding lentils to your diet is a fantastic way to boost your nutrition game while adding a hearty, nutty taste to your meals, they're also very easy to prepare. Just rinse them first, toss them into a pot with water or broth, bring them to a boil, and let them simmer away until they reach that perfect tender texture. Easy peasy, right? Plus, if you're a meal-prep whiz, lentils are your best friend because they cook up in no time, making your life a whole lot simpler. So, whether you want to whip up a vibrant lentil and vegetable salad for a refreshing lunch, dive into a comforting bowl of lentil soup on a chilly day, or indulge in a spicy lentil curry that'll transport your taste buds to flavor town, go ahead and check out these delicious lentil-based recipes.

1. Vegan Red Lentil Curry

Get ready to fall in love with this vegan delight that's both comforting and healthy, making it a must-have in your recipe collection. This vegan red lentil curry recipe is a total game-changer, and even more so if you like to meal prep, as recipe developer Catherine Brookes shares that you can freeze it for up to 3 months and then reheat it whenever you feel like having some more.

If you want to tweak the recipe, you can play with the spice level to suit your taste buds. For a mild curry, go easy on the chili powder, but if you're a heat-seeker, don't be afraid to crank it up a notch.

Recipe: Vegan Red Lentil Curry

2. Spicy Lentil Soup

This spicy lentil soup recipe is a fiery and flavorsome delight that will warm you up from the inside out. Plus, aside from being one healthy and filling soup, it is made with shelf- and fridge-stable ingredients, making it a budget-friendly option that you can enjoy year-round.

When making this soup, you can experiment with different types of lentils, like brown or red varieties, for a subtle variation in taste and texture. Lastly, recipe developer Sher Castellano recommends eating it with salad and bread to make a full meal, and it happens to pair wonderfully with a slice of crusty bread or some warm, fluffy naan on the side.

Recipe: Spicy Lentil Soup

3. Lentil Shepherd's Pie

This lentil shepherd's pie recipe is a scrumptious and comforting dish that'll win over hearts, vegan or not. The lentils offer a fantastic meaty texture that mimics the ground lamb in a traditional shepherd's pie. It's a hearty, guilt-free option for those looking to go plant-based.

Since this is an all-in-one kind of recipe, you can enjoy it as a full meal by slicing it into hearty portions, and if you're feeling extra indulgent, try topping it off with some vegan gravy for extra savory goodness. Alternatively, serve it with a side salad to add some extra veggies to your menu.

Recipe: Lentil Shepherd's Pie

4. Lentil Meatballs

These versatile lentil meatballs are a crowd-pleaser that will surely become a staple in your kitchen. What makes this recipe unique is the ingenious use of lentils, giving you that meaty texture without any actual meat. It's a brilliant alternative for those looking to cut down on animal products without sacrificing taste.

For tweaks, you can experiment with different spices and herbs to suit your taste buds. Try adding some dried oregano and a pinch of smoked paprika for a burst of Mediterranean flavor, or throw in some red pepper flakes or chili powder for a spicy kick. And if you prefer a gluten-free version, swap out regular breadcrumbs for gluten-free breadcrumbs or almond flour.

Recipe: Lentil Meatballs

5. Coconut Red Lentil Dal

This coconut red lentil dal recipe is a flavor-packed delight that will transport you to exotic culinary destinations. To whip up this delectable dish, you'll need fresh onions, garlic, and ginger, lots of dry spices, red lentils, vegetable broth, tomatoes, coconut oil, and milk.

For tweaks, you can customize the spiciness by adjusting the amount of chile powder or adding some fresh green chiles. However, recipe developer Catherine Brookes warns that the lentils have to be red for this recipe because other varieties don't soak up the liquid in the same way. To keep the recipe vegan-friendly, serve the coconut red lentil dal over steamed basmati rice or alongside warm, fluffy naan bread.

Recipe: Coconut Red Lentil Dal

6. Slow Cooker Lentil Soup

A lentil soup recipe that is a true time-saver and doesn't skimp on flavor? Sign us up. According to recipe developer Miriam Hahn, what makes this recipe unique is the convenience of using a slow cooker, which means you can simply set it and forget it while the magic happens. Aside from chopping the veggies, all you have to do is dump everything in the slow cooker, and that's it: You've got yourself a perfect lunch or dinner for busy days when you want a wholesome meal with minimal effort.

Plus, you can always add other veggies like potatoes, sweet potatoes, or zucchini for variety and texture, or mix in some tofu for a protein boost. Once it's ready, Hahn recommends serving it with a side of bread or a green salad.

Recipe: Slow Cooker Lentil Soup

7. Healthy Lentil Bolognese

If you're craving a traditional and wholesome Italian dish, then this recipe is for you. This healthy lentil Bolognese recipe is a delicious twist on a classic Italian favorite that's sure to please vegans and pasta lovers alike. The lentils create a rich and hearty texture that mimics the classic meat-based Bolognese without any actual meat. It's a fantastic option for those who want a healthier and more sustainable pasta dish.

Recipe developer Kristen Carli explains that while you could use green or brown lentils when making this recipe, you should avoid using red lentils, as they can get mushy very easily, affecting the dish's texture.

Recipe: Healthy Lentil Bolognese

8. Lentil And Spinach Salad

This lentil and spinach salad recipe is a refreshing and nutritious option that's perfect for a light and satisfying meal. What makes this recipe special is the balance of flavors and textures: the hearty lentils, fresh spinach, crispy onions, meaty olives, and creamy feta create a delightful symphony of tastes in every bite.

Moreover, this salad can be easily adapted to suit your taste and dietary preferences. For a vegan option, swap the feta for some diced avocado or a vegan cheese alternative, or feel free to play with the dressing by adding a touch of honey for a hint of sweetness or some Dijon mustard for a tangy twist.

Recipe: Lentil And Spinach Salad

9. Instant Pot Lentils And Rice

Looking for an easy, peasy lentil recipe that pretty much cooks itself? Then look no more because this Instant Pot lentils and rice recipe is a lifesaver for busy workdays or lazy weekends.

Since the recipe relies on an Instant Pot (which makes cooking a breeze), there's no excuse as to why you shouldn't indulge in a healthy and hearty meal any day of the week. Simply combine lentils, rice, and vegetable broth with garlic, bell peppers, onions, and a medley of aromatic spices in the Instant Pot, set it to cook for 30 minutes, and voila: A flavorful dish that's ready in a flash.

Recipe: Instant Pot Lentils And Rice

10. Instant Pot Dal Makhani

This Instant Pot dal makhani recipe is a flavor-packed Indian delight that combines black lentils and kidney beans cooked to perfection with aromatic spices, tomatoes, and a touch of lemon juice. It's a rich and indulgent dish that's perfect for impressing guests or treating yourself to a restaurant-quality meal at home.

As with most Indian recipes, you can adjust the level of spiciness to suit your taste by increasing or reducing the amount of chili powder. To serve, enjoy the Dal Makhani with steamed basmati rice or some warm naan bread. A side of cucumber raita or pickled onions can add a refreshing contrast to the dish's rich flavors.

Recipe: Instant Pot Dal Makhani

11. Easy Red Lentil Soup

An easy red lentil soup that is simple yet flavorful? Yes, please. This recipe is so easy to whip up that even recipe developer Susan Olayinka calls it a foolproof soup. The recipe calls for chicken or veggie broth, red lentils, cumin, paprika, chopped sweet potatoes, and crushed tomatoes, which you only have to stir, simmer, and serve.

For a creamier version, you can blend a portion of the soup using an immersion or regular blender and then mix it back into the pot for a velvety texture. ​​To serve, enjoy the soup with a sprinkle of fresh parsley or a drizzle of olive oil for a burst of freshness. A side of crusty bread or a simple green salad can complement the meal perfectly.

Recipe: Easy Red Lentil Soup

12. Vegan Shepherd's Pie

This vegan shepherd's pie is a plant-based twist on a classic British comfort dish that will leave you feeling fully satisfied. While recipe developer Ting Dalton uses canned lentils when making this pie, you may use any type of lentils you can get your hands on if you can't find the canned variety. Just remember to cook them beforehand (the same goes for the chickpeas).

If you prefer a cheesy flavor, sprinkle some vegan cheese on top of the mashed potatoes before baking. Lastly, pair it with some steamed green beans or a crisp side salad for a well-rounded meal.

Recipe: Vegan Shepherd's Pie

13. Vegan Lentil Lasagna

A vegan lentil lasagna is a delightful twist on the classic Italian favorite sans the meat and dairy. This recipe's clever combination of lentils, vegetables, and plant-based ingredients makes this recipe unique, creating a rich and satisfying lasagna that even non-vegans will adore.

Plus, you can even swap the lasagna sheets for thinly cut zucchini slices (cut with a mandoline slicer) in case you want to reduce the recipe's carb content. And cheese lovers can add a layer of vegan cheese shreds between each layer instead of only sprinkling it over the top. To serve, slice the lasagna into generous portions and pair it with a fresh green salad or steamed veggies.

Recipe: Vegan Lentil Lasagna

14. 15-Minute Lentil Tacos

These 15-minute lentil tacos are a fantastic option for a satisfying meal when you are in a hurry but don't feel like ordering takeout. Aside from its speed and simplicity, the magic in this recipe happens when combining cooked lentils with taco-inspired spices, which creates a flavorful and protein-packed filling.

To serve, scoop the lentil filling into warm tortillas or taco shells and top with your favorite taco toppings. Luckily, this versatile recipe allows for endless topping variations to fit your own taste or dietary preferences, such as swapping the cheese and sour cream for their vegan counterparts for a fully vegan and dairy-free meal.

Recipe: 15-Minute Lentil Tacos

15. Instant Pot Red Lentil Dal

Are you on the look for wholesome and aromatic dishes? Then this Instant Pot red lentil dal is a must-try that will surely become a favorite in your kitchen. Plus, the Instant Pot allows for speedy cooking without compromising taste and texture, making it an excellent option for a fuss-free meal.

Moreover, while this is a fully vegan recipe, it still allows for creative variations, and as recipe developer Kristen Carli suggests, meat-eaters can always add cooked shredded chicken to the mix right before serving over a bowl of your whole grain of choice. And don't forget to top it with a squeeze of lemon juice for a zesty touch.

Recipe: Instant Pot Red Lentil Dal

16. Vegan Sloppy Joes

Do you want to give plant-based meals a try but are not ready to part from your favorite burger? Then these vegan Sloppy Joes are just what you need. The combination of tender red lentils with the rich and savory tomato and spice-based sauce gives this recipe the perfect Sloppy Joe consistency and flavor.

Keep in mind that, according to nutritionist and food photographer Hayley MacLean, you're better off using red lentils because, unlike green or black lentils, they help get the right meaty consistency. You can serve the vegan Sloppy Joes with a side of sweet potato fries, coleslaw, or green salad for a more substantial meal.

Recipe: Vegan Sloppy Joes