Instructions for Preparing and Cooking Red Lentils

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Red lentils can be cooked in either a stovetop pot or an instant pot, and this guide will show you how to do it.

Red lentils in a bowl with a spoon on a wooden table

The red lentil, or "masoor dal," is a common ingredient in vegetarian and vegan cuisine. They are a nutritious legume that packs a punch of fiber, plant protein, vitamins, and minerals.

Lentils in the red variety can be prepared rapidly. They melt when cooked and have a subtle flavor. Unlike their brown and green lentil counterparts, they lose their shape during cooking. They work wonderfully in a wide variety of dishes, including broth-based ones like soups and stews, and spice-based ones like curries and dipping sauces.

They can be found in the same section as dried beans in most supermarkets.

Red lentils can be prepared quickly and easily, should you be curious about doing so. Stovetop preparation of red lentils is the simplest method. Since they are a legume that can be prepared in a short amount of time, you won't need to use an instant pot, slow cooker, or any other special cooking appliance, but you can if you want to.

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Is There a Scientific Reason Why This Recipe Turns Out Well?

  • Simply and Rapidly
  • Legume Food High in Healthy Protein
  • Lots of Fiber
  • High in Essential Nutrients
  • Invaluable for prepping meals
  • Various methods of preparation and presentation.

List of Ingredients

Dry red lentils require only three basic ingredients to prepare. Lentils, plus H2O, and salt are required. For more information, including how much water to use and what to do with the lentils once they're cooked, as well as suggestions for tweaks and additions, see below.

ingredients for how to cook red lentils

Asking, "How Much Water Do I Need For 1 Cup Of Red Lentils?"

The standard recipe for red lentils calls for a ratio of 1 cup lentils to 3 cups water (1:3). That means you'll need three cups of water and a pinch of salt (optional) for every one cup of red lentils. Vegetable broth can be substituted for the water. When cooking lentils, a large stock pot is required because they expand significantly during the cooking process.

Aspects that Vary

You may be wondering what to do with cooked red lentils, or how to season red lentils. The good news is that red lentils are so flavorless that they easily absorb the tastes of their complements. Here are some of my favorite ways to spice up a bowl of lentils:

  • Spices like mustard seed, bay leaves, garam masala, turmeric, curry powder or curry paste, cumin, coriander, cumin seeds, and chili powder are common additions to Indian dishes that feature red lentils. To enhance the flavor of your food, try experimenting with different spice combinations and adding them while cooking. Also, season with salt and pepper.
  • To give your cooked lentils a delicious aroma, sauté some minced garlic, fresh ginger, chopped onion, diced tomatoes, and chili peppers in a small amount of olive oil.
  • In place of water, you can use vegetable stock or even coconut milk to make a creamier red lentil stew.
  • Toss in Some Fresh Herbs: Cilantro and lemon juice are the go-to toppings for Indian red lentil dahl, but you can experiment with other herbs to create a dish with a unique flavor profile. One way to give a dish a more Mediterranean flavor is to use garnishes like fresh parsley, lemon zest, fresh basil, and feta cheese.

The How-To Guide

Slow Cooker Red Lentils

Learn how to prepare red lentils for a stovetop meal by following these steps. Method for using an Instant Pot is detailed below.

To begin, drain and rinse the lentils in cold water.

lentils being rinsed in a sink

Second, in a large saucepan, combine the washed lentils with the water. The salt should be sprinkled over water. Over medium heat, bring an uncovered container to a boil.

lentils cooking in a stock pot on the stove

Third, lower the heat to a simmer. When lentils are soft, after 15–20 minutes with the lid on, remove the lid. A firm texture can be achieved by cooking for only 5 to 7 minutes. When cooking lentils, it's important to give them their full cooking time to avoid making them mushy.

masoor dal cooking in a large pot on the stove

Fourth, get rid of any standing water before serving.

how to cook red lentils - cooked red lentils in a white bowl

Technique using an Instant Pot (Pressure Cooker)

First, subject the lentils to a thorough rinsing in cold water until the water runs clear.

lentils being rinsed in a sink

Second, you'll put the lentils in the instant pot and fill it with three cups of water and salt. Mix by stirring

lentils cooking in instant pot

Third, close the lid and turn the valve to the sealing position. Program for 4 minutes at high pressure.

After waiting 15 minutes for the pressure to drop on its own, you can then switch the valve to quick release to let the rest of the air out. When the steam stops rising, you can take the lid off.

how to cook red lentils - cooked red lentils in a white bowl


Should red lentils be soaked before cooking?

Unlike other types of legumes, red lentils don't need to be soaked before being cooked. In any case, wash them thoroughly and remove any stones before using them in a meal.

How long do you need to cook red lentils?

Red lentils require a relatively short cooking time, only 15 to 20 minutes. But remember that if you add salt or acidic ingredients (tomatoes, lemon juice, etc.), it will change the flavor significantly. Your lentils will need a little extra time in the pot to get tender.

The Cooking Time for Red Lentils Can Vary
Lentils can be cooked in as little as 7 minutes on the stove for firm lentils, 8-9 minutes for soft lentils, and 15 minutes for mushy lentils.

You need only cook them under high pressure for 3–5 minutes in an Instant Pot before they become mushy. The stovetop method allows you to see the lentils as they cook and adjust the cooking time to your liking, making them firmer than when cooked in the oven.

Is there a wide variety of lentils available?

Black lentils (beluga), french green lentils, yellow split peas, brown lentils, and puy lentils are just a few of the many types of lentils available. Each one has a unique aroma and chewiness.

In comparison to other lentil colors, what sets red lentils apart?

The red color, quick cooking time, and milder texture of red lentils set them apart from other types of lentils. Their flavor is light, sweet, and subtly nutty. They lose their firmness and mushiness when cooked, so use them only in dishes where a lack of structure is acceptable. Like yellow lentils, they share a similar chewy texture and mild flavor.

In what ways can red lentils improve one's health?

Because of their high fiber content, lentils are a healthy addition to any diet. For those who have digestive issues, this is a great way to promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut. They also contain a high quantity of the B vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc. You can eat this heart-healthy legume with confidence because it's loaded with protein and remarkably low in fat.

Where To Put It and Other Storage Tips

Put the lentils in the fridge after they have cooled to room temperature. Move them to a sealed bag or jar. You can keep them in the fridge for up to five days.

Once the lentils have cooled, place them in a freezer-safe container. Write what's inside and the date on the label. They can be stored for up to one month in the freezer.

To reheat, simply place in a saucepan and heat over medium heat until hot throughout. It may be necessary to add a little more water to the lentils if they have thickened. One other option is to reheat them in the microwave.

A Word From Our Experts

  • Verify the freshness of your red split lentils. Old lentils take longer to cook and have a bitter flavor.
  • The bulk bins are the best place to stock up on lentils. Because of this, you can rest assured that the lentils you purchase from the grocery store have not been sitting in the bag for too long.
  • When preparing lentils, it is important to sort them first. Lentils can be contaminated by tiny stones and other debris.
  • It's important to give lentils a good wash before using them in a recipe.
  • Spruce it up some more. This is a basic recipe for cooking red lentils; feel free to add whatever spices you like. Spices like paprika, cayenne, curry powder, cumin, bay leaves, coriander, and coriander seeds are what I'd recommend.
  • Try it in a soup, as an Indian Red Lentil Dahl, or simply over basmati rice.
how to cook red lentils on the stove top - cooked red lentils in a white bowl

Here Are Some Delicious Recipes Using Red Lentils

Instructional Recipes:

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dry red lentils in a bowl
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Follow these easy instructions for perfectly cooked red lentils every time, whether you're using a stovetop or instant pot.
  • About 2 servings can be made from 1 cup of dried red lentils. ½ Cups that have been prepared for consumption There are roughly 1/3 cup of precooked red lentils
  • Insist on using only recently purchased red split lentils. Old lentils take longer to cook and have a bitter flavor.
  • Lentils can be found in the bulk food section of most supermarkets. This will guarantee that your lentils have not been sitting in the bag for too long in the produce section.
  • Before you cook them, sort your lentils. Sometimes there will be small pebbles or other debris mixed in with the lentils.
  • Before you cook them, make sure your lentils have been thoroughly rinsed.
  • Pepper it up a bit more This is a basic recipe for cooking red lentils, but you can add whatever spices you like to make them taste even better. I would recommend a blend of spices including turmeric, chili powder, cumin seeds, bay leaf, and coriander.
  • Keep refrigerated for up to 5 days. Put in the freezer for as long as a month
Calories: 159 kcal | Carbohydrates: 27 g | Protein: 12 g | Fat: 1 g | Trans Fats: 1 g | Omega-3 Fatty Acids: 1 g | Saturated Fats: 1 g | Sodium: 302 mg | Potassium: 430 mg | Fiber: 14 g | Sugar: 1 g | Vitamin A: 18 IU | Vitamin C: 2 mg | Calcium: 31 mg | Iron: 3 mg
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