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How to Cook Lentils on the Stove

Want to learn how to cook lentils on the stove perfectly? It’s a lot easier than you think! 

Canned lentils may be a good alternative but nothing can beat the real taste of homemade fresh cooked lentils. Aside from their naturally delicious flavor, they’re also inexpensive and free from high sodium and chemicals. 

This beginner’s guide is here to help you learn how to cook lentils on the stove properly and perfectly. Once you’ve learned how easy it is to cook these legumes, you won’t want to buy canned lentils again! 

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What are the different varieties of lentils?

Lentils are known for being rich in protein, but they are also a good source of B vitamins, iron, calcium, and phosphorus. Because of their health benefits and versatility, lentils have become a diet staple all over the world.

However, before you learn how to cook lentils on the stove, you have to know some of the most popular varieties of lentils first. Knowing the subtle differences in flavors and cooking times of these lentil varieties will help you choose the best lentils to use for your recipes.

You might have already noticed that lentils come in different colors. These colors represent the different varieties of lentils and the most common of them that are used for cooking are brown, green, black, and red/yellow lentils.

Types of Lentils:

  • Brown lentils are the most inexpensive and the easiest to find type of lentil. They are used for salads, soups, and veggie burgers because they hold their shape and texture well. Plus, they only require about 20-30 minutes to cook.
  • Green lentils, also known as French lentils or Lentils de Puy , need about 35-45 minutes to cook. These lentils are known for having a nuttier and firmer texture when cooked making them best for salads. 
  • Black lentils or beluga lentils have a deep and delicious earthy flavor making them a tasty ingredient to salads too. Plus, they require about 25-30 minutes of cooking time only.
  • Red/yellow lentils come in yellow to orange and red colors and are the fastest to cook type of lentils. They begin to lose their shape in just 12-15 minutes and can easily get mushy. Thus, they are often used for purees and soups as a thickening ingredient. Aside from their vibrant colors, red/yellow lentils also have a slightly sweet and nutty taste. 

Do you have to soak lentils before cooking them?

Not necessarily. Soaking lentils can cut the cooking time but since lentils do not really require much time to cook, you can skip it unless you are in a rush. 

Instead of soaking, it’s more important to inspect and rinse your lentils before cooking them. Occasionally, dried lentils come with rocks and small debris so it’s highly suggested that you inspect them. After inspecting, you can use a colander to rinse and drain your lentils. 

These two simple steps will make your lentils cleaner and help you avoid eating rocks or any other object mixed in with your lentils. 

How to Cook Lentils on the Stove

After choosing the type of lentils perfect for your recipe and getting them clean, it’s time to start cookin’!

First things first, make sure to use a large saucepan as lentils can double or triple in size when cooked. Then add about three cups of water or broth for a cup of lentils.

It’s recommended to cook lentils in plenty of liquid since each variety of lentils requires a different cooking time. Also, remember not to over boil. 

To make delicious and tender lentils, bring your water or broth to a rapid simmer first, and then cook your lentils on low heat according to the estimated cooking times mentioned above. You can also check the packet of your dried lentils for their suggested cooking time to make sure.

How to reheat lentils

To easily reheat and use your lentils in your recipe, make sure to thaw your lentils overnight in the refrigerator.

The simplest way to reheat lentils is to use the microwave. Since your cooked lentils are plain, add water to the container before heating them so they won’t dry out. Microwave them for about one minute first then continue heating and stirring every 30 seconds until they’re warm. 

You can also reheat the lentils on the stove. Just transfer them to a pot and bring the water to a boil. Once the water boils, drain the lentils quickly to avoid them from getting overcooked. 

If you need to add protein to your diet, lentils are one of the best and healthiest ingredients you can add to your meal plans. 

They’re so delicious and versatile, you can enjoy them with tacos, soups, salads, curries, pasta, meatballs, and many more. For more recipe ideas, you can check out this fun and creative 25 Recipes for Lentils post!

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