Instant Pot Recipes Recipes Side Dishes Vegetarian

Instant Pot Lentils Recipe

I was not kidding when I told you that making Instant Pot Lentils is so simple, you need just a few ingredients, and they are ready in less than 15 minutes. With just some lentils, broth, herbs, and a few seasonings, this staple food is a perfect side dish or addition to any meal. I love how simple they are to make and how many different ways I can use them.

Fast and easy instant pot lentils recipe

With recipes as easy as this, anyone can do it. I made sure to test the recipe several times until it was exactly how my family liked it. With broth, bay leaves, garlic, and some herbs and spices, the lentils soak up all the flavors for a delicious and hearty dish.

When it comes to lentils, the most that matters to me is the texture, thats why I found the perfect ratio to liquid and cooking time. My lentils are delicious, not overcooked, and not sticky! 

Using the instant pot is one of my favorite ways to cook, especially when I need dinner in a hurry. Everything I make in the pot gets cooked to perfection and takes a fraction of the time it would take to cook it another way.

When making these lentils, the instant pot steams them to the perfect texture, so they are not too hard or soggy. Serve these delicious lentils with my cauliflower steaks for a healthy and tasty vegetarian meal.

They keep well in the fridge for up to a week so I can use them as needed for wraps, salads, and soups. I also like to freeze them in small portions because they stay fresh for up to four months. I can just pull out a bag or two and thaw overnight before using them.

What you need to make instant pot lentils

You probably won’t even have to go to the grocery store for this recipe because you might have these simple ingredients.

The Basics

  • Lentils – There are many different kinds of lentils but I love the puy, green, French green, brown, and black beluga. But make sure you use whole lentils.
  • Chicken broth – Using organic, low-sodium broth to cook lentils gives them their deep-soaked flavor. Vegetarians can use vegetable broth.

Seasonings, Herbs, and Spices:

  • Garam masal – This Indian spice really elevates this dish with a mixture of chili powder, coriander seeds, cumin, cardamom, mace, cinnamon, cloves, and fennel.
  • Minced garlic – Fresh minced garlic adds a more pungent and savory taste for a bold flavor.
  • Kosher salt – The larger grains of kosher salt are easier to distribute more evenly because you can really see how much you are adding. It is also purer with no additives.
  • Freshly ground black pepper – Grind your own black pepper from peppercorns for a fresher flavor without additives.

How to make instant pot lentils recipe

  • Fill your instant pot: First, put the lentils and two cups of water or broth at the bottom of the pot. Then, add the seasonings and give it a good stir.
  • Cook: Next, close and lock the lid, setting it to the high pressure setting. Set the cooking time for six to eight minutes for al dente or 10 minutes for soft lentils.
  • Vent: Once the time is up, allow a natural pressure release for 10 minutes, and then do a quick release to let the remaining pressure vent.
  • Transfer: Now, remove any aromatics and put cooked lentils in a large bowl or airtight container using a slotted spoon.
  • Serve: Finally, serve with your favorite toppings or mixed with olive oil and fresh herbs.

Expert tip

Since I make dishes like this often, I like to help readers with expert tips that I have learned over the years. The first thing to do is to sort through your lentils. You may find things like rocks, sticks, and other items that you do not want to eat.

After sorting your lentils, put them in a colander and rinse them thoroughly. Continue rinsing them until the water runs clean and there is no dirt or residue left over. At this point, you can pat your lentils dry on paper towels before adding them to the pot.

Recipe variations:

  • Add meat: Make your lentils a hearty meal by adding some chopped chicken, pork, or turkey to the mix.
  • Spicy lentils: If you and your family love spicy food, experiment with different spices like red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, or chopped jalapenos.
  • Barbecue lentils: Instead of broth, try using your favorite barbecue sauce for BBQ lentils.
  • Add some vegetables: Another way to make this dish into a meal is by adding veggies like chopped bell peppers, broccoli, carrots, or corn.
  • Toasted: Toast your lentils after cooking and add them to homemade granola, cereal, or salads.

How to serve:

I love lentils because they are so versatile. My simple recipe makes this a good option for a last-minute side dish for any meal.

  • After cooking, sprinkle some cotija cheese on top and then cover until it melts.
  • If you are having burgers or sandwiches, add a scoop of lentils on the side. In addition, you can mix some when making the patties!
  • Serve with a side of tortilla chips or corn chips for a quick snack.
  • Vegetarian meals like my vegetarian sheet pan quiche would be a perfect complement.
  • Try these delicious legumes on an appetizer dish with fresh vegetables, fruit, and cheese.
  • Sprinkle it on salads, add them to wraps, or make lentil tacos!

Frequently asked questions

Should I soak my lentils?

Yes, soaking lentils before you cook them will increase their nutritional value, improve digestion, reduce gas, and increase protein. It removes the oligosaccharides carbohydrates that cause gastrointestinal upset and bloating and activates the enzymes to break down the phytic acid so you can absorb the vitamins and minerals more easily.

Large lentils are often soaked for one or two hours before using. Depending on the type of lentils you are using, you may not have to soak them at all, or they may need to soak longer. Do not soak them too long or they will end up too soft or mushy.

What are the different types of lentils?

There are many different types of lentils. In this recipe, I use whole lentils and do not recommend you use any split lentils like those that are typically used for Indian dal. Some of the most common types include yellow lentils, whole brown, red, puy, green, and black beluga.

  • Brown lentils are the most commonly used. They hold their shape so they are great for stews, soups, casseroles, and warm dishes.
  • Green lentils are similar to brown but have a more peppery and robust flavor. They are perfect for cooked dishes since they hold their shape like the brown ones.
  • Red lentils have a sweet and nutty flavor and tend to disintegrate when cooked so they are great for thickening soup and stew.
  • Black beluga lentils are small and shiny with a rich and earthy flavor. Perfect for cold salads.
  • Puy lentils come from the volcanic soil of France’s Le Puy. They are blue-green with a peppery rich flavor. These bold little legumes are so delicious, they are often served alone as a side dish.

What is the ratio of lentils to liquid in the instant pot?

When I cook lentils in my instant pot, I use one part lentils to two parts liquid. I have experimented over the years trying different ratios, but I found that more liquid causes mushy lentils, and less liquid leaves the lentils hard and dry. In this recipe, I used one cup of lentils to two cups of broth.

How to store leftovers:

  • Refrigerate: Place leftover lentils in an airtight container or Ziplock baggie and refrigerate for up to seven days.
  • Freezing: If you cannot finish them in a week, put leftovers in a freezer bag and they will stay fresh in the freezer for up to four months.
  • Defrost: For the best texture and flavor, thaw frozen lentils in the fridge overnight.
  • Reheating: Place lentils in a pot with a bit of water or broth and heat on the stove until warm.

More instant pot side dishes:

Cooking tips:

  • If you want your lentils softer, add about five minutes to the cooking time.
  • Although soaking is not mandatory, you should always rinse your lentils and make sure there is no dirt or skin, so they are easier to absorb.
  • Lentils are so versatile they can go with anything from soup to salads. Keep a batch in the fridge ready to use to add to whatever you like.
  • Pureed lentils are perfect for curry, baked goods, veggie burgers, and sauces.

Instant Pot Lentils

I was not kidding when I told you that making Instant Pot Lentils is so simple, you need just a few ingredients, and they are ready in less than 15 minutes.

instant pot lentils
  • Prep Time5 MIN
  • Cook Time10 MIN
  • Servings 4 servings


  • 1 cup lentils the cooking time works well for most lentil varieties like brown, green, French green, and black beluga
  • 1 3/4 cup water chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • black pepper to taste


  • 1 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried herbs of your choice
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala or other spices
  • 2 cloves garlic minced


  • Add the lentils, water, or broth to the inner pot of the Instant Pot.
  • Add salt, pepper, and any other seasonings you are using. Stir to combine.
  • Close and lock the lid, point valve to Sealing (on older models), and select the Pressure Cook setting on high. Select 6 to 8 minutes for al dente lentils, or 10 minutes for softer lentils.
  • When the timer beeps, allow a natural pressure release for 10 minutes. After that open the valve to release the remaining pressure.
  • Carefully open the pot, discard any aromatics, and transfer the lentils to a bowl.
  • Serve with tahini or white garlic sauce.
  • Store cooked lentils in an airtight container in the fridge for 5-7 days, or freeze for 4-6 months.

Nutrition Facts

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Karina Rapalo

Karina Rapalo

I used a combo of tomato sauce and water for my liquid. Turned out super flavorful and not soupy, which is exactly what I wanted! I cooked for 15 min with ten min natural release and the lentils were soft but not all mushy. Thanks for the great recipe!

Everything Enchanting

Everything Enchanting

Excellent recipe 😍. I love lentil soup so much! Although I don't have an instant pot, will try this recipe in my regular saucepan :)



Lentils are so good for this time of year. I'm also interested in he IP baked beans!

Lori Bosworth

Lori Bosworth

I love lentils and I love easy recipes so this is perfect for me! I might try it this weekend!

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