A 101 Guide on How to Cook Red Lentils to Perfection!

Komal Food & Recipes
10 Min Read

Red lentils are red-orange color legumes commonly known as masoor dal and they serve as a rich source of protein, fiber, and folate. They aid in maintaining healthy gut bacteria as well.

Lentils are a great option for adding more foods that are plant-based to your daily meals. It is one of the popular Indian recipes and quick cooking legumes.

Lentils come in many types of varieties including brown lentils, green lentils, yellow lentils, black lentils, and red lentils to name a few. Red lentils are softer lentils as compared to brown and green lentils. They also have a sweeter and mild flavor.

Red lentils are healthy and affordable legumes.

You are more likely to find split red lentils in grocery stores instead of whole lentils. The red split lentils cook faster than whole red lentils because they have the seed coat removed.

If you are planning to cook red lentils and looking for some cooking ideas, you are on the right page as this article is all about learning how to cook red lentils from scratch.

1. How to Cook Red Lentils?

Rinse the dry lentils in a strainer before cooking in cold water to get rid of little pieces of debris.

How to Cook Red Lentils
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Rinse lentils multiple times until the water runs clean. Sort and remove any leftover debris or discolored shriveled pieces. 

Red lentils can be cooked in one of two ways: either on a stove or by using an instant pot. Both result in different textures of red lentils.

1.1. How to Cook Red Lentils Using the Stove?

Take 1 full cup of rinsed lentils plus 2 full cups of water and add them to a big pot or saucepan because the lentils will double in amount when cooked.

Bring the lentil and water mixture to a boil. Next, reduce heat to a low simmer. Cover and cook them for 5 to 8 minutes with a lid. Stir them 2-3 times during the cooking process to make certain that they are cooked evenly.

How to Cook Red Lentils
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If the lentils are not ready after 8 minutes then cook for a few more minutes on low flame. Drain excess water, if needed.

This method will make soft lentils that retain their shape.

1.2. How to Cook Red Lentils in an Instant Pot?

Add 1 full cup of red lentils with 3 full cups of water to an instant pot. Set the cook mode to high pressure for 4 -5 minutes. Keep the pressure release valve sealed. 

Allow the pressure of the steam in the instant pot to release on its own for 5 minutes and after that immediately release the rest of the steam by setting the pressure valve to venting mode. 

Red Lentil Curry (Masoor Dal) in Instant Pot #Shorts

The red lentils cooked in an instant pot come out to be mushy, creamy, and very soft.

2. How to Cook Red Lentils?: Water Ratio and Texture

You can prepare red lentils with the consistency and texture of your choice. If you want softer and soupy lentils with a creamy texture you can add more water with the same cooking time.

However, if you want to eat firmer lentils, stick to method 1.

How to Cook Red Lentils
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3. How to Store Cooked Red Lentils

You can always store the cooked red lentils in a food-grade airtight container. Store red lentils for meal prep portions of one cup to add to other dishes to save cooking time.

Cooked red lentils can be stored in a freezer-friendly container for up to 6-7 days in the refrigerator and for up to three months in the freezer.

 Let them thaw in the fridge or at room temperature before cooking. Heat them either in a microwave or a pan.

How to Cook Red Lentils
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This will make them softer and puree-like so they can be used in soups, dips, or sauces.

4. Seasoning and Flavoring the Red Lentils: How to Cook Red Lentils?

To attain that great taste and flavor, red lentils need seasoning and other flavoring ingredients. Red lentils are seasoned after or during the cooking process. 

4.1. Chicken or Vegetable Broth

 You can add vegetable stock or chicken broth during the cooking process which will not only bring out the flavor but also increase the amount of nutrition of the dish.

Add salt, pepper, fresh herbs, and aromatics like a bay leaf to bring out the flavor even more.

How to Cook Red Lentils
Source: Depositphotos

4.2. Ginger and Garlic 

Saute some minced garlic and finely chopped ginger in some olive oil on medium heat before adding lentils and water.

4.3. Vegetables 

You can add your favorite vegetables to customize the dish. Spinach, carrots, chili peppers, and other green seasonal vegetables can be a great addition.

How to Cook Red Lentils
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4.3. Onion and Tomatoes

You can saute onion and tomatoes after ginger and garlic. First, add some roughly chopped onion and cook until golden brown.

Then add diced tomatoes until they turn soft and the oil separates. Now add red lentils, salt, chili powder and water. Add some lemon juice after cooking and serve.

4.5. Indian Spices

To take your red lentil dish to another level, you can add multiple Indian spices. Add garam masala, red chili flakes, mustard seed, curry paste, and cumin seeds.

You can also dry-roast these spices, grind them, and sprinkle them on top of lentils. Serve lentils in a bowl and garnish with fresh cilantro, parsley, or dill.

How to Cook Red Lentils
Source: Depositphotos

4.6. Coconut Milk

Cooking red lentils with coconut milk instead of water will result in a super creamy soupy dish.

You can add aromatics and garnish it with fresh herbs to make it more appetizing.

5. FAQs

5.1. Are Red Lentils Soaked Before Cooking?

Red lentils do not require to be soaked like other green lentils and brown lentils before cooking as unsoaked rinsed lentils can be immediately used for cooking.

It helps in reducing the meal prep time.

How to Cook Red Lentils
Source: Depositphotos

5.2. Do Red Lentils Easily Become Soft on Cooking?

Yes, they easily break down on cooking and don’t retain their shape. If you want to eat lentils with a firmer texture, you can either go for green or black lentils.

5.3. How to Eat Red Lentils?

People use red lentils in soups, curries, and stews. Cooked red lentils can be used as baby food since they break down and become soft easily.

The lentils are often included in dips, sauces, smoothies, and baked goods. You can also experiment with red lentils and make your own recipes.

How to Cook Red Lentils
Source: Depositphotos

5.4. How Healthy are Red Lentils?

They are rich in fiber and help relieve digestive issues. These legumes are packed with vitamin B, magnesium, zinc, potassium, and iron.

They are healthy for the heart since they are high in protein without much fat and calories. They have zero cholesterol.

5.5. How are Red and Yellow Lentils Different?

Red lentils and yellow lentils are quite comparable and have the same texture. The primary distinction is that they take more time to cook.

Yellow lentils are not as sweet in flavor as red lentils.

How to Cook Red Lentils
Source: Depositphotos

6. Conclusion: How to Cook Red Lentils?

Red lentils are super healthy, easily available, and affordable legumes.

They do not take much time to cook, can blend in with a variety of dishes, and serve as an excellent dietary source of plant-based protein.

One must definitely include red lentils in their meals.


Last Updated on by Ankita M Bose

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1 Comment
  • Thank you for sharing some additional methods to prepare my favourite red lentils. I only know how to cook them one way. I am confident that I will be able to wow my family by preparing it in the various ways you have suggested. I hope to see something more delicious!

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