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How to Cook Lentils In Instant Pot

by Sophie

Cooking lentils is not at all tricky, if you know how to cook lentils in instant pot and in stovetop. These plant-protein rich grains are versatile, can be used in curries, patties, sauté and much much more. If you have an instant pot, and want to know how to cook lentils, here is my detailed guide to cooking lentils in the instant pot.

How to cook lentils in instant pot, easy lentil cooking with pressure cook time and a chart

Lentils are a staple of Indian cuisine. We also call our lentils daal and proudly cook it many ways based on our regional cuisine. Pulses are very similar to lentils and are rich in protein too. While pulses are very popular in Asia and Africa, lentils are commonly used in Middle East and Europe. These low-fat, fiber-rich grains are super versatile for many recipes. Here are some popular lentil recipes from the blog:

Health Benefits of Lentils:

As I have already mentioned lentils are rich in fiber and proteins, they are one of the healthiest plant-based foods. For those in Whole Food Plantbased Diet, lentil is an amazing grain to include. Because lentils are edible seeds, they are rich in minerals, phytochemicals, and plant-based amino acids too. Some of the major benefits are:

  • Reduces cell damaging free radicals
  • Prevents neuro-generative diseases
  • Excellent source of plant protein
  • High in fiber, so heart healthy

Here is a detailed post on health benefits of lentil.

Types of Lentils:

Lentils are often categorized based on color and shape or type (whole or split). However, in the Americas, lentils are categorized by their color. Therefore, here there are five varieties of lentils: red lentil, green lentil, brown or black lentil and yellow lentil.

Here are some of the most common lentil available and some of the most popular Indian lentil varieties:

Brown lentils:

These are also known as “Whole Masoor” in India and have a greenish-brown color. Because of their hard seed cover, these lentils remain chewy or al-dente if cooked perfectly. However, you can always cook them till soft and mushy if you like. Typically, brown lentils have an earthy flavor, which is why we Indians love it to cook with lots of ginger. If you love lentil soups, curries and stews, brown lentil is for you.

Green Lentils:

These look very similar to the brown lentil, yet has a mild green color. Also, these are the most common lentils that we find in the USA grocery stores. Just like its brown cousin, these lentils are highly used in making soups and stews. While these are little bigger than red lentils, it has a mellow to earthy flavor very alike to red lentils.  I love to use these on salads, (both brown and green), because they retain their shape even after pressure cooking. The cooking time for both the lentils are 6-8 minutes in instant pot if you want a firmer texture.  If using a stovetop, these whole lentils can take up to 12 minutes in pressure cook in the instant pot.

Red Lentils:

These are also known as “laal masoor” in India, and often cooked as a light to spicy, curried daal. Because red lentil has a typical flavor, it works really great in curries and stews. Also, these lentils break down easily and quickly than any other varieties. Therefore, if you love creamy and mushy lentil soups, then you should always choose red lentils. Red lentils are available in two forms: whole and split halves

Yellow Lentils:

In India, yellow lentils are commonly used for making everyday daals. We use more than six types of yellow lentils, which include: toor daal or split pigeon peas, split yellow mung lentils, yellow split peas or chana daal, horsegram, and white grams. In addition to these, there are many locally used yellow lentils in India too. Yellow lentils have a variety of cook times, and it always depends on the process too. In instant pot, yellow lentil cook time can vary from 2-10 minutes.

Puy or French Green Lentils:

These lentils are excellent for salads and as toppings. Because they hold their shape even after cooked, these are widely used in making hearty salads. Unlike green lentils, these have a very sweet, nutty and peppery flavor. Because they come from the French regions, these are commonly known as Le Puy. If you want nice and firm Puy lentils, cook them in instant pot for just 7 minutes.

Black Beluga Lentils:

These are very uncommon in Indian households but are very common in Western countries. Because of their rarity, these lentils are often considered as exotic lentils. Of course, these are expensive and are not commonly found in all grocery stores. Just like French Puy lentils, these lentils hold their shape very well even after cooked. Black Beluga also has a mix of nutty and heaty flavor, and works well on salads. If you love firmer textured lentils, then cook these for 6-7 minutes in the instant pot. For a softer texture, increase the cooking time to 10 minutes.

Pulses:

Black Lentils or Black gram:

These lentils are commonly used in norther part of India for making the uber-popular Daal Makhni. Because of their dark skin, these lentils look dark black in color. When cooked, these lentils become soft and mushy, and almost creamy. Such lentils often work best in Indian daal makhni and Madras lentils. Instant pot cook time varies from 12-20 minutes.

Horsegram:

These are very commonly used lentils in Eastern and southern provinces of India. Because of their amazing health benefits, these lentils are often recommended to patients following a healthy diet. These lentils look like tiny oval/elliptical halves, mildly yellow in color, and have a peppery flavor. It is often cooked with tamarind and garlic for a robust flavor. Instant pot cooking time ranges from 8-12 minutes.

Mung Bean Lentils:

Whole mung beans are commonly used pulses in India. Because of their green skin, these are rich in fiber. Also, they hold their shape even after cooked. These lentils are often used for sprouting too. Mung halves are also used in Indian khichidi and skinless mung beans are used for making Indian daals. Instant pot cook time is 12-20 minutes. Moong yellow lentils, however, just take 2-6 minutes to cook in instant pot.

Split-peas yellow and green

These are commonly used in Indian daal and curries. While the yellow one is very popular in India, the green one is often used to make soup here in the Americas. Instant pot cook time varies from 5-8 minutes.

Pigeon Peas:

This is the most popular lentil in India, and commonly known as toor daal. Whether it is daal fry or daal tadka, this is the lentil that we Indians use the most. This lentil has a sweet flavor, which makes it very popular even among lentil haters. Instant pot cook time varies from 5-10 minutes.

SUMMARY: Lentils are categorized as per color, and are widely consumed in Asia, Africa and other continents. Lentils are the cheapest and healthiest source of plant protein.

How to Cook Lentils?

  • To cook lentils, you must wash and rinse them first. (refer to the video in recipe card) Lentils usually have some dirt or grime on them. First, soak your lentils in tap water and rub them with your fingers.
  • You will see the water turns murky when you do that.
  • Then throw that water and rinse your lentils with fresh water and repeat the step unless the water runs clear. This process effectively removes any dust or debris on the lentils.

How to Cook Lentils on a stovetop?

  • For every 1 cup of dry lentils, you will need 3 cups of filtered water or stock.
  • It is advised to take a Dutch oven or a large stock pot to cook the lentils. Bring the liquid to a boil, add salt and turmeric(optional), and add washed lentils.
  • Because lentils swell in size, you must take a pot large enough to hold them. After the liquid with lentil comes to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmering temperature and cover tightly to cook the lentils till they are tender.
  • Typically, split lentils take 5-7 minutes and whole lentils take 15-20 minutes to cook till soft in stovetop method.
  • Adding salt while cooking also helps to retain their shape and prevents lentils to become mushy. However, you can always add salt after cooking too.

How to cook lentils in Instant Pot?

  • Take 2 cups of liquid for 1 cup of dry lentil when cooking in instant pot. You can add turmeric, salt, and veggies such as tomatoes while cooking the lentils in instant pot. (Refer to the video)
  • Depending on the quantity of the lentils, the cooking time in the instant pot may range from 5-20 minutes.
  • Once the cooking time is over, allow the instant pot to come to a low temperature with natural pressure release. This helps to cook the lentils till super tender.
  • The natural pressure release usually takes 10-15 minutes depending on the cooking time and the amounts of lentils. Then, move the valve from the sealed position to the vent position and open the pot.
  • At this point, stir the lentils if you want to make a daal. This ensures that lentils are mixed well and forms a smooth mixture.  

For making daal:

  • Add 1 tbsp of oil to a pan and allow it to heat.
  • Add cumin seeds, chopped or sliced onions, green chili and ginger or garlic.
  • Sauté a little and add salt. Now add cooked lentils, and mix well. Bring the mixture to a boil. Add chopped chopped cilantro and lime juice.
  • Turn off the heat and serve the daal with steamed rice or roti.

TIPS: To make your lentils flavorful, add more seasoning while lentils cook. Adding whole garlics, ghee or mustard oil, whole pepper corns and garam masala while cooking enhances the flavors of the lentils. Because most lentils have an earthy to peppery taste, sweet tomato puree works great for lentil curries and daals. Sautee the herbs and spices and add to your cooked lentils for a fragrant and super yum bowl of lentil curry or soup.

How to cook lentils in instant pot, easy lentil cooking with pressure cook time and a chart

How to Cook Lentils in Instant Pot

Cooking lentils in instant pot is easy and reduces the cooking time a lot. If you love lentils, then here is my detailed guide on how to cook lentils in the instant pot.
5 from 19 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: how to cook lentil, how to cook lentil in instant pot, Indian lentil, Instant pot lentil, lentil curry
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 116kcal
Author: Sophie

Equipment

  • Instant pot

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup Red Lentils
  • 1 tsp Turmeric Powder
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 cup Chopped tomatoes
  • 2-3 cups water

To make daal

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 green chili
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • cilanro to garnish
  • 1 tbsp oil (optional)
  • 1 cup water or stock

Instructions

How to cook Lentils?

  • To cook lentils, you must wash and rinse them first. Lentils usually have some dirt or grime on them. First, soak your lentils in tap water and rub them with your fingers.
  • You will see the water turns murky when you do that.
  • Then throw that water and rinse your lentils with fresh water and repeat the step
    unless the water runs clear. This process effectively removes any dust or debris on the lentils.

How to Cook Lentils in Stove Top?

  • For every 1 cup of dry lentils, you will need 3 cups of filtered water or stock.
  • It is advised to take a Dutch oven or a large stock pot to cook the
    lentils. Bring the liquid to a boil, add salt and turmeric(optional), and add
    washed lentils.
  • Because lentils swell in size, you must take a pot large enough to hold
    them. After the liquid with lentil comes to a boil, reduce the heat to a
    simmering temperature and cover tightly to cook the lentils till they are
    tender.
  • Typically, split lentils take 5-7 minutes and whole lentils take 15-20
    minutes to cook till soft in stovetop method.
  • Adding salt while cooking also helps to retain their shape and prevents lentils to become mushy. However, you can always add salt after cooking too.

How to Cook Lentils in Instant Pot?

  • Take 2 cups of liquid for 1 cup of dry lentil when cooking in instant pot. You can add turmeric, salt, and veggies such as tomatoes while cooking the lentils in instant pot.
  • Depending on the quantity of the lentils, the cooking time in the instant pot may range from 5-20 minutes.
  • Once the cooking time is over, allow the instant pot to come to a low temperature with natural pressure release. This helps to cook the lentils till super tender.
  • The natural pressure release usually takes 10-15 minutes depending on the cooking time and the amounts of lentils. Then, move the valve from the sealed position to the vent position and open the pot.
  • At this point, stir the lentils if you want to make a daal. This ensures that lentils are mixed well and forms a homogenous mixture.  

How to Make Daal from Lentils?

  • Add 1 tbsp of oil to a pan and allow it to heat.
  • Add cumin seeds, chopped or sliced onions, green chilis and ginger or garlic. If you are not using oil, roast the cumin seeds first before adding veggies and herbs. Then cook by adding little water.
  • Sauté a little and add salt. Now add cooked lentils, and mix well. Bring the mixture to a boil. Add chopped chopped cilantro and lime juice.
  • Turn off the heat and serve the daal with steamed rice or roti.

Video

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 116kcal | Carbohydrates: 20.13g | Protein: 9.02g | Fat: 0.3g | Fiber: 7.9g

Want to Pin this Recipe? Click Pinit !

How do you release an instant pot naturally?

Wait the the instant pot pressure valve goes down. Natural pressure release usually takes 10 to 15 minutes. Once the valve goes down, move the pressure vent to the release position for any excess pressure release. Then open the lid.

How much do lentils expand?

While lentils do not require soaking, they do expand while cooking. A cup of dry lentil approximately yields 2 1/2 cup of cooked lentil after cooking.

Are you supposed to drain lentils?

Lentils do not require soaking like other pulses. Rinse your lentils with fresh water before boiling to remove any dust or debris. Drain the lentils and cook with fresh water.

Do you have to rinse lentils?

Yes, rinsing lentils is absolutely required while cooking. As you wash lentils, you will remove dirt and grime on it. After washing, rinse the lentils before using in cooking.

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22 comments

Pam Greer July 18, 2019 - 1:07 pm

5 stars
Wow, so much great information about lentils! I had no idea there were so many different kinds! I love finding another fabulous recipe for my Instant Pot!

Reply
Sophie July 18, 2019 - 2:46 pm

Thanks a lot Pam!

Reply
Emme July 18, 2019 - 1:31 pm

5 stars
What an amazingly informative post you’ve put together! This will for sure be my go-to reference guide for lentils going forward. And your cooking times have me wanting an instant pot even more than before… so much quicker than cooking lentils on stove top!!!

Reply
Sophie July 18, 2019 - 2:45 pm

Thanks a lot Emme!

Reply
Kelly Anthony July 18, 2019 - 2:29 pm

5 stars
I don’t cook with lentils very often so I’m not familiar with them so I found your post super helpful in learning the different types of lentils.

Reply
Sophie July 18, 2019 - 2:45 pm

Thank you so much!

Reply
Noelle July 18, 2019 - 2:45 pm

5 stars
SO much great information in this post, thank you!!

Reply
Sophie July 19, 2019 - 9:57 am

Thank you so much

Reply
Neha July 18, 2019 - 3:06 pm

5 stars
Wow such a detailed and lovely post! I can’t wait to try out lentils your way Sophie!

Reply
Sophie July 19, 2019 - 9:59 am

Thank you so much Neha!

Reply
Stine Mari September 4, 2019 - 9:45 am

5 stars
Lentils are so goood! This is such a helpful post. I love that you added all the different kinds of lentils too, very informative.

Reply
Jacqui Debono September 4, 2019 - 6:24 pm

5 stars
I buy lentils now and again and then don’t know what to do with them! Will be pinning this for later!

Reply
Amanda September 5, 2019 - 8:18 pm

5 stars
Thanks for putting together such a helpful resource! I’m definitely pinning and can’t wait to try all these different lentils in my Instant Pot.

Reply
Renu September 6, 2019 - 10:40 am

5 stars
So much information in this post. Nice to know about different types of lentils and how to cook them in Instant pot. Awesome share.

Reply
Erika September 6, 2019 - 11:00 am

5 stars
I need to cook with lentils more. Thanks for sharing all this awesome information.

Reply
Ramona September 6, 2019 - 2:56 pm

5 stars
Lentils are just amazing, I cook these every week and I love the way you have put all this info about all types of lentils, stuff that I did not know. Lovely, informative post. Thanks for sharing!

Reply
GUNJAN C Dudani September 6, 2019 - 3:30 pm

5 stars
I love all your tips on cooking lentils. Often times in a hurry I realize my lentils are either overcooked or under done. These tips are for sure helpful.

Reply
Candiss September 7, 2019 - 12:11 am

This is such a handy guide for cooking lentils! I love cooking them in the instant pot and these details for variety is such great information.

Reply
Cathleen @ A Taste of Madness September 7, 2019 - 9:18 am

I just bought an Instant pot and I am SO excited to learn how to use it!! Also, I LOVE lentils 🙂

Reply
Jenni LeBaron September 8, 2019 - 11:53 am

5 stars
I really appreciate learning about the differences between types of lentils because I was unaware that there were so many types. I also love that these cook up so quickly in the Instant Pot.

Reply
Mikayla September 11, 2019 - 12:43 am

5 stars
This is a ridiculously helpful post! I’ve been so curious about lentils, but I’ve never really eaten them, much less cooked them and all the varieties can be intimidating! I’ve pinned your post so I can refer to it in the future too, I’m confident I have a better idea on how to cook the mung beans in my cupboard now!

Reply
Lathiya September 19, 2019 - 12:20 pm

5 stars
This sounds like a very detailed post on cooking lentils. I agree that Instant pot makes life easy.

Reply

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