Easy Brown Lentils

Whether you’re a seasoned lentil lover or still a skeptic, TRY these brown lentils! It’s an easy recipe ideal for busy weeknights and packed with nutrition, not to mention inexpensive and filling! Naturally vegan and gluten free.

Easy Brown Lentils - a photo of a silver skillet with a cooked mixture of different colorful ingredients with a blue and white cloth - click photo for full written recipe

I remember joking with some fellow food bloggers at the end of last year about brown lentils. Brown lentils are not attractive. They are not sexy. They do not have cheese that can be stretched, they don’t sparkle, and they aren’t swimming in a sweet teriyaki glaze. This recipe will never wind up on BuzzFeed, and you won’t share it on your mom’s Facebook page and beg her to make it for your next birthday.

But that’s okay.

When you need an inexpensive, highly nutritious, filling, quick and easy meatless meal… these easy brown lentils will be here for you.

And it turns those requirements I just listed? They happen to me every single week.

Limitless Options

I like to cook a pound of lentils on Sunday and then keep them in the fridge, reheating portions for meals as I need them. There are so many ways you can use lentils: Toss them with quinoa, add them to soups, sprinkle them on salads, stuff them in mushrooms, eat them on rice, saute them with everything from bacon to kale. The list goes on.

Incredibly Filling

Most of the time, I make them with carrots, celery, onion, and garlic. It’s quick, simple, and very satisfying. If I’m shaking with feelings of primal hunger (which happens A LOT when you work in the food blogosphere), a bowl of lentils will reset my cravings and free me of the demons demanding cheeseburgers and cheesecake. And cheese. SERIOUSLY. Lentils work wonders.

Easy Brown Lentils - a photo of five clear bowls holding different ingredients on a white wooden background - click photo for full written recipe

Ready FAST

If you have lentils cooked and ready to go, this recipe will come together in just minutes. If you don’t have lentils on hand, allow 20 minutes or so, and you can still have this dish off the ground and running in under 30 minutes. A pound of lentils goes a long way and probably costs you $2.00 or less.

A Nutritional Powerhouse

Lentils are loaded with protein, fiber, seven minerals, and B-vitamins. I’m not a nutritionist, and I am not offering dietary advice, but you can read more about the benefits of lentils here. It’s compelling stuff!

Tasty, too

Truly, I like brown lentils served with just a bit of salt. They have a mild, savory flavor that I enjoy and a nice chew. If I add the vegetables and garlic as in this recipe, they are even better. Because as much as I wish I ate food because it was good for me, I find that I mostly eat food that tastes good.

So what are you waiting for?! Brown lentils are waiting for you!

Easy Brown Lentils - a bird's eye view photo of a silver skillet with a cooked mixture of different colorful ingredients with a blue and white cloth - click photo for full written recipe

Save this Easy Brown Lentils to your “Side Dishes” Pinterest board!

And let’s be friends on Pinterest! I’m always pinning tasty recipes!

Whether you're a seasoned lentil lover or still a skeptic, TRY these brown lentils! It's an easy recipe ideal for busy weeknights and packed with nutrition, not to mention inexpensive and filling! Naturally vegan and gluten free.
5 from 11 votes
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Easy Brown Lentils

Whether you're a seasoned lentil lover or still a skeptic, TRY these brown lentils! It's an easy recipe ideal for busy weeknights and packed with nutrition, not to mention inexpensive and filling! Naturally vegan and gluten free.
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 110 kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup onion chopped
  • ½ cup celery chopped
  • ½ cup carrots chopped
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 cups cooked lentils
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • white rice for serving optional

Instructions

  1. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil until shimmering. Add onion, celery, and carrots and cook until softened, 3 to 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in garlic until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add lentils and stir until uniformly combined and heated through, about 2 to 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve warm plain or over rice.

Recipe Notes

To cook lentils, bring 4 quarts of water and one pound of lentils (picked over and stones removed) to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 15 to 20 minutes or until lentils reach desired tenderness. Drain well.

Whether you're a seasoned lentil lover or still a skeptic, TRY these brown lentils! It's an easy recipe ideal for busy weeknights and packed with nutrition, not to mention inexpensive and filling! Naturally vegan and gluten free.

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27 comments


  1. I totally laughed at your thoughts about wildly popular food blog recipes.  But you are totally right!  Melty cheese, gooey caramel, chocolate dipping off of something…they’ll be wildly popular.  But I can’t eat like that every night.  (Well, I could…but…)  So yes, we just need staple recipes, and this one looks like a great staple.  Plus, I think your photos look awesome.  Just sayin’.  I’m totally pinning them right now!

    • Thank you so much, David! I appreciate your support. We have our waistlines to think about, swim-suit season is upon us! I know lots of bloggers bake loads of treats and then give them away to their neighbors, but I just end up eating most of my food. :) So I have to make things like brown lentils. But I digress. Thanks again for stopping by!


  2. They may not be sexy, but you made this dish look colorful and inviting and there’s no reason it could not be on Buzzfeed.  I happen to love lentils and there’s so many dishes you can make with them. I actually have some Trader Joe’s cooked lentils in the fridge right now and I’m going to make this for lunch today.

    • Is it the Melodious Blend from Trader Joe’s? I LOVE that blend, they have actually been out at my store. I will truly eat an entire bag. But yes, because they were sold out, I had to – gasp – make my own. :) Luckily these are almost as easy and even tastier!


  3. Meggan, you totally sold these to me! Although you were preaching to the converted a little with me …a sort of tomato-y, stew-y soup is really popular in Greece and, dare I say it, gorgeous with vinegar, croutons and yes, stretchy cheese! 
    I love this version of yours – and you’ve managed to do something that not many people can do – make lentils look really attractive in photos!

    • Thanks, Helen. :) I have been putting off posting these for so long for fear of how they would look, but then I decided to just go for it because I eat them so often. And that stewy-soup you described sounds amazing, so I’m counting on YOU to post that puppy! :)


  4. Sometimes the simple foods are the best foods.  I know I like a lot of complex flavors, but sometimes I crave the simple, like these lentils.  I’m glad you posted this.

    • Thank you, Susan. I love cooking elaborate dishes too, but sometimes I just want something basic. Lentils fit the bill!


  5. Love lentils – these look divine. I really like the light flavours – delicious. 


  6. Hahaha, so true- lentils are are not going to be winning any food beauty contest any time soon.  However, they are so delicious and totally deserve more credit!  Loving the flavors you used, that you kept it easy-peasy, and you made them look good!  Cheers to that!  :)  

    • Thank you, Cheyanne! I wish more people tried them rather than just dismissing them because they aren’t colorful. But if even one person tries them after seeing this recipe, I’ll call it a victory!


  7. Hi Meggan.  I enjoy when people are exposed to the Middle Eastern food.  I’m 65 years old and guess what!!! I just had this meal for last week as extension to my normal food.  I’m glad you fall in love with it and I like your sexy introduction because I love when cheese melt and pull in threads ( you should try fry cheese called halloumi).  If you google the word ( mujadara) you will see more ways, because Lebanese, Syrian, Palestinian, even Turkish cook such differently.

    I will check your other recipes later on.  I’m a foodie and enjoy when people get exposed to good food (NON-GMO) and organic.  One hint if you use beans add touch of cumin to reduce gas :) :).

    • Thank you so much for your kind words! I definitely want to learn more ways to cook lentils. I have a lot of blogging friends that cook with halloumi but I’m still trying to locate it in my area. I also appreciate the tip on cumin. I hope everyone who reads this post takes note of your comment!!! :)

  8. I thought I left nice comment? I just want to make sure IF you have specific policy that differs than the protocol of any other blog or the ethics of social media?  I normally copy what I write.  You can reply directly.

    • I am so sorry for this. My comments settings are set so that the FIRST time someone comments, I have to manually approve their comment. And regrettably I took all day to do that. Of course your comment was great, especially the tip about the comment! And going forward all your comments should be published automatically. I emailed you with a similar response so I hope you received it. I’m sorry again for my delay. Take care and I hope you stop by again soon!! XXO


  9. I love healthful dishes and this one fits in perfectly. I actually use red lentils more than brown. I think both are delish. 


  10. Wow, this recipe came in clutch! I’m sitting at work thinking about a pound of lentils that I have in my fridge that I’m stressed will go to waste, alas they will not! 

    • Hey Julianna! So happy to hear that! I’m not a rabid lentil eater or anything like that, but I think this recipe is GOOD. I hope you like it. It’s one of my favorites, so simple yet hearty and delicious. Glad to hear you can put your lentils to use. :)

  11. I’m new to a plant based diet & this is what I am having for dinner tonight. I also recommend mujadara. The caramelized onions are so good.

    • Hi Ouida, thank you so much for this tip on mujadara! I hadn’t heard of it before, but yes. Such a great idea! Thank you!


  12. Could you use butternut squash instead of carrots??

  13. Can I use Trader Joe’s already cooked lentils? 


  14. How much is the measurement of one serving?

  15. What does “2 cups lentils cooked” mean? Is it 2 cups of dried lentils, cooked so it swells up to a lot more, or about 3/4 cup dry lentils that cook and swell up to 2 cups?

    • I’m so sorry, that is really badly written. It should be 2 cups cooked lentils, not 2 cups lentils cooked (which makes no sense as you pointed out). So sorry about that! Fixing the recipe now. -Meggan

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