Easy Instant Pot Lentils

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This easy Instant Pot Lentils recipe uses simple ingredients for tender lentils that can be flavored many different ways and enjoyed as part of a meatless meal.

Bowl of Instant Pot Lentils being served for dinner.

I have always cooked lentils on the stove top. And, while the cooking process itself is pretty easy, it’s not very quick.

Fortunately, a programmable pressure multicooker like the Instant Pot can cut down on the cooking time and make the process more hands-off. Every little bit of time savings helps when you have a busy family!

One of my favorite things about lentils, though, is that they’re so versatile. They taste amazing on their own thanks to their earthy flavor, but they can be seasoned to work well with many different cuisines too.

Ingredients

Measuring cup of water and bowl of dry lentils next to an Instant Pot on a wood table.
  • 2 cups of green or brown lentils
  • 4 cups of water or chicken stock

Equipment

  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Instant Pot
  • Fine mesh strainer
  • Serving spoon

By the Numbers: How to Make Instant Pot Lentils

Follow these simple step by step instructions to learn the easy way to pressure cook lentils in an Instant Pot electric pressure cooker.

Step 1: Add Ingredients to Instant Pot

Start by rinsing your lentils in a fine mesh strainer under running cold water. Discard any small rocks or damaged lentils.

Lentils being cleaned under running water in a fine mesh strainer.

Add 2 cups of lentils and 4 cups of filtered water to the inner cooking pot of your Instant Pot pressure cooker. You can also use chicken broth (or vegetable broth) instead of water for extra flavor.

Clean lentils and water in the Instant Pot inner pot.

Step 2: Pressure Cook Lentils

Secure the lid on your Instant Pot, make sure the float valve is in the sealing position (if your model has one) and cook on High Pressure for 8 minutes. When the cook time is up, use a natural pressure release for 15 minutes, then quick release any remaining pressure. Open the lid.

Lentils after being pressure cooked in an Instant Pot.

Step 3: Stir and Drain

After opening the lid, let some of the hot steam escape, then stir the lentils and strain any excess water through a fine mesh strainer. There should be very little water left to strain.

Lentils being strained after being pressure cooked.

Step 4: Eat Cooked Lentils

Your lentils are now ready to enjoy as part of a main dish, soup or side dish. They also make a great addition to salads.

Instant Pot lentils being served in a white bowl with a bamboo spoon.

Tips for Making Lentils in the Instant Pot

Answers to all of your questions about making this Instant Pot lentils recipe, including tips and substitution ideas.

Different types of lentils

There are several different varieties of lentils and they don’t all cook at the same rate. If you have a different type of lentils, use this chart to help you calculate the cook time.

I most often make green or brown lentils – they’re the most common type you find at the store. After that, I commonly make French Green Lentils. They’re smaller than other types, but we really like the flavor.

Red Lentils come out mushy no matter how long you cook them (as will some types of yellow lentils), so be careful about adding extra liquid. They’re great for adding to soups because of how easily they break down and work to thicken the liquid.

Lentil TypeCups of Whole LentilsCups of LiquidCook Time
Green Lentils2 cups4 cups7-9 minutes
Brown Lentils2 cups4 cups7-9 minutes
French Lentils2 cups3 cups5-7 minutes
Red Lentils2 cups3.5 cups2-3 minutes
Yellow Lentils2 cups3.5 cups2-3 minutes
Black Beluga Lentils2 cups3.5 cups7-8 minutes
These are the most common lentils. Other types may have different cooking times.

Over or undercooked lentils

Out of all of the legumes I make in my Instant Pot, lentils are the most finicky. It seems like every bag needs to be cooked for a slightly different amount of time to get the right texture.

If you follow this recipe once and your lentils are either under or overcooked, next time, simply adjust the cooking time up or down by a minute or two. Add more time for softer lentils and reduce time for firmer lentils.

Since lentils have a shorter cook time than black beans or pinto beans, every minute matters. Be sure to make a note of how many minutes of cook time gets you perfect lentils for your preferences.

Make a big batch

This recipe makes about 5 cups of cooked lentils. If you want to make a bigger batch, you can do that by doubling or tripling the recipe. Just make sure you don’t put more into your Instant Pot than will fit below the fill line.

Ways to eat lentils

We always have a big bag of lentils in our pantry because there are so many ways to eat them and it makes meal prep easy. I’ll often cook this recipe for lunch, then the whole family seasons their lentils with their favorite seasoning mix (like curry powder or taco seasoning). Sometimes I also make a batch of Instant Pot Basmati Rice to eat with the legumes.

However, there are so many ways to enjoy the delicious flavors of cooked lentils. Here are some more lentil recipes to try:

Storage tips

Store your cooked lentils in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Eat within 5-7 days.

Alternatively, they can be frozen in an airtight container or freezer bag for up to 6 months.

Where to buy lentils

You can find lentils in the rice and beans section at the grocery store. However, they can also be ordered online from popular retailers like Amazon. My favorite produce delivery service, Misfits Market, usually carries them as well.

More Instant Pot bean recipes

If you want to learn more easy recipes for beans in the Instant Pot, here are some of my favorites:

Or check out my post on everything you need to know about making legumes and beans in the Instant Pot.

Close up of a bowl of lentils that were cooked in an Instant Pot.

Easy Instant Pot Lentils Recipe

The easiest way to cook lentils is in an Instant Pot. This simple recipe results in tender lentils that can be used with many dishes.
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Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Pressurizing Time: 17 minutes
Total Time: 27 minutes
Recipe Servings: 5

Ingredients

  • 2 cups green lentils - or brown lentils
  • 4 cups water - or chicken stock

Equipment

Instructions

  • Rinse lentils under cold water. Discard any rocks or bad lentils.
    Lentils being cleaned under running water in a fine mesh strainer.
  • Add clean lentils and water to the Instant Pot inner pot.
    Clean lentils and water in the Instant Pot inner pot.
  • Close the lid and cook on High Pressure for 9 minutes. Use a natural release for 15 minutes, then quick release remaining pressure. Open the lid.
    Lentils after being pressure cooked in an Instant Pot.
  • Stir the lentils and strain any excess water through a fine mesh strainer.
    Lentils being strained after being pressure cooked.
  • Enjoy your pressure cooker lentils on their own or with your favorite dish.
    Instant Pot lentils being served in a white bowl with a bamboo spoon.

Nutrition Information Per Serving

Calories: 271kcal | Carbohydrates: 46g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 0.1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Sodium: 14mg | Potassium: 733mg | Fiber: 23g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 30IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 49mg | Iron: 6mg

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