If you’ve ever thought of lentils as boring, this roundup of delicious lentil recipes will change your mind! Say good-bye to plain boiled lentils and basic lentil soup, and try one of these fun and exciting plant-based recipes.
You can incorporate nutrient-dense lentils into almost any savory dish, from dips to soups to pastas, and this list of fabulous vegan lentil recipes is jam-packed with creative and tasty ideas to get you started.
What are the different types of lentils?
Red Lentils: Red lentils break down quickly and become creamy, making them the perfect thickening agent for Indian dals and curries, as well as creamy stews and purées. If you’re new to red lentils and open your pot to see a pile of mush, don’t be alarmed. That’s exactly what red lentils do!
Brown and Green Lentils: These are the most common lentils in the U.S., and you can find them at any grocery store. They’re a little bigger than other varieties and have a mild, earthy flavor. Great in soups, stews, and pureed dishes, like my Vegan Wellington!Bonus: they’re one of the cheapest foods you can buy at the grocery store!
French Green (Puy) Lentils: These lentils also hold their shape when cooked, making them perfect in salads. If you find brown or green lentils turn out too mushy, try French green lentils instead. They have a pleasant, peppery taste.
Black Beluga Lentils: The fanciest of lentils and a bit more expensive than ordinary lentils. Since they hold their shape well, they make a great side dish or a bed on which you can serve your meal. Black beluga lentils have a hearty, full-bodied flavor.
Note: If you’re interested in lentil varieties used in Indian cooking, check out my blog post on Dal Tadka!
How do you cook lentils in the Instant Pot?
Check out my comprehensive blog post on “How to Cook Lentils in the Instant Pot“! And in my cookbook, The Vegan Instant Pot Cookbook, you’ll find a cook time chart for all the common lentil varieties.
My Vegan Red Lentil Curry is a fan favorite and the BEST lentil curry you will ever try! It’s easy and quick, making it a perfect weeknight dinner! Plus, it’s creamy and indulgent but made with wholesome vegan ingredients!
An incredibly savory and comforting, Vegan Moussaka recipe by Anya of Goluba Kitchen with layers of silky eggplant, veggies and lentils, covered by a crispy layer of mashed potatoes.
This healthy Creamy Vegan Lentil Lasagna by Mariana of Nuts and Pumpkin is meaty, cheesy and so decadent! It is a fun and delicious project for when you have a bit longer in the kitchen and is perfect for meal prep as it is freezer friendly.
These Vegan Enchiladas by Eva of The Curious Chickpea are filled with an easy savory lentil filling and topped with a homemade enchilada sauce and butternut queso. Simple to make but so special.
In this classic Lebanese recipe by Cosette’s Kitchen, lentils are simmered until soft and tender then cooked gently with rice until thickened. Enjoy with pita bread and a salad!
My recipe for the BEST Vegan Shepherd’s Pie! A hearty, flavor-packed lentil and sticky onion filling meets fluffy mashed potatoes and cauliflower in this protein-rich plant based dinner recipe. Perfect healthy comfort food for winter.
Dal Makhani is one of the most popular Indian dals, and my vegan version makes no sacrifices. The complex flavors and velvety texture will blow your mind. Perfect for your special occasion dinners.
This 5-Minute Lentil Dip by Iosune of Simple Vegan Blog is so tasty and really smooth. Eat it with some crudités, bread or tortilla chips or use it to make delicious sandwiches or toasts.
This Moong Dal Toast by Priya of Cookilicious is a vegan appetizer recipe made with moong dal and bread. Serve this plant-based snack at your next party and wow your guests!
Made from scratch Vegan Lentil Meatballs by Sarah of A Saucy Kitchen are made from healthy, plant based ingredients without too much prep needed! They’re both gluten and grain-free.
Soups & Stews
This Greek Lentil Soup aka Fakes recipe reminds Maria of FoodbyMaria of the food she ate growing up. The lentils combined with the flavors of the onion and spices, and tomato broth are just SO comforting for colder weather!
With the cooler weather approaching this creamy Lentil Peanut Stew by Afia of The Canadian African will definitely keep you nice and warm. This recipe goes perfectly with some fluffy rice, some pita, naan or freshly toasted bread.
Sides & Salads
Inspired by traditional complex flavors in the Caribbean, these spiced lentils by Catherine of Plant Based RD are highly addictive and satisfying. Bonus: the blog post includes a recipe for homemade jerk spice!
This Lentil Tabouli Salad by Sylvia of Feasting at Home is full of Middle Eastern flavors! Vegan & Gluten free, this hearty salad keeps for several days, perfect for midweek lunches or potlucks!
This Vegan French Lentil Salad by Lexi of Crowded Kitchen is packed with fresh vegetables, chopped dates and a flavorful orange cumin vinaigrette. It’s perfect for a protein-packed, plant-based, quick and easy meal.
My Dal Tadka is the best wholesome comfort food featuring creamy spiced lentils topped with a tempered spiced oil (tadka). It’s easy but gourmet and rivals any Indian restaurant. Stovetop and Instant Pot instructions.
Planning a cozy dinner party or have holiday meals on the mind? Try this Creamy Lentil Stuffed Butternut Squash with butternut-tahini sauce!
Roasted butternut squash gets stuffed with the most flavorful, umami-packed lentil filling, then drizzled with a creamy sauce made from the scooped out butternut squash. A hearty and satisfying main course for any winter dinner, especially holiday meals!
- 3 medium butternut squash
- Regular olive oil or avocado oil for roasting
- Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Creamy Lentil Filling
- 1 tablespoon olive oil (you will need more oil if not using a nonstick pan)
- 2 large yellow onions, diced
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh sage leaves
- 2 teaspoons roughly chopped fresh rosemary leaves
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1/3 cup (80 mL) dry red wine (such as Pinot Noir, Shiraz/Syrah, or Malbec)
- 1 cup (190g) green or brown lentils
- 2 ⅔ cups (640 mL) vegetable broth
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon sweet or hot paprika
- 2 ½ tablespoons tahini
- 2 teaspoons white miso paste
- 2-3 teaspoons good-quality balsamic vinegar
- 1 cup roasted butternut squash (from the scooped out halves)
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 3-6 tablespoons water or vegetable broth, more as needed to thin the sauce
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
Roast the squash. Preheat the oven to 425°F (218°C). Slice each butternut squash in half and scoop out the seeds and sticky stuff with a spoon. Place each squash half, cut side up, on a large baking sheet and rub each with a bit of the oil and season well with salt and pepper. Roast for 45-50 minutes, or until the flesh is fork tender and lightly browned.
Make the Creamy Lentil Filling. Heat the 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat until hot. Add the onions and season with a pinch of salt and sauté for 8-9 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning but not too often so that they can brown, or until most of the onions are browned. Add the garlic, sage and rosemary and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent burning. Add the tomato paste and stir to combine into all of the ingredients, and cook for 2-3 minutes.
Reduce heat to medium and pour in the red wine and deglaze the pan, stirring up any browned bits, until the liquid has evaporated and the smell of alcohol has dissipated, about 2-3 minutes.
Add the vegetable broth, along with the lentils, bay leaf, and paprika. Stir to combine and increase the heat to bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to maintain a rapid simmer, and simmer until the lentils are just tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 30 minutes.
Reduce the heat to low. Add the tahini, miso, and balsamic vinegar, and stir until well incorporated. Taste for seasonings, adding about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon kosher salt and black pepper to taste. Set aside.
When the roasted squash is cool enough to handle, use a large spoon to scoop out the flesh from each squash half, leaving a ½ to ¾-inch -thick border around the sides and bottom.
Transfer 1 cup of the butternut squash flesh to a food processor (set aside the rest for another use, such as a risotto, pasta, oatmeal, or smoothie).
Reduce oven temperature to 350F° (175°C).
Stuff the lentil filling into each squash cavity. Add the stuffed squash halves to the oven and bake for 15 minutes, or until everything is warmed through.
Meanwhile, make the butternut tahini sauce. To the food processor with the 1 cup squash flesh, add the tahini, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, and blend until smooth. Stream in the water or broth, scraping down the sides as you go, until you have a pourable but thick sauce.
To serve, drizzle the butternut tahini sauce on top of the stuffed baked squash. Garnish with chopped parsley, if desired.