This Instant Pot Lentils recipe is delicious and packed full of protein. Not only is it simple to make, but it yields enough for meal prep for the week and can be easily frozen, too. It includes a simple spice mix and flavorings that you can easily customize based on what your family loves best. And speaking of customizing, you can keep these green lentils in the Instant Pot recipe vegan to toss in a warm quinoa salad, or you can serve them alongside chicken and rice. Come learn how to cook lentils in the Instant Pot and hear my best tips and tricks for this versatile recipe!
Why I love this Instant Pot Lentils recipe
Y’all know how I love my beans (hello, Instant Pot Pinto Beans, Slow Cooker Black Beans [Brazilian Style], Brazilian Black Beans Recipe), but I also love me some lentils. They are delicious, just as versatile and are great for meal prep, too.
I portion this recipe the same way as I showed you in my how to cook dry beans post, and freeze it in “can size” containers so they’re easy to swap in recipes, and quickly throw in salads during the week.
This easy green lentils recipe has been a lifesaver for me, too, since I work long hours at my day job and don’t always have a ton of time to prepare myself dinner—so, yeah, I just eat it with a spoon every once in a while, too! It’s so great!!
What You Need to Make Instant Pot Lentils
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In addition to these tools, you’ll need…
- Green lentils
- Olive oil
- Brazilian sofrito—or minced garlic
- Ground cumin
- Smoked paprika
- Ground mustard powder
- Bay leaf
- Water or stock
- Red wine vinegar
- Kosher salt
- Cracked black pepper
How to cook lentils in the Instant Pot
Sauté your aromatics. This adds a layer of flavor on top of the spices we’ll be adding. To do that, just turn the Instant Pot on sauté mode and heat up the olive oil. Then, we add the Brazilian sofrito and sauté it for a minute or two, just until fragrant.
Spice it up. When the Brazilian sofrito is fragrant, toss in the lentils and the spices. Stir to combine, and let it all “toast” for a minute. This will help the spices release some extra flavors and oils.
Add the liquid. Just pour in the 5 cups of water or stock in the pot, give it a stir and turn the pot off so you can safely put the lid on.
Bring on the pressure. Set the Instant Pot to pressure cook manually on high pressure for 3 minutes. When it beeps to let you know that the cook time has finished, let the pressure release naturally for 12 minutes.
Open the pot. After the 12-minute natural release, carefully turn the steam valve to the venting position and release the remaining pressure manually. When you can, carefully open the Instant Pot lid.
Get back on sauté. Change the now open/uncovered instant pot settings to sauté mode again and pour in the vinegar, and salt and pepper. This is our final layer of flavor, and a very important one. The vinegar will help thicken any liquid left in the pot, as well as add some delicious acidity to the lentils.
Finishing on sauté will also help you reach your desired doneness on your lentils. If you taste the lentils and think they can be cooked a little longer, you have the chance to do that in this step.
How Long to Cook Lentils in Instant Pot
I like my lentils more on the al dente side, so they can hold their shape, and I can use them in salads without worrying about them turning to mush, so cooking them at high pressure for 3 minutes and a slower natural release of 12 minutes is the perfect combination for me.
Once the pressure has been released, I add in a minute or two in the Instant Pot‘s sauté mode so that the vinegar can plump up the lentils and brighten up the flavor. If there are any uncooked lentils, I find that these few mins on sauté will cook them through just fine.
If you like your green lentils more cooked—or mushier—you can increase the cooking time to 5 or 6 minutes under high pressure.
Frequently Asked Questions
Lentils are considered legumes and are related to beans, soybeans, chickpeas and peanuts.
No. You don’t need to soak lentils before pressure cooking!
In this recipe, we’re using 5 cups of water to 1 lb. of lentils.
There are so many things you can pair with lentils to eat! Whether you want to toss them in a salad, a main, like Rosemary Honey Pork Loin & Warm Lentil Salad or make a soup, like Lentil Stew with Sausage and Pork and Red Lentil Soup With Coconut Milk, you’re bound to find a delicious pairing!
Serve your Instant Pot Lentils with:
- Carrot Rice
- Instant Pot Brown Rice
- Rotisserie Style Brazilian Chicken
- Baked Chicken Legs
- Baked Lime Salmon
- and so much more!!
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Instant Pot Lentils
- 1 lb of green lentils
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil plus more for drizzling
- 2 tablespoons of Brazilian sofrito or 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon of ground mustard powder
- 1 whole bay leaf
- 5 cups of water or stock
- 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons of kosher salt
- cracked black pepper to taste
- With your instant pot on saute mode, heat up the olive oil, then add in the Brazilian sofrito.
- Saute a minute or two, until fragrant, then add in the lentils and the spices to the pot.
- Stir to combine, then add in the 5 cups of water. Turn the pot off, close the Instant Pot lid and turn the steam valve to the sealing position.
- Set the Instant Pot to pressure cook (manual) at high pressure for 3 minutes.
- When it beeps to let you know that the cook time has finished, let the pressure release naturally for 12 minutes.
- After the 12 minute natural release, carefully turn the steam valve to the venting position and release the remaining pressure manually. When you can, carefully open the Instant Pot lid.
- Change the now open/uncovered instant pot settings to sauté mode and pour in the vinegar, and salt and pepper.
- Cook on sauté mode a minute or two, until you reach desired donness.