10 Recipes That Will Change How You Think About Lentils

When it comes to superfoods, few ingredients measure up to lentils. From a nutritional standpoint they check every box. These slight, lens-shaped legumes are excellent sources of protein and fiber, as well as essential minerals, like iron, potassium, and manganese. But their health benefits don’t end there. Studies show that lentils can lower blood pressure and cholesterol, help prevent gastrointestinal and digestive diseases, and even protect against colon cancer.  

Lentils come in a number of varieties, each of which is suited to different cooking methods and recipes. For example, brown and green lentils maintain their structure during cooking, making them great options for side dishes, veggie burgers and meatballs, and casseroles. Red and yellow lentils on the other hand are typically “split” into smaller pieces during processing, enabling them to be broken down completely if boiled or simmered into a soup or stew. 

Cooking with lentils is pretty simple. You can buy them either canned (which is more convenient) or dried (which is often less expensive). If choosing the latter, the dried lentils just need to be boiled in water until tender and then drained.  But let’s say you don’t know what to make with these very nutritious legumes. Well, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve got a recipe rundown featuring recipes all focused on the lovely lentil. From meatballs and tacos to a meat-free Bolognese sauce, there’s a lot you can do with this powerful plant-based protein.

Caribbean Lentil and Potato Bake

Bring those big Caribbean flavors to the dinner table with this plant-based potato-lentil bake from Kirly-Sue’s Kitchen. The lentils are boldly seasoned with fresh ginger, paprika, cumin, coriander, turmeric, garam masala, tomatoes, and a splash of coconut milk. The mixture is then layered into the baking dish—somewhat like lasagna—alternating with slices of parboiled potatoes. It’s healthy, looks good, and tastes good…can’t ask for much more than that!

For the Caribbean Lentil and Potato Bake recipe from Kirly-Sue’s Kitchen, click here.


A traditional Egyptian dish of lentils and rice, this recipe for kushari takes legumes to a new level. The rice and lentils are cooked separately, but the magic really enters the equation with the deeply-spiced tomato sauce that’s elevated by the addition of cinnamon, cumin, coriander, nutmeg, paprika, and oregano. Oh, yeah, elbow macaroni and fried onions also make an appearance in this one-of-a-kind plant-based masterpiece. For the Kushari recipe from RCPE, click here.

Lentil and Mushroom Bolognese

Bolognese, the classic Italian meat sauce, is a beloved comfort food, but this recipe from Joy Bauer for a plant-based version will certainly satisfy the craving. The sauce is made in a similar way to a traditional Bolognese sauce; the only difference is that ground beef is replaced by dried lentils, which are stewed together with the tomatoes, a cadre of caramelized veggies, and a nice pour of red wine. Let the sauce do its thing for 30 minutes and ladle over your pasta of choice. For the Lentil and Mushroom Bolognese recipe from Joy Bauer, click here.

Lentil Walnut Taco with Cashew Sour Cream

This recipe for lentil walnut tacos from Fit Living Eats is loaded with protein, fiber, and healthy fats, not to mention light and delicious, making it a far-cry from your typical fast-food fare. The filling — a mixture of smoky spiced lentils and chopped walnuts — is topped with a tangy pineapple-jalapeño salsa and thick cashew cream. Wrap it all in a romaine leaf or tortilla and you’re ready to eat. For the Lentil Walnut Taco with Cashew Sour Cream recipe from Fit Living Eats, click here.

Vegan shepherd pie with lentils and mashed potatoes

Meat Free Cottage Pie

Lentils and shiitake mushrooms take center stage in this reinvention of British pub fare from Meat Free Monday. A crown of creamy mashed-potato makes this dish just as fun to look at as it is to eat. For the Meat Free Cottage Pie recipe from Meat Free Monday, click here.

The Meatball Shop’s Veggie Balls

If you know, you know. These meat-free meatballs from the Meatball Shop bring all the taste, texture, and flavor of traditional Italian meatballs — just without the beef, pork, and veal. Instead, you’ve got yummy and nutritious plant-based ingredients, like mushrooms, lentils, bread crumbs, and chopped walnuts. This recipe isn’t totally plant-based, but you can easily swap out the egg or cheese for a plant-friendly alternative. For The Meatball Shop’s Veggie Balls recipe, click here.

Mushroom Lentil Kofta

A kofta is a circular or oblong meatloaf-like dish hailing from regions in and around the Middle East. This version skips on the ground beef and lamb, and opts for a combo of mushroom and lentils. Some hazelnuts, oatmeal (or flour), and a cooked onion contribute all the flavor you need for this simple, homy dish. For the Mushroom Lentil Kofta recipe, click here.

Pasta Fazool with Lentils

This version of the classic tomato-based soup is healthier and heartier thanks to the addition of nutrient-dense lentils. The recipe from Good Mother Diet is perfect for a quick lunch or as a side course to dinner. Whip it up in a jiffy and have leftovers for the next day. For the Pasta Fazool with Lentils recipe from Good Mother Diet, click here.

Smoky Red Lentil Rainbow Nori Roll

Lentils? In sushi? And they’re smoky? Yes, yes, and yes. Clearly, this isn’t your ordinary nori roll. This recipe from USA Pulses puts lentils in the center of sushi, accompanied by a selection of your choice of vegetables. From mango to avocado to cucumber to green onions, feel free to play outside the sandbox with this one. Then wrap it in nori and slice. For the Smoky Red Lentil Rainbow Nori Roll from USA Pulses, click here.

Warm Lentil Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

Lentils don’t have to always be smoky or spicy or mashed. They’re also quite tasty when paired with lighter, more delicate flavors, like in this warm salad from Craving Something Healthy. Surrounding the cooked lentils with roasted vegetables helps bring balance to their inherently earthy flavor. The final piece of the puzzle is to cover the whole composed salad in a homemade sweet-and-sour lemon vinaigrette. For the Warm Lentil Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette recipe from Craving Something Healthy, click here.

Click here for more Meatless Monday recipes. When posting pictures of recipes to your social media network, tag @MeatlessMonday use #MeatlessMonday to show the plant-based community your creation.