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Red Lentils Instant Pot Recipe

This red lentils Instant Pot recipe is simple. Use as a healthy side dish that is vegetarian. Use same directions for brown, green, black or yellow varieties too.

instant pot risotto recipe

This red lentils Instant Pot recipe is great. I love cooking from dry legumes to tender perfection in minutes. Just one easy Instant Pot recipe that’s a great side dish packed with protein. (affiliate links present, originally published 1/21)

Instant Pot Red Lentils

You can make soup with these too with ham like our Instant Pot lentil soup that we love. Either way they’re a great food that is super versatile for dinner.

What exactly are lentils?

They are similar to beans. High protein pebble like hard in nature before being cooked, they’re used a lot in vegetarian recipes replacing meat.

If you are new to pressure cooking we have a lot of easy one pot meal recipes for you here. To begin with let’s start with a few basic tips:

For reference, this is the pressure cooker I have (a 6 quart) and use for all recipe creations.

star wars instant pot

There are many types as well. The biggest difference is the bold color on the outside, which changes once they’re softened. We used red but there are many others to choose from. All have an earthy flavor.

What are the different types of lentils?

You can purchase red, yellow, brown, green lentils and black. Smaller but similar to split peas in the way they feel, all have a variety of uses.

What color lentils are the healthiest?

Black. Only 1/2 cup of these provides a whopping 26 grams of protein and takes about 25 minutes to cook properly.

What does a lentil taste like?

They all have a mildly earthy or sort of nutty flavor. When cooked they have a somewhat mushy texture and can be mashed like you see here.

Instant Pot Lentils

Here’s where it starts. Pick the color or taste of your choice and some water. Broth is another alternative you can use for the liquid you need. That will add a bit more flavor. You can even add rice into the mix with a bit more broth, follow our lentils and rice post for that timing.

red lentils instant pot

Lentils Instant Pot Recipe

Here is what you’ll need to get started on this:

  1. Lentils – dry, we used split red lentils here
  2. Water – or other liquid such as vegetable broth to add more flavor
  3. Seasonings
    1. only salt and pepper were added to this
    2. garlic salt and/or powder is great too

Instant Pot cooking makes this healthy recipe super easy. You just cook at high pressure and allow for a natural release so they get nice and tender.

how to cook red lentils

Ninja Foodi Red Lentils

Whether you want brown lentils or red lentils, they cook basically the same. If you aren’t super familiar with pressure cooking, natural release means to leave the steam valve in the sealing position.

After the 15 minutes is up, flip it open so the remainder can escape and the lid will lift off easily and safely. Lentils are tender when cooked this way.

From there you can blend to make them smooth like mashed potatoes, or cut down the cooking time by a few minutes if you don’t want them quite as soft.

instant pot lentils

How to Cook Red Lentils

Here are quick step by steps but you can jump to recipe at the bottom of this post as well. It is printable so you can keep it handy.

Time needed: 31 minutes

Instant Pot Red Lentils

  1. Add ingredients

    Pour in lentils and water + a pinch of salt and pepper or other seasonings you’d like. Stir.

  2. Cook

    Seal lid and steam valve. Set to high pressure for 16 minutes with a 15 minute natural release.

    Open pot, slowly stir, taste, season more if you like and serve.

If you want it very smooth and add it to a blender or hand mixer you may need a bit more liquid. Broth, water or even coconut milk are common choices for this. We have done this with our Instant Pot lentil curry at times.

pressure cooker lentils

When planning this keep in mind that the time to reach initial pressure can be 15 to 20 minutes. So leave a good 45 minutes start to finish for this easy lentil recipe.

What is the difference between beans and lentils?

We share how to cook beans in a pressure cooker here. Those take a bit longer, depending on the variety and how soft you want them. Lentils are legumes, not beans and grow inside seeds vs. pods.

Much higher in protein, split lentils have a different shape to them. Nonetheless these two are often confused.


Looking for other Instant Pot side dishes? We have tons on our site, here are a few of our favorites:

Add something else? Let us know so we can try your favorite add ins.

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red lentils instant pot
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5 from 5 votes

Red Lentils Instant Pot

This red lentils Instant Pot recipe is simple. Use as a healthy side dish that is vegetarian. Use same directions for brown, green, or yellow too.
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American, Indian
Keyword instant pot, lentils, ninja foodi, pressure cooker, red lentils
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 16 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 113kcal
Author The Typical Mom



  • Add lentils, water, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir.
  • Seal lid and steam valve. Set to high pressure for 16 minutes with a 15 minute natural release.
  • Open pot, slowly stir, taste, season more if you like and serve.


Nutrition Facts
Red Lentils Instant Pot
Amount Per Serving (2 oz)
Calories 113 Calories from Fat 9
% Daily Value*
Fat 1g2%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Sodium 6mg0%
Potassium 306mg9%
Carbohydrates 19g6%
Fiber 10g42%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 8g16%
Vitamin A 12IU0%
Vitamin C 1mg1%
Calcium 20mg2%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Recipe Rating

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Thursday 2nd of November 2023

I made these lentils last night and they turned out perfectly! Always using this method from now on!


Wednesday 1st of November 2023

Turned out perfect, even though it was my first time cooking lentils in an instant pot! Thank you!


Wednesday 1st of November 2023

Such an easy, simple, protein-packed side dish!


Wednesday 1st of November 2023

This simple and easy instant pot lentil recipe makes a perfect side dish for any meal. I like that I can use any kind of lentil and that it works for any day of the week.

Mark G

Sunday 11th of April 2021

Thanks for the great recipe.

I want to comment and tell you about my other favorite lentils. They are tough to get at a regular grocer but they are an old legume. So old that they may be the parent to our green, red, and black lentils but that's just my thought, no one else's. Anyway, I'm speaking of the horse gram lentil. This lentil is a powerhouse of nutrition and people have used it to treat fertility issues, among others, for hundreds of years. There are two things you want to know about horse gram lentils. First, they require a long soaking. You can't just cook horse gram lentils. They must be soaked, preferably overnight in twice the amount of water. And they will soak it up. Then you want to place them in the IP with enough water to cover, add salt, and spices, and cook for 25 minutes with an npr or a 10 minute npr and quick release. Second thing you need to know about horse gram lentils is that, like black lentils, they will not lose their shape. They stay firm on the outside but get creamy inside. So they are the perfect addition to stews, soups, etc. And the cooking broth is often reserved to add to other dishes as it is equally as nutritious. Anyway, this is my plug for the horse gram lentil. Find an Indian grocer and buy a big bag. Then do a search on horse gram lentil instant pot and you'll find plenty of recipes for salads, curries, soups, etc.


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