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.
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.
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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:
- Make sure to Bookmark our InstaPot recipes page. We add new ones each week!
- Then PRINT this —–> Instant Pot cooking times cheat sheet that will help you understand how long meat, vegetables and beans take to cook in your pressure cooker.
For reference, this is the pressure cooker I have (a 6 quart) and use for all recipe creations.
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.
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.
Black. Only 1/2 cup of these provides a whopping 26 grams of protein and takes about 25 minutes to cook properly.
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.
Lentils Instant Pot Recipe
Here is what you’ll need to get started on this:
- Lentils – dry, we used split red lentils here
- Water – or other liquid such as vegetable broth to add more flavor
- only salt and pepper were added to this
- 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.
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.
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
- Add ingredients
Pour in lentils and water + a pinch of salt and pepper or other seasonings you’d like. 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.
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.
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:
- Our homemade Instant Pot baked beans get 5 stars from everyone who tries them.
- You can make Instant Pot refried beans for your next taco Tuesday get together.
- For pressure cooker bean cook times you can refer to this free printable here.
Add something else? Let us know so we can try your favorite add ins.
Want to see a few of my favorite things that I am totally obsessed with?? Take a peek and see how many you might already have…twinsies!
Red Lentils Instant Pot
- 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.