Instant Pot Lentils are easy, fast and incredibly delicious with only a handful of wholesome ingredients. Onion, garlic, rosemary and thyme are just the start of what makes this protein-packed recipe a go to favorite.
The flavor just a few perfectly paired ingredients make can be amazing.
These Instant Pot Lentils demonstrate just that.
Pressure cooked in a rich broth, flavored with herbs and spices for a hearty meal that comes together with minimal effort. And fast too!
A satisfyingly delicious vegetarian recipe. You’ll never miss the meat. But we have a variation if you do!
If you are a lentils lover don’t miss our Mexican Chorizo Lentil Stew, Red Lentil Curry or Spicy Roasted Poblano Red Lentils with Sausage too.
Easy Instant Pot Lentils
These tender easy lentils are a comforting and satisfying main or side dish.
After a few minutes of sautéing aromatic vegetables to start, it’s all hand’s off for you!
The Instant Pot does the work to produce perfectly cooked (never mushy) pleasing lentils with incredible flavors.
This recipe uses green or brown lentils which hold their shape through pressure cooking.
Lentils are a wonderful plant-protein option as they are readily available in the grocery store and are very affordable.
Pressure cooking both retains more nutrients and infuses the flavors into the lentils making a fantastic end recipe.
This recipe gets a meatless recipe on the dinner table that’s guaranteed to make everyone happy–vegetarians and meat-eaters alike.
Served on its own or over mashed potatoes.
These lentils have a wonderful flavor thanks to a combination of herbs, seasonings and vegetables.
Recipe Ingredients + Notes
Here’s everything you need to make lentils in the Instant Pot.
Lentils. Use green or brown dried lentils. Do NOT substitute red lentils, as they will become mushy.
Vegetable broth. We recommend low-s0dium broth or stock. Chicken broth makes a great substitute if you don’t need this to be vegetarian.
Soy sauce. Use regular or gluten free soy sauce or Tamari.
Tomato Sauce. Canned or homemade tomato sauce can be used.
Carrot. Slice or chop carrots as preferred. For very large carrots, if sliced, cut the slices in half.
Red onion. Chopped onion will be sautéed in the Instant Pot before pressure cooking.
Olive oil. Used for sautéing in the Instant Pot.
Seasonings. Garlic powder, onion powder, dried rosemary, dried thyme. This perfect blend of spices gives the lentils and out-of-this-world delicious flavor.
Salt and pepper. Added to taste after cooking as needed.
How to Make it – Step-by-Step
STEP 1. Sort the lentils
Place the dried lentils in a bowl.
Sort through them and remove any damaged lentils, small rocks or other outside debris.
Place the sorted lentils in a colander and rinse them well.
STEP 2. Sauté the onions
Set your Instant Pot to SAUTE and add the olive oil. Cook the onions in the heated oil for about 3 minutes or until softened and slightly translucent (photo 1).
Turn off the SAUTE setting.
Add the carrots and lentils to the pot (photo 2), then the broth, soy sauce, herbs and seasoning (photo 3).
STEP 3. Pressure cook
Secure the lid and place the vent in the sealing position on your Instant Pot. Cook at HIGH PRESSURE for a cook time of 20 minutes.
When the cook time ends, let the pot naturally release remaining pressure.
STEP 4. Add tomato sauce
Remove the lid and turn the Instant Pot back to SAUTE (photo 4).
Stir in the tomato sauce (photo 5). Continue cooking another 2 -3 minutes until the lentil broth is thickened (photo 6).
Adjust the seasoning adding salt and pepper, if needed.
TO SERVE. Ladle the lentils into bowls on their own or over mashed potatoes or rice. Garnish with a sprig of fresh herbs if you like!
Sausage variation. If you’re not a vegetarian, feel free to stir in some pre-cooked sausage at the end. This makes the dish even more hearty and is a perfect flavor complement to the lentils too.
Chicken broth. This Instant Pot lentil recipe tastes great with either chicken broth OR vegetable broth.
Spicy lentils. Want a little heat with your lentils? Add crushed red pepper flakes to taste before serving.
Frequently Asked Questions
Serve the pressure cooker lentils over a starch that will soak up all the flavorful juices and broth. Rice or mashed potatoes are both delicious. Try them with mashed sweet potatoes too!
You could also serve this dish as a side for another main course!
No, you cannot use red lentils in this recipe. Red lentils will get so soft as they cook, they’ll disintegrate, leaving you with mush!
If you’re looking for a delicious red lentil recipe, try this delicious Curried Red Lentil Soup instead.
Green lentils and brown lentils both work here because they have the same structure and cook at the same speed.
From start to finish, this recipe takes about 50 minutes to make.
Most of that time is completely hands off.
Twenty minutes of pressure cooking time, plus about 15 minutes of allowing the pot to naturally release the pressure.
Cooked lentils can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. They reheat beautifully in the microwave too!
Make a batch of these in the Instant Pot and enjoy the leftovers for lunch the next day. The flavors will be even better!
It’s a great recipe for meal prep too.
They can also be frozen. Place in airtight freezer-safe containers or bags and store for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator.
More Recipes You’ll Love!
- Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili with Tangy Baked Beans
- Sweet Potato and Chickpea Curry
- White Bean Soup (Instant Pot recipe)
- Spaghetti Aglio e Olio
Instant Pot Lentils
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium red onion chopped
- 1 large carrot peeled and chopped or sliced
- 1 cup brown or green lentils
- 2 cups low sodium vegetable broth
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce regular or gluten-free
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon dried rosemary
- ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ¼ cup tomato sauce
- Sort lentils to remove any that are damaged, any small rocks and rinse well.
- Set the Instant Pot in the SAUTE setting. Add the olive oil and heat.
- Add the onions and sauté until fragrant and slightly transparent (around 3 minutes). Cancel SAUTE setting.
- Add the carrot, lentils, vegetable broth, soy sauce and spices. Close the lid and valve and set on HIGH PRESSURE for 20 minutes.
- When cooking completes allow a NATURAL RELEASE and open the valve and lid.
- Set on SAUTE, add the tomato sauce and stir to combine. Cook for 2-3 more minutes, (stirring often) or until thickened.
- It’s delicious served with mashed potatoes on the side or with rice, something that can soak up all those delicious juices.
- It’s microwave friendly! So you can reheat it in the microwave if making a large batch.
- Use green or brown lentils. Do not use red lentils for this recipe. They will soften and become mushy.
Instant Pot Lentils are a protein packed vegetarian recipe that’s so satisfyingly delicious, you’ll never miss the meat. The lentils are pressure cooked in a rich broth flavored with herbs and spices for a hearty meal that comes together with minimal effort.
How can I make this recipe without an instant pot?
Toni Dash says
Hi Becky. We’ve only tested this recipe in an Instant Pot. You could try it but instead of cooking in a pressure cooker make it on the stove top allowing the lentils to simmer for 20-30 minutes until they are cooked through (replace the pressure cooking step with that) then finish with the tomato sauce. Do the sautéing of the onions first as in the recipe. Good luck! Let us know how it turns out!
Debbie shwan says
I love lentils! This is such a yummy recipe!
I have had green lentils in my pantry waiting to be used for a very long time. Thanks for this recipe idea. It was delicious and easy.
So healthy and delicious! My family loved it too.
Love that it is veg. Such a comforting meal, full packed with nutrition and flavor.
Wonderful! I love this vegetarian recipe! Perfect for Meatless Mondays and whenever else I feel the need to be a little healthier!
This was so delicious! I loved all the herbs and spices that you used in it.
Claudia Lamascolo says
I cant even tell you how excited I am to try this, never had them with tomato sauce and these sounds fantastic. I eat only beans and no meat so this is going to my printer as I type! Thanks Toni!
What a great way to use the instant pot. These lentils are delicious.
I love lentils and this was my first time making them in the Instant Pot. It was so easy! The flavor is fantastic and the lentils are such a great consistency. We love this recipe.