Quick and easy 20-minute one pot lentils are healthy, nourishing, and delicious. They are easy to make in a few simple steps, and are simmered until tender with an assortment of seasoning to pack on the flavor. If you've stocked up your pantry with these non-perishable beans and are now looking for a way to use them up, then this is the recipe for you. It's healthy, freezer-friendly, and reheats really well. Plus, this lentil dish will work for anyone who has a dietary restriction as this vegetarian meal is vegan and gluten-free, not to mention that it's packed with plant-based protein and highly nutritious with immunity-boosting properties.
Why You'll Love Easy One Pot Lentils
- It's good for immunity. Lentils are loaded with immune-boosting zinc, iron, and vitamin B6 (which creates infection-fighting white blood cells). These vitamins and minerals are essential for immune function. These beans are also spiced with both turmeric and cumin, which you guessed it, help boost the immune system.
- Lentils are healthy. We love cooking with lentils (like in our Coconut Curry Lentil Soup), since lentils also have a number of other important health benefits including:
- strong antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties (aka cancer fighting food)
- lowers risk of heart disease and improves cholesterol levels and blood pressure
- aiding in digestion and improving overall gut function (since they are rich in dietary fiber)
- supports weight loss (they are low in calories!)
- great source of folate and iron
- Quick and easy one pot meal. Lentils are a great meal to whip up when you don't want to spend all your time in the kitchen and would rather use your time doing other things. They are super easy to prepare, require very little cooking time, and since you throw everything into one pot, there is minimal clean up required. Plus, they are cheap. The perfect weeknight meal!
Ingredients and Substitutions
To make these easy one pot lentils, you will need the following ingredients:
- brown lentils - you can easily substitute with other varieties of this pantry staple bean such as green lentils, red lentils, or black lentils.
- olive oil
- boiling water
- seasoning - turmeric, ground cumin, Italian seasoning, salt, and black pepper. You could substitute the Italian seasoning with fresh herbs like thyme and oregano.
- cilantro - optional, for serving.
The best part about this recipe is that you can totally customize it. Switch up the seasoning used by adding in some ginger, red pepper flakes, or cayenne to make it spicy, add in za'atar or paprika for a different twist, or add in any other spices that you want to try. You could also add in some veggies like potatoes, sweet potatoes, zucchini, tomatoes, and carrots. You could even add in some sausage for extra protein.
How to Cook the Best One Pot Lentils
- Soak briefly. Pour lentils into a large mixing bowl and sort out any debris, then rinse and drain. Pour in some boiling water on top, enough to cover the lentils, and let it sit for 10 minutes. Set aside. Drain the lentils that have been soaking in water, then rinse and drain again.
- Sauté aromatics. Meanwhile, in a large pot or 4 quart Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add chopped onion, garlic, and turmeric. Sauté until onions are soft and translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Pour in 1 cup of boiling water into the pot and stir together.
- Stir in lentils. Stir the lentils into the pot along with the remaining boiling water, cumin, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Turn the heat up to high and bring to a boil. Then, turn to low and simmer covered for 15 minutes.
- Serve. Season with more salt and pepper to taste. Serve over brown or white rice, coconut rice, or a rice pilaf with a sprinkle of fresh cilantro on top. You can also serve on its own with a naan bread, pita bread, biscuits or dinner rolls for dipping.
Recipe Tips and Tricks
- Soak the lentils: The secret to preparing the best lentils, and one that I learned from my mother, lies in the way that you prepare the lentils before cooking. Most recipes call for a quick rinse and draining of dry lentils before placing into the cooking pot. But to get the best results, the key is to soak the lentils for about 10-15 minutes in hot water. This not only cleans the lentils (you will notice the dark brown coloured-water when you drain the soaked lentils), but it actually removes the gassiness from them. Meaning, they will be easier to digest and will cause less gas issues once you have at them. You could call it an old wives' tale, but it works. It actually works.
- Lentils have different taste and textures: Another tip to getting the perfect bean, is to be mindful of the type of lentil you are using. I like to cook with brown lentils because I like their earthy flavour and because they hold their shape really well after cooking. Lentils should be slightly soft or even crunchy, but of course if super mushy lentils are your thing, (which to be honest are pretty amazing), then just keep cooking them until you get the consistency that you are looking for.
How to Store Cooked Lentils
These lentils reheat really well and makes for amazing leftovers. They can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. They also freeze really well and can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months.
When you are ready to eat, simply allow it to thaw in the refrigerator and then reheat for a few minutes in a saucepan. The best part is that frozen lentils will taste the same way they did on first day that you made them. This is why I never cook a small batch. I always double up on the recipe so that I can freeze any extras for weeks or months to come.
More Recipes with Beans
- How to Cook Dried Beans
- Easy Lima Beans
- One Pot Kidney Beans
- Minestrone Soup
- Warm Lentil Salad
- Chickpea Greek Salad
Did you make this recipe? I would greatly appreciate a comment and rating below, letting me know what you thought of the recipe. You can also snap a picture and tag me on Instagram @aheadofthyme or share it on the Pinterest pin so that I can follow along.