You need to know how to make the BEST creamy lentils in the Instant Pot pressure cooker! These Instant Pot Lentils will become a staple in your kitchen.
Lentils are among the healthiest plant foods out there; they bursting with nutrition and are high in protein and fiber. In spite of these healthy characteristics, lentils are also high in lectins. Lectins are anti-nutrients that can reduce the nutritional value of food by hindering the absorption of certain minerals.
But wait! There’s good news.
Cooking lentils, peas, beans, and other legumes in the pressure cooker reduces the presence of lectins. If you’re going to eat lentils, using an Instant Pot pressure cooker is a great way to cook them!
This Instant Pot Lentils recipe is actually the very first lentil recipe I developed back in 2017. It’s been a staple ever since, and I know you’re going to love it, too!
Recipe Ingredients for Instant Pot Lentils
This pressure cooker lentils recipe is quick and easy and requires only 8 ingredients, including salt and water.
For regular lentil recipes, water is for soaking and cooking the lentils. However, as this is an instant pot recipe, we will skip the soaking part and go right to the cooking process.
You will need ⅓ cup of water to cook the lentils in. The main purpose is to cook the lentils; therefore, you can use any other liquid for added taste. I recommend going for chicken broth or vegetable broth if you are following any vegan diets or looking for plant-based recipes.
We need 1 ½ cup of lentils. Lentils are known as a power food for the countless benefits they have to offer. For instance, they are a good source of protein and potassium, with low salt and fat content. Plus, lentils improve heart health, stabilize blood sugar levels, boost energy, and lower cholesterol levels. They are also easy to digest and aid weight loss.
For this recipe, you can use wide varieties of lentils, including brown lentils, black lentils, yellow lentils, French green lentils, or black beluga lentils. However, remember that the cook time may vary depending on the type of lentil. I have only tested brown and green lentils for this recipe.
We will add 1 (13.5 oz) can of coconut milk to this easy lentil recipe. Coconut milk adds creaminess from its fat content, improving the texture, while keeping this dairy free. Besides this, it also adds a hint of sweetness and an extra nutty flavor to the lentils, balancing out the spice level.
Coconut milk is lactose-free and has anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and anti-fungal properties. It’s a good choice for people following a vegan diet.
I used tomato sauce for this recipe, giving it a distinctly Italian feeling. You can get any brand of canned tomato sauce from the grocery store.
While tomato sauce serves as a base for the instant pot lentils, it also gives the dish an intense flavor and color to make it more tempting.
Tomato sauce is a low-caloric ingredient, rich in vitamins A and C. It has anti-tumor and antioxidant properties, in addition to boosting the metabolism.
Tomato paste is made by cooking tomatoes and removing their seeds and juices. The result is a highly concentrated paste that has a bold tomato flavor. On the other hand, Tomato sauce is thinner, has lots of spices, and has an aromatic flavor.
Therefore, we will add 2 tablespoons of tomato paste to the recipe to give it that Unami flavor and pump up the tomato flavor.
We will add a teaspoon of dried oregano to this instant pot lentils recipe to give it a light and fragrant undertone. Oregano adds a fresh Mediterranean kick to the lentil soup, making it distinctively aromatic and flavorful.
To add a strong minty flavor and a hint of anise to your lentils, add 1 teaspoon of dried basil to it. Dried spices and herbs are a great addition to soups for added flavor.
We will finish this recipe by adding ¼ teaspoon of garlic salt. Fresh garlic can sometimes burn in the Instant Pot, so I used powdered for this recipe instead. Obviously, salt and black pepper are the primary ingredients in EVERY dish as they bring out the true flavors of the main dish and make it savory.
How to Make Instant Pot Lentils
This recipe is amazing as it takes 5 minutes of prep time and the rest is hands off!
1. Place all of the ingredients in the inner pot of your Instant Pot pressure cooker in the order listed and stir well to make sure the tomato paste is well incorporated.
2. Cook on high pressure for 20 minutes.
3. Do a quick release of the steam.
4. Stir and serve. Enjoy!
- Stirring the ingredients well before cooking, and making sure the tomato paste is well incorporated, prevents you from getting the burn notice. If you get the burn notice, add more water to the pot, ensure nothing is stuck to the bottom of the inner pot, and continue cooking.
- This recipe is intended for brown or green lentils, not red lentils. Red lentils cook much more quickly than brown and green, and the recipe doesn’t work well with red lentils. If you want to experiment with red lentils, reduce the cooking time to 10 minutes. I do think these Instant Pot Lentils are best with brown or green lentils. If you have red lentils to use, I recommend this Carrot and Lentil Soup!
- I haven’t tried this without an Instant Pot, but I’m sure you can make this on the stovetop if you don’t have a pressure cooker. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and simmer until the lentils are cooked and liquid is reduced, about 35-45 minutes.
- You’ll notice that the recipe says the lentils cook in 20 minutes, but I listed the cook time as 30 minutes. I did this to account for the time it takes for the pressure cooker to heat. I’ve gotten frustrated following recipes that don’t account for that time and then dinner isn’t ready when I thought it was going to be.
Questions and Recipe Variations
Q. Can I add other herbs and spices to the instant pot lentils recipe?
If you want to change the flavor of your lentils, you can swap the recipe spices for garam masala, fresh parsley, bay leaves, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, dried chili peppers, or any other seasonings of your choice to make the dish as per your preference.
Q. How to serve instant pot lentils?
These lentils can be a side dish or a vegan main course served with a salad and bread. They are delicious on a bed of lettuce, too!
Q. What are some variations of the Instant Pot lentils?
If you want to tweak the recipe a bit, stir in parmesan cheese at the end. Another variation would be to make instant pot cheesy southwestern lentils. Use chili powder or taco seasoning in place of the oregano and basil and stir in come Colby jack cheese at the end.
Q. How to store leftover Instant Pot lentils?
You can store the leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5-7 days. Or place it in a freezer-safe bag and freeze it for up to 4 months.
If you’re looking for more instant pot meals, here are 150 healthy instant pot recipes to try! If you love cooking with your Instant Pot pressure cooker, try some of my Instant Pot soups. Try my Instant Pot Broccoli and Cheddar Soup, Instant Pot Chicken Vegetable Soup, or this Instant Pot Vegetable Soup with Beans. All are fabulous!
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