Lentils may not be the most attractive ingredient in town, but that doesn’t mean you should avoid them. Easy to prepare, a great alternative to meat, and super tasty if done right, lentils are actually a go-to ingredient.
These 21 easy and delicious lentil recipes are the perfect way to add protein (and flavor) to breakfast, lunch, or dinner. And hey, some of them are legit beautiful too.
1. Crispy lentils with walnuts and za’atar
Hello, protein! Lentils, fried egg, and walnuts combine to make this dish a protein powerhouse. It also has a nice crunch that’s atypical of lentil dishes.
A tasty way to fuel up for a long day and sneak in some greens, this meal just may be your new morning favorite.
2. Baked eggs in tomatoes with lentils and whipped goat cheese
This egg breakfast is super filling and flavorful but not too heavy. It’s also incredibly easy to make and a great dish for a crowd.
Lentils are simmered in a tomato, leek, and shallot sauce before eggs are cracked into the skillet for baking. Feel free to add spinach or other veggies. The recipe creator’s only requirement: Don’t skip the whipped goat cheese.
3. Spicy lentils with poached eggs
Super quick, easy, and delicious, these spicy lentils are just what the doctor ordered on dreary mornings or weeknights when you simply can’t be bothered — to cook, that is.
All it takes is minimal chopping. A few stirs. A wee poaching (or frying, if that’s how you like your eggs). And finally, the will to lift up your fork, plunge it into yolky heaven, and chew. It may even force you to smile.
4. Lentils, roasted tomatoes, and dukkah-crumbed eggs
What the duck is dukkah? Glad you asked. It’s an Egyptian mixture of herbs, spices, and nuts — and it’s divine. The recipe calls for homemade, but it can also be found at specialty food stores.
Simply roast tomatoes with harissa, cook the lentils, soft-boil eggs, roll the cooked eggs in dukkah, and enjoy the best (and most inventive) breakfast concoction ever.
5. Spinach lentil fritters
These tasty fritters can be prepped in 20 minutes and cooked just as fast. The result: crispy, savory, spinach-filled fritters that taste like they were made for the citrusy sour cream sauce.
Feel free to sub Greek yogurt if you prefer, and try adding shredded sweet potato to bulk them up just a bit more. These are an awesome way to sneak greens and protein into a snack or weeknight appetizer.
6. Carrot-lentil cakes with garlic-herb tahini
Vegan, gluten-free, seriously delicious, and oh-so-filling, these carrot-lentil cakes are a great dish for a dinner party or date night if you’re looking to serve something fun while keeping things healthy.
For more than just an appetizer, serve them on a bed of arugula or in a warm pita with more veggies (like cucumber and red onion), and make sure to dress them generously with the garlic-herb sauce.
7. Roasted cauliflower and lentil tacos with creamy chipotle sauce
Smothered in creamy chipotle sauce, stuffed with lentils and roasted cauliflower, and hugged together with a warm tortilla, let’s taco ’bout how good these lentil tacos are.
These just may be the healthiest tacos we’ve ever seen (and some of the tastiest!). Sub Greek yogurt for mayo for extra protein — and because it tastes that much better.
8. Vegan sweet potato and lentil shepherd’s pie
Did we say “healthy pie”? Why, yes — yes, we did. This vegan spin on shepherd’s pie is a crowd-pleaser for a reason: It’s creamy, filling, flavorful, beautiful, and did we mention creamy?
Layered with spiced lentils and mushrooms and a sweet potato and breadcrumb topping, this dish makes winter (and holidays) way more tolerable.
9. Fried halloumi lentil salad
Topped with delicately sliced zucchini, bursting roasted grape tomatoes, a sprinkle of microgreens, and perfectly browned halloumi, this is the salad we’ve been dreaming of.
For extra greens, serve on a bed of arugula or spinach. Then add an extra drizzle of olive oil and squeeze of lemon for the dressing. Whoever said lentils aren’t pretty clearly hasn’t seen this dish.
10. Sunshine lentil bowls with garlic-olive oil dressing
The vibrant veggies, creamy eggs (cooked with goat cheese), refreshing herbs, and hearty potatoes make this an ideal dish for any time of day. Skip the eggs to make it vegan and add a tahini sauce for extra flavor.
11. Turmeric lentil fritters tomato bowl with tahini-dill sauce
These seedy, slightly spicy fritters are the perfect vegetarian topping for a salad or grain bowl.
Packed with omega-3s, protein, incredible spices, and even some hidden greens, they’re a great way to add nutrients without sacrificing flavor.
Pro tip: Use fresh dill for the tahini sauce. It ups the flavor like whoa.
12. Curried coconut lentil stuffed sweet potato bowls
Stuffed sweet potatoes are our go-to meal for easy, nutritious lunches and dinners. But this recipe takes things to the next level.
With seriously spiced curry lentils and an extra dose of protein (and creaminess) from the Greek yogurt topping, you won’t get sick of the same old meal anytime soon.
Pro tip: Want it for breakfast? Skip the yogurt and top with a fried or poached egg.
13. Sprouted lentil vegan hummus wrap
We love anything that’s both fast and healthy. All too often, there’s no extra time to spend in the kitchen.
This sprouted lentil wrap is as simple as spreading hummus on a tortilla (we highly recommend a spinach wrap), topping it with all kinds of veggies, and sprinkling on a handful of sprouted lentils.
You may also want to add some brown rice and then season it with smoked paprika and salt. Now, roll that nutritious bad boy up and ta-da! Done. You’re ready to enjoy its fresh, light flavor.
14. Tangy lentil sloppy Joes
These lentil sloppy Joes taste as good as they look — or even better. They’re cooked in a homemade barbecue-esque sauce made with tomato paste, tomato sauce, pickle juice, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, and maple syrup.
They taste decadent but are packed with healthy ingredients. If your eyes are bigger than your stomach, the lentils freeze well and taste even better when reheated.
15. Zoodles with vegan lentil meatballs
We love zucchini noodles, but mixing them with plain ol’ sauce just doesn’t do the trick anymore. This recipe beefs things up with not-so beefy meatballs.
Lentils combine with oat flour, chia seeds, herbs, and chopped onion to create super-filling, protein-packed balls that rival those made with meat. Preparing the balls takes a bit of effort (read: time), so plan accordingly.
16. Lentil Bolognese
Whether you already eat vegetarian or you’re simply looking to go meatless for the day, this Bolognese is exactly what we wish for in a meat-free pasta.
Hearty, full of protein, dense (but not too dense), and ready to eat in 30 minutes flat, it may even convince you to go meat-free for good. To make it gluten-free, use quinoa pasta or zoodles.
17. Winter detox Moroccan sweet potato lentil soup
The word “detox” may make you expect something bland, but this soup is anything but. With sweet potato, carrot, red bell pepper, onion, spinach, lots o’ garlic, and spices galore, it’s packed with flavor.
If you’re pressed for time during the workweek, never fear: You can make this on the weekend and enjoy for several days. Top with fresh Greek yogurt for added creaminess or hot sauce for extra heat.
18. Parsnip and apple soup with black lentils and vegetable crisps
This soup is the perfect balance of sweet and salty. The apple and parsnip base also means it’s all kinds of creamy, even though it’s vegan (we love when plant-based cooks figure out how to do that).
Topped with black lentils, chili flakes, scallions, and root veggie chips, it’s a great dish for playing with all kinds of flavors — and textures — with minimal effort in the kitchen.
19. Healing red lentil and turmeric soup
If you don’t love the texture of lentils, opt for a dish where they’re puréed, like this soup. This recipe is made with red lentils, our favorite kind (shhh, don’t tell the others!).
Your whole house is about to smell amazing, because it’s also got onion, garlic, carrot, and a variety of spices like turmeric, coriander, and cumin. With just a short simmer and quick blend, this soup is great for beginners.
20. Creamy coconut lentil curry
Isn’t this dish beautiful? Curry is one of the most popular lentil dishes. And for good reason: Lentils soak up the heavenly curry flavor and are perfect for scooping up with naan, pita, or a good ol’ spoon.
Though the soup takes an hour to cook, it simply simmers for most of that time, and the resulting flavor is all kinds of worth it. Top with cherry tomatoes and cilantro.
21. Tuscan kale and lentil soup
Whether it’s sweater weather and you’re looking for extra warmth or it’s the end of a long, indulgent weekend and you’re craving some veggies, this soup is the answer.
Filled with sweet potato, kale, onion, carrot, celery, and a variety of herbs, this soup just makes you feel downright good. And it tastes even better the next day, so it’s perfect for leftovers.
If you’ve ever picked up a bag of lentils at the grocery store and then chickened out and put it back, we feel you. Somehow, a simple bag of legumes can be super intimidating.
You’ll soon see how easy it is to cook these humble, nutritious pods of possibility. Try green, red, or yellow, and let us know how many uses you can come up with. Lentils may just become your new favorite ingredient.