5 Different Types of Lentils + A Recipe for Each One

Dried lentils are a pantry staple- they're hearty, earthy, and inexpensive. I know I've mistaken lentils for being part of the bean family, but they are actually part of the legume family. That means, you don't need to soak dried lentils overnight like dried beans and you can cook lentils in about twenty minutes.  Talk about a convenient and nutritious side dish- what's not to love? Plus there are many different types of lentils, each as delicious as the last!

Health Benefits of Lentils

Not only are they super tasty, but they're a good source of protein, fiber, magnesium, potassium, b vitamins and calcium. Lentils are also good for your heart, low in calories, versatile, and will boost your energy. With all these health benefits, there's no doubt we need to have lentils on the dinner table more often!

Check out our guide for all of the different types of lentil varieties that you might spot when you're strolling down the aisle at the grocery store. We've also included lentil recipes to get you started.

Brown Lentils

Best lentil soup recipe
Cookie and Kate

Brown lentils are one of the most common varieties of lentils sold in the United States. You can find them at most grocery stores and they hold their shape nicely once cooked. Brown lentils have a mild, earthy flavor and can be a natural thickener in a soup or veggie burger.

I have to say though, I always use brown lentils in soup. Try out this Spiced Vegan Lentil Soup recipe to get you started cooking lentils for this year's soup season.

2. Green Lentils

A Green Lentil Salad that'll have you want to come back for more? Yes, it actually exists, and you just found the recipe for it! Just make it, you'll see! 
The Healthy Foodie

Another common type of lentils is green lentils. They have a slightly peppery flavor and firm texture but do have the longest cooking time out of all the varieties (about 40 minutes) and cook up great in the instant pot.

French Green lentils are great to use in a French-style salad or as a warm side dish. This Green Lentil Salad is refreshing and the perfect make-ahead dish that the whole family will love. 

Puy lentils (lentilles du puy) are the original green lentil that is actually harvested in the French region of Le Puy. Known to have the best texture, these lentils are the most expensive of the bunch.

3. Red Lentils


Red lentils are small split lentils that cook in no time. They're commonly used in Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and Indian cuisines and have a very soft texture when cooked, so they're ideal to use in soups, purées, and stews. They're well-known for the many Indian dals that use them.

Red Lentil Daal is a popular, hearty dish to serve with basmati rice and flat bread.


4. Yellow Lentils

Girl and the Kitchen

Yellow lentils are very similar to red lentils, but have a gorgeous bright yellow color. They're sweet, nutty and will cook in about 15 minutes. 

Another common variety found in Indian cuisine, yellow lentils are the star of the show in this Yellow Lentil Dal with Curry recipe. Creamy, nutritious, and filled with aromatic spices, you'll love whipping up this simple dish during the week for a quick meal. 

5. Black Lentils/ Beluga Lentils 

Italian Food Forever

Black lentils, also known as beluga lentils, are eye-catching black lentils that resembles beluga caviar. They have a deep, earthy flavor, firm texture and are the most nutritious out of all the types of lentils. 

Black lentils make a great side dish to pair with fish or chicken. You have to try this Black Lentil Salad with Chickpeas and Mint Lemon Dressing. Toss in some cooked couscous to complete this vegan meal.

Editor's Note: Products featured on Wide Open Eats are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

This post was originally published on September 5th, 2018.