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An A to Z guide to choosing, storing, preparing, and cooking fresh produce and recipe ingredients.

  • How to Choose Lentils
    Lentils are sold dry and never eaten fresh. Make sure you choose lentils that are dry, firm, and smooth, not shriveled. Common brown lentils, which are mild and earthy and great in soups, stews, and salads, can be found at any supermarket. For a larger lentil selection, shop at a Middle Eastern market. You’ll find red, pink, and yellow lentils, which are commonly used in Indian dishes and become creamy when cooked, as well as French green lentils (lentilles du Puy) and black beluga lentils, which both hold their shape well.

  • How to Store Lentils
    Store lentils at room temperature for up to a year in an airtight container (oxygen can turn the oils rancid) away from light, which fades color. Cooked lentils will keep in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to five days.

    How to Prepare Lentils
    Check the lentils carefully for grit or bits of gravel then rinse with cold water in a colander. After rinsing, simmer lentils in water or broth to cook; cooking times vary depending on the type of lentil. Cooking lentils with salt and acidic ingredients like lemon or vinegar can make them tough, so add after cooking.

  • How to Cook Lentils
    Use lentils as a base for hearty soups or in classic Indian dal dishes. Season them with onions and herbs and use as an earthy bed for fish or meat. Or use them in a cold grain-based salad dressed with lemon vinaigrette.

    —Stephanie Southworth Geary

    Real Simple Lentil Recipes:

    See all Lentil recipes »

What's your favorite Lentil recipe?

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