Quick-cooking, shelf-stable, nutritious, and affordable, lentils are a tour de force in the kitchen. The rich, earthy flavor and meaty texture of these mighty legumes make them a standout ingredient in savory dishes of all kinds. Here are 24 of our favorite vegan lentil recipes. Oil-free and packed with whole-food ingredients, they’re fabulously healthy, too.
To learn how to select, cook, and store different varieties of lentils, check out our handy guide.
Brown lentils give this toothsome minestrone soup a rich depth of flavor that far exceeds what you’d expect. Zucchini and kale add green goodness and whole grain macaroni elbows slide across your palate in the most delicious way. This lentil recipe is easily adaptable, so feel free to use any other vegetables you have on hand. A reader shares: “Easy, delicious, and reheats well.”
This standout stew from Dreena Burton uses red lentils to create a thick and creamy dal base. Kidney beans add bulk while a tantalizing blend of orange juice, fresh ginger, and warming spices make this vegan lentil recipe something special. Serve as it is, or with brown rice, other grains, over a baked potato, and/or with naan bread.
Brown lentils are superheroes when it comes to producing a deeply flavorful base for soups and stews. Here, fresh tomatoes, zucchini, and just-cooked spinach balance out the earthy flavor of the lentils, giving this soup a lightness that makes it a great year-round meal. A reader notes: “Absolutely wonderful! I’m so glad I made a lot of it!”
Featuring carrot, tomato, and lentils, this is a great basic stew that’s easy to adapt to what you have on hand. Brown lentils do double duty: Half get pureed to make a thick and gravy-like sauce, while the other half are left whole. Shares a reader: “Delicious! Make it regularly.”
“This is my family’s all-time favorite chili,” writes recipe creator Chef AJ. Mildly spicy, sweetened with dates, and featuring red lentils, bell pepper, diced tomatoes, this hearty chili is comfort food at its best. Bonus: Cooked in an Instant Pot or other pressure cooker, it’s an easy lentil recipe that’s ready in just 30 minutes.
This richly flavored stew transforms leftover veggies into a meal to remember with the help of your favorite seasonings and dried lentils and beans from your pantry. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself coming back to this recipe again and again; it’s so adaptable!
In this festive casserole, brown lentils sit beneath a layer of just-tender veggies that are then baked in a very hot oven until crispy. Add mushroom gravy, pine nuts, parsley, and dried cranberries for a main dish worthy of any celebration table. Reports one reader: “My husband (reformed bacon eater) made this for our Thanksgiving and it was delicious! Family super impressed and all enjoyed it.”
This simple vegan lentil recipe transforms dried green lentils into a deeply satisfying meal in no time; all you need are a few basics such as canned tomatoes, onion, garlic, celery, and carrot. Serve with your favorite grain or over a baked potato. This recipe is low-budget but high-flavor!
No pasta or meat is required for this gluten-free, vegan twist on traditional lasagna. Instead, layers of creamy, Italian-seasoned polenta nestle between tangy marinara sauce bursting with kale and hearty brown lentils. Notes one reader: “This dish is best served the second day. It allows the polenta to set up then, when cut, it slices cleanly like a layered cake. Looks impressive!”
These guilt-free vegan sloppy Joes are the ultimate comfort food. Fire-roasted tomatoes add a hit of smokiness to a base of brown lentils, while seasonings such as Dijon mustard, soy sauce, and chili powder round out the flavor profile. Writes a fan: “Our 4-year-old loves it! … It’s quick enough for a weeknight with a little planning ahead to get it started.”
Packed with wholesome goodness, these mouthwatering lentil-veggie patties are an ideal family meal. Whole wheat flour is used to bind them, and baking powder is all it takes to keep them light and fluffy. Top with a dollop of oil-free parsley-lemon hummus and serve on fresh, crisp lettuce leaves. Delish!
Green lentils and riced broccoli help make a moist and flavorful fritter. A drizzle of spicy vegan sour cream is the perfect complement to the rustic-style patties. Ketchup would also work. Serve this delectable vegan lentil recipe for brunch, lunch, or dinner.
Ready in 20 minutes, these tasty wraps make a quick meal, hearty snack, or handheld appetizer. The secret ingredient is ras el hanout, a classic North African spice blend, which lends a warm and rich flavor. Add spinach and hummus, and voilà! You’re done. One reader says it all: “No one in my family asked what was in this and they cleaned their plates … not a speck was leftover.… This is a keeper. Easy peasy too!”
Rated one of our most popular recipes of 2021, these family-friendly vegan “meatballs” will impress young and old. The combination of “meaty” lentil-mushroom balls slathered in marinara sauce on a bed of whole grain spaghetti is too good to resist, vegan or not! One reader writes, “I loved this and so did my picky Italian husband!“
Ready in 30 minutes, this scrumptious pasta meal makes good use of healthy convenience foods such as canned tomatoes and canned lentils. Serve with fresh greens and avocado slices. Don’t be surprised if this becomes your go-to meal for when you need nutritious and satisfying food in a hurry!
The meaty flavor of lentils makes them an ideal stand-in for meat in this vegan twist on an Italian classic. Quick and easy, absolutely delicious, and packed with everyday ingredients such as onion, carrot, and celery, this is a great lentil recipe for beginners and experienced cooks alike.
Making your own vegan pâté is a breeze! Just combine cooked brown lentils with walnuts and sautéed onion and garlic; then blend. Writes a fan: “We find it tastier than the meat pâtés we used to eat!” Don’t you just love it when a vegan recipe is healthier, better tasting, and quicker than the traditional recipe?!
Beat the munchies with a plate of loaded vegan nachos. The sturdy crunch of home-baked corn tortillas contrasts deliciously with a succulent mix of taco-seasoned lentils, pico de gallo, and a “cheesy” vegan white sauce made with potatoes. Yum!
In these beautiful stuffed bell peppers, black lentils and brown rice form a sticky, earthy center while raisins, fresh mint, and dill add tantalizing Mediterranean flavor. Before serving, drizzle the juice from the pan over the top for a totally crave-worthy vegan lentil recipe.
Cooked green lentils hold their shape and quickly add heft to any salad. Here, they’re tossed with riced broccoli, toasted pepitas, greens, fresh herbs, and a just-sweet-enough oil-free lemon dressing for a yummy, texturally rich salad. Notes a reader: “This is fabulous! Made it for supper and it was devoured. … This is going to be a regular salad for us!”
There’s something wonderful about a good savory loaf, and this red lentil loaf doesn’t disappoint. Cornmeal and short grain brown rice give extra bulk and stickiness. For extra oomph, drizzle with the smoky, date-sweetened tomato sauce just before serving.
In this show-stopping side salad, brown lentils and chickpeas are coated in a dressing fragrant with allspice, cinnamon, lemon, and fresh mint. “The flavors were amazing,” writes a fan, adding, “I’m not adventurous so this was a big leap out of my comfort zone and I am so glad I tried it! It is on my rotation now!”
You’ll enjoy every forkful of this sensational salad. Crispy curried lentils contrast perfectly with fresh plums and a tangy citrus vinaigrette while walnuts (or pumpkin seeds) lend a nutty richness. Writes a fan: “So good and so easy! Love it.”
This 15-minute ribboned zucchini salad looks impressive and is a nice change from leafy greens. Throw in cooked brown lentils for extra bulk, tomato for tang, and green onion for extra flavor. Top it all off with a creamy turmeric dressing, then devour.
Lisa Esile is an author, illustrator, blogger, vegetable gardener, and whole-food enthusiast with a special fondness for potatoes. She has a master’s degree in human nutrition and is passionate about showing people how to live happier, healthier lives. She is the author of Reach Your Big Calm and the co-author of Whose Mind Is It Anyway? Find her on Facebook.