Instant Pot Lentils (Perfect, Tender, No Soaking!)

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Vintage spoon in a bowl of perfectly cooked Instant Pot lentils

With an Instant Pot and about 30 minutes, you can make perfectly cooked lentils every time! Let us show you how.

Spoonful and bowl of dried lentils

Instant Pot Lentils

Using the Instant Pot is a quick and easy way to make perfectly tender lentils! For this recipe, we are referring to green or brown lentils, which are the most common, versatile, and easy to find.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Ratio = 1 part lentils : 3 parts water
  • Cook Time = 8-9 minutes
  • Release = 15 minute natural release, then release any remaining pressure

Lentils go well in stewssoupssloppy joeslentil “meatloaf,” shepherd’s pie, and much more!

Pouring water over dry lentils

Did you find this helpful? If so, be sure to check out our Instant Pot Cooking Times Guide for perfectly cooked grains and beans every time!

If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo #minimalistbaker on Instagram. Cheers, friends!

Stirring cooked lentils in the Instant Pot

Instant Pot Lentils (Perfect, Tender, No Soaking!)

A quick & simple method for making PERFECT lentils in the Instant Pot every time! No soaking and just 1 ingredient and an Instant Pot required!
Author Minimalist Baker
Print
Bowl of brown lentils cooked in the Instant Pot
3.27 from 30 votes
Prep Time 23 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 33 minutes
Servings 4 (~2/3-cup servings)
Course Helpful How-to, Side Dish
Cuisine Gluten-Free, Vegan
Freezer Friendly 1 month
Does it keep? 5 Days

Ingredients

  • 1 cup green or brown lentils
  • 3 cups water (or vegetable broth for more flavor)

Instructions

  • Add lentils and water (or vegetable broth) to the Instant Pot and stir to prevent sticking. Pressure cook on high for 8-10 minutes (8 minutes for more firm, 10 for more tender // it will take about 8 minutes for the Instant Pot to pressurize before cooking begins).
  • Once the timer goes off, allow to naturally release for 15 minutes, then release any remaining pressure. Carefully remove lid once steam has fully escaped and strain off any excess cooking liquid.
  • Enjoy immediately in stews, soups, sloppy joes, lentil "meatloaf," shepherd's pie, and much more! Store cooled leftovers in the refrigerator up to 5 days or in the freezer up to 1 month. Reheat in a saucepan on the stovetop, adding a little water, as needed, to prevent sticking.

Video

Notes

*Nutrition information is a rough estimate.
*Total time includes active cook time, release time, and the time it takes for the Instant Pot to heat up (~8 minutes).

Nutrition (1 of 4 servings)

Serving: 1 two-third-cup serving Calories: 169 Carbohydrates: 30.4 g Protein: 11.8 g Fat: 0.5 g Saturated Fat: 0.1 g Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.25 g Monounsaturated Fat: 0.09 g Trans Fat: 0 g Cholesterol: 0 mg Sodium: 3 mg Potassium: 325 mg Fiber: 5.1 g Sugar: 1 g Vitamin A: 18.72 IU Vitamin C: 2.16 mg Calcium: 16.8 mg Iron: 3.12 mg

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    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Sorry to hear that was your experience, Milenka! What type of lentils were you using? Were they particularly small?

  1. Adam says

    I made two batches. The first I threw away. Too mushy. I cooked them for 10 minutes. The second batch I cooked for 8 minutes. Again very mushy. I would try cooking them for six minutes.
    Also the liquid quantity also seems to be off. The second batch I used a half cup less and that helped.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Sorry to hear that was your experience! What type of lentils were you using? Were they particularly small? It’s normal for there to be excess liquid leftover with the Instant Pot and it can be drained off. If you don’t use enough water, the lentils won’t cook evenly (the top ones will be half-cooked).

  2. Heather says

    Something with this timing is off. Wish I had noticed the ratings and read the review first. Mily lentils were complete mush. Luckily I was making lentil soup so it’s okay but I do prefer a bite even in lentil soup.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Heather, sorry to hear that was your experience! Would you mind sharing what type of lentils you were using? We’ve tried troubleshooting this recipe and have only been able to replicate the issue when using lentils that are really small in size or are red lentils.

  3. John S says

    In researching lentil cooking times according to the instant pot website cooking times are as follows; NON soaked (dry) whole green/brown lentils 8-10 minutes; split red/yellow lentils 1-2 minutes. Lentils used in the instant pot pressure cooker are not recommended to have any soak time. This comes directly from the instant pot website. So for all those with beans that are mush this is likely the reason….to long of a cook time. In my lentil cooking in the instant pot I go anywhere from 2-5 minutes cook time. Living in Florida everything cooks drastically faster compared to others not at sea level so adjust slightly depending on altitude, the higher the elevation the longer the cooking time.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Sorry to hear this happened, Matt! Were your green lentils on the smaller side? We find that variance in lentil size can affect the results. If you decide to try them again you could reduce the cook time to 6-7 minutes instead of 8-10. Thanks for your honest review!

  4. Kinara says

    I’m having the same issue as many others. I used regular Bob’s Red Mill brown lentils. I tried them once at 8 minutes cook time, 15 minutes natural release and they were mush. I did 8 minutes cook time and immediately released pressure- also mush.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Kinara, sorry to hear that! Is it possible the lentils are on the small side? We’d suggest trying 6 or 7 minutes next time. With really small lentils they could even cook faster. The time they are pressure cooking has more effect on the texture than whether you quick release or naturally release. Hope that helps!

  5. Mat says

    These came out perfect! I did the measurements exactly as you listed. I did the times differently, though. I don’t know which instant pot I have, but I’ve noticed my times need to be adjusted sometimes. I did 8 minutes pressure cooking and 3 minutes natural release. It wasn’t too much broth either, they’re perfect! Thank you so much!!

  6. Caelyn says

    I had lentil mush which my kids ate on chips… ummm I think they were in too long… I had pork tenderloin in before the lentils! it was good just not right lol! Two stars because they were mush!

      • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

        Hi Caelyn, sorry to hear they didn’t turn out right. Were you using red lentils? This recipe is for green or brown lentils. Red lentils will definitely be mushy in the Instant Pot.

  7. Jameel says

    I made this recipe with a much larger portion of lentils, a cereal bowl full, and two bowls of water, one of beef broth, salt, pepper, half a stick of butter, onion, garlic, a splash of soy and a few drops of liquid smoke. Cooked it on the “Bean” setting for 12 minutes, and the result is delightful. A bit mushy, a bit chewy, this turned out just right. (Full disclosure: my dad is Pakistani and I grew up eating dál).

  8. Janet Phillips says

    Followed the instructions and these were mush. Basically made dahl without the seasoning. I wanted these lentils in tact for a salad. Threw them all away as I don’t really like plain mushy lentils.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Janet, sorry to hear that was your experience! Were your lentils the same size as the ones in the photo? We’ve found that some green lentils are smaller and cook much faster.

  9. Risa says

    I made 1/2 cup dry brown lentils and a tad over 3/4 cup water (14 tablespoons if you want to measure). Perfect at 10 minutes and 9 min natural release. I added 1/2 tsp sea salt. Delicious. Softer side, but that’s how I like lentils.

    Thank you for sharing your recipe.

  10. Patricia says

    The timing was too long. I set the timer for 8 minutes and let the pressure off after natural release of 10 minutes. My lentils were complete mush.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Patricia, sorry to hear that! We’re a little stumped as to what’s causing this issue for some people. Perhaps different varieties of lentils? You could try 6 or 7 minutes next time, but in our experience, they aren’t tender enough.

      • Patricia says

        I used green Spanish lentils, from an opened bag. After I open a bag, I fold it down tight with the remainder and put a couple of elastic bands around it. I live in a warm climate at sea level. I don’t know if that affects cooking times?

        • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

          Thank you for the additional info! We wonder if perhaps green Spanish lentils are the difference? Do they look smaller than the brown lentils we used (see second photo)? We’ll see if we can find that variety and do some more testing!

  11. Alex says

    I tried this only cooking for 4 minutes on high, and 8 minutes natural release… it still turned out as mush.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Donna, when cooking lentils in the Instant Pot, it’s normal for there to be water leftover at the end – simply drain it off. The excess water is needed to fully cover the lentils so they cook evenly (otherwise the ones at the top won’t be submerged during cooking and will be half cooked).

  12. Darlene Begovich says

    I usually have great success with your recipes. On this one my lentils came out mushy. I used the eight minute recommendation.I wish I would’ve read the comments first because it seems like a lot of people are having that issue. Next time I will cook them for half the time and then I can cook them a little longer if they need it. This would be OK for soup, but I want to add them to grain bowls so I would’ve preferred them to be firm.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Sorry to hear this recipe didn’t work for you, Darlene. Thanks for sharing your experience!

  13. Fran says

    I just made these with green lentils just as you instructed and most of the water was still in the instant pot and the lentils were whole but really, really soft. No idea what went wrong.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Fran, sorry to hear the texture wasn’t right! It’s normal for there to be water leftover at the end – simply drain it off. The excess water is needed to fully cover the lentils so they cook evenly (otherwise the ones at the top won’t be submerged during cooking and will be half cooked). Were you using whole lentils or split lentils? If you try it again, you can start with 7 minutes.

  14. C says

    Alright, science mode activated. We have a burger recipe we’re trying to work out that calls for cooked lentils, so we can make lentils over and over and report back and try to work out why there’s this disparity in your comment section D:

    Made it as-directed in our 6qt instant pot (duo evo plus). 9 minutes, natural release. Unsoaked brown lentils were mostly from an open-but-tightly-closed bag.
    Liquid was mushroom broth (mushroom bouillon is basically salt, msg, and dried mushroom). We have somewhat hard water, and are at 1k feet over sea level (which is nothing).
    The hard water/broth/elevation are likely to remain stable across iterations.

    I wouldn’t call the results “mush” but it definitely wasn’t fairly clean lentils as pictured. We put them in a strainer and let a sludge leak out.

    For what it’s worth, we have a lentil curry recipe that has a significantly lower curry:liquid ratio — 1.5C lentils, 1C water, 1 14oz can coconut milk — and a longer cook time, 15 min/10min release — and I’d say that even despite the other ingredients making a sauce, they come out more discrete than these.

    • C says

      Next effort! 1 cup lentils, two cups mushroom broth (plus half a tsp each cumin/paprika), 8 minutes, 10 min release. Lentils are from an open-but-tightly-closed bag.
      Came out great! Might, on next attempt, go for a heaping cup of lentils (there was just a liiiittle extra liquid) and might go still less time/release-time (they were pretty soft).
      I also feel like we got more lentils out of this batch, which says to me that the leaking sludge was dissolved lentils.

  15. Diane says

    I used brown lentils, cooked for 10 mins with a 10 min natural release. Result – borderline mushy lentils. I was dubious about that 15 minute natural release so I cut the time down. Will do quick release next time. I think that is the problem.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Diane, sorry to hear they turned out overcooked. We find it’s more so the pressure cooking time that impacts the texture than the release time. So maybe try reducing that by a couple minutes? Are you using small lentils?

  16. emma says

    Unfortunately total mush. I think the 15 minute release is too long so they keep cooking during that time.

    Used water no salt. lentils were from an unopened package so maybe they retrain nite moisture? I did make a larger quantity thank the recipe but seems like that would make for longer cooking time, not shorter, if it had any effect. I’ll probably go back to stovetop cooking which isn’t longer, and just use IP for dried beans

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Oh no! So sorry this happened, Emma. Thanks so much for sharing your experience with us, we’ll take a look at the timings of this recipe!

    • Dorothy Cline says

      I made the lentils in the bottom of my 8 quart using leftover beef stock. Over the lentils I put my trivet with “pot in pot” a cup of rice and a cup of meat juice. The recipe timing turned out perfect on both the lentils and the rice!

      • Darin Anthony says

        I had the same issue. Mine is more like soup. I double the recipe and used stock. Did 10 minutes because of the doubling. Not good.

        • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

          Oh no! Thanks for sharing your experience, Darin. We will work on trouble-shooting this recipe!

  17. Melanie Price says

    Thanks for the way to easily make dried lentils. I jsut bought my instant pot mainly for cooking dried beans and rice and of course anything that cooks quick which I’m learning so many other things too. ♡♡♡ Your directions Worked perfectly with my green sprouted dried lentils. Thanks for the share.

  18. MM says

    I’ve also got hard water from southern Arizona, but I made this twice using the 10-minute cook time (once with 8oz lentils and 3 cups tap water, once with 8oz lentils and “low sodium” vegetable broth), and they were perfect each time. So the experiments continue :)

      • Espiritus says

        I substituted a cup of Tikka Masala sauce for one cup of water, followed your instructions and they came out beautifully.
        I’m wondering if perhaps “high” pressure setting is too much for some of the complainants, since at least one mentioned being at a lower altitude. They could modify this using the low pressure setting and see if it works better for them.

  19. Deecee says

    I just made this in my brand new Instant Pot 6 qt. Ultra, and the lentils came out perfect!

    I sorted and wash-rinsed the lentils, added 4 cups of water, 1 tsp. vegetable base, pressure cooked on high for 10 minutes, and used the quick release button.

    I live at over 3,000 feet above sea level in Southeastern Arizona, and we have very hard well water.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Woohoo! So happy to hear this. Thanks so much for the lovely review and for sharing your experience, Deecee!

  20. KC says

    For the mush issue, I would suggest it’s an issue with water. My gram always said with beans and lentils how hard or soft your water was would vastly change your cooking times. It may be this recipe works great with hard water but not soft water.

  21. Meemers says

    Perfect every time. My Instapot and Ninja Foodi both automatically turn on the “keep warm” setting; I have to turn them off or my lentils will be mush by the time I complete the natural release. I’m wondering if the people who are reporting mush have the keep warm setting on.

    Also, I’m wondering if you could include if that setting should be on or off in your recipes.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      We’re so glad it turns out well for you! We haven’t had an issue when leaving on keep warm, but perhaps if it’s kept on too long that is the issue – thanks for bringing it to our attention!

  22. Crystal says

    I did everything the way the recipe said. It almost completely released the pressure in 15 minutes; there wasn’t a lot left to release with the quick release valve. I hit the valve when the natural release time was down to 30 seconds and set my computer timer to time it. I had perfectly cooked lentils once I drained them. Once my instant pot cools, I’ll wash it, then make the vegan sloppy joes.

  23. Rose says

    I tried instant pot lentils. I read everyone comments before making it. I decided to let it naturally release for 4 minutes. Then immediately removing them from the water and letting them drain. The lentils came out perfect not mushy.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Rose, thanks for sharing your experience. Glad to hear they turned out well!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Doug, we’re so sorry that was your experience! Other readers have reported that, but we’ve tried troubleshooting and can’t figure out what’s causing that for some people while others report it works great. Did you make any modifications? Are you using lentils that have been sprouted or soaked?

      • Sean says

        I had issues with softness, even after reducing both cooking time and depressurization time. I wonder if the difference is in how long lentils have been unsealed and exposed to air (and therefore moisture.)

    • Michelle North says

      Every time I try to make lentils in the instant pot they are still hard, but when I cook soup in the instant pot (with lentils) it comes out perfect every time.

      I don’t know what I do wrong when I try to cook lentils without soup, but always have to put them on the stove and finish cooking. Even when I follow the recipe verbatim. Maybe because of the salt?

      It perplexes me.

      • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

        That is very perplexing! Salt can make them take longer to cook, but it sounds like perhaps you’re having the opposite issue?

  24. Amy Jones says

    So easy and turned out great! I cooked them on high pressure for 9 minutes and got perfectly tender lentils. Thanks for the recipe!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      We’re so glad they turned out well for you, Amy! Thanks for sharing! xo

  25. Silvi says

    Mine came out mushy too :( Followed directions exactly, using green lentils (not soaked). Luckily I’m adding them to something the food processor so it’s not a big deal but think I’ll stick with my stovetop method for now.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      So sorry about that, Silvi! We’re a little stumped as to why that’s happening. You could try reducing the time to 7-8 minutes. We’ll revisit this one and see if we can troubleshoot what’s going on.

      • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

        Hi Silvi, we retested and can’t replicate the issue of the lentils being mushy. For us they were perfectly tender and it seemed like less time would have made them too firm/uncooked. Is it possible you let them naturally release for longer than 15 minutes? Let us know if you’re still having trouble with these!

    • Crystal says

      Did you drain the leftover cooking liquid? If you did not, that’s why they seem mushy. It sounds like this is happening to a lot of people, but I wonder if they are draining the lentils after removing them from the Instant Pot. I’m going to try these once I do my water test. My Instant Pot should be delivered tomorrow. I want to try the vegan sloppy joes recipe myself, using pressure-cooked lentils like another user did, but I’m a new instant pot user so it will wait until I have more experience with Instant Pot and know how to use it. I did write down the recipe for later reference, though. I am going to have to find an alcohol-free replacement for the Worcestershire due to my medications.

      • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

        That’s a good thought, Crystal. Thanks for sharing! Let us know how it goes if you try it!

  26. Jay says

    I made this – 1 1/3 cups green lentils, and 4 cups water, 9 min on high, and I ended up with (tasty)Lentil mush :-(. I was thinking of now forming it into lentil patties and baking or frying them. I will try with less water again – or what other suggestions? Could it be elevation(I am in Boston)?

    I did notice your quinoa instant recipe has a bit more liquid than what I use (1 1/2 cups quinoa to 2 cups water – only 1 min on high), and mine does come out wonderfully.

    I do appreciate your website and all you share – thank you!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Jay, thanks for the feedback! We find that using less water can cause the lentils to cook unevenly (the top ones don’t cook fully). But if you’re scaling up the recipe, it’s possible you don’t need quite as much water. You’re at a similar elevation to us, so that shouldn’t be the issue. Perhaps you’re using fresher lentils or prefer them more firm? You could try scaling back to 7 or 8 minutes. Sorry about that!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      We’re so sorry to hear that, Bee! What type of lentils were you using? How long did you cook them? Were they soaked or unsoaked? We’ve used unsoaked green and brown lentils several times with this method and they always turn out perfectly – we’re curious what the difference could be!

      • Bee Noomin says

        Unsoaked brown lentils, 9 minutes, natural release for 15. I was going to use the tiny black lentils, which might have held up better–but I didn’t have a full cup. I used my new 6-qt. InstantPot.

        Would you suggest shortening the cooking time, the release time, or both?

        • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

          Hi Bee, so strange, we’re a little stumped as to why it’s happening! We’d suggest trying to shorten the cook time slightly.

  27. Sherry says

    So, I just made these for the first time. A N D . . . the are PERFECT! I used them in your vegan Sloppy Joes, which are also perfect! Thanks for the great recipes, ALWAYS!

  28. Sherry says

    Thank you! I don’t eat many lentils but have decided that I would like to work them into my diet once a week. I was thinking of potential recipes and realized that I would like to cook them in an Instant Pot, so I Googled how to do that. As I was scrolling through recipes for soups and stew, not what I wanted, I saw a MINIMALIST BAKER entry and knew I could count on you for what I was looking for–yet another time! You are one of my all time go to favorite cooks. Thank you, once again!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Aw, so kind Sherry! We’re so glad it’s helpful! The Instant Pot is such a speedy way to cook lentils and they end up perfectly tender. Enjoy =)

    • Matthew Simon says

      I tried again and did only 5 minutes on my Instant Pot. It still obliterated the green lentils. What am I doing wrong?