20 Lentil Recipes for Easy Weeknight Meals

Recipes from The Kitchn

We love lentils here at The Kitchn. They are magically easy to cook on the stove, and versatile enough to go into a wide range of cuisines. Plus, they are quick. What more could you ask for when preparing a weeknight meal? But before you limit yourself to the tried-and-true lentil recipes you know, think outside the box and try one of these 20 recipe ideas that deliver on delicious.

1. Cold Lentil Salad with Cucumbers and Olives

While feta would be a traditional pairing for a Greek-inspired salad like this one, mixing in creamy ricotta cheese instead gives it an unexpected decadence. Make a batch of this to serve with your favorite protein, and enjoy the leftovers for lunch the next day.

2. Lentil Dal with Hearty Greens

This traditional Indian meal is a staple in many kitchens, and for good reason. It's quick and easy to make, and can be tailored to what you already have in the fridge. We like to give it a nutritional boost by adding plenty of healthy greens.

3. Brown Rice Bowls with Lentils, Caramelized Onions & Fried Egg

Inspired by the traditional Middle Eastern side dish mujadara, this take on a grain bowl is hearty enough for the dinner table. The addition of the fried egg gives it an extra dose of protein and makes it the perfect satisfying meal for a cold winter night.

4. Warm French Lentil Salad with Bacon and Herbs

This warm salad — complete with crispy bacon, freshly chopped herbs, and a mustard vinaigrette — was inspired by a trip to France, but we promise it's just as good on a random Tuesday at home too. To punch up the flavor even more, cook the lentils in chicken stock.

5. Fridge-Clearing Lentil Soup

When you reach the end of the week, before it's time to go grocery shopping again, you sometimes need a recipe that will use up all those last bits of veggies and greens you have lingering in the crisper. Consider this lentil soup your go-to recipe from now on.

6. Baked Red Lentil Falafel Salad

Chickpeas aren't the only legume you can use to make falafel. These baked falafel balls are made with red lentils, and have an almost creamy texture. We love serving them on a salad, but you could make a traditional falafel sandwich with them as well.

7. Lentil, Mushroom & Sweet Potato Shepherd's Pie

Meet your new favorite January recipe — it's light enough that you don't feel guilty for enjoying it, but hearty enough that it still feels like comfort food. Plus, it has a secret ingredient that makes it taste creamy, while keeping it completely vegan.

8. Chicken Lentil Soup

This healthy soup recipe is great for anyone who is trying to be more calorie conscious. But the good news is that unlike most other "diet food," this nourishing chicken and lentil soup won't leave you feeling deprived. It's also easy to translate into a vegetarian version.

9. Colorful Lentil Salad with Walnuts and Herbs

The key to this hearty lentil salad is to use French green lentils. They are much sturdier, and won't lose their shape when cooked. The second trick is to use pomegranate molasses in the dressing. It has a sweet, tangy flavor that makes the whole dish.

10. Pomegranate Lentil Soup

Another good example of how well lentils and pomegranates go together is this simple lentil soup. The pomegranate juice adds a bright acidity and hint of sweetness to the broth, and a few pomegranate arils make for the perfect garnish.

11. Tomato-Braised Lentils with Broccoli Rabe

Tired of all the normal ways you prepare lentils? Try this dish; it's best described as a lentil risotto. While the lentils don't get quite as creamy as your favorite arborio rice, adding a little bit of cream takes care of that, and helps balance the bitterness of the broccoli rabe.

12. Spiced Lentils with Egg

This is one of those meals you can almost always whip up if you tend to keep lentils, eggs, and a few key spices on hand. It's the perfect meal to make when you haven't made it to the grocery store, or on those nights after a long day when you're at a loss for what to fix. Use a mix of red lentils and yellow split peas for the best texture.

13. Spicy Lentil Wraps with Tahini Sauce

While this wrap recipe might have been inspired by the Trader Joe's grab-and-go staple, it far exceeds the TJ's version in texture and flavor. In fact, we're not sure we'll ever be able to go back to the original now that we've tried the homemade rendition wrapped up in lavash with homemade red pepper paste and tahini dressing.

14. Lentils with Broiled Eggplant

This vegetarian dinner uses an unconventional method to cook the broiled eggplant. Instead of broiling it in the oven, you'll broil it whole on the open flames on your gas stove. Just be sure to pierce the eggplant first to release the steam.

15. Mini Rack of Lamb with Nutty Beluga Lentils and Sautéed Garlic Spinach

When you're looking for a special meal for two (date night in, perhaps?) this is your best bet. The succulent rack of lamb paired with the nutty lentils and garlicky greens is a winning combination, and easier to make than you might think.

16. Wild Rice Bowl with Red Lentil Curry and Spinach

Aside from how quick this dish is to make, what really makes it a standout is the hint of spice from the minced ginger paired with the creaminess of the coconut milk. You'll be adding this one to your weeknight meal rotation.

17. Spiced Lentil, Sweet Potato & Kale Whole Wheat Pockets

These filling vegetarian pocket sandwiches are great for hectic weeknights. They can be made ahead and stored in the freezer for nights when you're at a loss for what to make. With a warming combination of spices, these will beat out takeout every time.

18. Warm Bulgur and Lentil Salad with Roasted Shrimp

When you want to bulk up your lentil salad a little bit, the smart trick is to add some bulgur to the mix. We especially love it in this light salad topped with roasted shrimp and studded with roasted red peppers and parsley.

19. Lentil Soup with Lemon Yogurt Cream

Don't write off lentil soup as being boring — all it takes is a trip to the spice rack to make this meal one to remember. This recipe relies on paprika, cumin, and cinnamon to give it a delicious flavor profile. And the lemon yogurt cream is the perfect complement.

20. Lettuce Cups with Red Pepper Lentils

Served as an appetizer or as a main course with rice or quinoa, these red pepper lentil balls are a favorite of ours here at The Kitchn. And the delicious finishing touch is a sauce made from pomegranate molasses and red pepper paste.

(Image credits: Faith Durand; Sarah E Crowder; Michelle Peters-Jones; Karen Biton-Cohen; Sara Kate Gillingham; Anjali Prasertong; Kimberley Hasselbrink; Emily Han; Melissa Ryan; Emma Christensen; Alexis Buryk)