Lentils are flat, nutty disklike legumes commonly used globally to prepare stews, soups, and salads and you can buy them fresh from the farm, dried or vacuum-packed in the stores.
There are several methods of cooking lentils; however, today, we focus on the microwave.
Here is how to cook lentils in the microwave.
Rinse dried lentils, drain excess water and transfer them into a microwavable bowl. Add enough water to the bowl and ensure the lentils are covered. Loosely cover the bowl with a lid and microwave at high power for 14 minutes. Stop the microwave halfway to stir through the lentils.
This article speaks on how to cook lentils in the microwave alongside other relevant subheadings like Preparation of lentils, How to microwave lentils (step-by-step guide), Tips when cooking lentils in the microwave, and Alternative ways for cooking lentils.
Can you cook lentils in the microwave
Yes, you can cook lentils in the microwave, however, the cooking time will vary depending on the texture state of the lentils. Fresh farm lentils may take less time to microwave than dried ones.
Canned lentils are already cooked; therefore, they will take the shortest time to microwave than dried and fresh farm lentils. Dried lentils will cook in the microwave for up to fifteen minutes.
You can reduce the cooking time of dried lentils by socking them for an hour or two before microwaving them. Splitting the dried lentils also reduces microwaving time.
Lentils that are fresh from the farm may take 7 to 10 minutes to microwave, especially since they are yet to lose their moisture and become dry. Canned lentils can microwave for 5 to 7 minutes since they are already cooked; all they need is reheating.
Whether your lentils are dried, canned, or fresh from the farm, you can cook them in the microwave.
Preparation of lentils
Before microwaving your lentils, they must undergo some procedures to ensure there are clean. Below is how you can prepare tinned and dried lentils for microwaving.
1. How to prepare tinned lentils?
Tinned lentils could either be placed in a microwaveable bowl and microwaved as they are or rinsed if they contain added salt.
Tinned lentils do not require much; you could add them as they are to a microwavable bowl and microwave them at high power for 5 to 7 minutes. Stir the lentils halfway through the cooking time.
However, if your tinned lentils contain added salt, you may need to rinse them before microwaving them. Add the lentils onto a colander to rinse under running water; allow them to drain and transfer into a microwavable bowl. Add some water to the bowl until the lentils are covered, then microwave at high power for 5 to 7 minutes.
2. How to prepare dried lentils
Spread the dry lentils on a flat surface, use your hands to pick out stones and rinse the dry lentils in cold water. You may soak them for about 2 hours before you transfer them into a microwavable bowl for cooking.
Dried lentils may require more attention in the preparation stage than tinned ones. Dried lentils may contain dust particles and some chemicals from the farm and store.
Therefore the first step of preparation is separating the large stone and other unedible particles from the lentils and tossing them aside, rinsing the remaining lentils.
For easier cooking and digestion, most people prefer soaking dried lentils. However, soaking them is not a must.
You can cook them immediately after rinsing. For those that opt for soaking the lentils, allow them to sit underwater for about two hours, drain excess water using a colander and then microwave at high power for 14 minutes.
How to microwave lentils (step-by-step guide)
Place the lentils on a colander, wash them under running water and soak the lentils in water for about two hours. Transfer them into a microwavable bowl and add enough water to cover the lentils.
Microwave the lentils at high power for 7 minutes, stir through the lentils, and microwave for another 7 minutes.
Below is a step to step procedure and all the requirements to ensure the process is successful.
- One cup of lentils
- A colander or a bowl
- Clean water
- A microwavable bowl
- Clingfilm wrap
1. Prepare the lentils for cooking
Find a clean surface where you can pour your lentils, spread the lentils, and carefully pick out stones and unedible particles. Pour them into a colander and rinse them under running water.
Suppose you don’t own a colander; an extra bowl will do just fine. Pour the lentils into the bowl and fill it with clean water.
Wash the lentils with at least 8 to 10 changes of water to ensure dust particles in the lentils are completely removed. Drain excess water.
2. Soak the lentils
As stated earlier, soaking is optional. However, if you want to soak the lentils, transfer them into another bowl and add water to the bowl’s brim.
Let your lentils soak for about 2 hours. It is believed that soaking your lentils will reduce the cooking time and ease their digestion.
3. Microwave the lentils
After two hours of soaking your lentils, transfer them into a microwavable bowl. If you skipped the soaking stage, you could immediately transfer the lentils into the microwavable bowl after rinsing and draining excess water.
Add water to the microwavable bowl, enough to cover the lentils. Use a clingfilm and cover the bowl. Place the lentils in the microwave and microwave for seven minutes at high power.
Use your stirrer to stir through the lentils, add some water if necessary, and microwave for an additional seven minutes. Allow the lentils to stay in the microwave for additional ten minutes uncovered.
4. Check the doneness of the lentils
Use a spoon to mash the lentils and fill their texture. If the lentils mash easily, they are fully cooked; if not, you may need to add some water to the bowl, cover it with a clingfilm, and microwave at high power for another 5 to 7 minutes.
When ready, you could use your type of seasoning to add taste to the lentils to your liking.
Tips when cooking lentils in the microwave
Use a bigger bowl when microwaving; dried lentils contain unedible particles that need to be removed manually; older lentils cook the longest and have no pleasing taste.
Below is a detailed explanation of why the mentioned facts are helpful tips when cooking your lentils in a microwave.
1. Using a bigger bowl while microwaving
Lentils double in size when cooking. Therefore it is wise to use a big microwavable bowl that will accommodate both the double quantity of water needed to microwave the lentils and the double size of lentils after they are fully cooked.
You wouldn’t want them spilling all over the microwave, risking damage to your microwave and giving you a hard cleaning time.
2. Dried lentils contain unedible particles
Dry lentils may require additional preparation before cooking—especially since they may contain dust and stone particles.
The most efficient way to deal with stone particles is to pick them out manually; therefore, you need to find a clean flat surface and spread them on a single layer to spot the stones easily.
To remove dust, place them on a colander and wash them under running water.
3. Older lentils cook the longest
The older the lentils get, the tougher they become, and they take longer to cook. This is why some prefer soaking the lentils for about two hours before cooking. However, soaking the lentils is only beneficial if you use other cooking methods that may take longer.
If microwaving is your method of cooking lentils, you do not necessarily need to soak them for two whole hours if they are cooked for only 14 to 20 minutes.
4. Lentils may feel tasteless in your mouth
After cooking your lentils, there is a possibility you may not find their taste so pleasing at all. However, seasoning gives them a wonderful flavor and contributes to making them one of the best stews around the globe. Consider seasonings such as cumin, tumeric, cinnamon, and coriander.
5. Avoid the addition of acidic substances to the lentils before cooking
Before you cook the lentils, avoid adding spices that contain acids, such as vinegar and lemon. Such substances toughen the lentils, making them take longer to cook. It is advisable to add such seasoning for flavor after the lentils are already cooked.
Alternative ways for cooking lentils
Apart from microwaving, the other two methods of cooking lentils include using an instant pot or a slow cooker. Below is a detailed explanation of how to use the two methods.
1. How to cook canned lentils in a slow cooker?
If the lentils contain some added salt, rinse them under running water. Add a cup of water and cook them in the slow cooker for 2 hours at LOW or 1 hour at HIGH.
Slow cookers are recommended when you are cooking dry lentils. Canned lentils are already cooked, and cooking them in a slow cooker will give you extremely mushy results.
However, it is a perfect alternative if you intend to blend the mushy lentils for soup purposes. Ensure to drain excess water after cooking.
2. How to cook canned lentils in an instant pot
Transfer the canned lentils into your instant pot; however, if the canned lentils have some preservative added salts ensure to rinse them first. Add a cup of water to the lentils. Cook on HIGH pressure for 9 minutes.
Instant pots are also preferred for dry lentils. However, it is also possible to cook canned lentils using instant pots. However, the lentils will be mushy after cooking. After placing the lentils in the instant pot for cooking, give it about 5 to 6 minutes for pressure to build up in the pot before the lentils are cooked for additional 9 minutes under pressure.
How long to cook lentils in microwave
The duration of cooking lentils in a microwave varies depending on whether the lentils are dry, fresh, or canned.
Dry lentils microwave for up to 14 minutes. Fresh lentils from the farm cook in the microwave for 7 to 10 minutes, while canned lentils will microwave for 4 to 7 minutes.
Differences when Cooking various variety of lentils in microwave
Not much difference is observed when cooking a variety of lentils in the microwave. However, even though microwaving is a cooking method that can quickly cook all types of lentils, you will notice a slight difference when cooking.
1. Brown lentils
Brown lentils microwave for 14 minutes, just like average lentils; however, they contain the strongest earthy flavor after cooking.
2. Green lentils
Green lentils will have a somewhat peppery flavor after cooking in the microwave; they also take the longest time to cook. Therefore instead of 14 minutes, they may need a few more minutes to be fully cooked, and they are known for keeping a firm texture.
3. Red lentils
Red lentils tend to get too mushy when microwaved for longer than expected and therefore are perfect for preparing soup.
4. Black lentils
Black lentils are also known to keep their farm texture despite being thoroughly cooked and have a robust earthly flavor.
5. Putty lentils
Putty lentils do not cook differently from the rest of the lentils. The only difference is they grow in the Puy region of central France; however, their taste is peppery and flinty.
Faqs On How to Cook Lentils in the Microwave
1. Do lentils need to be soaked before cooking?
Soaking is not necessary before cooking lentils. Though it is claimed it reduces cooking time and eases digestion. However, you can cook them immediately after removing debris or shrivelled lentils and rinsing them.
2. Can green lentils be cooked in the microwave?
Yes, clean the green lentils by getting rid of unedible particles and washing off the dust. Transfer them to a microwavable bowl and add two cups of water. Loosely cover them with a lid and microwave at high power for 7 minutes. Stir the lentils and microwave for additional 7 minutes at high power.
3. Why shouldn’t you boil lentils?
Boiling may be a tough cooking method for some lentils, especially yellow and red ones. The tough heat breaks them down and could cause them to melt or dissolve. However, the method is perfect for making a thick stew.
4. How do you get lentils to soften?
Soak the lentils for 2 hours could soften them before cooking. However, even directly cooking them at high power will automatically cook them to a soft state.
5. What are the side effects of eating lentils?
The only known side effect of eating lentils is gas and cramping, which does not happen often. However, the rest are only health benefits crucial for your body’s normal functioning.
6. Which color of lentil is healthiest?
Black lentils are considered to be the healthiest lentils. They contain adequate proteins, iron, fiber, calcium, and potassium.
It is possible to cook any type of lentil in the microwave. Time may vary depending on how old the lentils are, the type, and whether the lentils are canned.
As you microwave, use a larger microwavable bowl and stir through the lentils half the estimated time for equal cooking.