Do Lentils Go Bad? How Long Do They Last? How To Stored? Dried, Cooked, Canned

logo by Editorial Staff | Updated on August 5th, 2022

Do you have a pack of “expired” dried lentils that you’re not sure you can still use? How long do dried lentils keep, and do they go bad?

Or perhaps you’ve made many lentils and are wondering how to store them and how long they can remain in the fridge before spoiling.

corn and carrots in white ceramic bowl

If either of these seems familiar, or if you have any queries regarding handling lentils (dry or cooked) or lentil soup, this article is for you.

Lentils: How Long Do They Last? Chart

Dry lentils (unopened)2 to 3 years after production date, or best by + 6 months to 1 year
Dry lentils (opened)1 year 
Canned lentils (unopened)Best by + 1 to 2 years
Canned lentils (opened)3 to 4 days
Cooked lentils3 to 5 days

What Exactly Are Lentils?

Lentils are a kind of legume (or edible seed) that is a staple throughout South Asia, the Mediterranean, and North Africa.

Lentils are high in protein, fiber, vitamin B, and minerals. These edible seeds are also an excellent source of iron. Because of this vitamin profile, lentils are popular among vegetarians, who often lack iron in their diet.

There are several lentil varieties, with green, brown, red, yellow, and Puy being the most common on the market. Lentils can be cooked in various ways, including boiling, baking, or frying.

Lentils make dal, soup, and curry in India and are often served with rice or Indian flatbread (roti).

What are the several sorts of lentils?

Lentils come in a variety of colors and shapes. The color, shape, flavor, and consistency of soup differ from one type to the next. So, to get the correct taste, you must know which sort of lentil you are dealing with while making lentils. Some of these variants are as follows:

Brown lentils

The most prevalent form of lentil is brown lentils, often known as European lentils. These lentils are great for stews and soups and cook for 20-30 minutes. These lentils are often used in vegetable burgers and samosa stuffing.

Green lentils

Green lentils, often known as French lentils, are almost the same size as brown lentils but have a shiny surface. They have a pleasant voice for cooking salads. However, you must be extra patient when preparing them because they take around 45 minutes.

Red lentils

Red lentils, often known as Egyptian lentils, are orange in color rather than red. Because their seed coat has been removed, they cook for approximately 10-15 minutes. Because of this, they are said to be great for cooking soup.

Yellow lentils

Yellow lentils are widely used in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine. They cook for about 15-20 minutes, which is why they are usually used in soup.

Black lentils

Beluga, or black lentils, are roughly the size of a peppercorn. These lentils simmer for 20-30 minutes and are great for salads and side dishes (such as land meatballs).

What are the lentil nutritional facts?

The nutrition in different varieties of lentils varies significantly. However, a cup of cooked lentils (198g) may offer you around 230 calories and nutrients:

Sr.#      Nutrients / minerals              Amount 
1.Carbohydrates 39.9g
2.Proteins 17.9g
3.Fats 0.8g
4.Fiber 15.6g
5.Thiamine 22% of the RDI
6.Niacin 10% of the RDI
7.Vitamin B-618% of the RDI
8.Folate 90% of the RDI
9.Pantothenic acid13% of the RDI
10.Iron 37% of the RDI
11.Magnesium 18% of the RDI
12.Phosphorus 36% of the RDI
13.Potassium 21%of the RD
14.Zinc 17% of the RDI
15.Copper 25% of the RDI
16.Manganese 49% of the RDI

*RDI stands for Reference Daily Intake

Lentils are gluten-free.

Lentils are gluten-free by nature. However, lentils can be processed in a facility that also processes gluten-containing foods. As a result, there is a risk of cross-contamination. Check the allergy label or call the manufacturer for further information.

What are the advantages of lentils in terms of health?

Lentils provide several health benefits to their users. Some of these advantages are as follows:

  • Lentils, including soluble and insoluble fiber, aid in blood sugar stabilization and cholesterol reduction. This reduces the likelihood of heart disease (such as an attack or stroke).
  • Lentils provide proteins that help you stay full and give your body energy to go through the day.
  • Lentils provide a continuous and slow-burning energy source due to their high fiber and complex carbohydrate content.
  • Lentils include vitamin B, which helps your body build new cells and prevents some forms of cancer.
  • The presence of magnesium in lentils aids in the improvement of blood flow by more efficiently carrying oxygen and minerals.
  • Lentils include iron, which aids oxygen movement throughout the body.

Is it necessary to soak lentils before cooking them?

Lentils, unlike other legumes, cook for 10 to 30 minutes, depending on the kind and variation. Split lentils cook in under 5 minutes. As a result, soaking is frequently unneeded before cooking. Check the cooking instructions because each type of lentil may take a different amount of time to cook.

Is it Safe to Consume Undercooked Lentils?

Undercooked lentils that feel gritty when chewed should be avoided. They are difficult to digest and might induce stomach pain and distress.

What is the explanation behind this? They include phytic acids, which bind minerals like calcium, iron, and magnesium, preventing your body from receiving these essential elements. You may have heard the same thing about nuts, seeds, and grains since they also contain phytic acid.

How Long Can Dried Lentils Be Stored?

Dried lentils preserve their optimum quality for 2 to 3 years, which is normally 1 to 2 years over the expiration date on the package if stored in a cold, dry environment. They are safe to eat for extended periods, but they lose most of their nutritional value over time.

A normal bag of dry lentils has a best-by date that is a year or more from the date of packing. That date just tells you how long the maker expects the lentils to keep their quality and has nothing to do with food safety.

Some beans, particularly those advertised to preppers, have had all of the oxygen removed from the bag and have a ten-year shelf life. They are also significantly more expensive than conventional ones.

Lentils, as previously said, eventually lose their vitamins. After 2-3 years, there is a notable degeneration (thus my advice above), and most are gone after around 5 years.

As is customary, the better you store your lentils (more on that in the storage section), the longer they will last.

How Should Dried Lentils Be Stored?

Dried lentils should be stored in a cool, dry area away from light sources. Consider dumping the beans into a freezer bag or an airtight container when you first open the package, especially if pantry bags are an issue.

Like other dry goods, storing lentils in a cool environment (think pantry, not fridge) extends their shelf life.

When packaging open lentils, keep them in their original plastic bag and wrap them as firmly as possible. I’ve been doing it for years with no problems.

However, this is only effective if the bag is kept in a cold cabinet, away from moisture, and there is no chance of pantry pests.

Do Dried Lentils Expire?

Dried lentils do not go bad or expire. They will last for years if properly stored, and the only drawbacks to long-term preservation are a little change in quality and vitamin loss.

Long-term storage preserves nutritional components such as proteins, carbs, and minerals.

That isn’t to say that dried lentils can’t go bad.

In several cases, tossing the bag is the only logical action. They are as follows:

  • There are bugs in the package. You probably don’t want to eat those lentils, whether they are dead or alive. They aren’t necessarily spoiled, so if you want some additional protein, go ahead.
  • Mold. Mold will grow if water gets into the bag. And, as you might expect, rotten lentils aren’t good.
  • Unpleasant odor. This might be due to mold growing beneath the surface, or it could be something altogether else. In any case, if your lentils smell old, rancid (there’s a trace amount of oil in lentils), or foul in any way, throw them out.

If you’re not sure whether your 5-year-old lentils are safe to eat, assume they aren’t and discard them.

Do Canned Lentils Expire?

Canned lentils typically keep for months (if not years) after the expiration date on the label.

The contents should be fine if the can appears completely intact. This is true even if the product has beyond its best-by date on the label.

It happens on a very rare occasion, but tinned lentils can become rancid. When should you get rid of them?

  • The tin has rusted, leaked, or been damaged. Even though the contents appear fine, you should discard the can if something is wrong with it.
  • Something is amiss with the lentils. If the package is in good condition, you open it to see what’s inside. The dish should resemble, well, cooked lentils in salty water. That means no mold, discolored components, or strange odors. If it’s an old package, give the lentils a thorough rinse to ensure everything is in working order.

Remember what I said in the section on cooked lentils regarding leftovers?

How to Store Canned Lentils

You treat them the same way as any other canned food. That implies the can should be kept cold and dry, and that’s all there is to it.

If there are any leftovers, refrigerate them in a food container once you’ve opened them.

Can canned lentils be eaten raw?

Canned lentils are technically processed and ready to consume. Follow the serving recommendations on the label.

To get the most out of the cuisine, it’s best to reheat it before serving. Cans of lentils can be reheated in the microwave or on the stovetop. However, if you incorporate lentils into your salads, you won’t need to cook them. Rinsing them before use is recommended in either case to decrease the quantity of salt.

How Long Will Cooked Lentils Last?

I recommend storing cooked lentils in the fridge for no more than 4 to 5 days. That’s the same time frame that’s advised for almost all leftovers. If you require extra time, freeze them.

Some websites claim that cooked lentils may be stored for up to a week.

While the lentils could stay that long on occasion, I wouldn’t feel comfortable presenting them to my family or eating them myself. You do so at your own risk.

How to Store Cooked Lentils

Refrigerate cooked lentils in an airtight container. Remember to chill them to room temperature first, which shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes to an hour.

You may also leave the remaining lentils in the pot they were cooked in, cover with a lid, and chill the entire pot. You won’t have to wash it and use another pot to reheat the food.

How Do You Know If Cooked Lentils Are Bad?

Cooked lentils should be discarded if:

  • Mold or other discoloration might be found on the surface. That should be self-explanatory.
  • They have an unpleasant odor.
  • They’ve been in the fridge for much too long. I’d trash your lentils if they’ve been in the fridge for more than a week for safety concerns. They could be fine now, but you never know.
  • The flavor is off. This is quite unusual, but if your cooked lentils taste funny after reheating, it’s a dead giveaway that something is amiss.

Is it possible to freeze cooked lentils?

Cooked lentils can be frozen in the shape of a meal or as lentil soup.

There are no more actions to take. Once the food is prepared, all that remains is to portion it into freezer containers and set them in the freezer.

If you plan to freeze a lentil-based recipe, ensure the rest of the components do as well. Otherwise, you may be dissatisfied with the outcomes.

When it comes to lentil soups, the majority of them freeze well. Double-checking the recipe for any additional freezing instructions is always a good idea.

What Is the Best Way to Freeze Cooked Lentils?

After cleaning the lentils, checking for stones, and cooking for about 20 minutes, allow them to cool before straining any extra water. Otherwise, when frozen, the liquid causes the lentils to adhere together in a huge clump.

If desired, divide them into manageable parts before storing them in airtight plastic bags or containers. This way, you’ll spend less time defrosting. It also protects you from defrosting the entire box because once food has been thawed, it should not be frozen again.

Because lentils or other food expands during the freezing process, don’t overfill your bags or containers. Freshly cooked lentils can be stored in the freezer for up to six months.

Defrosting Lentils

To defrost, take them out of the freezer and place them in the fridge overnight.

You may also use a microwave to defrost them fast, but I feel that letting them thaw thoroughly before using improves the flavor.

Always inspect your lentils thoroughly, regardless of how long they’ve been in the freezer. If they appear or smell strange, throw them out and start over.

You should consume it within 2 days of defrosting. After thawing, do not re-freeze!

How Long Will Lentil Soup Last?

Unopened canned lentil soup keeps for months (if not years) after the expiration date, just as other canned items like baked beans. The soup should be good if the can is not rusted or bulging.

Once you’ve opened the can or created your lentil soup, consume the leftovers within 4 to 5 days and keep them refrigerated and covered.

Can I Use Old Lentils?

This is a frequently asked question. Can you use outdated lentils if you find them in your pantry?

You should be able to utilize them securely.

Lentils do not contain meat or eggs, which can be exceedingly harmful if consumed over their expiration date.

Furthermore, they are less prone to bacterial development because they are dried. That’s great.

You should still check the expiration date on lentils and see how long over the expiration date you’re using them.

For example, being a few months out of date is unlikely to have a significant effect.

If the lentils are a year or two over their expiration date, properly inspect them to see if they are still edible.

The two primary issues with expired lentils are their nutritional value and cooking time.

Lentils, like other meals, lose nutrition over time. You might have heard that lentils are high in certain vitamins and minerals.

This is not to say that they will not receive any of these advantages if they consume outdated legumes.

However, you may not receive the full nutritious content that you desire.

You should also anticipate spending more time cooking lentils.

Some consumers who use outdated lentils may discover that the beans are more difficult to cook or have a tougher texture over time.

Again, this won’t affect you much if they’re only a few months over their expiry date, but it will make them taste worse with time.

If you use them, allow for more cooking time or use more water.


Editorial Staff

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