Why Lentils Deserve a Spot in Your Pantry: A Comprehensive Guide on Storing and Cooking Lentils

logo by Editorial Staff | Updated on September 28th, 2023

There’s been a lot of talk about the health benefits of lentils, but how many of us actually know how to properly store and cook them? If you find yourself pondering how long lentils last, how to store them safely, and when to toss them out, then look no further. This article is your one-stop guide for everything lentil-related, be it dried, cooked, or canned.

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 Are Lentils, Anyway?

Lentils are a type of legume native to South Asia, but they’ve found homes in kitchens around the Mediterranean, North Africa, and beyond. They’re packed with protein, fiber, and a variety of vitamins and minerals, making them an excellent choice for vegetarians and meat-eaters alike.

corn and carrots in white ceramic bowl

Lentils are incredibly versatile; they can be turned into anything from hearty stews in Europe to spicy dals in India. They come in several varieties, such as green, brown, red, yellow, and Puy, each with its unique flavor profile and cooking time.

Different Varieties of Lentils

  • Brown Lentils: These are your go-to lentils for soups and stews, requiring about 20-30 minutes to cook.
  • Green Lentils: Also known as French lentils, these take around 45 minutes to cook and are excellent in salads.
  • Red Lentils: These cook quickly, in about 10-15 minutes, and are ideal for soups.
  • Yellow Lentils: Frequently used in Indian and Middle Eastern dishes, they cook in around 15-20 minutes.
  • Black Lentils: Also called Beluga lentils, they cook in 20-30 minutes and are perfect for salads and side dishes.

Nutritional Facts

In a cup of cooked lentils (198g), you can expect approximately:

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

Health Benefits of Lentils

Lentils offer a plethora of health advantages:

  • They stabilize blood sugar levels and help lower cholesterol.
  • Lentils are a great source of slow-burning energy.
  • They contain essential nutrients like vitamin B and magnesium.

Cooking Prep: To Soak or Not to Soak?

Unlike other legumes, lentils cook quickly—usually in 10 to 30 minutes—making soaking generally unnecessary. However, always check the cooking instructions for your specific variety.

Safety First: Consuming Undercooked Lentils

Avoid eating lentils that are undercooked and gritty; they can be difficult to digest and can cause digestive issues. They contain phytic acids, which can inhibit the absorption of essential minerals.

Storage Guidelines for Dried Lentils

Dried lentils should be kept in a cool, dry place. Once opened, consider transferring them to an airtight container. They generally maintain their quality for 2 to 3 years but will lose some of their nutritional value over time.

How to Store Canned Lentils

For unopened canned lentils, simply store them in a cool, dry place. Leftovers should be transferred to a food container and stored in the refrigerator.

Longevity of Cooked Lentils

Cooked lentils are best consumed within 4 to 5 days when stored in the refrigerator. While some sources claim they can last up to a week, it’s better to err on the side of caution.

Spotting Spoiled Lentils

Be it cooked, dried, or canned, discard lentils if:

  • They have an unpleasant odor
  • There are visible signs of mold
  • Bugs are present in the packaging

By keeping these guidelines in mind, you can safely enjoy lentils in a variety of dishes while reaping their numerous health benefits.


Editorial Staff

Our writers, editors, content managers, and SEO specialist. We all take part in crafting amazing articles. We spend hours ensuring that each article is based on facts, researched, and thorough. You'll never want to click the back button to look for more answers other than here!