Can anyone cook green lentils in 30 minutes?

Most recipes that I have for lentils call for cooking them between 25-35 minutes, but it always takes closer to 45 minutes (or longer). Some of the usual ways I use them are in soups, in a thick lentil mash that I use as a substitute for taco filling, or just boiled to put on salads, etc. I end up with a similarly long cooking time for all. What am I doing wrong? Or are others similarly befuddled by this? I would like to be able to cook them more quickly so that they are easier to be a go-to meal component on busy weeknights.

  • Posted by: emilyv
  • February 21, 2011


emilyv February 22, 2011
Thanks, pauljoseph! That sounds delicious.
pauljoseph February 22, 2011
whistle from the pressure cooker
pauljoseph February 22, 2011
nutcakes when the first whistle from the presser cooker come reduce the flame to minimum and wait for the 2nd and third whistle then turn of the flame and wait for 10minute your lentil is ready garnish with fried onion in ghee serve hot
pauljoseph February 22, 2011
Our favorite presser cooker
nutcakes February 22, 2011
Hello again emilyv, I'd start a new question on the pressure cooker so other can see it. My sister just gave me her old one and I'm looking forward to figuring out how to use it.
emilyv February 22, 2011
Also, being a lover of all dried beans, I still do not have a pressure cooker. Do any of you have a make/model suggestion?
emilyv February 22, 2011
I certainly need a pressure cooker and have been putting it off ! Thanks all.
innoabrd February 22, 2011
Age of the lentils makes a big difference and, yes, the salt and acid issues as well. The other thing here is, how do you like your lentils? I know for a lot of applications, slightly al dente works great, but for others you want them to give and break down more. Maybe you just like them soft and so end up cooking them that extra 10 minutes to get them just right?

If you're really pushed for time, pauljoseph might have the answer for you. I know a lot of Indian cooks in particular who swear by their pressure cookers. You might find that you start with lentils and discover a whole world of possibilities!
pauljoseph February 21, 2011
Yes I agree with Antoniajames when salt in the cooking water, it slows down the softening process. when we cook lentils or red meat we put the salt at the end.
AntoniaJames February 21, 2011
McGee says that salt in the water helps to soften the beans while soaking them (which most people simply don't do with lentils) but when there is salt in the cooking water, it slows down the softening process. ;o)
susan G. February 21, 2011
For the "ready when you need them" issue: I make up a quantity of beans at once, then freeze "can" size containers. Defrost and go....
susan G. February 21, 2011
In a recent FP about cooking beans, there is recent information (McGee et al) that salt is not a problem, and may even help soften the skins if added to the soak water.
pauljoseph February 21, 2011
soak in water for 3 to 4 hours cover and cook(when it boil reduce the heat) it take less than 30 minute.if you pressure cook it take only 15 minute
emilyv February 21, 2011
@nutcakes: I have not been using Puy lentils, just the regular bag of goya green lentils (maybe the same as your brown lentils?) Since they come form the supermarket shelf, I'll try picking up fresher ones from the bins at my co-op, good suggestion.
@thirschfeld another glass of wine is the secret ingredient to everything!
@sam I like the rice cooker idea, will definitely give it a go.
@antonia thanks for the rationale behind the baking soda & the warning about salt. I have been seasoning the broth or liquid before, so that might help.

AntoniaJames February 21, 2011
If you're putting anything with acid into the cooking water (including I would think any broth made with tomato paste) that will prevent the lentils from cooking. Salt slows the cooking down considerably, so hold off on adding any until the lentils are nice and soft. (I refrain from putting salty/smoky meats like ham shanks and smoked turkey legs or thighs into any legumes until after they've cooked for about a half an hour, for that reason.) The baking soda will help too in counteracting any acidity issues. ;o)
Sam1148 February 21, 2011
Get a small rice cooker. They're cheap.and do a good job with lentils. Put in the water, and push the button and relax. You may need to check it the first few times until you get water/lentil ratio down and add more water, and hit the start button again.
The Cheap one button ones work fine--15 bucks or so. It frees up both you and a burner on the stove..and no watching after you figure the ratio you need.

Models vary..from cheap to 'fuzzy logic smart'. I like the cheap ones. Rival makes a good one. Note: when they say "cups" they're referring to Japanese rice cooker measuring cups. A small 5-6 'cup' one would just fine.
thirschfeld February 21, 2011
are you in that big of a hurry? LOL. I have always found beans take longer depending on the humidity or lack there of. If they are carrying more moisture they tend cook faster. That is one of the reasons new crop beans cook quicker than older beans. Well at least this is my reason. You know with beans everyone has a way and thoughts on how and why to do things. My suggestion is to take that ten minutes and sneak in an extra glass of wine.
nutcakes February 21, 2011
By green lentils, do you mean Lentils du Puy? For me these take a little longer and stay firmer. I use them for lentil salads and brothy soups where I want to retain the shape. I just refered to a soup recipe I use and the directions say 40 minutes. If I want a lentil to mash, I'll use plain old brown lentils and they cook in 25 to 30 minutes for me. Consider the source of your supply for lentils, could they be old when you purchase them? Try buying them from a place that does a lot of turnover, like a bulk bin 'health food' market.
emilyv February 21, 2011
No, barely over 1000ft.
Sam1148 February 21, 2011
@emilyv would you happen to live in a high altitude area?
emilyv February 21, 2011
Thanks for the baking soda suggestion, I have never heard that! I cycle through lentils quickly, replenishing every other week or so, so I don't think it is a freshness issue.
Sam1148 February 21, 2011
Could it be your lentils are old? They can take longer if old. A pinch (just a pinch) of baking soda will speed the process, especially for old lentils.
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