10 Healthy Vegan Lentil Recipes

A roundup of some of my extremely delicious yet wholesome vegan lentil recipes.

Whether you’re looking for an Indian dal or fragrant lentil curry or an indulgent yet wholesome lentil bolognese, shepherd’s pie, or lentil soup, this list of recipes is full of cooking inspiration!

Say goodbye to boring, plain lentils and explore the delightful world of healthy yet delicious lentils!

Since many of us have stocked up on lentils in the last few months, I figured it was time to round up some delicious yet healthy vegan lentil recipes! If you’re boiling lentils in plain old water, here are 10 inspired ideas for making lentils taste amazing!

While these recipes are all vegan, gluten-free, and all made with wholesome ingredients, they certainly don’t taste “healthy” and don’t sacrifice on flavor!

And if you want to learn my three favorite ways to cook lentils with tons of flavor, be sure to check out this video on Youtube!

There’s also a corresponding PDF guide all about lentils that goes along with the video – it includes info on the various types of lentils and when to use them, the full printable recipes from the vide, and more! Click here to sign up for the PDF!

10 Healthy Vegan Lentil Recipes

1. Restaurant-Style Vegan Dal Tadka

Restaurant-Style Vegan Dal Tadka

This Restaurant-Style Vegan Dal Tadka is the most flavorful dal you will ever try! A deeply spiced Indian lentil stew that’s healthy, vegan, and gluten-free, yet pure comfort food. Stovetop and Instant Pot directions.
Check out this recipe
dal tadka in a bowl

What people are saying about this recipe:

  • Blog reader Maneesha says, “Such a great recipe, Nisha! I loved it! I am a Daal lover, and it was great trying your recipe, different from my family’s Daal recipe! Loved it!

  • Blog reader Gillian says, “I made this tonight in my Instant Pot. It was delicious! I used red lentils because that’s what I had on hand. Love these healthy vegan lentil recipes!

  • Youtube viewer Seth Bedwell says, “I made the Dal Tadka today and it was some of the best Indian food I’ve ever had!”

dal tadka

2. Creamy Mushroom and Black Beluga Lentil Stew

Creamy Mushroom and Black Beluga Lentil Stew

This Creamy Mushroom and Black Beluga Lentil Stew is vegan, gluten-free, and plant-forward, but creamy and delicious. With hearty black beluga lentils, umami-packed mushrooms, and nutrition superstar kale, this is comfort food you can feel good about!
Check out this recipe
Creamy Mushroom and Black Beluga Lentil Stew

What people are saying about this recipe:

  • Blog reader B Millar says, “This recipe is outstanding. I made it with what I have on hand, last year’s harvested chanterelles (frozen) and fresh button mushrooms, last year’s frozen kale. My husband and truly enjoyed this meal. Will be making again and again.

  • Blog reader Claudia says, “I made this last night and, as my boyfriend said, it was the best lentils we ever had in our lives. Perfect combination :)!!

  • Blog reader Bettina says, “We had this for dinner tonight. I doubled the recipe, thinking I’d have leftovers for tomorrow. No leftovers. My husband the mushroom hater ate 2 huge bowls.”

Creamy Mushroom and Black Beluga Lentil Stew

3. 10-Ingredient Vegan Red Lentil Bolognese

10-Ingredient Lentil Bolognese

This 10-Ingredient Lentil Bolognese is hearty, meaty, and packed with umami but 100% wholesome, vegan, and gluten-free. And it’s made with just 10 main ingredients—all pantry staples!
Check out this recipe
red lentil bolognese twirling on a fork

What people are saying about this recipe:

  • Blog reader Emily says, “Wow, this is recipe is definitely going to be a staple in my arsenal! It’s packed with flavor, and easier to make than you’d expect. PSA, do not overlook the walnuts, they add a meaty texture and a fun surprise to each bite.”

  • Blog reader Néha says, “Made this for my family today, it was delicious! My dad said it was better than the meat bolognese, and it was the perfect quarantine meal with pantry ingredients. Can’t wait to make this one again.”

  • Blog reader Keisha says, “Thank you soooo much for this recipe! It turned out awesome for my friends. They were literally licking the bowl!! I didn’t have walnuts on hand but a handful of mixed nuts, and it still worked well. My favorite meal this month.”

4. Creamy Lentil Stuffed Butternut Squash

What people are saying about this recipe:

  • Blog reader Mirae says, “Made this as a part of a Christmas lunch. It was an absolute fav from my omnivore and herbivore friends! I will definitely be remaking this recipe if I’m intending to impress some people’s socks off at a potluck or have a tasty, cozy indoor party to myself.
  • Blog reader Sebastian says, “Loved loved loved this. Perfect for thanksgiving or any cold evening. The lentils by themselves is now my go-to way to cook lentils. So creamy and decadent yet not heavy. Highly recommend!”

  • Blog reader Alison says, “So flavorful! Made as a vegan option for Thanksgiving!”

creamy lentil stuffed butternut squash

5. Vegan Red Lentil Curry

Vegan Red Lentil Curry

This Vegan Red Lentil Curry is a fan favorite and the BEST lentil curry you will ever try! It’s easy and quick, making it a perfect weeknight dinner! Plus, it’s creamy and indulgent but made with wholesome vegan ingredients!
Check out this recipe

What people are saying about this recipe:

  • Blog reader Emma A. says, “Made this for dinner last night and it was amazing! So creamy and full of flavor. Couldn’t stop eating from it haha. Thank you for sharing, will definitely make it more often!

  • Blog reader Emily says, “Seriously, my kids say, “Mom, can we have that curry for dinner?” It’s on regular rotation at our house.”

  • Blog reader Ruthlilycat says, “ This is reaaaaallly delicious! I have Red Lentils & I’ve never found a great recipe for them…Even my husband LOVED it. The taste was so good, I stuffed myself because the taste was out of this world delicious, and again, first recipe I’ve ever LOVED for red lentils!!

close-up shot of red lentil curry with naan and rice in background

6. Mediterranean Lentil and Grain Bowls 

Mediterranean Lentil and Grain Bowls

Gourmet but easy to make, these Mediterranean Lentil and Grain Bowls are packed with fiber and protein and are great for weeknight dinners as well as meal prep.
Check out this recipe
Mediterranean Lentil and Grain Bowls

What people are saying about this recipe:

  • Blog reader Nancy Stein says, “OMG this meal is so good! My husband and I had t control ourselves from licking our plates clean! This was amazing and the pickled onions were awesome side for this dish! Thank You Nisha you are an amazing chef. You certainly no how to season a dish!

  • Blog reader Diane says, “This is really delicious. The lentils… are seasoned so well. All these flavors together are perfect and so satisfying.”

  • Blog reader Hailey Miller says, “Made this for the family tonight, everyone loved it!”

7. Instant Pot Lentil Cabbage Soup

Vegan Instant Pot Lentil and Cabbage Soup

An easy, budget-friendly lentil and cabbage soup made in the Instant Pot. Made with everyday, affordable ingredients you might already have in your pantry), this is a hearty and easy soup that’s perfect for meal prep and easy, quick dinners.
Check out this recipe
Vegan Instant Pot Lentil and Cabbage Soup

What people are saying about this recipe:

  • Blog reader Kay says, “ Just made this, it was lovely. I added frozen peas to the recipe, a cheap, hot and very tasty meal, full of goodness! Thank you x

  • Blog reader Dani B says, “ This vegan soup is ‘out of this world’! So delicious and hardy [hearty] and RICH.”

8. Healthy Vegan Lentil Shepherd’s Pie

The Best Vegan Lentil Shepherd's Pie

This is the best vegan shepherd’s pie you’ll try! A hearty, flavor-packed lentil and sticky onion filling meets fluffy mashed potatoes and cauliflower in this protein-rich, healthy plant based dinner recipe. The perfect healthy comfort food for winter.
Check out this recipe
overhead shot of lentil shepherd's pie

What people are saying about this recipe:

  • Blog reader Leanna says, “We’ve had unseasonably cold weather so I made this last night and it was so comforting. Rich and flavorful and hearty. I couldn’t believe it was also healthy and vegan. Thank you!

  • Blog reader Sara K. says, “This is amazing!! I made it tonight and added some celery and carrots–wonderful flavor! My kiddo thought the garlic was a little strong, and we’ll dial that back the next time. Definitely a keeper, and a perfect meal for a chilly winter night!”

  • Blog reader Shannon says, “This was INCREDIBLE! Seriously one of the best things I’ve ever had. I’ve been vegan for 18 years and I’ve never had a traditional shepherd’s pie but I can’t believe that a traditional one would be better than this!
slice of vegan lentil shepherd's pie on plate

9. Simple Brown or Green Lentils in the Instant Pot

Simple Brown or Green Lentils

This is my go-to recipe when I want a simple pot of lentils to eat throughout the week, but I want to jazz them up just a bit and not simply cook them in water. You can use brown or green lentils, or if you prefer a firmer texture, use French green (Puy) lentils or black Beluga lentils.
Check out this recipe
brown lentils cooked in the instant pot with parsley

*Note: this recipe can be found in the third recipe card in this blog post.

What people are saying about this recipe:

  • Blog reader Jones says, “These lentils are so easy to make, I’m never making them the old way!”

  • Blog reader Ilana says, “I added shitake mushrooms and collard greens to the Simple Brown recipe for a complete one pot meal :-) SO good.”

brown lentils cooked in the instant pot with parsley

10. Instant Pot Butternut Squash Lentil Curry

Vegan Instant Pot Butternut Squash Lentil Curry

5 from 1 vote
With just a few minutes of hands-on cooking, this Instant Pot Butternut Squash Lentil Curry will become your go-to for weeknight meals. It’s hearty, healthy comfort food at its finest (and easiest).
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 45 mins
Total Time: 1 hr
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Indian-Inspired
Diet Vegan
Keyword: black beluga lentils, butternut squash, curry, gluten-free, instant pot, soy-free
Serving size: 6

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unrefined virgin coconut oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (2-inch) piece of fresh ginger, finely minced or grated
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional, for spiciness)
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 5-6 cups (700-850g) peeled and roughly chopped butternut squash, (can buy pre-cut squash)*
  • 1 1/2 cups (360 mL) low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 cup brown lentils or green lentils
  • 1 (15-ounce/ 400 mL) can “lite” coconut milk
  • 3 tablespoons cashew butter (can substitute with almond butter or tahini)
  • 4 ounces baby kale or baby spinach (or 4-5 large handfuls)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon or lime juice
  • 1 large handful fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • For serving: white rice and/or flatbread

Instructions

Instant Pot Directions

  • Rinse the lentils and drain them.
  • Select the Sauté setting on the Instant Pot and after a few minutes, add 1/2 tablespoon of the coconut oil, followed by the cumin seeds. Toss for 30-60 seconds until lightly browned and very fragrant.
  • Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, followed by the onion and 1/2 teaspoon of the kosher salt. Cook the onion for 4-5 minutes until lightly browned. Then add the garlic and ginger and cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently to prevent sticking.
  • Stir in the the curry powder, turmeric, and cayenne (if using) for 30 seconds, adding the 2 tbsp water to prevent the mixture from drying out too much.
  • Add the chopped butternut squash and stir to coat it in the spice mixture. Pour in the vegetable broth and use a wooden spoon or spatula to scrape up any browned bits at the bottom of the pan. Then add the remaining 1 teaspoon kosher salt, the lentils, and coconut milk. Scoop the cashew butter on top but do not stir. This helps prevent the nut butter from sinking to the bottom and possibly triggering the Instant Pot burn warning.
  • Secure the Instant Pot lid and set the Pressure Release to Sealing. Select the Pressure Cook or Manual setting and set the cook time for 10 minutes.
  • Once the timer goes off, allow a natural pressure release. Once the pressure has released, open the pot and stir in the baby kale. Select the Sauté setting and heat for about 2 minutes or until the kale has wilted, then select Cancel. Add the lemon or lime juice and the cilantro and stir to combine.
  • Serve the butternut squash lentil curry over white rice or with flatbread.

Stovetop Directions

  • Heat a deep, heavy skillet or a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add 1/2 tablespoon of the coconut oil, and once hot, add the cumin seeds and fry for 30-60 seconds until lightly browned and very fragrant.
  • Add the onions and cook until they are translucent, about 5 minutes. Then add the garlic and ginger and cook for 1-2 minutes until lightly golden and fragrant. Stir in the curry powder, turmeric, and cayenne (if using) until well incorporated.
  • Add the butternut squash, vegetable broth, lentils, coconut milk, and cashew butter. Stir well to combine.
  • Bring the curry mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat, and simmer for about 30 minutes, until the lentils are tender and the squash is cooked through, stirring every few minutes.
  • Add the baby kale and allow to cook for 1-2 minutes until wilted. Add the lemon or lime juice and the cilantro and stir to combine.
  • Serve the butternut squash lentil curry over white rice or with flatbread.

Notes

If using the stovetop method, cut the squash into smaller cubes

What people are saying about this recipe:

  • Blog reader Lindsay says, “We made this for dinner and it was sooooo rich and creamy! So flavorful and the right amount of heat…My husband and I both devoured our bowls. Great flavor/ingredient combination!!

  • Blog reader Kimberly says, “This was freaking delicious! I texted it to several friends and I am adding it to my rotation. Thanks for all your healthy vegan lentil recipes!

  • Blog reader Sam W. says, “I just made this tonight for dinner and it was DELICIOUS! I was so excited when I noticed I had all the ingredients at home so I had to make it immediately. Best decision!”

butternut squash lentil curry with Indian spices, cilantro, lime, and rice

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