One of the main reasons why I waited for way too long to introduce lentils into my family meals was quite simple – I wasn’t sure if they would like the taste.
And in case of my two boys, I wasn’t wrong – lentils are still on their list of“I’ll eat it only if I have to” foods. 🙂
If you’re in the same boat as I was years ago, I’m guessing you want to know two things: what do lentils taste like, and what are the best ways to prepare them.
Am I right, or what?
Let’s Talk Nutrition First
Given the less-than-ideal reputation their taste has, you’re probably wondering if there’s a good reason why you should bring yourself to eating lentils, so let me answer that for you:
There most certainly is!
Consider this a crash course in lentils nutritional facts, so pay attention:
- Plenty Of Fiber – I’ve discussed the benefits of a diet rich in fiber plenty of times before, so I’m not going to repeat myself. However, I will say that cooked lentils have a high content of both insoluble and soluble fiber, for a total of 15 grams per cup.
- Plant-Based Protein – Alright, vegans and vegetarians, listen up! By nature, your diets don’t include lots – if any – animal-based proteins, but given the fact that they’re essential for keeping our bodies up and running, you should aim to replace those with plant-based ones. That’s where lentils come in, with 18 grams of protein per cup!
- Rich In Folate – Did you know that one cup of lentils provides up to 90 percent of the recommended daily intake of folate, a B vitamin essential for building new cells in your body?
- A Variety Of Vitamins And Minerals – Besides the folate mentioned above, lentils provide a wide range of other vitamins, as well as minerals that you might be missing from your diet – manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, and iron, to name a few.
Keep Your Heart In Top Shape: When you think of a healthy heart, you probably think of low cholesterol and healthy blood pressure levels, right? Soluble fiber, magnesium, potassium, folate, as well as low sodium content – all of which are found in lentils – are vital to building a heart-friendly diet and preventing heart disease.
Green, Red, And Brown: What Do Lentils Taste Like?
It depends on who you ask.
For instance, if you asked my younger son, he wouldn’t know what to tell you, because, guess what – he refuses to eat them. Says they don’t look very appetizing.
John, on the other hand, thinks they don’t have a taste at all (which is why I had to figure out how to spice things up, but more on that later).
So, what do lentils taste like?
1. Brown For Earthy
- I figured we should start with the most common kind. Chances are these are the ones you’re most likely to try first since pretty much every grocery store sells them. If you’re a fan of mild, earthy flavors – I’m not talking about that weird dirt-like taste, but a more vegetal one – you’ll love brown lentils, for sure!
- And the darker you go, the richer it gets – that’s why those tiny, black lentils have the deepest earthly flavor out of the bunch.
2. Green For Peppery
- The best way to describe the taste of green lentils would be as slightly peppery, maybe even robust flavor. No wonder they’re John’s favorite – I hate to brag, but I do make a killer lentil chili! You’ll notice the peppery scent once you start boiling them.
- When it comes to salads and side dishes, green lentils are probably your best bet, because they keep their firm texture. They do take the longest to cook, though. On average, it takes about 45 minutes, so make sure you think ahead.
3. Red For Sweet
- “Sweet” is probably the last thing you expect someone to say when you ask them what do lentils taste like, but when it comes to the red variety – everything from yellow to red falls into this category – that statement certainly holds true.
- I find them to be very nutty, as well, but maybe that’s just me – let me know when you give them a try!
Barbara’s Tips For Making Lentils Taste Better
Lentils might be tiny powerhouses of nutrients, but according to many people out there, they don’t have much going for them taste-wise.
What if I told you there’s a way to make lentils taste better, though? 😉
Mind you; I don’t think they taste bad at all. Sure, it might be a bit bland at times, but I chose to look at it as an advantage – a chance for me to add different flavors to it myself.
That’s how I came up with these little tricks to make lentils taste better, in the first place.
1. Try Broth Instead Of Plain Water
- When it comes to cooking lentils, you probably use plain water without giving it a second thought. I know this because I did the same thing for years before I finally got the idea to use broth, instead.
And let me tell you something – I never looked back!
2. Add Veggies
- You may not realize it, but looks often play a huge role in your general like or dislike of a particular dish. So, if you find yourself thinking that, in the case of lentils, the appearance matches their taste – bland and boring – you might want to add some colorful veggies to the mix.
- Carrots and red peppers are my go-to choices, but I found that leafy greens work exceptionally well, too.
3. Use Fresh Herbs For A Flavor Boost
- Speaking of adding a splash of color, freshly chopped herbs, such as parsley, lemongrass, or cilantro, can do wonders when added to cooked lentils. And not only that – they act as a low-cal flavor boost, as well, which is what you’re after, right?
- Most importantly, though, fresh herbs are an excellent way to enhance the nutritional value of your lentil dish further!
4. Do More Than Just Boiling Them
- Boil them, drain them, and serve them – we’ve all heard of these lentil-cooking basics. But I’m going to let you in on a secret: that’s not the only way to do it. Adding one extra step could result in a different – and better – taste and texture.
- So, the next time you boil and drain your lentils, throw them in a stir-fry, add them to a casserole and baked goods, or puree them to make a hummus-like dip.
When it comes to lentils, I guess the phrase “different strokes for different folks” applies perfectly.
Don’t trust what anyone else says, though – buy a bag of lentils and see for yourself. With a few of my cooking tips, I’m sure you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Anyway, I hope this helped you get a clearer picture of what do lentils taste like, but if you have any follow-up questions, feel free to leave a comment below!