Exploring the Feasibility of Freezing Lentils: Can You Freeze Lentils?

Can you freeze lentils?

Lentils are a nutritious and versatile legume that can be a valuable addition to a healthy diet. They are rich in protein, fiber, and essential nutrients such as folate, potassium, and phosphorus. While lentils can take some time to cook, freezing them can be a convenient way to have ready-made lentils on hand for quick and easy meals. In this article, we will explore the process of freezing lentils, including recommended methods, storage time, and tips for achieving the best results.

Freezing lentils – the right approach

Freezing cooked lentils is a practical solution that can save both time and money. By preparing a large batch of lentils and freezing them in individual servings, you can have a readily available ingredient for future meals. Compared to buying canned lentils, freezing cooked lentils from scratch is a more cost-effective option.

Cooking and Freezing Lentils

It is advisable to cook lentils before freezing them, as this will increase their usefulness once thawed. Unlike other legumes that require soaking and extensive cooking, lentils cook relatively quickly. Here is a step-by-step guide to cooking and freezing lentils:

  1. Rinse lentils thoroughly to remove any stones, debris, or pebbles.
  2. Place the lentils in a saucepan of cold water, making sure the water level is about ½ inch above the lentils.
  3. Bring the water to a simmer and cook the lentils for 20 to 30 minutes, adjusting the cooking time depending on the type of lentils.
  4. During cooking, monitor the lentils and add water as needed to keep them covered.
  5. Once the lentils are cooked to perfection, strain them to remove excess moisture. Ideally, allow the lentils to sit in the strainer for a longer period of time to minimize moisture content. Excess water in lentils can cause them to stick together when frozen.
  6. Divide the strained lentils into individual servings. Smaller portions take less time to thaw.
  7. Transfer the lentils to airtight plastic bags or containers, leaving some extra space as freezing may cause the product to expand. Label the containers with the date and serving size for future reference.

It is important to note that salt should not be added to lentils until they are cooked. Salt can soften the lentils and change their shape. If you plan to use the lentils in recipes where they will be cooked with other ingredients, you can slightly undercook them before freezing. This way, when making stews or soups, the lentils can be fully cooked while the other ingredients in the dish are being prepared. When the lentils are fully cooked, add them to the other ingredients when the dish is almost ready.

Shelf life for cooked lentils

Cooked and frozen lentils can maintain their quality for about 6 months in the freezer if stored properly. In order to ensure a long shelf life, it is important to provide the necessary conditions and to prevent the lentils from being exposed to air. However, it is advisable to check the thawed lentils carefully. If they have an unpleasant smell or show signs of mold, they should be discarded.

Freezing Dried Lentils

Dried lentils have a relatively long shelf life and can be stored in a cool, dry place for 2 to 3 years as long as they are kept in a tightly closed package. While it is possible to wash and freeze dried lentils, this method may not be as practical as the lentils still need to be cooked after thawing. Freezing cooked lentils is preferable as it saves considerable time and effort.

Freezing canned lentils

If you have leftover canned lentils that you don’t plan to use right away, freezing them can be a convenient option. Leftover canned lentils can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. To freeze canned lentils:

  1. Rinse lentils with cold water.
  2. Place them in an airtight container, sealable plastic bag, or freezer jar.
  3. Properly stored, canned lentils will keep in the freezer for about 2 months.
  4. When using frozen canned lentils, add them directly to hot dishes such as casseroles or stews.

It is important to note that frozen and thawed canned lentils may change in texture, becoming mushy and softer compared to their original state.

Defrosting frozen lentils

Defrosting lentils is a quick and easy process. Here are four easy ways to thaw frozen lentils:

  1. Defrost in the microwave: Place frozen lentils in a microwave-safe bowl and heat on medium to high power for 2 to 3 minutes or until thawed, stirring occasionally.
  2. Defrost in the refrigerator: Transfer frozen lentils to a container and place in the refrigerator overnight or for about 8 hours until completely thawed.
  3. Thawing in warm water: Place the frozen lentils in a sealed plastic bag and submerge in a bowl of warm water. Stir occasionally and change the water as it cools. Lentils should thaw within 15 to 30 minutes.
  4. Add frozen lentils directly to the dish: If you’re using frozen lentils in a recipe that requires cooking, you can add them directly to the dish without thawing. The lentils will thaw and heat up as the dish cooks.

Tips on freezing and using lentils

  • Portion control: Dividing lentils into smaller portions before freezing makes them easier to thaw and helps reduce food waste. Consider freezing them in amounts that match your typical recipe needs.
  • Labeling: Clearly label containers or bags with the date and portion size to keep track of the lentils in your freezer and ensure proper rotation.
  • Freezing cooked lentil dishes: If you have cooked lentil dishes, such as soups or stews, you can freeze them in meal-size portions for quick and convenient meals. Be sure to allow the dishes to cool completely before freezing and use airtight containers.
  • Recipe ideas: Frozen lentils can be used in a variety of dishes, including salads, curries, stir-fries, and grain bowls. Experiment with different flavors and ingredients to create delicious and nutritious meals.
  • Texture changes: It’s important to note that freezing and thawing lentils may cause slight changes in texture. They may become slightly softer, but this should not significantly affect their taste or nutritional value.

Bottom line

Freezing lentils is a convenient and efficient way to have this nutritious legume available for future meals. By following the recommended methods and storage guidelines, you can enjoy the convenience and benefits of having cooked lentils on hand. Whether you choose to freeze cooked lentils, dried lentils, or leftover canned lentils, proper preparation and storage will ensure the best results. Incorporate frozen lentils into your favorite recipes for a quick and healthy addition to your meals.


Can lentils be frozen?

Yes, lentils can be frozen. Both cooked lentils and leftover canned lentils can be safely frozen for future use.

How long can you store frozen lentils?

Cooked lentils can be stored in the freezer for up to 6 months, while canned lentils can be frozen for approximately 2 months.

Should I cook lentils before freezing them?

It is recommended that lentils be cooked before freezing. Cooking lentils increases their usefulness when thawed and makes them ready to be added to various dishes.

Can dried lentils be frozen?

While it is possible to freeze dried lentils, it is more practical to cook the lentils before freezing them. Freezing cooked lentils saves time and effort as the lentils can be used directly in recipes after thawing.

How to thaw frozen lentils?

Frozen lentils can be thawed in several ways. They can be thawed in the microwave, in the refrigerator overnight, in warm water, or added directly to hot dishes and cooked with the other ingredients.

Do frozen lentils change in texture?

Yes, freezing and thawing lentils can cause slight changes in texture. They may become slightly softer compared to their original state, but this should not significantly affect their taste or nutritional value.