Exploring the Top 9 Substitutes for Red Lentils

9 Best Red Lentil Substitutes

Red lentils are highly nutritious and known for their earthy and sweet flavor. However, they can be hard to find and expensive. If you’re looking for alternatives to red lentils, there are several options that can provide similar flavors, textures, and nutritional benefits. In this article, we’ll explore the best red lentil substitutes and discuss their qualities and cooking methods.

1. Yellow Lentils

Yellow lentils are an excellent substitute for red lentils. They have a similar taste, texture and cooking time. However, their flavor may be slightly less pronounced and they tend to cook more tenderly. Yellow lentils can be used as a one-to-one substitution in recipes.

2. Green Lentils

Green lentils are another great alternative to red lentils. They have a slightly nutty flavor and are higher in protein and fiber than red lentils. Green lentils can be used in a variety of dishes and provide a similar texture when cooked.

3. Peas

Dried peas can be a good alternative to red lentils. They are higher in protein and fiber and have a slightly sweeter flavor. However, they require longer cooking times than lentils. Split peas take about 30-60 minutes to cook, while whole dried peas take about 60-90 minutes.

4. Cauliflower

Cauliflower may not be the most obvious choice, but it can work well as a substitute for red lentils. It has a similar earthy yet slightly sweet flavor and can be adjusted to have a soft and creamy texture. Cauliflower is also low in calories and packed with vitamins and minerals.

5. Peanuts

Peanuts are another unconventional alternative to red lentils. High in protein and fiber, they can be ground into a powder or used whole. Ground peanuts can be added gradually to soups or dishes to adjust flavor and texture. It’s important to note, however, that peanuts can trigger allergies in some people.

6. Pulses

Beans, such as pinto beans, kidney beans, and navy beans, can provide a texture and flavor similar to lentils. They are high in protein and fiber and offer a variety of nutritional benefits. Different beans have different cooking times, but using a pressure cooker can significantly reduce cooking time.

7. Grains

Grains like brown rice, quinoa, and kamut are excellent substitutes for red lentils. They add thickness to soups and stews, provide nutrients, and have a creamy and tender texture when cooked. Grains can be used in one-to-one substitutions and offer a variety of flavors and nutritional profiles.

8. Tofu

Tofu is a versatile plant-based alternative that can be used in place of red lentils. It has a creamy texture and is high in protein. Firm tofu, when finely diced or crumbled, can be used as a substitute in recipes that call for whole red lentils. Tofu has a slightly sweet flavor and can be a great option for those who cannot digest beans or legumes.

9. Soy Beans

Soybeans can be an option for those who are not allergic to soy. They are high in protein and fiber, and eating soy in moderation can provide many health benefits. However, it’s important to note that some people are allergic to soy, so it’s important to consider individual dietary restrictions and preferences.
When choosing a red lentil substitute, consider factors such as taste, texture, nutritional value, cooking time, and availability. Each alternative has its own unique qualities, so it’s important to weigh the pros and cons before making a decision. Experimenting with different substitutes can add variety and new flavors to your dishes while maintaining the nutritional benefits of lentils.
Remember to adjust cooking times and techniques according to the specific substitute you choose. With these alternatives, you can enjoy delicious and nutritious meals even when red lentils are not readily available or suitable for your dietary needs.


Can I replace red lentils with other types of lentils?

Yes, yellow lentils and green lentils are the best alternatives to red lentils as they have similar flavour, texture and cooking times.

Are there any non-lentil substitutes for red lentils?

Absolutely! Peas, cauliflower, peanuts, beans, grains and tofu can all be used as substitutes for red lentils, offering different flavours and textures.

How do I adjust cooking times when using substitutes?

Cooking times can vary depending on the substitute you choose. Follow the cooking instructions for the specific substitute you’re using, as they may take more or less time to cook compared to red lentils.

Are these substitutes as nutritious as red lentils?

While each substitute has its own nutritional profile, many alternatives, such as yellow lentils, green lentils, peas and beans, are also rich in protein, fibre and several vitamins and minerals.

Can I use these substitutes in any recipe that calls for red lentils?

Yes, you can generally use these substitutes in recipes that call for red lentils. Keep in mind, however, that the flavour and texture may be slightly different, so it’s always a good idea to adjust the seasoning and cooking methods accordingly.

Where can I find these substitutes?

Most of these substitutes, such as yellow lentils, green lentils, peas, beans and grains, can be found in well-stocked supermarkets, health food stores or online. Check the pulses and grains section of your local store or explore online retailers for a wider variety of options.