Lentils are great. They are healthy, versatile and cheap to buy but, and this is a big but, they aren’t that easy to cook. Too much water and too long a cook and they end up a mushy mess. Too little water, and too little time, and it’s like eating small bullets – not pleasant and it can end up in a large dental bill. So, just how do you cook lentils in a rice cooker?
It’s not surprising that most people who enjoy lentils find themselves standing over the stove watching them cook for what seems like an eternity.
However, you may be surprised to discover that the humble rice cooker can produce some of the best lentils you will ever taste. So, let’s look at the process and discover exactly how to cook this versatile dish.
Our Top Rice Cookers For Lentils
What Are Lentils?
Lentils are legumes, which means that they belong to the same family as peas and beans. The lentil is particularly nutritious because it contains high amounts of protein plus several essential minerals, such as iron and potassium. Lentils also provide a significant source of fiber in our diets – just ½ cup cooked provides about 16% of the recommended daily intake.
They are considered to be a superfood, and they can give you an energy boost because they contain both soluble and insoluble fiber – this is why many people recommend eating lentils on top of salads specifically for their high content of nutrients.
Are Lentils Healthy?
Ok, you have probably seen them in health-food stores and in lifestyle magazine recipes but do you know why, or even if, lentils really are as healthy as the experts say? Well, given that they are high in protein and fiber and low in fat, it’s not hard to see the benefits. They are also rich in iron, zinc, and potassium and are a great source of vitamin B.
One of the biggest health benefits to be derived from lentils is to use them as a replacement for animal proteins and move to a more plant-based diet. By using them to reduce your fat intake and raise your fiber intake, the health benefits will be immediate and significant. In fact, according to the journal of American medicine, substituting animal for plant protein is associated with a lower risk of early death – and that’s something that everyone should be interested in.
They are also an extremely versatile cooking ingredient because they hold flavor really well and, when cooked properly, they can be molded into patties or used as the base for soups. You can also use them as taco filling, add them to salads and mix them into stews so, really, when it comes to versatility they simply can’t be beaten.
So, they are healthy, they are cheap and they are versatile. But how do you actually cook them? Well, lets take a look and, in particular, I want to prove to you that cooking lentils really can be quite easy, especially if you use your rice cooker. But, before we dig into the process it’s probably worth taking a quick look at the different kinds of lentils you can buy.
Different Types Of Lentils
You might think that there is only one variety of the humble lentil – but you would be wrong. There are actually several types of lentils and they all have different cooking properties. Let’s take a look at the main kinds of lentils available from most health food stores.
- Black Lentils: also called Beluga lentils because of their similar appearance to caviar, these lentils have a strong earthy flavor. They are less common than the other types of lentil so may not be available in your local area but they are worth trying if you get the chance. They are great fr sprinkling over sweet or baked potatoes or they are often added to salads. Like other lentils they can be pureed or roasted and give a lovely ping to savory snacks.
- Pink Lentils: often used in soups and stews because they break down quickly when cooking and form a smooth paste. They are similar in taste and consistency to the next type….
- Yellow Lentils: just like pink lentils they break down to form a smooth paste that is great for mixing into foods or making a base for soup. They are great for adding to minced beef so can be used to thicken bolognese or chili and are the parents best friend when trying to sneak some fiber into the kids diet 🙂 The yellow split lentil is the most popular type of lentil in Europe and North America, even though it’s sometimes called a pea, it’snot actually a pea but a legume that has been dried. It gets its name from how the peas are separated when they’re dry – this process leaves behind only their outer layer which becomes mottled yellow when cooked.
- Green lentils: also called French lentils, these are the smallest variety and take a bit longer to cook. They also tend to retain their shape so they aren’t great for soups or stews. They dont need to be soaked but if you choose not to soak them they will take longer to cook. The green lentil is the type most commonly sold in grocery stores, and it’s also my favorite one. It has a nutty flavor similar to that of whole peas but with a firmer texture than split peas. They are great for salads or any dish where you want them to retain their shape rather than mush together like they do when cooked for a long time.
- The French green lentil (also known as Le Puy lentils) is my personal favorite, and it’s also what I use most often in cooking because of how delicious the flavor is. It has dark green skins with bright green insides when raw but becomes light brown when cooked. It is smaller and rounder than other lentils, and it has a firmer texture that makes them good for salads as well as soups or stews where you want the lentils to keep their shape rather than becoming mushy like split peas do when boiled too long.
In addition to these five types of lentils, there is also an orange version that has been known by several names such as Egyptian lentils, Egyptian beans or simply orange lentils. The main difference between red and yellow split peas is how they’re processed when dry – the result of how each type looks when cooked will vary too but not so much in terms of taste.
So, as you can see there are several types of lentils available and this is important because, as you see, they all have slightly different properties. So, it’s important to adjust your cooking time and choose the right type depending on the consistency that you require.
So, that brings us to the most important part of this article- what’s the process for actually cooking lentils, and can you cook lentils in a rice cooker?
How To Cook Lentils In A Rice Cooker
Well, to answer the main question is – of course you can cook lentils in a rice cooker!! After all, a rice cooker – even one as sophisticated as the Zojirushi NP-NWC10XB is really just a big pot with a timer attached. Luckily, cooking lentils is very simple in a rice cooker – in fact, I can’t think of a better or easier way to cook them.
- HEALTHY PANTRY STAPLE: Green lentils have an earthy flavor with hints of pepper and can retain their shape or puree easily.
- RICH IN NUTRIENTS: Dry green lentils are an excellent source of B vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc. They’re also a great source of plant-based protein and fiber.
- EASY TO COOK AND DELICIOUS: Dry green lentils cook in 20 minutes, with no soaking required. If you are looking for a shorter cook time, you can soak them first. With an earthy and peppery flavor, Clear Creek green lentils are perfect for adding to soups, salads, chili, burgers, tacos, and more.
- PROUD TO BE: We are proud to be Non-GMO, Vegan, Kosher, and Non-Irradiated (an accepted practice that exposes your food to radiation for sterilization). Our green lentils will SPROUT!
- MADE IN AMERICA: We sourced these beautiful green lentils from our Montana neighbors as they represent the flavors and quality of the Pacific Northwest. This packaging line is powered by women. We are empowering women to learn new skills, lead and find a work-life balance. Our culture radiates support and flexibility so the needs of both family and work can be met.
The secret is in the mix of water and lentils – I prefer to use 2 cups of water to every 1 cup of lentils – and remember, you don’t need to soak them but, if you choose to, you should use slightly less water in the cook as obviously, the lentils will already contain quite a lot of moisture.
Are lentils gluten free?
One question I get asked a lot is are lentils gluten-free? The answer is yes – lentils are gluten-free.
Are lentils bad for you?
Although lentils are, generally speaking, considered to be a very healthy food some people worry that lentils may be bad for you?
While the following should not be taken as medical advice, it’s important to note that lentils shouldn’t lead to any negative effects for most people unless they are consumed in excess – just like with many other types of food.
Lentil recipes can vary greatly depending on how you decide to cook them but they are generally very healthy and nutritious!
Should You Add Any Extra Ingredients?
Personally, I like to add a few herbs and spices while they cook and fresh garlic or some thyme makes a great addition to what can, otherwise, be a bit of a bland dish.
Top Tip: One thing you should never do when cooking lentils is to add acidic products. So, avoid ingredients like tomatoes or lemon juice as these actually cause the lentil skins to go tough and they take longer to cook. Of course, if your rice cooker is on a timer this will ruin the end product so, if anything add these in at the end after the cook is complete.
Cooking lentils actually couldn’t be simpler. I avoid any complicated programming and just aim cook them for around 40 minutes. Just make sure the lentils and water are well mixed after adding them to the pot and you will get great results.
So, there you have it. It turns out you can cook lentils in a rice cooker and, not only that but it’s really easy and using your rice cooker is a real time-saver.
If you want to find out how to cook other dishes in a rice cooker – that aren’t plain rice – then maybe you should check out my article on how to cook sushi rice in a rice cooker or how to cook pasta in a rice cooker. Once you understand the possibilities you will open up a whole new world of cuisine.
Last update on 2022-02-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API