Lentils are very easy to cook and they don’t take too long, but if there’s any way to reduce your time and energy spent in the kitchen, it’s a smart idea. Batch cooking lentils or at the very least saving any leftovers for quick meals in your future is a great idea.
How long do cooked lentils last? If they’re properly stored in your fridge your cooked lentils will last for 3–5 days on average, and no more than a week. If you freeze your cooked lentils, they’ll retain their best quality for about 6 months before they start to lose their flavor and texture rapidly.
In the rest of this article, we’ll outline the best practices for properly storing cooked lentils to get the most out of their lifespan.
How to Store Cooked Lentils
Cooked lentils will stay delicious for future meals only if they’re stored correctly.
Follow these simple directions if you have leftover lentils that you’d like to enjoy later in your week:
- Allow your lentils to cool completely to room temperature before packing away.
- Make sure you either refrigerate or freeze your cooked lentils within 2 hours of cooking.
- Transfer your lentils to a Ziploc bag or shallow Tupperware container that has an airtight seal and not too much headspace left in the container.
You want as little air exposure as possible touching your lentils. If you’re storing in a Ziploc bag, make sure you squeeze as much air out as possible and double-check there are no holes in the seal.
If you’re storing your lentils in a Tupperware container, you can place a layer of plastic wrap on the surface of your lentils to minimize air exposure. This is especially useful if you’ve transferred them to a large container and there’s extra space between your lentils and the lid.
How Long Do Cooked Lentils Last In Fridge
Cooked lentils, if properly cooled and then stored in your fridge according to the above recommendations, will stay fresh and safe for 3–5 days on average, 1 week at the absolute most.
If you want your cooked lentils to last longer, you can freeze them.
How Long will Lentil Soup Last in the Fridge?
While lentils themselves will stay fresh up to a maximum of 1 week, everything else that is included in soup may not. For best safety and enjoyability, try to consume your lentil soup within 3–4 days of being properly refrigerated.
How Long do Canned Lentils Last in the Fridge?
An unopened can of lentils does not need to be refrigerated and will last more or less indefinitely, though it is always best to abide by the best before date stamped on the can.
Once your can of lentils has been opened, it should be treated the same as cooked lentils. Store it according to the directions listed above and use them within 5 days after opening, a week at the absolute most.
Can You Freeze Cooked Lentils?
Yes, you can absolutely freeze cooked lentils and this will extend their life without overly compromising the flavor or texture.
That being said, if you’re planning on pureeing your lentils after they’re thawed, that will give you the most reliable consistency because freezing can compromise the structure and turn lentils softer than originally prepared.
If you know you’re going to be freezing your lentils once they’re cooked, it’s best to not cook them completely.
If you freeze them when they still have 5 minutes left before perfect texture, they will hold their form better in the freezer and they won’t be as likely to become overcooked when you thaw and reheat them.
How To Freeze Cooked Lentils
If you’re planning on using your lentils whole, not pureed, you will get the best results by freezing each lentil individually first.
When freezing cooked lentils, try the following:
- Spread your cooked, drained, and cooled lentils over a parchment paper-lined baking sheet so that they are in a single layer. Try to make sure they’re not touching each other.
- Place the entire baking sheet into the freezer and pre-freeze for 1–2 hours.
- Once each lentil is thoroughly frozen, you can transfer the whole batch to a freezer-safe Ziploc bag, sealing it with as little air inside the bag as possible.
If you’re going to puree your lentils after thawing, you don’t have to worry about individually freezing them first. Instead, you can simply transfer your cooked, drained, and cooled lentils to a freezer-safe Ziploc bag immediately.
Press out as much air as possible before freezing. Make sure they are not squished underneath other food or items at least until they are thoroughly frozen.
Best of all, reheating lentils when you’re ready to enjoy them will be a snap.
Can you Freeze Canned Lentils?
You can freeze canned lentils once they have been opened. Treat canned lentils the same as lentils that were cooked from dry and follow the instructions laid about above.
It is very important that you never freeze any canned item in it’s unopened can. Canned goods are pressurized and freezing will expand any liquid inside the container, potentially causing an explosion that will be messy at best, dangerous at worst.
How Long Do Cooked Lentils Last in the Freezer?
It’s always a good idea to label your Ziploc bags or Tupperware containers before they are put in the freezer so that you know how long all your items have been frozen. Cooked lentils will retain their best quality for about 6 months.
After that point, they will remain safe to consume for years if they’re kept properly frozen, but their flavor and texture will degrade over time.
Do Dried Lentils Go Bad?
Properly packaged and stored dried lentils will last indefinitely, though most packages will have a best before date.
Once the package has been opened, the freshness will start to degrade and should be eaten within about 1 year, though they still need to be carefully stored in an airtight container.
If there is exposure to humidity, it can allow bacteria to form. If there isn’t an airtight seal in your storage container, your lentils may attract small bugs or other pests. For best results, store lentils in a glass jar or container with a well-fitted, air-tight sealed lid.
How Long Do Lentils Last? [Chart]
|Dry Storage||1 year from the date the package is opened|
|Cooked in Fridge||3–5 days on average, 1 week maximum|
|Cooked and Frozen||6+ months|
How Do You Cook Lentils?
The most common way to cook lentils is on the stove, or in a pot. Lentils are very small legumes that cook much quicker than dried beans. They should be well rinsed to remove any contaminants or debris, but they don’t need to be soaked before being cooked.
- You need 3 cups of water per every 1 cup of dried lentils. Bring your water, with the lentils, to a rapid boil and then immediately reduce the heat to a simmer.
- Simmer on low for 15–20 minutes or until your lentils are tender to your liking. Whole lentils will take an average of 5 minutes longer to cook than split lentils.
- Watch your pot carefully and add water as necessary to be sure your lentils have enough water to soak up as they cook.
- Lentils will roughly double in size when they’re ready. If you’re happy with the texture and there is still some water left, you can simply drain the lentils or use the water to add depth and flavor to a sauce.
Can You Get Food Poisoning From Lentils?
You can get food poisoning from nearly any food that is not stored properly if bacteria have had the opportunity to invade the food and you eat it.
Cooked lentils that are served soon after preparation will have very little opportunity or likelihood of causing food poisoning.
However, if they’re left out at room temperature for an extended period of time and then eaten without being properly and thoroughly heated, the chances of getting sick from eating them at this point increase.
Even improperly stored, there is less of a chance of getting food poisoning from lentils than you would have from improperly stored poultry, meat, or dairy. However, cooked lentils are more likely to be colonized by dangerous bacteria than dry lentils.
What is a Lentil Serving Size?
Serving size can vary depending on the manufacturer and this criterion is more often used as a marketing tool than a healthy recommendation.
For example, Food to Live suggests a 1 ounce serving of their French green lentils (dry), which allows them to market their package as having 48 servings per 3-pound package.
Ziyad Gourmet red lentils, on the other hand, has only 8 servings in their 2-pound bag because their suggested serving size is ¼ cup of dry lentils.
Serving size should be planned based on what else is going to be in your meal and what your caloric and nutritional goals are, rather than what is printed on a package. In this sense, a serving size is going to vary per person.
As an example, 1 cup of cooked lentils contains approximately 200 calories, which includes just over 17 grams of protein and 38 grams of carbohydrates. With that information, you can work it into your meal to fit your individual needs.