Lentils are easy to cook, but they do take some time. They add delicious and nutritious protein and other vitamins and minerals to any meal, so having a constant supply is a great idea. But some people worry that reheating lentils is unsafe or unappetizing.
Can you reheat lentils? Yes, you can reheat lentils. You can even quickly reheat lentils from frozen in just a few minutes. Reheating lentils can be as simple as covering them in warm water. You can also use a microwave or stovetop to reheat them in approximately 5 minutes.
How you reheat your lentils will depend on how they were cooked, prepared, and stored, but regardless, it’s pretty simple. In this article, we’ll teach you how to reheat lentils every way possible.
Can You Reheat Lentils?
Lentils are a fantastic food to batch cook and then either store in your fridge or freezer for quick, healthy, and filling meals in your future.
The secret to enjoying the taste and texture to the fullest is in the reheating process, which may depend slightly on how your lentils were stored initially.
Does Reheating Lentils Cause Food Poisoning?
Lentils don’t have any significant inherent risk of causing food poisoning, but it isn’t impossible. When you cook your lentils and eat them right away, any potentially harmful bacteria will not survive the cooking process.
But if you leave your cooked lentils exposed to air, and therefore pathogens like bacteria, contamination is possible. Although it’s unlikely, you could get sick from eating contaminated food.
If you store your lentils within 2–3 hours of cooking in a sealed container, without exposing it to any known contaminants, your lentils will more than likely be safe and reheating will not cause food poisoning.
How to Reheat Lentils – The Best Way
The best way to reheat lentils is also the easiest way but it only works if the lentils were stored by themselves, with no other ingredients.
All you need is warm to hot water, though not boiling.
Transfer your lentils to a bowl and pour hot water over them. Leave them in the water until they’re warmed throughout. Then add them to any other items you’re going to have with your lentils.
If you have spiced your lentils or added any other ingredients, there is a work-around to the warm water method, but it’s not quite as foolproof.
Make sure your lentils are in a well-sealed container that doesn’t contain any BPA and therefore can be heated. Place the entire lentil container in a bowl or a plugged, clean sink and fill with warm or hot, but not boiling, water.
The heat from the water should transfer through the container to warm up your lentils. Although if you have large pieces of other ingredients, such as potatoes, they will probably not warm well using this method.
Reheat Lentils in Microwave
If you have other ingredients mixed in with your lentils, the microwave is a quick and easy way to warm up your meal.
Simply place your microwave-safe container in your microwave and make sure to cover it with a splatter guard. Lentils sometimes pop in the microwave, which can leave a bit of a mess if your dish isn’t covered.
Start by warming your lentils for 1 minute, then stir your food well. This will distribute the heat and make sure your lentils don’t dry out or heat unevenly. Continue heating 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between, until your lentils are at the right temperature.
If you have plain lentils with no other ingredients, add some water to your container or dish before heating them.
This will keep them from drying out in the microwave and will also help heat your lentils more evenly, and more quickly. You can simply drain the water once they are warm enough.
Reheating Lentils on the Stove
If you’re not a fan of microwaving your food, you can also reheat lentils on the stove. If you’ve got plain lentils, simply transfer your cold lentils to a pot and cover with cold water. Bring the water just to a boil and then remove the pot from the heat right away.
Lentils are easy to over-cook if they’ve been cooked once before. So you want to be careful that you don’t leave them in the boiled water any longer than they need to be.
By the time the water boils, all your lentils will be thoroughly warmed and you can drain right away and enjoy them.
If you’ve stored your lentils in a sauce, you don’t have to add any water to the pot. You can just bring the sauce up to a low simmer and that will warm your lentils in the process. It shouldn’t take longer than 5 minutes over medium heat.
Finally, if you’ve mixed ingredients into your lentils such as rice or vegetables, you can reheat your meal in a frying pan instead of a pot.
Add a tablespoon of oil to keep your food from sticking to the pan and bring the temperature up to medium-high. Stir frequently to make sure the heat is evenly distributed. And, as always, be careful not to overheat your lentils so that they go mushy.
Reheat Lentils from Frozen
The easiest way to reheat frozen lentils is by soaking them in hot water, just as you would with lentils that had been stored in the fridge.
The major difference between frozen lentils and fridge-cold lentils is that your water will cool down more quickly from the frozen food and you may have to drain and add new water.
If your lentils are frozen with no other ingredients or spices, you can transfer the frozen lentils to a colander or strainer with very small holes and simply run hot tap water over your lentils until they’re well thawed.
You can then add them to a bowl and cover them in hot water for 5 minutes to warm them more thoroughly.
If you’ve frozen your lentils with spices or other ingredients, place the entire frozen container, leaving it well sealed, into a pot or sink full of warm water. You can put the entire container into a Ziploc bag before soaking to prevent water from leaking into the container.
If the hot water doesn’t transfer enough heat to both thaw and reheat your frozen lentils, you can pair this technique with one of the others listed above.
Can You Reheat Lentils Twice?
Reheating any food more than once is rarely safe. The amount of time and opportunity bacteria has to form on your food is doubled, at least, which isn’t worth the risk.
This is especially true if your lentils were cooked in or with anything other than water, such as chicken broth.
Lentils are very small and rather fragile, at least in comparison to some of their heartier legume relatives. So reheating them more than once will severely compromise their quality, anyway.
They’ll likely either be very soft and mushy if there was a considerable amount of liquid in their preparation and storage, or they’ll be dry and unappetizing if they were stored without liquid.
A better practice would be to warm up only as much as you plan to eat or use for a specific meal and leave the rest in your fridge or freezer until you’re ready to use it.
How To Reheat Lentils [Chart]
|How To / Appliance||Time||Result|
|Warm water||5–8 minutes||Warm, not hot, texture as when first prepared|
|Microwave||2–3 minutes||Potential to dry or get mushy, depending on the preparation, but usually good results if directions are followed|
|Stovetop||5–7 minutes||Hot, texture as when first prepared as long, but there is a risk of overcooking if not very careful|
We hope this guide to reheating lentils has been helpful! We would also like to invite you to check out these related questions, in case you have even more lentil queries on your mind.
Can You Freeze Lentils?
You can freeze lentils. Whether they’re dry, cooked, or previously canned, lentils will stay fresh in your freezer for 2–6 months. To make sure they taste and feel as close to perfect as possible when you defrost them, you’ll want to prepare and freeze them carefully.
It’s not difficult, but there are a few best practices for freezing lentils to follow, which we’ve dedicated a complete article to, ensuring your success in freezing lentils every time.
How Long Do Cooked Lentils Last?
Cooked lentils will last between 3–5 days if they’re carefully stored in your fridge. You can keep them in your freezer for up to 6 months without compromising the quality to a noticeable degree.
If you’d like to understand the best ways to properly store lentils, we’ve written another article about this topic.
But the most important part of enjoying lentils after they’ve been cooked and stored is the reheating process. Make sure you also bookmark this page to reheat your lentils perfectly every time.
Do You Drain Lentils After Cooking?
You should certainly rinse and drain your lentils before cooking them to remove any bean dust and debris, but you don’t have to drain them after they are cooked.
Depending on how much liquid is left in your pot and how you’re preparing your cooked lentils, you may choose to drain some or all of any leftover liquid, but you can also incorporate it into a sauce or broth for added flavor.
If you’re doing to be saving some of your lentils, you can store them in their cooking water and they’ll stay moist and flavorful.
Lentils will absorb a lot of the water they are cooked in, roughly doubling in size, but it’s always better to use more water than necessary when cooking lentils, rather than less, so it’s very common to have some leftover water.