How to Microwave Lentils

Written By Acacia Crossley


Though they are not the most common go-to plate filler in the western world, lentils are a staple in many Indian dishes. They are treated in a dish similar to rice but are far more nutritious, with higher protein and fibre contents. 

Using lentils in a dish isn’t as simple as adding them to a dish at random and hoping for the best. There are time-consuming methods to get the lentils just right for the dish, which can be very inconvenient when you want a quick, warm meal. 

Luckily, there is the option to use your microwave to cook lentils. 

To microwave lentils, cover them with water, then microwave for 7 minutes, drain and repeat but microwave for 7 to 10 minutes the second time.

How to Microwave Lentils

You do not need to worry about juggling multiple bowls or trying to add a heap of flavour to your lentils when you microwave them. 

You can have great tasting, thoroughly cooked lentils just using your microwave and a bowl by following this method: 

  1. Wash 
    Like rice, you should always wash your lentils before you even think about cooking them. Just pour your lentils into a sieve and run them under cold water for a few minutes to wash them properly. 
  2. Soak 
    Leave your lentils covered in water overnight or for at least 2 hours before microwaving them. 
Soak Lentils
  1. Drain 
    Once the lentils have softened noticeably, drain the soaked water and replace it with some fresh water until the lentils are entirely covered and then some. 
  2. Microwave 
    Soften the lentils before you flavour them by microwaving them on high heat for 7 minutes. 
  3. Drain And Wash 
    After the first microwave, drain the lentils and wash them under cold water. Repeat 3 more times.
  4. Add Water
    This time, pour enough water over the lentils until the water sits about an inch above the lentils. 
  5. Add Flavour
    Any herbs, seasonings or flavoured oil you wish to add to the lentils should be added now. Give the lentils a gentle mix to incorporate the extra ingredients into the water. 
  6. Microwave Again 
    Set your microwave to its highest heat and cook the lentils in your microwave for 7-10 minutes, depending on how long you soaked them previously. 
  7. Check 
    Use a fork to press one of the lentils. If the fork does not sink into the lentil easily, microwave the lentils again in 3-minute intervals. 
  8. Drain 
    When you find yourself with tender lentils but an excess of water, drain the water completely. 
  9. Serve
    You can incorporate the lentils into your dish immediately! 
Serve Lentils

How to Microwave Lentils Successfully

Similarly to most other legumes, lentils are a great way to fill your plate with little effort. Microwaving your lentils means that you need to put even less effort into cooking your lentils. 

Instead, that effort can be spent on ensuring your lentils taste as delicious as possible by following these tips:

  • Don’t Forget To Soak – The only way that microwaving lentils will work is if you give them enough time to soak before cooking them. You can just soak the lentils overnight, but forgetting to do so will make it impossible to microwave them.
  • Wait To Season – In the method above, we recommend adding salt to the cooking lentils before microwaving them. However, for softer lentils which are easier to mash, you should season the lentils after they have been cooked. 
  • Use Broth For Extra Taste – Depending on the lentils you use, you won’t have to worry too much about having a bland meal. However, you can replace water with your broth of choice when you reach step 6 for extra taste. 
  • Add Flavourings – Just a sprig of rosemary or a bay leaf can be enough to add layers of flavour to a bowl of lentils without too much effort.

Why You Should Microwave Lentils

Many people avoid cooking with lentils because of how long they take to cook. But here are a few reasons that may change your mind simply by switching out the stove for your microwave:

Fairly Quick

Many people are put off from using lentils because of how long they can take to cook, often yielding bad results. However, microwaving lentils cuts their cooking time down considerably. 

Better yet, you will have perfect lentils practically every time!


Like when cooking lentils on the stove, you can add any herbs or seasoning you want to the lentils when you microwave them. You will not have to worry about your meal lacking flavour. 

Better yet, because using a microwave cuts the cooking time of your lentils considerably, you can experiment with a variety of great flavours without worrying about wasting time. 

Why You Shouldn’t Microwave Lentils

There are a few things to keep in mind when cooking lentils in a microwave that you may not need to consider otherwise. Such as:

Uneven Cooking

Lentils are notoriously hard to cook, not because they are difficult to incorporate into a dish but because they are so hard when raw. 

You must soak the lentils before microwaving them to ensure they can become soft enough to cook. But even that may not be enough to ensure that the lentils soften. If your microwave is generally weak, it will take much longer to cook the lentils completely if at all. 

Soaking Still Required

It is the amount of time that lentils need to soak that takes the longest when you are preparing lentils. If you choose to microwave your lentils to cook them, soaking them beforehand is essential if you want the lentils to cook all the way through. 

You will not be saving any preparation time when microwaving your lentils.

Microwaving Lentils FAQs

Do you still have questions about microwaving lentils? Then these FAQs might come into use:

Can Red Lentils Be Microwaved?

Yes, red lentils can be microwaved. They will take a little less time than other lentils, so reduce the cooking time by a few minutes and then check every couple of minutes until they are soft.

Can You Microwave Raw Lentils?

No, raw lentils will need to be soaked before you can microwave them. They should be soaked overnight, ideally.

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