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Vegan Instant Pot Lentils (Smoky and Savory!)

How to make lentils in the instant pot for a smoky savory recipe! These smoky lentils are vegan, so full of flavor, so delicious and high in protein. They are perfect over pasta, potatoes and served alongside veggies!

SMOKY VEGAN INSTANT POT LENTILS

I’m back with another vegan instant pot recipe, due to high demand. You have all loved the Vegan Instant Pot Curry, the Vegan Instant Pot Italian Pasta and the Cajun Pasta, so I know you will love these smoky lentils as well.

I cannot stop eating these smoky vegan instant pot lentils! I’m so serious when I say how incredibly delicious these are. I’m from Texas, I love smoky flavors and barbecue. Most of you know that by now, haha. So if you want to know how to cook lentils in the instant pot that are rich in flavor, smoky, slightly sweet and will make your whole house smell like a restaurant, then you will love these!

I love lentils because they are so neutral in flavor and will take on any type of flavor, seasonings or marinades you want to add to them. I also love how hearty, filling, high protein and low-fat they are. They are an incredible plant-based protein you want to have in your recipe planning.

The best part about cooking lentils in the instant pot is how quick they are ready to eat! They take much longer on the stove.

For this recipe, I used green lentils, which is what you will want to use here. Do not use red lentils, they will not have the same texture and would be mush and not have the wonderful hearty bite.

INGREDIENTS NEEDED

  • Green lentils: Lentils are a wonderful source of healthy plant-based protein and have a wonderful hearty texture. Do not sub with red here, they would end up mushy.
  • Low-sodium vegetable broth: Use a well-flavored one here, not a watery bland one. I love the Imagine brand, Pacific brand and
  • Red onion
  • Garlic: Or garlic powder
  • Coriander
  • Smoked paprika
  • Liquid smoke
  • Tomato paste
  • Maple syrup: Adding just a touch of syrup seriously brings up the flavor in a wonderful well-balanced way. It compliments the savory notes well, so don’t omit. It’s a small amount that makes a big impact.
  • Black pepper and salt

HOW TO MAKE VEGAN INSTANT POT LENTILS

Step 1: Add 1/2 cup water to the instant pot and press the sauté mode for 5 minutes. Add the onion and cook 5 minutes, add the garlic and cook another minute, stirring often.

red onion cooking in instant pot

Step 2: Add the tomato paste, a splash of water if needed and all of the spices. Stir constantly for a minute or so to toast the spices and tomato paste.

red onion and spices cooked in instant pot

Step 3: Add the remaining ingredients and stir well. Seal the instant pot and press the “” button and select 8 minutes. It will take about 10 minutes for the instant pot to come to pressure before the 8 minutes begins, so please keep an eye on it so they are left in there for the correct amount of time.

Step 4: After the instant beeps that the 8 minutes are done cooking (or you are watching it), leave to sit for 10 minutes for firm lentils or 15 minutes if you like them really soft. I like 10 minutes. Release the remaining pressure and open the lid carefully. Stir the lentils around and serve immediately!

cooked smoky lentils in the instant pot with red spoon

WAYS TO SERVE THESE SMOKY LENTILS

  • TOAST: I love to eat these on toast for a delicious healthy savory breakfast loaded with plant-based protein.
  • SWEET POTATO: They are great over a baked sweet potato.
  • GRAINS AND VEGGIES: Alongside rice or veggies or any other grain you love.
  • TACOS: They would be a great hearty filling for tacos, burritos or quesadillas, even!

MORE VEGAN LENTIL RECIPES

smoky vegan instant pot lentils in white bowl on wood platter

Vegan Instant Pot Lentils (Smoky and Savory!)

Brandi Doming

How to make lentils in the instant pot for a smoky savory recipe! These smoky lentils are vegan, so full of flavor, so delicious and high in protein. They are perfect over pasta, potatoes and served alongside veggies!

Prep Time 10 mins

Cook Time 20 mins

Total Time 30 mins

Course Side Dish

Cuisine American, Gluten-free, Vegan

Servings 4 -5 servings

Calories 240 kcal

Ingredients

  • 1/2 packed cup (80g) finely diced red onion
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced (OR 2 teaspoons garlic powder)
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 4 tablespoons (60g) tomato paste (not sauce)
  • 2 3/4 cups (660g) low sodium veggie broth (a well flavored one here, I like the Pacific or Imagine brands)
  • 1 1/2 cups (280g) uncooked green lentils (do not use red here!), rinsed well
  • 1 tablespoon (15g) liquid smoke
  • 1 tablespoon (20g) maple syrup or agave
  • I use this scale.
  • Instant pot I use.

Instructions 

  • Have all ingredients ready and measured, as this goes quickly.

  • Add 1/2 cup water to the instant pot and press the sauté button set for 8 minutes. Once hot, add the onion and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook another minute, adding water if needed to prevent burning.

  • Add the tomato paste, a splash of water if needed and all of the spices. Stir constantly for a minute or so to toast the spices and tomato paste.

  • Add the broth, lentils, liquid smoke and maple syrup and stir really well to make sure the tomato paste mixture is thoroughly blended.  

  • Seal the instant pot and cook on high pressure by selecting either the “Pressure Cook or Manual” button and set the time for 8 minutes. It will take about 10 minutes for the instant pot to come to pressure before the 8 minutes begins, so please keep an eye on it so they are left in there for the correct amount of time.

  • After the instant beeps that the 8 minutes are done cooking (or you are watching it), leave to sit for 10 minutes for firm lentils or 15 minutes if you like them really soft. I like 10 minutes. Release the remaining pressure and open the lid carefully. Stir the lentils around and serve immediately!

  • See the post for ways to serve these!

Notes

STOVE TOP DIRECTIONS: You can make these over the stove top with a couple of slight changes. Instead of 2 3/4 cup broth, you will be using 3 cups, as cooking over the stove has much less intensity of the pressure of the instant pot, so a bit more broth was needed here to fully cook the lentils. Additionally, you will not be adding the tomato paste with the spices at the same time, as listed above in the instant pot directions. This is because acidic ingredients (like tomato sauce, vinegar, lemon juice, etc.) can prevent lentils from becoming tender on the stove. So, it’s best to add them towards the end I have found, it produces better results. 

  • Step 1: To a large pot, add 1/2 cup water over medium heat and once hot, add the onion and sauté for 5-8 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until tender. Add the garlic and cook another minute. 
  • Step 2: Add the spices, including the pepper and salt. NOT the tomato paste. Stir for about 1 minute to toast the spices. 
  • Step 3: Add the broth (3 cups), lentils, liquid smoke and syrup. Stir very well. Raise the heat to high. Once boiling, cover with a lid with it only slightly tilted to let a small bit of steam to escape. Lower the heat to low and simmer 20-30 minutes until they are tender to your liking. This can really vary depending on your stove, age of lentils, etc.  
  • Step 4: Once the lentils are at your desired texture, stir in the tomato paste and heat through a couple of minutes more. Taste and add any more salt, if needed, but it should taste perfect. 

Nutrition

Serving: 5servingsCalories: 240kcalCarbohydrates: 43.8gProtein: 15.5gFat: 0.8gSaturated Fat: 0.1gSodium: 512mgPotassium: 721mgFiber: 18.3gSugar: 6.3gCalcium: 49mgIron: 5mg

Keyword instant pot lentils, instant pot smoky lentils, smoky instant pot lentils, vegan instant pot lentils

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