Comparing Lentils

French Lentils:

  • Size: smaller than brown
  • Cooking: takes longer to cook
  • Texture: retains shape and stays firm after cooking
  • Flavor: stronger and peppery
  • Ideal for: cold salads, side dishes for fish, game, or sausage

Red Lentils:

  • Texture: thinner and softer than brown or French, breaks down quickly and does not hold shape
  • Ideal for: soups, stews
  • Nutrition: higher in calories, carbohydrates, and protein than French or brown

Brown Lentils:

  • Background: considered the workhorse of the lentil family, most common variety
  • Texture: retains shape and texture
  • Flavor: mild and earthy

Yellow Lentils:

  • Background: also referred to as yellow or green split peas
  • Texture: break down quickly when cooked
  • Ideal for: soups such as split pea

Black or Beluga Lentils:

  • Texture: retains shape
  • Flavor: strong, nutty, earthy
  • Ideal for: visually striking when mixed with salads and grains
  • Cost: tend to be more expensive than brown

Pink Lentils:

  • Size: small
  • Cooking: cooks quickly
  • Texture: breaks down into a silky smooth texture after cooking
  • Ideal for: soups, side dishes, common in Indian cuisine


Welland, Diane. “Love Lentils.” Food & Nutrition. November/December 2015. 28-29.


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