This healthy Lentil Salad with cooked lentils and diced carrots, celery, bell pepper, onion, parsley, and lemon juice is perfect for making ahead for lunch as the flavors only get better overnight.
I love warm lentils, like in my Chicken and Lentil Soup and Lentils and Rice with Eggs and Bacon, but I was never really a fan of lentils in a salad (I’m a picky legume eater). But that all changed years ago when I bought a cold lentil salad at a health food store. I enjoyed everything about it – except for the high price. Lentils are so affordable to cook at home, so I knew I had to try making the salad myself. My homemade version was a fraction of the cost of the store-bought one, so save your money, and make this salad ASAP! It’s also vegan, high in fiber and protein, and only about 100 calories per serving.
What is lentil salad made of?
- Lentils: Brown lentils cook with bay leaf and fresh thyme. Green or black lentils would also work, and canned lentils are fine if you’re in a hurry. If you don’t love lentils, make it with any legume or grain, such as white beans, chickpeas, quinoa, or a mix.
- Vegetables: This salad recipe calls for celery, bell pepper, and carrots, but feel free to use whatever you have. Cherry tomatoes, cucumber, chopped baby spinach, and celery would all work.
- Onion: Swap red onion for shallots or scallions.
- Herbs: Sub fresh basil, mint, or chives for parsley.
- Dressing: Add the lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper directly to the lentil mixture – no need to whisk separately. You can also substitute the lemon juice for red wine or white wine vinegar.
How to Cook Lentils for Lentil Salad
Lentils cook much quicker than dry beans. Plus, you don’t have to soak them before cooking.
- Combine the lentils, bay leaf, and thyme in a medium saucepan.
- Cover the lentils with an inch of water. Don’t add salt to the water at this point or they will take much longer to cook.
- Bring the lentils to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer uncovered for 16 to 20 minutes until the lentils are tender but not mushy.
- Drain the lentils and discard the bay leaf.
Lentil Salad Meal Prep
This cold lentil salad recipe makes a lot, so you’ll get a few meals out of it. It lasts in the fridge for three days and is perfect as leftovers for lunch. If you’re looking for more meal prep salads with legumes, try my Black Bean, Avocado, Cucumber, and Tomato Salad and Fiesta Bean Salad.
More Lentil Recipes You’ll Love:
- 1 cup dry brown lentils, *
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 cup finely diced carrots
- 1/3 cup finely diced celery
- 1/4 cup finely diced red bell pepper
- 1/4 cup finely diced red onion
- 1/4 cup minced parsley
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 5 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- fresh ground black pepper
- In a medium saucepan combine lentils, bay leaf, and thyme.
- Add enough water to cover by 1 inch.
- Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered until lentils are tender but not mushy, about 16 to 20 minutes.
- Drain lentils and discard bay leaf and thyme.
- Place in a large work bowl with carrots, celery, red pepper, red onion, parsley, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.
- Toss to combine and serve chilled or room temperature.
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143 comments on “Lentil Salad”
Very delicious. Lots of crunch with all the veg.
So good! The lemon gives the salad a fresh taste.
So yummy!! Love this recipe
Delish and healthy! The longer it sits the better it gets so definitely make ahead and use fresh herbs!
I have added cherry tomatoes cut in half . Also I add 1 cap full red vinegar.
Do you ever substitute fresh thyme and parsley with dried? What measurements would you use?
I like fresh here but I guess you can!
This looks and sounds wonderful! I am a bit confused about the amount of lentils. The recipe first says one cup, then you say if using cooked lentils use three cups.Aren’t they always cooked? .’m not sure what you mean.
One cup dry lentils (uncooked).
Thanks for a
healthy, fun lentil recipe. Kids love it too!
Happy holidays, MA
Thank you! I am glad they enjoyed it!! Happy holidays to you as well!
Sometimes the simplest things are the best things. This is so good! And it’s flexible. I added some green onion. You could add feta, mint, oregano. White garlic sauce (homemade or from Trader Joes) kicks it up even more. So good!
This will be my go-to lunch for a long time!
I love any kind of lentil soup or salad
This is delicious!! Based on the comments, I doubled the recipe, and I’m so glad I did! I was hoping the prep work would be worth and it definitely was. Looking forward to having it for lunch this week and sharing with a friend.
Sounds delicious . Wondering if anyone has tried with some other seasoning, ie. Mediterranean, Moroccan, Greek? I think would be great.
I have tried several variations of this wonderful recipe. They are all delicious. Use cucumbers , tomatoes, olives and feta for a Greek twist (and then I add a little olive brine to the dressing.) For a latino slant, I use cilantro and a little fresh mint, tomatoes and cumin, with lime juice instead of lemon. As a lifelong member of WW( weightwatchers), I love to add extra veggies of every kind. I just made it with rainbow carrots-so pretty! And as another person commented, I almost always add a little shot of balsamic vinegar to mellow it all out.
This is the third time I’ve made this….. I just love it! Took it too a pitch in luncheon last week and everyone loved it and wanted the recipe.
Is this salad freezable? I am keen to make this and keep it for lunches to bring to work.
This is amazing. I love the texture and the flavor is perfect. I didn’t have red pepper so I just added basil and cucumber, Followed the rest of the recipe as is. Thank you so much. I will def make this again.
Great Lentil salad. I added some shredded zucchini from the garden and two diced Shishito peppers. Used rice vinegar and red wine vinegar in place of the lemon juice. Great idea for lunch.
Made it today for meal prep. Tastes great and easy to make!!
This recipe is amazing. I’ve eaten this all week on top of a bed of baby kale with a little hummus on the side – awesome lunch, tons of flavor, and enough dressing to flavor the kale too! This is a keeper! Thanks, Gina.