Lentil Salad

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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.

Lentil Salad

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.

  1. Combine the lentils, bay leaf, and thyme in a medium saucepan.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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:

This healthy salad is made with cooked lentils and diced fresh diced carrots, celery, bell pepper, onion, parsley and lemon juice – perfect to make ahead for lunch for the week as the flavors only get better overnight. It's also vegan, high in fiber, protein and only about 100 calories per serving.
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4.87 from 23 votes
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Lentil salad

102 Cals 7 Protein 20 Carbs 3 Fats
Total Time: 45 mins
Yield: 5 servings
COURSE: Lunch, Salad
CUISINE: American
This healthy salad is made with cooked lentils and diced fresh diced carrots, celery, bell pepper, onion, parsley and lemon juice – perfect to make ahead for lunch for the week as the flavors only get better overnight.


  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Makes 4 1/2 cups.


Calories: 102kcal, Carbohydrates: 20g, Protein: 7g, Fat: 3g, Sodium: 255mg, Fiber: 9g, Sugar: 1g
WW Points Plus: 3
Keywords: Vegetarian Meals


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  1. Delicious and simple, especially in late summer when it’s so very hot, this is a perfect meal. I love making this to camp with too! We make a large batch and use as a side for grilled items. Even breakfast a few times. I like to double the celery for more crunch and add tomatoes if I have extra on hand.

  2. I started making another lentil salad and switched while I was cooking the lentils. So I added 4 gloves of garlic minced and 3 mini cucumbers and it was seriously the best salad I’ve ever made. I will be taking it for lunch this week and that makes me so happy! Thank you

  3. This is delicious as is! It is easy, tasty, and very good for you.  It was a hit at our hospital cardiac rehab group’s healthy covered dish luncheon. Thanks! (I made a similar salad using barley instead of lentils which also turned out well)

  4. Very delicious! 👌👌👌

    • This is very good. I switched the amounts of vinegar to lemon juice as hubby isn’t crazy for lemon. I will be making this again!! Thanks for a great salad.

  5. Delicious! I added chopped tomatoes and some mint. 

  6. I used 1 can lentils, drained and rinsed . I left out the thyme, bay leaf and parsley and started at step 5 by placing canned rinsed lentils on a large bowl. Also, I used  juice from only one lemon which came out to be almost 4 Tbs and it tastes GREAT! 

  7. Made just this lentil salad as written and it tastes amazing. I like the idea of adding a little feta or goat cheese as a couple of reviewers suggested but eating as is, is very satisfying.

  8. So delicious and easy! I crumbled some feta into mine, and that just took it over the top! This recipe is definitely going into my regular rotation. 

  9. Super easy, super yummy, super filling…loved it! Can’t wait to take leftovers for lunch this week.

  10. My husband and in-laws loved this recipe!  I prepared it exactly as provided and would definitely continue to do so! The salad was so refreshing and filling, yet didn’t feel too heavy. Thank you so much for simple, nutritious, and delicious way to feed the family!

  11. I made the lentil salad bowl with egg avocado tomato. I added cucumber also. I never liked lentils but now I am a fan the salad was fantastic and so filling!

  12. I hate to admit it, but I’ve never cooked lentils. But I was given a 1-lb bag & tried this recipe, using what I had in the house (green pepper, white onion, Italian seasoning instead of thyme). It turned out great, and I think it will be even better after I refrigerate it overnight!

  13. Love this recipe. I wonder if leftovers can be frozen.

  14. I just tried this recipe! tastes delish! love that I can have the salad later and it tastes even better! 🙂 Great to have as a side with a sandwich.

  15. This was TRULY amazing!!!! I used Red lentils instead of brown lentils, just to ease on the digestion. Amazing taste!!! Kids loved it!

    Yes i added 1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar in addition to the original dressing.  I also used a mix of parsley-cilantro-mint leaves….. whooohooo!!! 
    This is a winner!


    • Hi Gina! We don’t have to soak the lentils in water the night before we are going to cook them?

      Thank you for your awesome recipes 

  17. I’ve never been compelled to leave a comment on a recipe but I am so in love with this one! I made it exactly as written and added some roasted potatoes seasoned with Mrs Dash table blend. I am eating it on a bed of arugula. 

    AMAZING! Make this now. So easy and satisfying. 😍

  18. This is my go-to website when I need recipe ideas. Searched “lentils” and came up with this gem. Super yummy! This will definitely do in my keeper file!

  19. Perfect! This was my first time cooking lentils. I served this cold and have leftovers for snacks. Followed the recipe exactly and it’s delicious.

  20. I LOVE this recipe. It is so good. I make a whole pound of lentils and adjust the amounts of the other ingredients so that I have leftovers or to take to work for potlucks. I have also tried adding curry powder and balsamic vinegar which was delicious. You basically can add whatever veggies you want and it will be good. I have also mixed it with brown rice which was also good. You have to try it. Thank you, Gina….I love your recipes!

  21. I made this and wasn’t wild about it. I undercooked the lentils by a minute or two so it was my own fault. Will try again and cook them a little longer.

  22. Very good salad. I sautee the onions with the garlic in the olive oil ( medium heat only) and added the zest of 1/2 lemon as well as the juice recommended .

  23. Pingback: 10 Fresh and Light Summer Salad Recipes - FabFitFun

  24. Is there a way to adopt this to the Instant pot?

  25. So delish!! Resfreshing, hearty yet light. Keeping this on repeat.

  26. I loved this recipe.  I used ready made lentils which made it quick and easy to make.  I added chopped spinach because I did not have parsley.  The lemon dressing makes it light and bright.  Definitely will make again.

  27. Made this exactly according to the recipe.  YUMMMMMY!  Great for lunch or anytime actually.  A keeper recipe for me.  Thank you!

  28. Super simple to make and so filling, this salad makes a great work lunch with a piece of chicken on the side. Definitely a winner!

  29. Would you pair this with an Indian dish of tikka masala?

  30. This was simple and delicious. I added a little goat cheese on top. Yum. Thanks for another great recipe!

  31. I love Skinnytatse.  This site and the accompanying cookbooks have helped me to lose almost 31 lbs since January 2 (I still have a ways to go)!  I made this salad a couple of weeks ago and there was something about the lemon flavor I didn’t love (and I LOVE lemons)!  I read through the comments and used balsamic vinegar and now love this recipe and plan to make it again and again!

  32. Yummmmm! Why did I wait so long to make this? Loved it. My 9 yr old son asked if he could take leftovers for lunch next day.  

  33. Thank you so much for this recipe! I just prepared/tasted my first lentil salad ever, and it’s delicious!

  34. I’m not sure why this popped up on my feed two weeks ago, someone must’ve reposted it from somewhere, but I’ve made this three times now, the first time dividing the pepper & onion up in three portions, freezing two of them. I’ve varied what I’ve put in, depending on what I’ve had on hand

    … adding chopped up cucumber/squash/tomato from the garden, broccoli/cauliflower. The variations are neverending and next time I shall try chickpeas. I printed the recipe because sure enough I’ve had

    two co-workers ask me what I was eating and wanted a copy of the recipe. And you’re right… let those flavors meld over a couple of days and it’s even more yummy!

  35. Why does my “click to print” button never work? Printer hooked up fine….do I have to be a member to site or something? So many great recipes on here!

  36. Gina
    Can I use precooked lentils as well? By the way I love your blog and my husband is always amazed that what he is eating it’s “skinny”! Grazie

  37. I just made this today and LOVE it!  I love the freshness and lightness, but also feeling satisfied after eating it. And, the lemon juice gives it a great bright spot. So great!!! 

  38. I have no doubt the flavors are awesome b/c what does Gina do that isn’t good?! 😉 But i need to know how long does this salad stay good for? I’m looking for healthy portable lunches to pack ahead on a camping trip. Thanks!

  39. I made this yesterday and even though I complained a bit about chopping all those veggies up really tiny, I loved it!  I brought a small bowl for lunch today and gobbled it up.  I was a bit hesitant about the Bay leaf but it actually gave it a nice subtle flavor along with the extra lemon juice I added.  Tonight will be  the big test when the hubby eats it with the Salmon we’re having for dinner.  Thanks for the recipe!!

    • Go to Bed Bath & Beyond and buy a Vidalia Chop Wizard. Perfect for chopping small vegetables. I even use it to chopped pickles for chicken salad..

  40. could this be done with my instapot?

  41. I haven’t  cooked with lentils.  Do I need to soak them first?

  42. This is quite possibly the most delicious thing I’ve ever tasted! I added some poached chicken season with salt, pepper,  and thyme to make it a bit more filling for a quick meal before baseball.  

  43. I make this often and since there is only me in my household, it lasts a long time! I too add the cumin and extra garlic, vegetable broth: sometimes leave out the oil entirely. I take it to work for lunch and vary what I add to it: tomatoes, spinach, feta, mushrooms, avocado… This is surely a "go to" all summer.

  44. Made a hurry-up single serving version by using 1 cup Trader Joe's presteamed lentils & "Healthy 8" chopped veggies (found in the produce section), so all the prep work needed was to chop the parsley & crush the garlic clove. Threw everything in a tupperware with the lemon juice, oil, S&P, shook it up, and placed in the fridge last night. Eating it at work right now on my lunch break, tastes great!

  45. I've been cooking with you for years and this is absolutely one of my favorites. This is the second time I've made it and it's delicious! Almost like this more than pizza!

  46. I had for lunch and delicious.

  47. I happened to have all of these ingredients on hand… Wow is this good! I feel good eating it and will be excited to have it in my lunch this week.

  48. I made this today (the exact recipe- no substitutions ). It tastes amazing. All the different flavors on one spoon seem to burst in your mouth like a rainbow you can taste. I'd been searching for lunch options that included lots of vegetables and I'm so glad I ran across this recipe. Thanks Gina for yet another perfect recipe!

  49. Cooked the lentils with vegetable broth intead of water for more flavor.

  50. This was delicious! I can't wait to top it with grilled chicken. For someone that is sensitive to acidy fruits do you have suggested alternative to the lemon?

  51. Another great recipe Gina! I made a few substitutions and it was still great. I substituted red onions with green scallions and parsley with cilantro. I only sauteed 1/2 the peppers and reserved the other 1/2 to add once dish was cool for extra crunchiness. I also reserved 1/2 the lemon juice to make a lemon vinaigrette which I added to cooled salad along with reserved peppers, extra cilantro, extra scallions and a dash of cumin….delicious and packed with nutrition!

  52. I made this yesterday and have it for lunch today! It is so simple and good! I followed one of the suggestions and added cumin because I love it. I eat lentils a lot over the winter but now I have a perfect summer recipe! Thank you.

  53. This is great, now I can make my own for around 1/10th the price! I was previously buying the pre made from the supermarket which ends up quite costly.
    I love the idea of adding feta too. I will probably serve with some rustic thin toasted bread, can't wait!

  54. Sooo tasty. Served this as a side with SkinnyTaste Healthy Baked Chicken Nuggets for dinner tonight. I honestly thought, my husband would not eat it, but he actually liked it. Already excited about the leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

  55. This turned out really tasty! The lemon was more sweet than acidic, which I didn't expect. On a whim, I added chopped, dried cranberries to this salad, which I really thought tasted good.

  56. My bag of small green lentils from Trader Joe's says that it is 170 calories for 1/4 cup dry. This would be 680 calories for just the lentils in the recipe. Did I buy the wrong type for this recipe? I cannot wait to try this so I hope I didn't mess up!!

  57. Gina.. how on earth do you dice your carrots that small? PLEASE tell me there is a tool for that… lol… I bought my spiralizer cause of you… and LOVE LOVE LOVE it and have sold at least 10 to my friends… is there something that will dice carrots? thanks Judy

    • Sometimes, I cheat and buy frozen, diced carrots. It took me awhile to find them, but Alexia brand sells them. Good luck!

  58. i wasn't even going to fool around and DOUBLED the recipe! lol!
    i knew it was going to be a good one.
    these are the kinds of salad i pay big money for from a whole food deli as a treat. yeah for the recipe!
    the only change i made was a full head of roasted garlic.
    this is a perfect salad for a hot summer day! i made mine early this morning and now i'm enjoying it at lunch as i type this. 🙂 yum!
    thanks for the recipe! pinned it, going to twitter it.

  59. Loved this- just like all your recipes!! Thank you!!

  60. I used 1 tsp regular salt and it was WAYYYY too salty. Otherwise it would be a really good salad. I'll make it agian with half the salt.

  61. How do you dice the veggies so small? Food processor? Thanks!

  62. perfect!

  63. Made this tonight for a side dish and it was awesome! My two-year old loved it! I added cumin to the dressing, and used tarragon vinegar instead of lemons (still used 5 TB). I was delicious, and a great low-point dish. Can't wait to have leftovers.

  64. Is this by chance the salad at Whole Foods? I love that salad and have tried to replicate it myself. Thanks for the recipe!

  65. I only have a can of lentils, do you think that would make it too mushy?

  66. I think it would be great with wild rice, too. It's also a high protein grain.

  67. This came right on time since I started slow carb eating. I was getting tired of plain lentils. Thank you!

    P.S. I TOTALLY get the cost factor. I bought a small legume salad for $6 and I'm pretty sure it was maybe a little more than a quarter of a pound.

  68. can't eat onions or green onions what can I use instead

  69. Can I use red lentils instead of brown ?

    • In my experience, red lentils will get too mushy and soft. I would go with brown, green or even French lentils

  70. Just made this up for lunches for tomorrow and I really like this recipe. I had a few small changes; green lentils instead of brown, and added a half tsp of ground cumin. Nice zesty dressing.

  71. Mmmm…..glad i saw this…i have 2 bags of lentils i had no idea what to do with besides soup lol. Ill add shredded zuchinni and cauliflower!!!! 🙂

  72. This would work great with green or black lentils too, red would be too mushy. I think this would also be lovely topped with some fresh soft goat cheese!

  73. Yum this looks like a recipe we made in cooking class! My mouth is watering just thinking about it!

  74. Yum! Lentils are one of my favorite vegetarian protein sources, and I'm always looking for new ways to cook them. Thanks for the recipe!

  75. I have only cooked lentils once and was left unsure as to if I had overcooked them. This recipe looks so fresh, tasty and healthy that I just might have to try again. And this would easily accommodate whatever veggies I happen to have on hand!

  76. I wonder if this would work as well with green lentils? I bought them about a year ago, and never used them. Gina, do you have any thoughts?

  77. I have made this using both lentil and quinoa….very good!!

  78. This looks similar to the yummy salad at Costco. Instead of lentils, it is quinoa with some cilantro as well. I've been meaning to recreate the yummy goodness and this looks like a great starting point! Thanks again!

  79. maybe a rice vinegar, or a champagne vinegar would be nice n lite

  80. Could I use vinegar instead of the lemon juice and dried parsley? I don't have either! 🙁