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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
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.

Lentil Salad

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.

salad ingredients with lentilsLentil Salad

More Lentil Recipes You’ll Love:

Lentil salad

4.93 from 38 votes
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!
Course: Lunch, Salad
Cuisine: American
Lentil Salad
Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Total: 35 mins
Yield: 5 servings
Serving Size: 1 scant cup


  • 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.
    How To Make Lentil Salad

Last Step:

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Makes 4 1/2 cups.
*If you want to use cooked lentils, use 3 cups.


Serving: 1 scant cup, Calories: 181 kcal, Carbohydrates: 29.5 g, Protein: 10 g, Fat: 3.5 g, Saturated Fat: 0.5 g, Sodium: 251 mg, Fiber: 5.5 g, Sugar: 3 g



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132 comments on “Lentil Salad”

  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)

    1. 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.

  4. 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! 

  5. 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.

  6. 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. 

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    Raquel DeCamp

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

  8. 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!

  9. 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!

  10. 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!

  11. 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.

  12. 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!

  13. Avatar photo


    1. 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 

  14. 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. 😍

  15. 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!

  16. Avatar photo

    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.

  17. Avatar photo
    anna Clifford

    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!