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9 Substitute Options for Lentils

A photo collage of lentils.

Lentils are delicious and a great source of protein, dietary fiber, and many different types of essential vitamins and nutrients but if you do not have any on hand to use in a recipe, there are many other options that can be used as a substitute for lentils.

Cooked lentils are delicious and very nutritious. They can be used to create lentil soup, a lentil taco, lentil curry, and more but what exactly are lentils?

Lentil is one of the smallest members of the legume family and is available in a variety of different types but the most popular ones used in cooking are brown lentils, red lentils, and green lentils.

While the brown lentil can be purchased at a lower price than the other types, green lentils, also known as French lentils, are delicious too and are used in salads and other foods. Red lentils are the best for Greek lentil soup and will cook up beautifully in a shorter amount of time. Not only are lentils tasty and filling, but they are also packed with essential nutrients and vitamins that your body needs.

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic have found that by eating lentils, you can actually lower your risk for heart disease and diabetes since they are a plant-based source of protein that can be substituted for a variety of meats in many dishes, including ground beef or other ground meat. These lens-shaped members of the legume family, much like beans, are full of fiber and iron and contain essential amino acids for your body as well.

Whether you enjoy eating the brown lentil, black lentil, red lentil, green lentil, canned lentils, split lentils, or you purchase bags of dried lentils, they are all healthy for you but what happens when you are out of lentils?

To help you out, we have created a detailed list of very good foods that can be a substitute for lentils.

1. Beans

This is a close look at various types of beans in white large spoons.

Since beans and lentils come from the same family, the legume family, they are the most obvious substitute for lentils. Just like lentils, beans are stocked full of dietary fiber, protein, iron, antioxidants, foliate, and several other essential nutrients and vitamins that your body needs to be healthy. There is an array of different beans that can be used to replace lentils, depending on the recipe.

For instance, if you want to make lentil tacos, you can use refried beans in place of lentils as the taco meat. If you are making Greek lentil soup and had wanted to use red lentils, you can swap them out for red beans or even kidney beans. The garbanzo bean is also a great substitute for lentils and chickpeas or split pea can be used in place of French, or green, lentils or Begula lentils.

Black beans are a great substitute in recipes that call for black lentils and pinto or fava beans can also be used to replace lentils. You can also use lima bean or Northern beans in soups and curries in place of lentils. These are all great choices as lentil substitutes when you are making a variety of dishes, including salads, soups, and even chili.

2. Peas

This is a close look at a bunch of split green peas.

From split peas to yellow peas and green peas, peas make great replacements for lentils and you can even create yellow split pea soup in place of lentil soup and they will taste very similar. Peas have high protein and antioxidants, much like beans and lentils, and are lower in sodium.

Canned chickpeas are great to use in place of French lentils or canned lentils. They can be added to curries, salads, as well as soups in place of lentils.

3. Peanuts

A close look at roasted peanuts on a white plate.

Peanuts are filling, much like lentils, and also contain plenty of dietary fiber and nutrients. They are a great replacement for lentils in salads and other recipes.

4. Soy

This is a close look at a bunch of raw soy beans.

If you are using a vegetarian meat substitute in dishes that call for things like ground beef or chicken and your recipe calls for lentils but you are out of them, a great substitute to use would be soy.

It makes a great substitute for things like veggie burgers and will still provide your body with the high levels of protein and amino acids that you get from lentils. Soy is a great plant-based source of protein and soybeans are really easy to use in dishes in place of lentils, including French green lentils.

5. Fish

A close look at roasted salmon with a side of vegetables.

Similar to lentils, fish is also a great source of protein that is of higher quality and the dish is lower in unhealthy saturated fats. You can use a variety of different types of fish in place of lentils in your recipes, including tuna, herring, or even salmon. Fish even goes the extra mile and offers plenty of omega-3 fatty acids, which lentils do not contain, and is very healthy for your body since, according to the Mayo Clinic, they can help decrease your risk for heart disease.

6. Textured vegetable protein (TVP)

This is a wooden bowl filled with texture vegetable protein.

If you were planning on using lentils in place of ground meat in a recipe but are out of lentils, textured vegetable protein makes a great substitute. It is made from soy powder and it is a pretty easy process to make your own at home if you have soy on hand.

7. Kamut

This is a pile of kamut grain with a wooden spoon.

Kamut, also known as Khorasan wheat or Pharaoh grain, is full of protein and can be used as a lentil substitute in a variety of dishes. It even resembles white or tan lentils and provides plenty of flavors.

8. Protein powder

This is a scoop of synthetic protein powder with a jar of lentils.

Protein powder has plenty of, as the name suggests, a protein that is similar to lentils and beans. It can make a great filler to thicken up soups, curries, and other dishes too.

9. Brown Rice

This is a pile of raw brown rice.

You can use brown rice in place of lentils in soups and casseroles since it will thicken the dish as lentils would and brown rice also contains plenty of nutrients and fiber. It is easy to find at the grocery store when they are out of lentils and makes a great replacement, especially in place of dried lentils.

FAQs About Substitute for Lentils

What is a pigeon pea?

A pigeon pea also referred to as a Congo pea, Angola pea, or red gram, is one of the oldest known types of lentils since it dates back at least 3,500 years.

What are some other substitutes for lentils?

Similar to brown rice, barley, rolled oats, bulgar wheat, and quinoa are great replacements for lentils, especially if you are using the lentils as a filler in a dish to thicken them up. These are great options for use in place of lentils if you are making a soup with vegetable broth or a curry. Tofu can also be used as a sub for lentils since cooked tofu has a texture and consistency similar to that of cooked beans or cooked lentils.

What is moong dal?

Moong dal, also known as mung dal, is a type of lentil that is often used in Indian cuisine and is also referred to as yellow moong lentils. They are normally cooked up with a mixture of onions, herbs, spices, and tomatoes to create a delicious side dish that can be served with a variety of main courses in Indian cuisine.

What are adzuki beans?

The Adzuki bean, sometimes spelled aduki or azuki bean, is a small, red bean that is not the same thing as its larger, kidney-shaped counterpart, kidney beans. Adzuki beans are normally used in Asian cuisine since they originated in China but are a great substitute for red lentils when making Greek lentil soup.