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Basic French Lentils

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You will love these Basic French Lentils, a recipe that transforms lentils into a perfect simple side dish. These lentils, cooked in a vegetable stock, have a depth of flavors that will give you a perfect bite no matter how you use them.

Main image for Basic French Lentils

French lentils are my favorite recipe to make each Sunday and eat through the week. There are so many things to love about this dish!

Lentils are a nutrient powerhouse. Full of protein, fiber, and key vitamins, these have a lot of health benefits and are very important to a healthy and balanced diet.

This classic lentil recipe has a lot of flavor. It may look like a simple cooked lentils recipe, but they aren’t just cooked in water and left. They are layered with other flavors to give you a great dish that tastes like you spent hours in the kitchen.

And speaking of time in the kitchen, this french lentil dish comes together so quickly and lasts all week long in the fridge.

You can use these lentils as a side dish or even a main dish or add them to salads and meals throughout the week.

Whether you are familiar with lentil recipes or are just looking for something to put in a lentil salad or lentil soup, these simple french lentils are the perfect ones to try!

What Are French Lentils?

There are a variety of lentils you could purchase in grocery stores. French lentils, also known as Le Puy lentils, are small, dark green lentils with a distinct peppery taste. 

They hold their shape well like red lentils do, and because of their thick skin, french lentils have a nice firm texture and do not cook mushy like some lentils. The end result is a perfect lentil texture that makes them perfect for salads and side dishes.

What Ingredients Are in Basic French Lentils?

  • Neutral Cooking Oil: used to soften the veggies without adding too much flavor. I like grapeseed, but you could use extra virgin olive oil.
  • Shallot: sweeter & milder than a regular onion, this adds aromatic flavor to the dish
  • Leek: also milder than a green onion or regular onion, this adds a quiet flavor without taking over.
  • Vegetable Stock: using stock instead of water to cook lentils gives you more flavor soaked into each bite.
  • French Green Lentils: Small, green, and peppery, these are the star of the show.
  • Bay Leaf: adds an earthiness and a flavor you just can’t put your finger on.
  • Salt and Pepper: just a pinch of salt seasons the entire dish so every ingredient can work together in this dish..

Pro Tip: You can make this with chicken stock too, but only substitute if none of your guests are vegan or vegetarian.

How to Cook Basic French Lentils:

  1. Give your lentils a good rinse lentils and discard any unwanted bits.
  2. Sauté veggies in oil over medium-high heat to soften.
  3. Add stock, lentils, and bay leaf.
  4. Simmer over low heat until lentils are tender.
  5. Drain extra cooking liquid and remove bay leaf.
  6. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Are French Lentils and Green Lentils the Same Thing?

French lentils are a variety of green lentils, but green lentils are not always French lentils. They are a little different.

French lentils are smaller and have a thicker skin which means they take a little longer to cook, but they do not get mushy like regular lentils.

Are French Lentils Black Lentils?

No, French lentils are green, not black. Black lentils have a dark, earthy flavor. French lentils have a peppery kick and are green in color.

Are French Lentils Brown Lentils?

No, French lentils are different type of lentil from brown lentils. Brown lentils often lose their shape and get mushy when cooked. French lentils are smaller, hold their shape better, and have a stronger flavor.

zoomed in image of lentils in a skillet

How to Use Basic French Lentils:

Use Simple French Lentils as a simple side dish, toss it in salads for extra protein, or mix it into casseroles to add texture and flavor. You can also serve them under your morning eggs or sausage.

Can You Sprout French Lentils?

Yes you can sprout french lentils! While possible, sprouting is not common with French lentils since they are so much smaller than regular lentils. But you are welcome to sprout them and eat them if you like them!

Do You Need to Soak French Lentils?

No, you do not need to soak french lentils before cooking. These lentils cook relatively quickly in this lentils recipe.

Can You Make Basic French Lentils Ahead of Time?

Yes you can make lentils ahead of time! Make this recipe on Sunday and use them throughout the week in salads and other dishes.

top view looking down at a plate of lentils ready to eat

How to Store Basic French Lentils:

Store this french lentil recipe in an airtight container in the fridge. They will last for up to a week when stored properly.

Can You Freeze Basic French Lentils?

Yes, you can freeze basic lentils. Once they are cool, store this lentil recipe in a freezer safe container for up to 3 months.

side view of lentils on a plate ready to serve.

Are Basic French Lentils Healthy?

Yes; French lentils are very healthy! Lentils are packed with protein, fiber, and essential nutrients. Studies have shown that people who regularly eat lentils have a lower body weight or maintain their weight.

What to Serve With Basic French Lentils:

Serve lentils with your favorite recipes like on top of fresh greens or under your favorite burrito bowl. Try pairing them with Baked Parmesan Crusted Chicken or Roasted Vegetables

You can even serve them as the main dish with a side salad like this Arugula Beet Goat Cheese Salad and these Easy Dinner Rolls for a delicious and satisfying meal.

Additional Easy Side Dishes your family will love are:

zoomed in image of lentils on a plate

Whether you need a large pot of small lentils to eat all week long or just a little bit to serve for dinner tonight, these basic French lentils are great side dish with a lot of flavor.

Yield: 4 Servings

Basic French Lentils

wooden spoon scooping out a portion of lentils

Basic French Lentils are elegant, nutrient-packed, and a great addition to your meal. Embrace the simplicity of French cuisine!

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


  1. Rinse lentils and discard any weird, shriveled or hard pieces.
  2. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat.
  3. Sautee shallots and leeks until softened, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add vegetable stock, lentils and bay leaf.
  5. Bring to a boil, then immediately lower to a simmer. There should be small burbles in the liquid and a little movement among the lentils.
  6. Cook until the lentils are soft but not mushy, about 20 to 25 minutes. Add water here and there, if necessary, so lentils remain barely covered throughout cooking time.
  7. Drain remaining liquid and remove bay leaf.
  8. Salt and pepper to taste.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 99Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 409mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 4gSugar: 2gProtein: 5g

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Beti Micevska

Wednesday 21st of February 2024

We made this French lentils recipe and it turned out great! They were perfectly tender and so flavorful. Such an easy, healthy addition to any meal. Definitely a new go-to for me!


Friday 23rd of February 2024

So glad it was a hit Beti! Definitely a healthy option!

Katerina Petrovska

Wednesday 21st of February 2024

Wow these French lentils were incredibly delicious! So simple but full of flavor. A hearty, nutritious side dish that complemented our meal perfectly. Will be a staple in my kitchen from now on!


Friday 23rd of February 2024

Sometimes it's the simple recipes that surprise you the most! So glad they were a hit!

Erin | Dinners, Dishes and Dessert

Wednesday 21st of February 2024

This is really fantastic! ! I would love to make this again!


Friday 23rd of February 2024

I hope you do try them again Erin! Thanks for the comment!


Tuesday 20th of February 2024

I love this recipe of french lentils. It was the perfect side dish for dinner last night!


Friday 23rd of February 2024

Thanks Sandra! So easy and they store well as leftovers too!


Tuesday 20th of February 2024

These were so easy to make and they will definitely be made again!


Friday 23rd of February 2024

Thanks Amanda! I love when recipes turn out easy!

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