Sweet and Sour Lentils

Not only are lentils incredibly frugal (as is this entire recipe), but they are nutritionally dense as well! They contain very high amounts of both soluble and insoluble fiber, as well as several minerals (including calcium and magnesium), B vitamins, and of course, they are an excellent source of plant protein.

This recipe is so simple to make and surprisingly tasty and filling! It pairs well with a salad and bread, as it is a bit stew-ish in nature. It may not look incredibly exciting or appealing, but it goes over well with my whole family and makes an easy toddler food as well (you can tell your older child that it has honey in it- that made it a winner at our dinner table!).


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Sweet and Sour Lentils Recipe

Course: Main Course
Author: Ann Timm


  • 2 1/4 cups water or bone broth
  • 1 cup lentils green or brown, not orange
  • 1/2 medium onion diced
  • 3-4 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 3-4 Tbsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. basil


  • Soak the lentils overnight or start them early in the morning (using the 2 1/4 cups liquid).
  • Without draining, bring the lentils to a boil, then turn low and simmer for 1/2 an hour. Add the onions and cook for another 15 minutes.
  • If there's still quite a bit of liquid remaining, remove the lid and simmer for 10-15 minutes more.
  • When tender, add oil, vinegar, honey and seasonings. Cook again for 5-8 minutes, mixing well.


I double this recipe for our family of 4, and it gives me enough leftovers to serve it to the kids and I for lunch.

Do you have any other simple, frugal lentil recipes that you like to make?

Finds lots of other frugal ideas over at Life as Mom!

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  1. First of all, I love your blog and I really appreciate all the information you give. I have one question about lentils and beans. Are they something that should be purchased organic? I know in the past you have linked to a list of produce that states which ones have more pesticides. I really use this list to help me decide which produce to purchase organically. However, I have not been able to find any information on beans and lentils. I guess I should also say that I have a free source for some beans and lentils.

    1. Your comment is from awhile ago, but here is my 2 cents:

      Beans aren’t as crucial of an item as others for purchasing organic, but they are still important if you can get them that way at a moderate price. I think it is more important that you use good quality water (like reverse osmosis) to soak and cook them.

      When you think about it, even if you purchase organic fruits and veggies, they have most likely (always??) been watered w/ tap water, which we all know is really bad. And since fruits and veggies are about 90% water, what we are getting from produce is a problem no matter what we buy.

      Prioritize good water first, then good animal products and then clean fruits and veggies and cut the sugar out of your diet. (processed foods too). Those are the priorities that we have found to be the most helpful.

  2. Thanks for the recipe, Stephanie! This looks yummy. Even though I’m not big on lentils, I know I need to eat them for a healthy pregnancy, and you have made them look appetizing, so thanks again! Alexis

  3. I make a lentil soup, which I love to do in my crockpot, and it freezes well too. I have one with and one without tomatoes.

    I made a very similar sweet and sour lentil recipe before but my husband really didn’t like it. It also was the worst one for us with the bean issue, meaning that one of the biggest issues we have at our house with beans is the effect they have on our body…not sure how to put it nicely here but you know what I mean! Its not so much my issue as it is my husband’s…any ideas why this is a problem and what to do about it? Since we got married I have had to cut back on how many bean dishes I make because of this problem. I always cook from dried, soaked beans and discard the water that they are soaked in, and cook them also skimming off that layer of foam (I was told that would help with the issue, it has not).

  4. I love lentils! They aren’t very photogenic, but I think that can taste great. This recipe sounds great! I love simple it it to make. 🙂

  5. Deborah Madison’s cookbook, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, has a couple of really good recipes for Lentils. I especially like her Hearty Lentil Soup recipe (p. 224). If you can pick up a copy of her book on sale or used, it would be a wonderful purchase. It is loaded with good information. With over 700 pages, she lists items by categories, such as salads, sandwiches, or grains, and she lists items by the vegetable themselves. That way if you are searching for recipes for a veggie that is in season, you just look it up and she explains how to select them, what to look for, how to store and use them, any special handling, and various cooking methods to prepare them as well as recipes.

  6. thanks for all of the great info that you have on your heart to share with us. My family likes Taco Style Lentils & Rice 0I found it on Hillbillyhousewife site, no one knew it wasn’t meat. YUM Lisa

  7. Do you think you could prepare this dish in the crockpot. Maybe by putting the lentils, liquid (I’d probably reduce to 2 cups), and onions and cooking that for several hours and then stirring in the remaining ingredients and cooking on high for the last 30-60 minutes? With both my husband and me working this summer, I’m trying to use the crockpot as much as possible.

  8. M, I haven’t tried it in the crockpot, but you’re right, it would probably work! If you try it and have success, please comment and let me know!

  9. Hi Stephanie,

    My favourite lentil recipe is called Kusherie; it is an Egyptian dish that is…mmm, it’s very good. Requires two pots, though. The version I use is from the Harrowsmith cookbook. My only addition to it has been to offer yogurt or sour cream when serving because I find the sour creaminess is a nice counterbalance to the sweet tomato taste.

  10. Thanks so much for this recipe! I’m a huge fan of lentils. I thought that I would leave one of my favorite lentil recipes on here that my mother-in-law gave to me. It’s healthy, cheap, and delicious (a good combination).

    Lentil Soup

    12 cups water
    3 cups lentils
    2 sweet onions – chopped
    6 cloves garlic – minced (increase or decrease amount to suit taste)
    8 oz (1/2 lb) frozen spinach
    1/2 cup lemon juice
    2 T salt
    2 T olive oil
    salt and pepper to taste

    Sort and rinse the lentils. Put lentils into water and bring to a boil, then simmer on low for about an hour. Meanwhile, in a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add onions and garlic. Once the onions and garlic look like they are getting close to cooking through, add the frozen spinach directly to the olive oil and cook til the spinach is limp.

    Add onions, garlic, and spinach to pot of lentils. Add in the lemon juice and salt, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir well and let stand on low heat for a few minutes before serving.

    This recipe keeps well in the fridge and freezes well. It also seems to only get better with time 🙂 Enjoy!

  11. I have to say, I was pretty skeptical, but it turned out fab! My dh and 1.5 year old even liked it! I will definitely be making this again.

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