Do lentils go bad? (+3 ways to tell)

In this brief guide, we will answer the question “Do lentils go bad?”, discuss the various types of lentils, and how to tell if lentils are bad.

Do lentils go bad?

No, lentils do not go bad if they are stored properly. The reason is that being dry they don’t allow bacteria to grow on them and remain perfect to use over a long period unless and until their expiration date. 

How to tell if cooked lentils are bad?

Cooked lentils that have gone bad tend to develop mal odor. The water content of the lentil also separates out on the sides and top. Moreover, lentils will have different texture and appearance. Sometimes mold is also present when lentils spoil.

Do dried lentils expire? 

Eventually, yes. But they last for a good 2-3 years before they expire or even start to go bad. The best place to store them is in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight at room temperature. To retain the best quality and shelf life, it is advised to keep the package/container closed at all times.

What are lentils?

Lentils are edible seeds from the family of legumes. These seeds are not eaten fresh, like beans, but are consumed after they are dried properly.

What are the different types of lentils?

Lentils are found in different varieties. Their color, shape, taste, and consistency of soup vary from one variety to another. So while preparing lentils, you need to know which type of lentil you are dealing with to have the exact and perfect taste. Some of these varieties are described below:

  • Brown lentils

Brown lentils, also known as European lentils, are the most common type of lentils. These lentils are known to be best for stews and soups and take 20-30 minutes to cook. These lentils are used commonly for veggie burgers and in the filling of samosas.

  • Green lentils

Green lentils, also known as French lentils, are the same in size as brown lentils but with a glossy surface. They are a good voice for making salads. But you need to be more patient while cooking them because they take about 45 minutes to cook.

  • Red lentils

Red lentils, also known as Egyptian lentils, are not red rather they are orange. As their seed coat has been removed, they take only 10-15 minutes to cook. This is the reason, that they are considered to be ideal for making soup.

  • Yellow lentils

Yellow lentils are commonly used in Indian and Middle Eastern dishes. They take 15-20 minutes to cook, and this is why they are frequently used in making soup.

  • Black lentils

Black lentils, also known as beluga, are about the size of a peppercorn. These lentils take 20-30 minutes to cook and are excellent for salads and side dishes (such as land meatballs).

What are the nutritional facts of lentils?

Different types of lentils vary slightly for their nutrients, but a cup of cooked lentils (198g) can provide you about 230 calories with nutrients:

Sr.#      Nutrients / minerals              Amount 
1.Carbohydrates 39.9g
2.Proteins 17.9g
3.Fats 0.8g
4.Fiber 15.6g
5.Thiamine 22% of the RDI
6.Niacin 10% of the RDI
7.Vitamin B-618% of the RDI
8.Folate 90% of the RDI
9.Pantothenic acid13% of the RDI
10.Iron 37% of the RDI
11.Magnesium 18% of the RDI
12.Phosphorus 36% of the RDI
13.Potassium 21%of the RD
14.Zinc 17% of the RDI
15.Copper 25% of the RDI
16.Manganese 49% o0f the RDI

*RDI stands for Reference Daily Intake

Other FAQs about Lentils which you may be interested in.

Can you cook lentils in a rice cooker?

What are the health benefits of lentils?

Lentils offer many health benefits to its consumers. Some of these benefits are described below:

  • As lentils contain both soluble and insoluble fiber, they help you in stabilizing blood sugar and reduce your blood cholesterol. This helps in reducing the chances of heart diseases (such as attack or stroke).
  • Proteins present in lentils help you to keep full and give energy to your body to power through the day.
  • The mix of fiber and complex carbohydrates in lentils offers you a steady and slow-burning source of energy.
  • The presence of vitamin B in lentils helps your body to grow new cells and helps your body to prevent certain types of cancer.
  • The presence of magnesium in lentils helps you improve blood flow by transporting oxygen and nutrients more effectively.
  • The iron present in lentils helps oxygen to move throughout your body.

How to tell if lentils are bad?

There are proper ways to store dry, cooked, and canned lentils. But if they are not stored according to their specific way, they will be spoiled easily. Keep in mind the following things to tell if lentils are gone bad:

  1. For dry lentils

Insects in the package

Signs of mold

Strong or off smell

  1. For cooked lentils

Mold or discolorations

Off smell/ taste

Too long in the fridge

  1. For canned lentils

Rusted, leaked, or dented tin

Off discolored parts

How to store lentils?

If you want to store dry lentils, store them in an airtight container and keep that container in a dry and cold area with no direct heat or light. Once opened for use, ensure the tight closure of the container to avoid any moisture or humidity.

Store the canned lentils in a dry and cold area with no direct exposure to light or heat.

To store cooked lentils, place them for cooling down before transferring them to an airtight container. Seal the container and refrigerate it (Do not store cooked lentils in the refrigerator for a long period).


In this brief guide, we answered the question “Do lentils go bad?”, discussed the various types of lentils, and how to tell if lentils are bad.