Slow Cooker Lentils

Slow cooker lentils garnished with cheese in a bowl

The Spruce Eats / Nyssa Tanner

Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 3 hrs
Total: 3 hrs 30 mins
Servings: 8 to 10 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
185 Calories
8g Fat
19g Carbs
11g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8 to 10
Amount per serving
Calories 185
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 8g 10%
Saturated Fat 4g 22%
Cholesterol 23mg 8%
Sodium 374mg 16%
Total Carbohydrate 19g 7%
Dietary Fiber 6g 21%
Total Sugars 5g
Protein 11g
Vitamin C 27mg 136%
Calcium 209mg 16%
Iron 2mg 12%
Potassium 435mg 9%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Lentils are inexpensive, versatile, and they make for an easy main meal or a side dish. With their earthy taste, they pair well with lots of different flavor profiles and kinds of vegetables. It's hard to run out of ways to cook lentils.

These tasty lentils are full of flavor and are slow-cooked with garlic, tomatoes, carrots, and celery, and then topped with shredded cheddar cheese. Using the slow cooker takes the guesswork out of cooking lentils and also fills your house with a delicious smell. Eat them as is, garnished with shredded cheese and herbs such as parsley, or maybe even a dollop of sour cream. Slow cooker lentils are also always great when paired with cooked white or brown rice.

You can adapt this recipe based on your own dietary concerns. For example, it's easily made vegetarian by using veggie stock instead of chicken; eliminate the cheddar cheese (or use a vegan substitute), and it's also a dairy-free meal.


  • 1 pound lentils, rinsed and picked over

  • 2 cups chopped onions

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 2 cups canned diced tomatoes, undrained

  • 2 1/2 cups chicken broth, or vegetable broth

  • 2 large carrots, sliced

  • 1/2 cup sliced celery

  • 1 bell pepper, chopped

  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped, plus more for garnish

  • 1 dried bay leaf

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste

  • 1/8 teaspoon ground marjoram

  • 1/8 teaspoon dried sage, crumbled

  • 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme

  • 8 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded, plus more for garnish

  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for slow cooker lentils gathered

    The Spruce Eats / Nyssa Tanner

  2. Place all ingredients, except cheese, in slow cooker and cook on the high setting for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, or until lentils are tender.

    Slow cooker lentils ingredients gathered in the slow cooker

    The Spruce Eats / Nyssa Tanner

  3. Stir in cheese until it is melted.

    Cheese stirred into the slow cooker until it is melted

    The Spruce Eats / Nyssa Tanner

  4. Serve hot, topped with more cheese or fresh chopped parsley, if desired. Taste, and season with salt and pepper, as needed.

    Slow cooker lentils in a white bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Nyssa Tanner


For this recipe, you'll want to make sure you're using regular lentils or green lentils. Red lentils will work, but they won't hold their texture and will release their starches into the dish very quickly.


Feel free to change the profile of this dish to suit your liking.

  • Use more or less of one kind of dried herb, or change the herbs completely. Rosemary works especially well with lentils.
  • Add a diced potato if you like; sweet potatoes are especially good with lentils.
  • Use curry powder, turmeric, ginger, and/or garlic for a more Southeast Asian palette.
  • Add a Parmesan rind to the slow cooker to boost the flavor.
  • Before serving, remove the lid and add some chopped spinach or kale to the slow cooker. Put the lid back on and let the greens gently wilt, and then serve.

How to Store and Freeze Slow Cooker Lentils

These cooked lentils should keep in the refrigerator for up to five days in an airtight container. For longer storage, this dish will freeze well—up to six months—in an airtight container. Defrost in the microwave, in the refrigerator, or right on the stovetop.