10/17/12

How to substitute lentils for ground beef

Images from Wikimedia Commons, courtesy of Thamizhpparithi Maari and Rainer Zenz

Lentils make a great substitute for ground beef crumbles in a recipe. They are close to the same shape and size, and they can be cooked up in about the same amount of time. Lentils are much cheaper and more environmentally friendly (estimates vary, but a pound of beef takes about 2500 gallons of water to produce, while a pound of wheat takes about 25 [source]).

Tips for using lentils in a recipe in place of ground beef:

  • Use about 3/4 cup raw lentils, cooked, in place of a pound of ground beef
  • Cook your lentils in unsalted water (or other liquid), otherwise they may not soften
  • Lentils are moister. Consider reducing the liquid in your recipe by about 1/4 cup, or add it slowly until you get the right amount.
  • Lentils will get mushy and disintegrate if cooked for too long, so consider cooking them separately and then adding them at the end.
  • You may need to punch up the flavoring in your recipe by adding extra spices, salt, vegetable broth or bouillon in place of water, etc.

Here are some recipes adapted to use lentils in place of ground beef:


———

Have you cooked with lentils before? Do you have any favorite recipes that use lentils?


27 comments:

  1. I am so glad you did this blog post! Thank you! Have a lovely day!

    ReplyDelete
  2. My mother says, How about Lentil Loaf, instead of meat loaf.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's exactly what I was thinking until I read don't cook for long periods :(

      Delete
    2. I do that, with diced tomatoes, corn, lots of spices, etc and the kids love it.

      Delete
    3. My dad used to take left over lentil soup and make lentil loaf. We are vegetarian. It is really yummy.

      Delete
    4. I make Lentil loaf and love it. I also grab it pre made at my local Organic Shop if I am running late and need a quick dinner.

      Delete
  3. Our family's favorite lentil recipe is Taco-style Lentils and Rice (found here: http://www.hillbillyhousewife.com/tacolentilsrice.htm)

    We eat it with cheese on top and some avocado too if we have it. My husband also likes it in a tortilla for a burrito. So far everyone I've shared the recipe with has loved it. Easy to make, healthy, tastes good, and food-storage friendly!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That sounds yummy! We will have to try it.

      Delete
    2. We really like this recipe, too--and from H. Housewife! --- Mrs. R.

      Delete
  4. I'm not sure about lentils I have never been able to like them. I have sprouted them and fed them to my chickens they love them. Now black beans I love, and I have added them to sloppy joes I prefer them in chili and they are good in just about anything to me.

    Thanks for the suggestions trying them again might be in the future.

    Erika

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Black beans also work in a nonmeat loaf. Use like lentils, ad your favorite seasonings.

      Delete
  5. Quick question about tinned lentils: Do you still have to cook them, or are they already cooked? Are there any benefits to using either dry or tinned lentils, or much of a difference at all?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have never used canned lentils but I'm sure they would be already cooked. I couldn't tell you if one is better than the other, although dry lentils are almost certainly cheaper.

      Delete
  6. I'm so happy to have this post. Helped me a great deal for so much recipes to come.

    Best wishes,
    Shanna
    Montreal, Canada

    ReplyDelete
  7. This is awesome! Considering I am a vegetarian! I am so making this and will not tell my husband and kids about what is in it to see if they can tell the difference. LOL!

    ReplyDelete
  8. So.. do you cook them and then put with your meat? Or do you cook them together? Burgers, lentil loaf, etc?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I cook them and use them in place of meat, as I described in the post. Cook them separately. You could also do half lentils and half meat if you think your family would like it better. Let me know if you have any specific questions about it!

      Delete
  9. lentil chili - it is awesome

    ReplyDelete
  10. I read this post a few days ago and after a discussion with my husband, we are going to try to substitute at least 1 or 2 meals a week with a non-meat meal. And I plan on adding Lentils to the ground beef to make it stretch further.....I have 3 questions on this.....1. In adding it to stove-top hamburger...I'm guessing I would just cook in separate pans and then add at the end, is this right? 2. When would you add lentils to the crockpot for a crock pot meal? I think I could easily sneak lentils in for that type of meals.
    3. can you freeze lentils? thank you, Hope.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 1. Yes! 2. I haven't tried it. I would recommend cooking them ahead of time and then adding them just before serving, as excessive cooking will turn them to mush. (Unless it's a soup, and you don't care if they get mushy.) 3. Yes! Here's how I freeze cooked beans, lentils would work just the same. http://be-it-ever-so-humble.blogspot.com/2013/03/how-to-freeze-cooked-beans.html

      Delete
  11. Even though I knew what you meant, the title to this article is misleading. It should say "How to substitute ground beef for lentils" or "How to use lentils as substitute for ground beef."

    I love lentils and these are great ideas!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Could I use in place of ground beef in a zucchini lasagna!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm sure you could try it anywhere. Let me know how it works!

      Delete
  13. What color lentil is best to use?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Use the regular, cheap brown sort. Red lentils will turn to mush.

      Delete
  14. I remember my mom making the best lentil soup when I was a kid. I'd like to try these Sloppy Joes. I also saw the comment about black beans. I recently had a black bean brownie and it was delicious.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Try using Pigeon Peas instead of lentils. They are related to lentils, but have a meatier texture and they don't disintegrate with long cooking.

    ReplyDelete