How to Sort Lentils Before Cooking

Lentils are one of the easiest foods to prepare, making a tasty way to spend an hour or two. But if you have celiac disease or another food allergy, be aware that when selecting lentils you need to sort first for allergens before beginning.

Errant gluten-containing grains can contaminate lentils after farmers sort them, making them unsafe to eat. Here’s how you can properly sort your lentils.


Lentils are one of the most versatile pantry staples, being used to create delicious Lebanese classic mujadara recipe and Indian dal, along with numerous soups, stews, casseroles salads and veggie burgers. Plus they’re good for you — with just half-cup serving providing significant amounts of fiber and protein while nutrition varies slightly among types – they all provide low amounts of fat and sodium!

They come in an assortment of colors and nutritional values (they’re all high in protein and fiber), yet each variety boasts distinct tastes and cooking times. Brown lentils are supermarket basics that can stay al dente or turn creamy when simmered for too long; green and black varieties tend to be softer, making them better suited to salads and hot or cold grain dishes like hummus or tabbouleh. Puy and beluga lentils add color, flavor and texture to soups, stews and Buddha bowls!

When shopping for lentils, check the packaging to look for a sorting symbol indicating they have been thoroughly sorted before purchase. Unfortunately this doesn’t guarantee they won’t contain bits of dirt and plant parts; these small items tend to linger after harvesting and make their way into packaged lentils more often than expected.

However, it is still recommended to rinse and sort lentils prior to use; you can usually tell by their color if they’re dirty. It’s a quick and simple step that helps prevent unwanted flavors or contaminants from ruining your meal!

To assess this sifting method’s efficacy, GFWD conducted an experiment involving 24 bags of popular dry lentil products sold in the US. Lentils with best by dates ranging from July 2021 to February 2025 were removed from their packaging by using two tablespoons and placed onto a flat white tray; any foreign material was then discarded before each batch of lentils was rinsed under running water to ensure any leftover dirt or debris.


Lentils come in various sizes, shapes and colors. When it’s time to cook them, they must be organized on a cutting board so they are easy to carry from there to boiling water – this means starting by sorting by size and color in separate piles, with large brown lentils towards one edge of the board while smaller green ones closer to another edge of the board. Once this step has been completed, measuring each individual pile using calibrated digital calipers or standard kitchen scales is next step.

Contrary to beans, which require long cooking times to become tender and juicy, lentils can be made quickly by their small size absorbing heat from water and quickly becoming tender.

However, their texture can sometimes become too mushy in certain recipes. To achieve more firm and less soggy results when cooking them on the stovetop instead of under pressure cooker.

To avoid overcooking lentils, use either a medium or high setting when cooking them and ensure you add extra water to the pot. Sorting lentils prior to adding water may also reduce their likelihood of becoming overcooked.

Lentils pack an impressive nutritional punch, second only to soybeans among legumes in terms of protein content. Rich in dietary fiber, B vitamins and minerals, lentils also boast incredible versatility; thanks to their quick cooking times they make perfect additions for salads, hot and cold grain dishes, Buddha bowls as well as soups and stews.


Sorting lentils may seem unnecessary, but it can save a life! Non-lentil particles often find their way into bags of these little pulses – from small stones and plastic bits to bits of gluten-containing grains – so it is wise to sift your lentils prior to making soup for your own safety – no one wants an unpleasant surprise biting into something unexpected in their meal!

Sorting is also necessary because different varieties of lentils have differing textures. Cooked lentils’ textures depend on how long they’re allowed to simmer for, as well as how much water is added during this process; failing to follow package instructions exactly or adding too much liquid could leave you with an overly soft soup-like result that leaves your guests disappointed and hungry for something else entirely!

Additionally to these tips, there are other ways you can ensure your lentils turn out perfectly every time. One is by rinsing your lentils before storage or processing, which helps remove dust accumulation that might otherwise impair taste in finished dish.

A second tip for organizing lentils by size on a cutting board is to arrange them according to size; aim to arrange large brown lentils near the edges while smaller green or yellow ones are closer to the center, for an appealing color gradient when finished product is assembled; size should take precedence over color when organizing lentils.

Once the lentils have been carefully sorted by size and color, they’re ready to be added to boiling water. When pouring them in, take care not to splash any of them around! For best results when working with a pot with lids on, take them off during this process so that air can escape more freely from underneath it.

Once your lentils have been added to the water, reduce the heat and allow the mixture to simmer for the appropriate cooking time. While your lentils simmer, feel free to taste them and add any necessary flavor enhancers such as salt or other additives as necessary.


Lentils boast an earthy and mild flavor, making them easy to pair with various ingredients and seasonings. As an ingredient staple in vegetarian and vegan meals, lentils add substantial texture and protein-rich goodness.

Okra is also highly adaptable; when simmered long enough, its texture can change from firm and al dente to creamy, making them the perfect addition to salads, hot or cold grain bowls, Buddha bowls and tacos, burritos and wraps as a meat replacement; not to mention casseroles, pasta sauces and soups!

Lentils are one of the most nutritious foods around, boasting fiber, potassium, folate, and iron. Lentils make an excellent option for anyone on a restricted diet due to not containing cholesterol or saturated fat and their low glycemic index ranking means they won’t spike blood sugar.

When it comes to flavor, choosing and preparing lentils properly are both key elements in creating delicious results. Green lentils typically cook up fluffy and creamy while red ones have firmer textures; brown ones take longer but provide an earthier finish.

Color should also be consistent throughout, to ensure even cooking of your batch. A set of digital calipers and good eye will assist in being as accurate as possible with picking lentils for this task.

Be wary if you discover stones, twigs, dirt or debris in your bag of lentils; unfortunately this is an often-seen problem and the only real way around it is by sorting and rinsing before cooking.

GFWD recently conducted an analysis on 27 pounds of lentils and found only three grains that violated our gluten-free standards, but it’s important to remember that until purchasing certified-gluten-free lentils from reliable sources, those living with celiac disease or another gluten-related condition should continue sorting and rinsing dry lentils before cooking them.

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