How to Sprout Lentils


There is something about early spring that makes me want to sprout things.  Last year around this time I became obsessed with sprouting mung beans and now I’m crazy-obsessed with sprouting lentils.  Lentils are great sources of vitamins, protein, and fiber.  I love eating cooked lentils, but sprouted lentils are delicious, fresh bites of goodness when tossed in with salads or lightly cooked in stir fries.

Sprouting lentils is also really helpful for people that have digestive issues or have difficulty digesting legumes. Sprouting causes some of the starches to be converted to simple sugars, making it easier on your digestive system.  Delicious, healthful, and easier on your digestive system?  Sounds like a win-win to me!

Sprouting legumes at home is incredibly easy and once you learn to do it, you’ll never again pay high prices for sprouts at the grocery store. My method below describes sprouting them in a jar with a cheesecloth cover (to help drain them), but they can also be sprouted in a colander.  Once you have soaked your lentils, simply put them in the colander to drain and keep a clean plate over the top so that nothing gets into them.  Then you simply have to take care of rinsing the lentils and then waiting for your sprouts.  
Sprouted lentils are wonderful raw on top of green salads or mixed into other dishes. I also like sprouting lentils and then cooking them in stir-fries and soups. 
Ready to make your own? Let’s get to it!
How to Sprout Lentils
  • about ½ - 1 cup organic, dried grey green lentils
  • Large glass wide-mouthed jar
  • Cheesecloth (or another light cloth) to cover the jar
  • Rubber band
  • Water for rinsing
  1. You'll want to start by choosing some organic, dried grey green lentils and rinse them very well before soaking. (Remember that the sprouts will at least double in size so you only want as many as you can eat in a few days. I used a half cup and found this to be more than enough.) Remove any stones or other debris that might be mixed in with the beans. Also remove any broken or discolored lentils.
  2. Put the lentils in your glass jar and cover them with water. Put the cloth over the top and secure with your rubber band. Soak them overnight or for at least 8 - 12 hours. In the morning, rinse and drain them well. There should not be any water left sitting in the bottom of the jar. If water sits and collects, this is where mold will develop and your sprouts will go bad.
  3. Leave the jar in a cool, semi-lit place while the lentils sprout. I left mine in a corner of the kitchen, away from daylight
  4. Rinse and drain the lentils well about every 12 hours or so. As long as you are diligent about rising them and not leaving water in the jar you should not encounter problems with slime or mold.
  5. The sprouts usually take about three days to become fully sprouted. When the sprouts have reached your desired length, give them a final rinse and then transfer to the refrigerator.
  6. I stored mine in a long shallow glass snapware container with some paper towels. They usually last about 7 days.
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  1. says

    Love it, Sonnet! Something about spring weather makes me want to eat green and sprout, too. I’ve done alfalfa but yet to try legumes. Do the normal lentils from the grocer work or do I need to get the ones from a brand like Mumm’s? I figure the latter would be best to minimize contamination… not sure being organic would suffice.

    • says

      I purchased my lentils from the bulk bins at my local co-op, but if there is a specific brand that you trust then definitely use those instead. Yay for spring! 😉

  2. Christen says

    I bought some seeds for sprouting from Botanical Interests and the package says to rinse them in bleach water to prevent e-coli…but I’m not sure how I feel about bleach on my sprouts. What are your thoughts on that?

    • says

      That’s such a great question! I recently purchased a package of broccoli seeds for sprouting and it says the same thing. I had the same thought about the bleach! I have yet to try sprouting them, but I was going to do some more research on this. If you find more info on this let me know and I’ll post any updated info that I have. :)

    • says

      would rinse them well and use an organic veggie wash if anything. I attempted to make my first batch of broccoli sprouts and lentils with citric acid powder (the health food store recommended) and lemon juice. This was supposed to inhibit the growth of bacteria, etc. but they did not sprout. I did a second batch (without anything added to the water) just last Friday and they are now ready to eat! Hope this helps

    • says

      Perhaps a little splash of vinegar in some water for a quick wash, then rinse and soak? I won’t use bleach on my food, but vinegar is antibacterial. I’m trying it with chickpeas today.

    • says

      I just read in the recent issue of Edible Rhody that the law now requires commercial producers of sprouts to rinse them with bleach since there were outbreaks of bacterial contamination.

      All the more reason to sprout your own!

  3. says

    Thanks so much for providing this – I’ve been wanting sprouted lentils and couldn’t remember how long to soak them. I’ve soaked red lentils in the past. By the time they sprout they are the prettiest apricot-pinky color! Whisk a vinaigrette and combine lightly steamed asparagus or haricots verts with the pink sprouted lentils – a perfect pot luck dish 😀

  4. says

    I am just wondering what the “desired length” is. I let my lentils soak overnight and now they have been about five hours since the first washing and already starting to sprout. How long do I let them go?

    • Anonymous says

      i just started a batch of broccoli sprouts and soaked them in white distilled vinegar for about half an hour, then rinsed them in hot tap water. the package said to soak them in hot tap water with bleach for fifteen minutes. i have taken botanical cleaning product classes and learned there that white vinegar and everclear both are substitutes for bleach in natural cleaning as a disinfectant. i feel confident that the white vinegar and long hot tap water rinse was sufficient. i always wash my veggies with white vinegar and have never gotten sick. i’m excited to see how these sprouts turn out!

  5. says

    i was told that the green sprouted lentils taste like green peas…do you find that to be so?…and another ?? is…how about Red lentils…do they sprout and taste good?
    regards : Bill

    • says

      I suppose sprouted lentils taste a little like green peas, but they taste more similar to sprouts in my opinion. I have never tried sprouting red lentils, but you definitely can. They will be smaller and are excellent in raw hummus and dips!

    • says

      I’ve never had black spots show up on my sprouts – you can see in my picture above the lentils look the same color, but they have small white sprouts emerging from them. It sounds like this could be mold and I personally wouldn’t take any chances. If you feel hesitant about them, compost them and don’t eat ’em. :)

  6. says

    Yikes, all seeds from the co-op, as with most seeds intended for outside planting are treated with fungicides, in fact there usually is a warning on the labels stating not for human consumption etc.

    • says

      Thanks for your concern! The lentils used in this recipe are not meant for outside planting – they are edible lentils from the health food store, just like what would be cooked in a recipe. I agree with you and would not recommend sprouting seeds intended for gardening. Hope this clears things up!

    • says

      A friend of mine made a salad with lentil sprouts, minced garlic, lemon juice – a lot, and tomatoes. It was so good my kids and I all fought over it! Lovingly of course, but now my 14 year old dtr has been begging me to make it.

      • Annie says

        is’nt true that sprouts are more nutritious for you than just the hard shell of whatever it is, be lentil or alfalfa or radish? and where would one find broccoli seeds and other interesting things to sprout? a jar and damp paper towel always works – yes? and Sonnet – this is my first and only blog i follow!!! Kudos to you – i think you’re great. Your ideas and recipes and excitement is contagious thanks

  7. Anonymous says

    After the lentils sprout, do you remove them from the rest of the lentil bean or eat everything as the picture you have above? Bean and sprout?

  8. Anonymous says

    I love sprouting!
    I recently got into it and am really enjoying the freshness and the good feeling to know that the sprouts are grown without any pesticides. At first I had trouble getting seeds but after some searching I found that a great place to buy the seeds from now is

    They are certified for sprouting ( as I read not all seeds are??) and I can’t seem to find affordable ones in the city. Shipping is free over 20$. I always get a few packages at a time and it ends up costing so much less than at a regular store.

    (Oh and if you use the code BUY183 at checkout you get 10$ off !)

    • Anonymous says

      I purchased organic lentils (the kind used for cooking) and they sprouted quite well. You can wash them in food-grade hydrogen peroxide (avaiable on Amazon) for disinfection as well as vinegar, no need to bleach.

  9. Tamarinda says

    I am curious if you should pull off the shell once they have started sprouting. Is the shell healthy? I am on my second or third day and they are growing very slowly, and when I rinse some of the shells come off naturally. What is the difference in eating them with the shell or taking them off? Maybe more crunchy without and better to make raw dips? Would love to hear your comments! Thanks!

    • says

      Hi Tamarinda, I’ve never removed the “shells” on mine, but you are welcome to. I am not sure of the nutritional difference with or without it. When I make mine, the shell softens after several days once it’s sprouted. If the sprouting process is going slowly for you, I’m guessing it’s because your kitchen is cooler. Sprouts grow faster in warm environments and slower in cold environments. It might need some extra time if they are progressing very slowly. Hope this helps!

  10. Barb says

    I just sprouted some chickpeas, but there are black spots on them. Is this mold? I just tied them in a cheesecloth bag and let them sit in a bowl with paper towel and rinsed every 12 hours. I think I should start again and try your colander method.

  11. Emily DiGiovanni says

    Hi! I live in Ethiopia, where I don’t have a refrigeration. I can filter my water, though. I wanted to try sprouting lentils here but was uncertain of how sanitary it was. What do you think?

    • says

      Hi Emily,
      Luckily you don’t need refrigeration to sprout these, but you would need it to store the sprouts so I would recommend making a very small batch to eat right away if you do try these. Filtered water is definitely a plus. As long as you are using organic lentils that have been grown without chemicals and are following the directions about not letting it sit in water (to prevent mold), I think this should be fine. If you encounter any problems with it (such as mold, slime, or discoloration) or have a funny feeling about it, then trust your gut and don’t eat ’em. :) Hope this helps!

    • says

      They can still be cooked after being sprouted. They won’t take as long to cook as unsprouted lentils. I bet they’d be great in a soup!

  12. rachel mackneer says

    I’m thinking a variety of sprouted lentils would also be good baked into homemade whole/multi grain bread. yum!!!

  13. says

    I was ready to start a sprouting rampage after reading this, but now I’m panicking about e-coli and other bacterial nasties. How can I ensure the lentils/beans/chickpeas I’m sprouting are safe to eat? Do I need to buy seeds/lentils that specifically state that they are safe for sprouting, or should all food-grade seeds/lentils be safe to sprout?

    • says

      I’ve always used organic lentils from the bulk bins at my local health food store, but there are specific seeds/lentils for sprouting if you are concerned about this. I’ve also heard from readers that they use vinegar to wash the lentils prior to sprouting. Hope this helps.


    Go to the clorox bleach website. You will find an explanation as to how clorox bleach is used to purify drinking water and other food uses

  15. Nicole says

    If a soup recipe calls for 1.5 cups of dried lentils and I wanted to use sprouted lentils would you sprout 1.5 cups or do you sprout less and then measure out 1.5 cups after they’ve sprouted (sorry if this is a dumb question new to both cooking and sprouting….well, basically new to my kitchen!). Thanks

    • Sonnet says

      Not a dumb question at all! It’s hard for me to answer this without knowing the recipe, but 1.5 cups of dried lentils will probably yield around 3 cups of cooked lentils. I would assume sprouting them would yield a similar volume so you should be fine going with 1.5 cups. Soup recipes are usually pretty forgiving if things aren’t exact. :)

    • Mark says

      Unsprouted lentils are a great food for diabetics because so much of their starch is slow-digesting–only 5% of the starch is fast-digesting!

      Unfortunately, sprouting lentils converts some starches to sugars. Although this is is good in one way, because it makes them more digestible, it seems likely to me that they would be somewhat less good for diabetics because of the increased level of sugar.

      I hope someone can shed more light on this. For example, the undesirable effect I mention might be small, making sprouted lentils still a good diabetic food, just not quite as good as unsprouted.

      You could also do a test to see how much they elevate your blood sugar (your doctor has probably told you what is ok, like “blood sugar under 140, two hours after beginning of meal”.)

  16. ETan says

    I accidentally left my lentils in water for 2 days because I mixed up the instructions. I later rinsed and strained them and now they are sprouting very well. But how do I know if my lentils have gone bad/moldy? I found a couple with mold on them which i removed. Does that mean I shouldn’t eat any of this batch?

  17. - says

    Do you experience any difference in digestion between raw and cooked sprouted lentils? there are many benefits eating them raw, but I think uncooked sprouted lentils would be difficult to digest. Any types of sprouts that you prefer to consume in cooked rather then uncooked form?

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