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What Are the Different Type of Lentil Beans?

A.E. Freeman
Updated May 16, 2024
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Several different types of lentil beans exist. The primary difference between lentils is the color and size of the bean. Some lentil beans retain their shape when cooked, while other types disintegrate slightly. Various lentil types include Puy lentils, green or brown lentils, and red lentils. Lentils that are split in half are usually known as dal in Indian cuisine.

Brown lentils are very common in grocery stores in the United States. They are the entire bean and have a smooth, round shape. These lentil beans are usually the least expensive. When cooked, they can become very soft and mushy. As the beans soften so much, they are ideal for use in soups and stews.

Unlike brown lentils, red lentils are split in half. Although the beans are a light red color when dried, they turn yellowish when cooked. Red lentil beans break down considerably when cooked, so they are suitable for use in pureed soups or used to prepare dal.

The most expensive type of lentil is the French lentil, also known as the Puy lentil, because they were originally grown in Le Puy, France, an area with thin, volcanic soil. French lentil beans have a higher protein content than other types. They keep their shape when cooked, making them ideal for using in salads and other dishes where the shape of the bean is important for presentation. Puy lentils are green with black stripes or dots on their surface.

Less common types of lentils include golden and black lentils. White lentils are simply black lentils that are peeled. Usually, black, white, and golden lentils are sold as dal, or split beans.

Beluga lentils are another less common type of bean. The beans are so-called because they become glossy when cooked and resemble Beluga caviar. They work well in salads or in soups because they retain their shape. If a cook can't find Beluga lentils, she can substitute Puy lentils.

As lentils are small, they do not need to be soaked before they are cooked. Split lentils take much less time to cook than whole brown or Puy lentils. A person cooks lentils by covering them with water and bringing the water to a boil. The lentils are ready when they are soft.

All types of lentils should be stored in a cool, dry place. Lentils have a long shelf-life, generally up to a year. Beans that have been stored for longer than a year may still be edible but can take considerably longer to cook because they have dried out more.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
A.E. Freeman
By A.E. Freeman
Amy Freeman, a freelance copywriter and content creator, makes engaging copy that drives customer acquisition and retention. With a background in the arts, she combines her writing prowess with best practices to deliver compelling content across various domains and effectively connect with target audiences.
Discussion Comments
By nextcorrea — On Apr 25, 2012

Has anyone had french lentils before? I have never even heard of them. I love lentils but I can't ever recall hearing about the french variety and apparently they are the best. How much do they usually cost?

By whiteplane — On Apr 24, 2012

I like to combine several different kinds of lentils and cook them all up together. I think it makes for one of the most interesting tasting dishes I have ever had. Similar to a mixed bean soup. Each lentil has its own unique flavor and also a common flavor shared by all.

By tigers88 — On Apr 23, 2012

I had never once had lentils before and then one day I saw them there on the shelf in the store. I was feeling adventurous at the time so I bought a bag. It had a recipe printed on the side for lentil stew and it sounded really good so I also bought all the ingredients I would need. I cooked it all up that night.

It was amazing and remains one of my favorites. It combines the lentils with tomatoes, mushrooms, onions and carrots and has Indian spices with a lot of garlic. The dish tastes so exotic but also so tasty. Once I ate three bowls in a row it was so good.

A.E. Freeman
A.E. Freeman
Amy Freeman, a freelance copywriter and content creator, makes engaging copy that drives customer acquisition and...
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