This is the ultimate lentil salad recipe! It's a plant-based lunch that's super satisfying thanks to the crunchy veggies and lemon dressing.
Ingredients and substitutions
- Lentils – use either dry brown or green lentils for this recipe.
- Olive oil – or another neutral cooking oil like avocado or canola oil.
- Lemon juice – freshly squeezed lemon juice is best but bottled lemon juice can be used in a pinch.
- Red wine vinegar – apple cider vinegar would be the best substitute here.
- Dijon mustard – try using stone-ground mustard instead.
- Garlic – use freshly minced or jarred minced garlic.
- Salt & pepper – to taste.
- Red onion – you can substitute for white onion, but it has a milder flavour.
- Celery – substitute for another crunchy veggie, or add more pepper or carrot.
- Red pepper – or any colour bell pepper of your choice.
- Carrot – swap out for more celery instead.
- Parsley – fresh basil or oregano would be the best substitutes here.
How to make lentil salad
Step 1: Cook the lentils.
Cook the lentils in a pot on the stovetop until the liquid has absorbed.
Step 2: Chop up the veggies.
Meanwhile, prepare the veggies and toss all the other ingredients together in a large bowl.
Step 3: Toss everything together.
When the lentils are done cooking, let them cool then toss with the remaining ingredients.
Step 4: Serve and enjoy!
Let the salad sit for at least 1 hour to let the flavours combine, then serve and enjoy!
Lentil salad variations
There are a few different ways you can customize this recipe to make the best ever lentil salad:
- Add in more veggies like olives, sundried tomatoes, cucumber or roasted red peppers.
- Sprinkle in some goat cheese or feta cheese for added flavour.
- If you want to up the protein content, throw in some chicken breast or even salmon.
- Cook the lentils in vegetable or chicken broth instead of water for added flavour.
- Swap out the parsley for basil, dill or mint.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can cook lentils on the stovetop for about 20 minutes until the water has been fully absorbed or make them in the Instant Pot.
I'd recommend using either brown or green lentils for this salad. I wouldn't recommend using red lentils, since they'll get soggy and mushy as they sit in the dressing.
This lentil salad is a complete meal on it's own, but you could also pair it with a delicious soup or sandwich for a yummy lunch combo. You could also cut down on the portion size and serve this salad as a side dish with Greek hasselback chicken, stuffed zucchini or salmon.
Yes, like most salads, this lentil salad is best enjoyed cold. You'll need to let it sit for about an hour after making it, so it'll be chilled in the fridge anyways.
You can definitely use canned lentils for this recipe. Just make sure to drain and rinse the lentils before adding them to the salad.
Storing this salad
This lentil salad recipe will last in the fridge for 4 to 5 days in glass bowls, meal prep containers or even mason jars. In fact, it might even taste better the next day because the lentils have had more time to soak in all the yummy flavours! Since it’s a salad, you don’t need to worry about reheating – just pull it out of the fridge and dig in.
Can you freeze lentil salad?
I wouldn’t recommend freezing this entire lentil salad, as the other veggies won’t defrost well. That being said, you can cook and freeze the lentils up to 3 months in advance. Freeze them in a Ziploc bag, then just let them defrost in the fridge overnight before using them to make a fresh salad.
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Best Ever Lentil Salad Recipe
- 1 cup dry brown or green lentils rinsed well
- 3 cups water
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp lemon juice preferably fresh squeezed
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- 2 tsp dijon mustard
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1 small red onion finely diced
- 2 stalks celery finely diced
- 1 red pepper finely diced
- 1 carrot grated
- 1/3 cup parsley finely chopped
- Cook lentils in 3 cups of water in a pot on the stove until liquid has absorbed and lentils are fully cooked, about 20 minutes. This can be done up to 2 days in advance, or you can use drained and rinsed canned lentils to skip ahead.
- Meanwhile, prepare veggies and toss other ingredients together in a large bowl. When lentils are done cooking, let cool for 1 hour then toss with remaining ingredients.
- Let sit for at least 1 hour to let the flavours combine, then serve and enjoy!