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How to Sprout Lentils

Yvonne has been an online writer for over eight years. Her articles focus on everything from world travel to crafts and recipes.

Dry and sprouted lentils.

Dry and sprouted lentils.

Types of Lentils to Sprout

There are several different types of lentils. Some common ones are: brown, green, puy (also known as French), yellow, and red. Most are suitable for sprouting, but the exception is red lentils. These are not whole lentils but hulled yellow lentils and, because of this, they don't sprout well.

Before I began writing this article, I would have said red lentils didn't sprout at all, but I decided to test that out. I was surprised to discover that some shoots did appear. If you take a look at the photo of red lentils lower down this article, however, I think you will agree that my attempt at sprouting them does not count as successful! I definitely do not recommend it.

Green and brown lentils are most commonly used for sprouting. The photo above shows green lentils before and after sprouting.

Equipment for Sprouting Lentils

You don't need any special equipment for sprouting lentils, but it is slightly less work to use a specially designed jar or tray sprouter. The table below gives more details of the pros and cons of each type of equipment. So read that to see which would suit you best.

My preferred option is the jar with the mesh top, and I've had mine for years. My jar is by Biosnacky, and I definitely recommend it. These jars are easily available in the UK, but they are currently unavailable on Amazon. You can buy strainer lids that fit onto your own quart sized jars, however, which are a great idea and can be used in the same way as my jar.

If you plan to sprout large quantities of lentils or other pulses, then a tiered tray sprouter is probably the best idea. These are easily available on Amazon.

You can make your own sprouter with a wide-necked jar, kitchen paper, or a muslin cloth and a rubber band. If you use kitchen paper, you will need to remove this for rinsing, and it's best to do so even if you use a muslin cloth.

Pros and Cons of Sprouting Methods


Sprouting trays

Possible to sprout several batches of lentils at once. Easy to rinse sprouts.

Top layer is prone to drying out.

Sprouting jar with mesh top

Easy to rinse sprouts. Usually grow well.


Wide jam jar, kitchen paper, and rubber band

Cheap! Sprouts usually grow well.

You need to tip the sprouts into a sieve to rinse.

Soak your chosen lentils in water.

Soak your chosen lentils in water.

How to Sprout Lentils

Step 1: Soak your chosen lentils for several hours or preferably overnight.

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If you use the stacking trays, their instructions may say there is no need to soak the lentils first. (My tray sprouter’s instructions did advise this, but I think the lentils—or any other pulse—sprout better if they have been soaked first.)

Step 2: After soaking the lentils for 8–12 hours, drain and rinse them.

If you have a jar with a mesh lid, all you need to do is drain the lentils through this, add more cold water, and drain again. Make sure there isn't a puddle of water remaining at the bottom.

When your lentils begin to sprout, drainage becomes slightly more difficult, and it is a good idea to tip the jar upside-down and leave it that way for a few minutes to ensure it has drained. Some types of jar have a lid that enables you to tip the jar at an angle to enable easy draining. (Mine does.) But if yours doesn't have this, don't worry, your lentils will sprout fine anyway.

If you have an ordinary jam jar, you will need to transfer the lentils to a sieve for rinsing. Once you have done that, return them to the jar.

If you are using a tiered sprouter, it is best to follow the manufacturer's instructions. But generally, all you need to do is spray the lentils lightly with water a few times a day.

Step 3: Repeat rinsing twice a day until the sprouts are ready. They will begin to develop shoots after a day or so, and they will be ready within about three days. How fast they develop will depend on how warm they are—the warmer it is, the faster they will develop. For this reason, it's best to keep them somewhere warm.

When sprouting lentils, you don't need to place them in the dark, but do keep them out of the sun. The lentils need to be moist but not waterlogged.

These lentils are just beginning to sprout. It is safe to eat them as soon as shoots develop, but they will taste better when the shoots are longer.

These lentils are just beginning to sprout. It is safe to eat them as soon as shoots develop, but they will taste better when the shoots are longer.

Troubleshooting Problems With Sprouting

It is very easy to grow lentil sprouts, but if anything does go wrong, it is likely to be one of the following:

The lentils have gone moldy.

  • This is because they are too wet and/or have been left out too long. Once lentils are fully sprouted, transfer them to the fridge, where they will keep for several days.

The lentils haven't sprouted.

  • If you have followed the instructions and used only suitable types of lentil, then most likely your lentils are too old to sprout. Don't worry, you can still use them in normal cooking instead.
  • Always buy lentils (or other pulses) for sprouting from a store that sells them often enough to have a good turnover, and don't use lentils you've had at the back of a cupboard for years!
  • The other reason your lentils might not sprout is if they are too cold. In winter, make sure you keep them in a warm place.
Red lentils do not sprout well—this batch has been sprouting for three days.

Red lentils do not sprout well—this batch has been sprouting for three days.

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