Learn how to sprout lentils at home. Sprouted lentils are a great addition to salads, sandwiches, curries, and wraps. These nutritious legumes are vegan and gluten-free too!
Sprouts are packed with flavor and nutrition and are quite easy to make at home. They are traditionally used worldwide in different cuisines in many dishes. They can be eaten as a main dish or be added to salads.
In India, it is common to sprout lentils. Sprouted lentils can be eaten raw, but most commonly they are sautéed or cooked before eating. I will share how to sprout lentils in the traditional method which takes up to 2-3 days, and also how to sprout lentils using the yogurt mode in the instant pot.
What is sprouting lentils?
Sprouting is a process of germinating lentils, seeds or nuts by soaking them overnight. The soaked lentils are then rinsed and drained and kept in a dark place for sprouting. While this process primarily takes two or three days, you can sprout lentils in the instant pot within a day.
There are different ways to sprout lentils. You can put them in a damp cheesecloth and keep in a dark place to sprout. You can also sprout in mason jars submerged in water. Another way is using the yogurt mode in the instant pot. It provides a warm environment which is perfect for sprouting.
Why sprouts lentils and beans?
Sprouting legumes starts the germination process, which changes the composition of the legumes. It increases the amount of nutrients and makes the legumes easier to digest.
Lentils and beans contain phytic acid which is difficult to digest. It also hinders nutrients from being absorbed by the body. Sprouting breaks down the phytic acid and makes it easier to digest and absorb nutrients.
Sprouted lentils are packed with protein and make a healthy addition to your diet. If you are following a vegan or gluten-free diet, then having sprouted lentils, beans or legumes as part of diet helps with adding protein to your diet.
Growing up, my mom used to include sprouts in our meals regularly. Once sprouted, the levels of vitamins and minerals especially vitamin B and carotene increase. Sprouting also increases the protein content. During the process of sprouting, some of the stored starch in the legume is used up for forming the tiny leaves and rootlets and in manufacturing vitamin C.
Having sprouted lentils has a higher nutrition value and are easier to digest. They are low in calories and help in controlling blood sugar levels.
Best Legumes for Sprouting
Some of the best lentils for sprouting are the Moth beans (Turkish gram), Moong beans (green gram) and Masoor (Brown Lentils). Along with the lentils, you can also sprout black chickpeas and garbanzo beans. You need whole beans for sprouting, split beans won't sprout.
How to Sprout Lentils?
Before sprouting lentils, some prep work is needed. This is why it is important to plan ahead when sprouting legumes.
- Rinse and soak beans in hot water for 8-12 hours. I usually soak them overnight. Soaking helps to soften the beans which helps the sprouts to grow. Based on my tests, hot water helps to get all the beans to sprout consistently.
- Beans will absorb water and almost double in size. They will look swollen and the skin of some beans will be coming off. When you take them in between your fingers, it is easy to break them. If they are not easy to break yet, then soak for 4-5 hours more. (Images for soaked Moth beans below)
Note: If the beans are old and not softening, you can also soak them in hot water.
- Then carefully drain all the water using a strainer. (This is important to avoid molding)
- Line a damp cheesecloth on a strainer and put the moong dal. (images of green moong beans below)
Note: It is important that the cheesecloth is damp. I usually just rinse it in tap water and strain with my hands before using.
- Wrap the lentils in the cheesecloth and store covered in a cool, dry place away from sunlight.
- If you live in a colder region or in the winter, keep them in the oven with the lights turned on for some warmth.
- After about 24 hours the beans will sprout. If you feel they still need to sprout more, keep them on for 8-10 hours more. Usually, during the winter season, lentils, legumes or beans can take a longer time to sprout. This is where the instant pot can come in handy (see below for more details).
- Check in between. If the cloth seems to have dried up, lightly sprinkle water to re-moisten it.
Note: The cheesecloth with get a bit discolored with sprouting lentils in it. It can be washed and reused. It is best to keep a cheesecloth to sprout separately.
In the image above, the beans have started to sprout. If kept for longer, the sprouts will become longer too.
Can sprouting be done without a cheesecloth?
Yes, many people make sprouts without using a cheesecloth. I am sharing this method as I have found it to be work better and give more consistent results.
Follow the same process to soak and drain the lentils in a colander. You can keep a bowl below the colander to collect any dripping water. Place in a cool dry place. You will see sprouts in about 24 hours.
How to use Instant Pot to Sprout Lentils?
You might ask why use the instant pot to sprout lentils. Colder climates make sprouting an ultra-long process, but you can speed up the process by keeping them in your Instant pot on Yogurt mode.
- Follow the same steps as above to rinse, soak for 8-12 hours. Then drain the mung beans, and place in them in a damp cheesecloth.
- Keep the cheesecloth filled with the mung beans in a colander. Place the colander inside the Instant pot. Remove the sealing ring and place the lid in venting mode, or you can also use a glass lid (it is better to have some natural air when sprouting).
Black chickpeas sprouting in the instant pot below.
- Set the Instant pot by selecting the "Yogurt" option. The default option is 8 hours. Press the "+" option to set the time to 12 hours.
- After 12 hours, you will see the beans have tiny sprouts coming out of them.
- If you want longer sprouts, keep them in the instant for another 8-10 hours.
Do we need to add water to the instant pot when sprouting beans?
When using a damp cheesecloth for sprouting, I do not add any water to the main steel insert.
You can also put the soaked beans to be sprouted directly in the colander (without using a cheesecloth) along with ¼ cup water in the instant pot steel insert, then put on yogurt mode. That works too.
I tried the below 2 colanders when sprouting without a cheesecloth in the instant pot on yogurt mode. The one with the fine holes gave better results as it did not retain any water. The main issue with retaining water is that it can allow the growth of fungus.
Below are moth beans sprouted in the fine colander on the right in the above image. These were done in the 8 hours on yogurt mode.
Can Sprouted Lentils be Cooked?
It is best to cook sprouted lentils before eating. Even though you can eat them raw, they can be hard to digest for people with delicate digestion.
You can use them in salads, curries, sandwiches, and many more dishes such as misal pav or this black chickpea salad.
Once sprouted the beans can be refrigerated for 3-4 days in airtight containers or zip lock bags.
Enjoy these delicious and nutritious sprouted lentils!
How to sprout lentils (with Instant pot option)
- 1 Cup Green Gram Lentils (Green Moong Dal)* or other beans/chickpeas
- 2 Cups Water
- Rinse and soak mung beans in water for 8-12 hours or overnight. Soaking helps to soften the beans which helps the sprouts to grow.
- Beans will absorb water and almost double in size. They will look swollen and the skin of some beans will be coming off. When you take them in between your fingers, it is easy to break them. If they are not easy to break yet, then soak for 4-5 hours more.
- Drain all the water using a strainer. This is important to avoid molding.
- Line a damp cheesecloth* on a strainer and put the soaked beans.
- Wrap the lentils in the cheesecloth and store covered in a cool, dry place away from sunlight. If you live in a colder region or in the winter, keep them in the oven with the lights turned on for some warmth.
- After about 24 hours the beans will sprout. You can keep them for 8-10 hours more for even longer sprouts. It is best to check every 12-15 hours. If the cloth seems to have dried up, lightly sprinkle water to re-moisten it.
Instant Pot Method:
- Follow the same steps as above to rinse, soak for 8-12 hours. Then drain the beans, and place in them in a damp cheesecloth.
- Keep the cheesecloth filled with the mung beans in a colander. Place the colander inside the Instant pot. Remove the sealing ring from the lid and place it in venting mode, or you can also use a glass lid (it is better to have some natural air when sprouting).
- Set the Instant pot by selecting the “Yogurt” option. The default setting is 8 hours. Press the “+” option to set the time to 12 hours.
- After 12 hours, you will see the beans have tiny sprouts coming out of them. If you want longer sprouts, keep them in the instant pot for another 8-10 hours (check halfway through).
- Enjoy these delicious and nutritious sprouted lentils!
- Follow the same process to soak and drain the lentils in a colander. You can keep a bowl below the colander to collect any dripping water. Cover with a damp cloth or damp kitchen towel. Place in a cool dry place. You will see sprouts in about 24 hours.
- Instant Pot: You can also out the beans to be sprouted directly in the colander along with ¼ cup water in the instant pot steel insert, then put on yogurt mode. That works too.
Note: Nutrition values are my best estimates. If you rely on them for your diet, use your preferred nutrition calculator.
Manju R says
How much water Should i have on the IP I use cheesecloth and colander
Meeta Arora says
Hi Manju - I actually don't add any water to the instant pot when using the cheesecloth and colander method. But make sure that the cheesecloth is damp.
There are many simple ways to sprout beans and lentils. Any recipient with a mesh lid or slotted lid (which you can pierce with a nail and hammer will do. No need to buy a sprouter or any other BS sprouting equipment. No need to lock down your IP either. Google Search: germination, sprout, sprout lentils, sprout beans, etc. Germination (sprouting) is extremely easy to do. Active time is minimal, you only need to change the water at certain intervals. BTW, this is NOT Indian cuisine. Only the needlessly long and complicated explanations here are Indian.
Meeta Arora says
Hello, Sprouting can definitely be done without much or any equipment. Instant pot just helps to do it faster by maintaining the temperature (can easily cut the time in half). I am sharing here the way we have done it in India since a long time. There are multiple ways to sprout and none are wrong. Just what works for you. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!
Your comment is unnecessary. I find the author of this post is very clear and detailed which helps so much! I tried sprouting mung beans by googling the method and unfortunately grew fungus on it. This is when I stumbled upon this post and just by reading the “complicated explanations” I got answers to all my questions. I am grateful for coming across this method. IP method is the saviour for busy moms like me. I am going to try it out now!
Joseph Landon says
If I do extra time, say 8 hours more, do I turn back on the IP on Yogurt” or not?
Alka Dighe says
My Instant pot is old version and does not have "yogurt" setting . What other setting can I use?It does have rice setting and high and low pressure slow cooker setting
I have the same question
Meeta Arora says
Hi Alka - I dont know if any of these options will work for sprouts. However, feel free to skip the instant pot and follow the method to sprout in the oven with the lights on.
Doesn't mean your IP is old, you just have the LUX model.
Bindu Poduval says
Superb Meeta ... I like the way you make it so creative
Hooe the name rings a bell!
Meeta Arora says
Hi Bindu - Thank you! Absolutely remember you and love seeing your pics on facebook 🙂
Oyella Suzan says
This is making cooking more enjoyable for me and my family.
My children love to fix quick meals using our electric Instant pressure cooker (With Turn Button not the touch type you got but works perfect) .
Your recipe guides have been very helpful in helping us perfect anything. I look forward to getting an instant pot like yours with more usage options.
Thank you. Its totally useful.
Meeta Arora says
Hi Oyella - Glad to hear you and the kids are enjoying the recipes. It is definitely fun to try new dishes in the instant pot.