Can You Reheat Lentils? How to Do So Safely

We all hate to see food go to waste, but it’s important to avoid eating food contaminated by bacteria and other food-borne pathogens. This is true even for plant-based foods, which are increasing in popularity. Lentils are one of these, but how risky are they for food poisoning? Can you reheat lentils, or should leftovers be thrown away?

As a registered dietitian, I’ll discuss the evidence-based answer to these questions below!

What are lentils?

Lentils are small legumes believed to have originated from Southwestern Asia or the Mediterranean. They’re available in many varieties, including brown lentils, green lentils, red and yellow split lentils, French (Puy) lentils, and black Beluga lentils.

Lentils are a great source of plant-based protein with 9 grams per ½ cup serving and are also rich in dietary fiber, complex carbohydrates, iron, zinc, and anti-inflammatory phytochemicals. 

Amazingly, these nutritious legumes are an incredible source of folate with almost half the daily value in each ½ cup serving! 

Dried brown lentils in a pink dish

Can you reheat lentils safely?

As with other foods, lentils can be reheated safely as long as proper food handling procedures are followed. After initial cooking, lentils should be cooled to room temperature within two hours and then stored in the refrigerator or freezer in an airtight container. These cold temperatures significantly slow down the growth of new bacteria. 

When reheating, use a food thermometer to ensure that the lentils are reheated to at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Why 165 degrees? This temperature is high enough to kill any bacteria that had the chance to grow while the lentils were cooling or in the refrigerator. This works for lentils you cooked yourself or canned lentils that have been drained. 

Just be sure that the tip of your food thermometer is placed in the middle of your lentils, not at the surface or touching the pan or bowl. This will give you the most accurate results.

Contrary to popular belief, you can reheat lentils more than once1 as long as they are reheated to 165 degrees Fahrenheit each time. Of course, the texture and quality will get worse each time, so it’s best to only reheat the amount you plan to eat in one sitting. 

Best ways to reheat lentils

There are multiple methods for reheating lentils. Consider how you plan to use them when deciding which method to use.


The microwave is the best option when you need to reheat leftovers quickly (and no worries, it won’t zap the nutrition out of your food). It works for most types of leftovers.

  1. Place lentils or lentil dish in a microwave-safe bowl or plate, depending on what works best for the dish.
  2. Microwave on high for 1-2 minutes or until the dish is steaming. The timing will depend on how much food you’re microwaving at one time.
  3. Insert the tip of a food thermometer into the middle of your lentils, making sure not to touch the dish. It should read at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit. If not, keep microwaving for 15-30 second increments until hot enough.


The stovetop will take longer than the microwave but is better at heating leftovers evenly. This method is best for lentil dishes with a high liquid content, such as lentil soup, lentil curry, or lentil stew.

  1. Add your lentil dish to a stock pot or saucepan and place it on a burner. 
  2. Heat over medium heat for 5-10 minutes, or until it is bubbling all the way through.
  3. Insert the tip of a food thermometer into the middle of your lentils, making sure not to touch the pot. It should read at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit. If not, keep simmering for 15-30 second increments until hot enough.


Heating lentils in the oven will work best for solid dishes like casseroles or vegan lasagnas.

  1. Preheat to 350°F.
  2. Cover the dish with aluminum foil.
  3. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until the middle of the casserole/lasagna reaches at least 165°F when tested with a food thermometer. Avoid touching the thermometer to the baking dish. Try also to avoid overbaking as this will dry out your dish.

Fun fact: leftover plain lentils can be tossed in olive oil and seasonings and baked until crispy for a protein-rich, fiber-filled snack!   


Lentils are a nutritious, protein-rich legume that can be safely reheated as long as the internal temperature of your dish reaches at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit. This ensures that any bacteria present in your leftovers will be killed, significantly reducing the potential for food poisoning.


Can you reheat lentils in soup?

Yes, lentils can be reheated in soup in the microwave or on the stovetop as long as the soup is heated to at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Can you heat lentils twice?

Lentils can be reheated twice as long as they are heated to 165 degrees Fahrenheit each time. Keep in mind, however, that the texture and quality of your lentils will degrade more and more with each reheating.

Can you eat cooked lentils the next day?

Cooked lentils can be eaten the next day if refrigerated within two hours after the initial cooking in an airtight container. If you’re heating them, heat them to 165 degrees Fahrenheit. They can also be eaten cold. It’s generally considered safe to eat cold lentils that have been properly refrigerated for up to 3-4 days after cooking.

The scientific information in this article was accurate at the time of publishing but may change over time as new research becomes available.


  1. USDA. How many times can I reheat foods? AskUSDA website. Accessed 8/30/23.

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