Ode to Lentils…and a “Bread” Invention

The first time I had lentils was at my best friend Holly’s house in middle school (taking me back a couple years!). That’s the same house where I discovered my love for Persian food…oh wow, so good! My favorite dish her mom made was Adas Polo (rice, lentils, currants/raisins, spices and sometimes meat – chicken, ground lamb or beef)…I remember the taste to this day! I’ve never tried to make my own version of Adas Polo (thinking I could never come close to hers) but I have experimented with lentils in the last several years, particularly the past couple months.

For those that are unfamiliar with lentils, they are grouped with beans and peas as part of the legume family because they grow in pods. Lentils are high in protein and fiber and low in fat, which makes them a healthy substitute for meat. They’re also packed with folate, iron, phosphorus, potassium and fiber.

Lentils come in three main varieties: brown, green and red. Most grocery stores carry brown lentils, usually dried, though red and green lentils can be found at speciality markets – in Denver they can be found at a local Sprouts, Sunflower Market, Whole Foods or Natural Grocers/Vitamin Cottage.

A few tips on choosing your color:

  • Brown lentils. The least expensive, they soften when cooked and can become mushy. Use for soups.
  • Green lentils. Also called French lentils, these have a nuttier flavor and stay firm when cooked. Green lentils are the best choice for salads.
  • Red lentils. The fastest cooking, these lose their shape and turn golden when cooked. They taste milder and sweeter than green lentils. Use them for purees and Indian dals…or my new recipe below!

Another plus for lentils is they cook quickly (15-30 minutes) and do not require pre-soaking, though I wash them off in a strainer to remove any dirt, dust etc before adding them to recipes (some packaged are pre-rinsed). Once cooked, add your favorite spices and seasonings, toss with cooked rice, vegetables, or briefly saute in a stir-fry OR you can try something new and make a lentil flatbread!

What you ask? Oh yes I did – flat”bread” with LENTILS! It’s grain-free, EASY, naturally gluten free, egg free and dairy free (unless you use butter for the oil). Apparently, I have an affinity for coming up with wacky gluten free bread ideas…my cooked rice flatbread/pizza crust was the first attempt to break the mold.

If I told you how many batches I have made (and ate) before sharing this recipe, you would probably laugh at me. I tried this bread with cooked lentils like my rice crust and decreased the water but it was quite crumbly and needed an egg to hold it together. I’ve probably eaten a whole years allotment of lentils in the past several weeks, but at least I am getting my share of protein/fiber/folate/iron/potassium and phosphorus. I can always come up with a good excuse 🙂

Here are just a few of the batches I made that I actually photographed…the top left I even experimented with adzuki beans (ground them into a flour, which almost killed my food processor) which sort of worked but it had way too strong of a bean taste for me. The bottom left is made from green lentils, the top right from brown and the bottom right from red lentils.

This recipe is fairly flexible but my favorite color lentil to use in this recipe is red due to it’s milder taste, making it a great canvas for any topping or spread or accompaniment for a meal, soup or salad. It does have a mild lentil taste (which is yummy) but I also added ground golden flaxseed to add a slight nutiness.

Spreads! (Top to bottom) Laughing Cow swiss spread, edamame hummus with sesame seeds and sunflower seed butter with paprika

Grain-Free Lentil Flatbread


2/3 cup dry lentils (I use red but brown, green or a sprouted variety work too)
2 Tbsp flaxseed meal (I use golden flax ground in my Magic Bullet)
1 cup water
sea salt (don’t skimp since this is the main seasoning)
2-3 Tbsp coconut oil (olive oil, grapeseed, canola, butter or ghee all work – use oil for vegan)

Favorite herbs and/or spices, optional


1. Preheat oven to 375F.
2. In a small blender with grind attachment, food processor or a spice grinder, add lentils and grind to a flour. (I use my Magic Bullet with the flat blade).
3. Add the coconut oil (or oil/butter of choice) to a 8×8 or 9×9 pan* and let melt in the oven and warm (about 2 minutes). Meanwhile, add flaxseed meal, water and salt to ground lentils and blend again for about 15 seconds. It should resemble a thick but pourable pancake batter after it sits (the flax and lentils will start absorbing the water the longer it sits).
4. When oil is hot and melted, pour batter into the pan and spread with a spatula. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the bread forms a crust. Let cool slightly, cut and enjoy warm!

Bread can be refrigerated and toasted to reheat if needed.

*You can make the bread thick or thin by choosing your baking dish and add herbs and spices for different flavor variations. I prefer a medium thickness instead of a pizza crust thinness because I like the slightly crunchy outsides and a middle with a slight chew. If you prefer a crisper texture throughout, baking a larger pan or divide batter into two loaf pans. You will need to reduce cooking time for thinner bread, and in turn increase cooking time for thicker (about 5 minutes).

Lentil bread topped with homemade (savory) curried peanut butter, recipe coming soon!


97 thoughts on “Ode to Lentils…and a “Bread” Invention

  1. I just bought flaxseed meal yesterday (made some crackers last night), saw lentils in my cupboard and wondered if anyone had tried a lentil/flax flatbread! I just made this recipe – looking forward to testing it out! 🙂

  2. This is brilliant! I love the use of beans to make bread, and I love that you can make this thick, because I really don’t like thin anything.
    I will definitely try this. Lentils are great 🙂

  3. Oh, Nora, please, please, please make some of that Adas Polo! It sounds sooooooooo good! I’m sure you could whip up a very decent version.

    Great post on lentils girlfriend! I’d have never thought of making them into bread. And that last picture with the curries peanut butter? Yum! My turn to be wanting to lick the screen! 😉

    • Thanks Sonia! Anything with homemade nut butter and I get weak in the knees 🙂
      I’ll see what I can do with Adas Polo – it’s so delicious, I have dreams about the dish – and yet it uses such humble ingredients. Love when that happens…that’s on my “to make” list!

  4. Wow, what a good idea. I have been experimenting with the idea of giving up wheat after reading an article by William Davis (author of Wheat Belly). Using lentils in a flat bread sounds like a clever alternative. And this recipe is fast enough that it could bake while I am making the rest of our evening meal. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Thanks for stopping by Sarah! It’s definitely not a traditional bread but makes a great gluten free stand in that is quick, yeast-free and high-fiber/protein and good for you. I’d love to know how you like it if you get a chance to whip up a batch!

    • Hi Katie! Glad you found something that peaked your interest! I love simple recipes, don’t you? It is more moist since you cook it with the coconut oil (or butter etc); it’s not flexible like normal bread but doesn’t crumble into a million pieces either 🙂 Let me know how you like it!

  5. Cool idea! I love baking bread and unusual bread recipes always intrigue me…until I see how complicated they can get. I love your short list of ingredients and straightforward method. Brilliant!

  6. Just made this…Sooo good. I added some minced garlic, nutritional yeast and a bit of shredded cheese as well as paprika and a little chilli powder. Turned out so well! Thanks, great idea!

  7. Oh my god, thank you thank you thank you. This is exactly what I was looking for in a breakfast food. It’s meaty without being too dense, and I can top it with whatever I used to top toast with. I’m eating it right now! I’m going to pick up some red lentils when I grab my groceries, I’m eating green ones right now. I’m going to feature this recipe on my blog tomorrow 🙂

    • Hi Cassie! I LOVE that you loved this lentil bread too!!!! It’s hearty, yummy, fillling and healthy – thanks so much for your feedback! The green lentils work well, I bet you’ll enjoy the red lentils as well 🙂

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  10. Ok it is now in the oven… I am very unpatiently waiting! But I wonder if it is necessary to make a flour of it? Because I don’t have a machine, i did it now with my manual space grinder, requiring some muscles, but not really time-efficient!

    thanks and greets

    • I hope this bread turned out for your Martin! I’ve never tried baking it without making it into a flour, that’s a good question! It might be more chunky and I think you would need to use the red lentils since they are more mushy than the green variety. I’ll have to give this a go!

  11. Incredible! I loved it. Followed the recipe exactly and it turned out great. We used it as sandwich bread and it was soft and moist, but held together great. Tomorrow I am going to toast the leftover piece and see what happens.

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  16. This is a great recipe! Just ate my first little slice. Thank you so much for your creative innovation! A couple things I noticed while making it:
    I used red lentils, as you suggested, but as with other small grain-sized things I try and grind in my food processor I found that the lentils just dance around- didn’t grind into a flour. And since I am not allowed to use my husband’s magic bullet with the flat blade (I ground fennel seeds in it the day we got it and instantly turned the clear plastic cloudy with a zillion tiny scratches-oops!) Anyhow, I found that adding the water and letting the lentils (and salt, etc) sit and soak for about a half an hour allowed the lentils to soften and I could then process them into the nice thick, pancake-batter-y consistency you described without a problem. To bake it I used my seasoned 8-inch iron frying pan (preheated as you suggested- like for cornbread) and got a lovely crust. A little thinner than yours perhaps but still a really nice/unusual crispy chewiness to it! The iron perhaps conducted the heat differently than a different kind of pan and it was perfectly done after only 20 minutes. 2 T oil (butter) worked great and 1/2 t salt was about the perfect amount. (In case anyone else was as terrified as me of over or under salting it) Anyways I’ll stop rambling and say… totally making this again!! Adding garlic and curry and whatever other seasonings I can imagine! This is GREAT stuff. Cheers and thanks again!

  17. I made these today and it was delicious and so easy to make! It’s exactly what I was looking for! They have a very falafely texture I find. 🙂 Thanks a lot!

  18. Hi Nora! Thank you for sharing this great recipe! I have just tried it and it is a success! Will certainly make it often.
    Best wishes,

  19. I just made this lentil bread with green lentils this evening and I am quite intrigued with the taste. I smothered roasted red pepper hummus and sprinkled Parmesan on a slice and wow! unexpectedly delicious. And yet… I can’t put my finger on the taste of lentils — it’s really quite unique. How would you describe it?

    I bet a white bean spread or tuna salad would top this bread off nicely. 🙂 I’m planning on eggs with hummus on this bread tomorrow morning for breakfast! I wonder if the bread batter can be spread out thinly enough to make crackers? Just a thought.

    Thanks so much for this recipe, Nora! Merry Christmas 🙂

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  22. This sounds so good! I don’t have the flax on hand, I have almond meal and chia seeds though would either of those work? Or can I just use slightly more lentils? I don’t think I can wait to go shopping I want to try it now! 😀

    • That’s a great question – I am not sure the almond meal might would work since the flax helps bind the “bread” and is pretty absorbent but you could certainly give it a try! Chia meal (ground chia seeds) might work too since it’s often used as an egg replacement…if you give either a try let me know how it goes!

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  24. I made this last night with brown lentils and dried caraway. Really didn’t care for the flavor but the texture wasn’t bad. Sounds like I’ll have to play around with the spices to get it just right!

  25. Hi, I am excited to try this as I love lentils and trying to get away from wheat (no allergies to it though). So, did you try making this with egg and, if so, how did it turn out? A little fluffier and thinner like a crepe or …. ?

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    • I dont think that will work because I assume the consistency would be mushy since the uncooked lentils do not have additional water in them; the ground up lentils absorb the water and form a bread-like result. I think the liquid;lentil ratio would have to be adjusted and I can’t speak for the outcome! If you give it a whirl, I’d love to hear how it turns out!

  27. This recipe is solid. Absolutely perfect. When I make it- I double the recipe, place the WHOLE (not ground) lentils with flax meal, water, spices and salt in the blender (pulse once to stir it) and then let soak while I’m at work. Then I come home and purée the whole mixture. Bake in a 10″ round cast iron pan with EVOO. It’s amazing with the vegan chili I make. Thank you so much for this recipe!! I’ve already shared it with friends.

  28. This sounds sooo good, I need to try it out. I have a question though – do you think it is possible to make this in muffin-cups? (Yes, Im a student abroard, so Im not going to invest in a bakingpan, so I was wondering if it could be done in muffin cups..

    Also, have you tried to use canned lentils? I have some, but don’t want to waste them by trying 😉

    Thank you for a very inspiring site!

    • I think the muffin cups would be a great idea! I haven’t tried canned lentils since they are already cooked with water absorbed…I think the result would be mushy…thanks for stopping by!

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  30. I make very similar bread with sprouted lentils for extra nutrition. My favourite variety is with onion, nigella seeds, cumin and turmeric. Delicious on its own or with anything! Beautiful photos, btw!

  31. I want to thank you for all your thorough commentary on your blog on the recipe. I am detoxing right now and can’t have meat or grains. I am dying and want bread and meat so bad. I am hoping this recipe does the trick! Thanks so much.

  32. I made this two days ago and today. It is getting better each time. By the way,I found my flax seed flour.; ) Tonight, I am on the second batch of this, but I am trying it with cinnamon, vanilla and Stevia. If I make a third batch, I will use honey and blend it in the magic bullet with the water.

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  38. I made this once and loved it with basil pesto. They I made it again and it had a weird fishy smell and taste. I suspected my flax seeds, and they did indeed smell a little fishy even though I have whole seeds. I bought new flax meal and soaked some red lentils to make a new batch (I find it easier to pre-soak and then grind), and the lentils themselves smelled fishy. Is this normal and I just didn’t notice it the first time because I made thinner bread in a large batch?

  39. I just made it but I added some sweeter spices to it and it smelled like pumpkin pie! I’m going to drizzle honey on it later! 🙂

  40. I’m on a short-term grain-free diet and made this tonight to go with jambalaya. So good! Thanks for sharing. I made this with green lentils and used applesauce in the batter instead of oil in the pan, and it was so similar to cornbread that it worked perfectly as a side dish. ❤

  41. I am so wanting to try these out… but as with most recipes… I must omit the salt because of (CHF) heart sensitivity to salt, complicated further by celiac, IBS and thyroid problems… and am leery they will not taste very good or throw me into other reactions. Do you.. or your readers… have any suggestions?

  42. Hi just wondering does the dry lentils damage the blade? We normally soak the lentils in water the night before before grinding it but do you recommend grinding it completely dry.? Thank you looks like a great recipe

  43. Thank you, an “up your sleeve” recipe:).
    Tried it as: 1 cup lentil flower, 2 tbs. Ground sunflowerseeds, 2tbs. Grated tomato, (for me, red lentils must go with some tomato…), 1/2 tsp. Sea salt, 1/3 tsp. Baking powder (yah, I was afraid of density, but I feared in vain), 1 cup water. It works realy well for sandwiches and even my picky husband loved it: success!

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  45. I made it without flaxseed meal, adding 4 Tbsp of chickpea flour and it turned out great; also used green lentil; thanks for the recipe 😉

  46. Hi! I know I’m late to this discussion, but I am looking forward to trying your recipe! My question is: if one should normally rinse and sort dry lentils before using, when you grind and bake with these, you are obviously not washing them. Is that an issue? Thanks! 🙂

  47. I cannot wait to try this. By the way, the mention of the curried peanut butter as a topping sounded intriguing but I didn’t see it listed in your recipes.

  48. Amazing receipes .i look.forward to try the belunga bread and the red lentil flatbread .They are extremely superfood meals full of protein and vitamins .Thank you sooo much .

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