Slow Cooker Lentils and Rice

Jan 17 2012 by
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I like to do most of my cooking on the weekend so I can put meals together during the week without too much effort. This recipe is perfect for that since it really cooks itself and I can be preparing other things while it simmers away filling the house with it’s delicious aroma. Another plus is that it’s one of the most versatile recipes I have. With a change in seasoning and vegetables it can become a whole different dish. It’s also budget friendly because what’s more economical than lentils and rice? By combining legumes and grains you get a complete protein so this can be a main dish or as a side dish with another protein if you prefer.



  • 1 cup uncooked brown long grain rice
  • 1 cup dried ¬†lentils (see notes)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) low sodium diced tomatoes
  • 5 ounces fresh spinach, chopped or frozen, but thaw and drain first
  • 5 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp sea salt or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper or to taste
  • 1 package (8 ounces) non dairy cheese (optional)


  1. Place the rice and lentils in a large bowl, cover with water and soak overnight or at least 6 hours.
  2. Drain and place in the slow cooker along with the rest of the ingredients except the cheese if using.
  3. Cover and cook on high 5-6 hours or low 8 hours depending on your specific slow cooker. It’s done when the rice is tender and most of the liquid has been cooked down.
  4. If using the cheese add it individually to each serving.

Nutritional Info:

Makes 8 cups.

Serving size 1 cup.

Nutrients per serving (without cheese):  Calories: 180, Cal. from Fat: 6, Total Fat: 1g, Sat. Fat: 0g, Carbs: 38g, Fiber: 4g, Sugars: 4.5g, Protein: 9.5g, Sodium: 343mg, Chol: 0mg


It’s best to use a firmer variety of lentil like black, french green or brown. They hold their shape better without becoming mushy.

To change the flavor of this dish substitute the oregano and basil for cumin and chili powder and add some frozen corn (thaw and drain first). To make an Indian inspired dish substitute the oregano and basil for curry powder, cumin and garam masala and add carrots and cauliflower.

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. You may want to add a little broth when warming up.

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  1. This sounds delicious! I have my rice and lentils soaking now. I can’t wait to try it!

    • Kristy says:

      Aimee, I certainly hope you enjoy this dish as much as I do. The great thing about it is you can customize it to your own taste by adding any spices, seasonings or vegetables you chose. You can even add in some non dairy cheese just before serving. Enjoy, Kristy

  2. Stacy says:

    This looks great! I don’t have a slow cooker though, could I cook it in a dutch oven on the stove? How long would you recommend? Thank you!

    • Kristy says:

      I’m sure this would work great on the stove Stacy. I would probably cook it the amount of time you would normally cook the rice or slightly longer until the liquid has reduced. I might even cut back on the amount of broth to 3-4 cups rather than 5, maybe start with 3 and add more if it starts looking too dry before the lentils and rice are tender. I also don’t think you would have to soak the lentils and rice first when cooking on the stove top. Good luck.

  3. Julie says:

    Are those red lentils you are using? Also, if I use regular dairy cheese on each serving, do you have a recommendation of what kind?

    • Kristy says:

      Julie, I have used both crimson and yellow lentils and both work equally well. I guess the type of cheese to use would depend on what way you would be going with the seasonings. If you are going with the basil and oregano I would use asiago, parmesan, fontina, mozzarella or a combination of 1 or more. If you went with the cumin and chili powder I would go with cheddar, monterey jack, manchego, queso fresco or a combination. I don’t think I would use cheese with the Indian spices though. Let us know how you like it.

  4. Gloria says:

    I was looking for “how to prepare whole wheat english muffins” and found your site! I’m a fan of everything you cook with the crock-pot! I’m not vegetarian though, but I’m trying the “Meat-less Monday” tradition which is going to be so much easier with the nice recipes in this site! Thanks for posting!

    • Kristy says:

      Thanks Gloria, We’re glad you are finding lots of recipes to enjoy. We have many “meat” recipes either from when we ate meat or when we entertain our friends and family who do. The meatless Monday is a great tradition and we certainly can help provide many options for you there.

  5. Katie says:

    My roommates and I are on a tight college-student budget and have made this recipe several times using all different kinds of spices. We have LOVED every variation and get excited each week that we decide to make it. Not only is this recipe wallet-friendly, we also never want to stop eating it!! Thanks so much for the brilliant creation, we all thoroughly enjoy it.

    • Kristy says:

      Hi Katie, We’re so happy you are enjoying the Lentils and Rice. You just can’t go wrong with a dish that is so economical and can taste anyway you want to season it. Thanks for commenting.

  6. renee says:

    This looks awesome. I make other slow cooker recipes without soaking the lentils first and they cook just fine. is there a reason for soaking?

    • Kristy says:

      Hi Renee, you could probably get away with not soaking the lentils but I found that when I tried this without soaking the rice it was undercooked. The lentils I use suggest soaking first so I just soak both together. Hope this helps.

  7. Madmaxmom says:

    My daughter and i are a very restricted diet and thisndish has been perfect. I added more spinach as that reminds me of Italian wedding soup. I will try the other variations next. Thanks for so many great recipes and inspired writing

    • Kristy says:

      So glad you and your daughter like the lentils and rice. I love how versatile they are. You could practically have a different dish each time you make them depending on the seasonings and vegetables you add. Thanks for your comments. Kristy

  8. Jane says:

    I love this recipe. I’ve made it a bunch of times and it always turns out delicious. I’ve never found a need for any cheese. Tastes great by itself!

    • Kristy says:

      I agree completely, cheese is not essential. It really is a most simple and satisfying dish. Thanks for letting us know that you liked it.

  9. Hortense says:

    This look delish! Will try it will red Camargue rice!

  10. Sherrie says:

    While it looks delicious, I don’t understand the soaking of lentils and rice in this recipe. What type of both were you using?

    • Kristy says:

      Hi Sherrie,
      I use long grain brown rice and usually black beluga lentils. It isn’t absolutely necessary to soak the lentils and rice but I find that it has a better texture and the rice cooks a little faster.

  11. Jen says:

    Thanks for the recipe!

    I tried it and thought it was OK..I like how simple and healthy it is, but the flavor was a bit bland for me. The lentils were really mushy, so I’m going to try it again just soaking the rice. Am also going to try it with cumin powder instead of the oregano.

  12. Paige says:

    Do you have to soak the lentils first?

    • Kristy says:

      Hi Paige,
      It’s not absolutely necessary to soak the lentils first especially if you are using a variety that cooks/softens quickly. I prefer black (beluga) lentils in this recipe and find that they do better when soaked first. If you use a french green or brown lentil then you could do without soaking first.

  13. Kaity says:

    Hello! Can this be frozen? Looks delish but am looking for make-ahead meals! :)

  14. sl says:

    I got green lentil are walmart. Should I soak them first. If I use instant br rice, should I soak it first? Thanks for yout help. the recipe sounds so yummy and healthy!!

    • Kristy says:

      No, with green lentils and instant rice I wouldn’t soak them first. I also wouldn’t add the rice until later in the cooking process or it might get overdone and mushy.

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