Who knew that such a simple set of ingredients could create such a beautiful result? Lentils are an obvious powerhouse, but when soaked and mixed with just a few simple ingredients (literally, salt and water), they’re at their very best – in my opinion. A great source of protein and a host of nutrients, these make a wonderful wrap filled with all of your favorite goodies.
Since officially committing to a vegan, plant-based menu, we’ve found ourselves in an even greater deep dive to keep fresh food on hand, spend even more time in the kitchen, and explore more flavors. Most pro-healthy eating advocates out there are already completely aware of the magic that is lentils. But, how many of you have actually made turned them into tortillas? (Leave a comment with your favorite use for red lentil tortillas, if you have!)
What you’ll love about red lentil tortillas
Both a vegan and gluten-free alternative to traditional tortillas. Lentils serve as the foundation for these “tortillas,” and most of us probably have plenty of lentils hanging around the kitchen. Though these are a little less flexible than a traditional tortilla (limit their use for traditional or open-faced tacos, or wraps), they are a delicious burst of flavor and more accessible to a variety of diets.
They use just a few ingredients that are easily customizable. Don’t you love it when pantry items can come together for a delicious treat? I suggest allowing these to soak a little before blending, but these are perfect for your meal planning schedule. Plus, you can keep these finished lentil tortillas in an air-tight container for a few days or freeze for use later in the week!
As always, we want to profile foods that are as environmentally-friendly as possible. You can rest easy knowing that you are eating a climate-friendly food. Lentils have a relatively low carbon footprint, especially when comparing with other protein-rich foods. Plus, their use as a rotation crop in many regions improves their value even more. Woohoo!
Minimally-processed ingredients make this one of the freshest tortilla options available. These tortillas include just a few simple ingredients, making this recipe quite beautiful in its simplicity. Of course, you can add your own customizations to the batter, but the traditional recipe is one of ease and delicious flavor. Keep in mind that the lack of preservatives in these lentil tortillas means they don’t last as long outside of the freezer. As mentioned earlier, you can enjoy them for a longer period of time by dividing your tortillas into two categories: (a) eat within a few days and (b) freeze to each later.
High in protein. Lentils pack one of the best protein punches within the legume family. For those of us on a plant-based diet, our sources of protein come from a variety of categories, and lentils are a wonderful vehicle to add more protein to your daily intake. Speaking of recipes that add protein to your diet, I highly recommend these chickpea brownie bites!
Split or whole red lentils. I prefer split red lentils.
Kosher Salt. Just a teaspoon is helpful to bring out the flavor of the lentils.
Water. Water is necessary to release the magic. First, lentils should be rinsed under cold tap water. Then, additional water is needed to allow the lentils to soak.
Optional: Vegan-friendly sriracha sauce. Add a little zest to your lentil tortillas by making the flavor a bit more complex! I love a savory sauce and just a teaspoon (or two) of sriracha sauce makes these tortillas extra delicious.
How to make these red lentil tortillas
Rinse and soak the red lentils.
2-4 hours, just to be safe. Our goal is a pourable, yet cohesive batter. If you’re like us – and haven’t upgraded to a high-powered blender yet – you definitely want to ensure the lentils have soaked long enough that your blender won’t struggle to blend. In other words, help your blender out!
Add to a blender with high-speed capacity.
Do not drain the water before adding the lentils and water to the blender. Add salt and any flavorings to the lentils. Blend until smooth, with the time dependent upon the power of your machine. Continue to blend until the batter is completely smooth, with no small lumps remaining.
Heat your skillet, but pay attention to temperature.
It is important to make sure the skillet is warm, but not overly hot. Aim for a medium or medium-low temperature and use your patience to let these cook. Once you pour the batter into the pan, it should cook for about 2-3 minutes per side. Before flipping, though, gently check the sides of the tortillas with your spatula to make sure it isn’t sticking (too much) to the skillet. If it doesn’t want to move, try letting it cook for another 20-30 seconds before trying again.
Let the tortillas cool and use or freeze.
These tortillas are fresh, meaning they’re delicious, but won’t stay shelf stable forever. Store these in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a few days, or freeze and store for up to 6 months.
Allow the tortillas to cool on a wire rack before storing. I keep them in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. If you need more time to use the tortillas, go ahead and place them in a freezer-safe container and freeze for later use.
Red Lentil Tortillas
- 1 cup split red lentils
- 1 3/4 cups cold tap water
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon vegan sriracha sauce optional
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, or cooking oil of your choice optional, to grease skillet
- Soak the lentils in cold tap water for 4 hours.
- Pour the soaked lentils (including the water) into a blender. Add salt and any added seasoning of your choice. Blend on high until the batter becomes uniformly smooth in consistency.
- Using a non-stick skillet over medium-low or medium heat, add oil and coat pan bottom. Pour approximately 1/4 cup of the lentil tortilla batter into the skillet.
- Gently use the back of a metal measuring cup or spoon to even out the batter and form a circular tortilla. Patch any "broken" areas with some extra batter.
- Allow to cook for 2 - 3 minutes, or until the surface starts to appear cooked. Using a non-stick spatula, gently nudge the edges of the tortilla to make sure it is not clinging to the skillet.
- Once you feel it is separating easily enough from the bottom of the skillet, slide the spatula under the tortilla and flip. If any part breaks, you can try adding a little extra batter as a "patch." Allow to cook for approximately 2 more minutes, or until the tortilla is cooked and behaving like a pancake.
- Remove from the skillet and allow to cool on a wire cooling rack. Repeat until all tortilla batter has been cooked.
- Serve warm, or store in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Freeze additional tortillas for longer term storage.
Pro Tip: If using a blender that is less powerful than most (you know, a non-Ninja or Vitamix brand…like us!), keep an eye on the batter as it rests awaiting cooking. Blend again before adding to the skillet, if it appears to visibly or drastically separate.
Lentils are considered a “climate-friendly” protein by the Environmental Working Group with an incredibly low post-production emissions impact, as cited by this helpful OneGreenPlanet article. We love protein, and we especially love protein that is good for the environment! Fun fact: the majority of the world’s lentils are grown in Canada – a country that only started growing these little powerhouses in the 1970s. Crazy!
Frequently Asked Questions
How long can red lentil tortillas be stored?
I suggest storing in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days, or in the freezer for up to six months.
How do I prevent the tortillas from sticking to the pan?
First, use a non-stick skillet, like a cast iron skillet. I suggest adding 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan to decrease the likelihood of sticking. Do not try to tilt the pan itself to attempt to spread the batter – use the back of a measuring cup or other metal spoon to gently spread the batter. I also use a non-stick spatula to flip the red lentil tortillas, but am gentle and start around the edges to gauge if any part of the tortilla center is trying to stick to the pan before making any large movements.
Does the lentil soaking time matter?
The beauty of lentils is that they need less time to soak than other beans (or legumes in general) because of their small size and thin seed coats. Since they soften relatively quickly, there is no need to soak these overnight (though, some still do to accommodate their cooking schedule). In fact, to cook red lentils, you don’t technically need to soak them for hours, but we are trying to achieve a creamy consistency for thin tortillas, which is why I suggest soaking them for about 4 hours.
Can I make this dish using whole red lentils?
Though I recommend using split lentils, some have had success with whole lentils. The trick is to make sure the whole lentils are able to achieve a creamy, cohesive batter. My suggestion is to soak the whole lentils longer – try 6 hours instead of 4 in order to make them as soft as possible before blending.
Can this batter be made ahead of time?
Yes, you can blend the lentils before cooking. Keep the batter in an airtight container in the fridge and be prepared to give it a quick blend before cooking. I wouldn’t wait more than 24 hours; though, you are welcome to give it a little longer and report what happens!
Can I substitute with canned lentils?
Though I have not personally tried this with canned lentils, you should still have success making these tortillas. Note that the canned variety will already be soaked, so do not need to soak – or include as much water – as the raw form. Try blending the can of lentils and adding tap water as needed to achieve a creamy, but pourable batter.
How can I minimize soaking time?
If you’re short on time, you can try adding boiling water and soaking the lentils for 10 – 30 minutes before blending.