Two red bowls filled with slow cooker lentil stew, showing potatoes and vegetables, with silver spoons and a plate with toasted bread next to it
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Slow Cooker Lentil Stew

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This easy Slow Cooker Lentil Stew may be a basic recipe (it only calls for 6 ingredients, excluding salt and pepper) but it tastes amazing and can be made with brown or green lentils!

This Slow Cooker Lentil Stew is brimming with veggies, super nutritious, and unbelievably easy to make, not to mention filling! It has hearty potatoes, protein-rich lentils, and good-for-you greens that simmer together in the crock pot for an easy weeknight dinner.
Plus, this slow cooker lentil stew is great for those days when you’ve got a million things to do but still want to come home to a comforting, wholesome meal.

Closeup of a red bowl filled with slow cooker lentil stew, showing potatoes and vegetables, with toasted bread and another bowl with stew in the background

There’s something about making lentil stew in the slow cooker that changes it up. Letting lentils take their time in the slow cooker to absorb flavor that just works wonders. They come out perfectly tender but still have some chew, and the broth. So good! All the flavors of the veggies and spices get to really mingle together, compared to making it on rush on the stovetop. So, if you’ve got a bag of lentils to use up just toss them in the crock pot!

Slow Cooker Lentil Stew Overview

Cuisine Inspiration: American
Number of Ingredients: 8
Feeds: A family of 8-10
Total Cook Time: 7 hours, 20 minutes
Primary Cooking Method: Slow Cooking
Dietary Info: Low-fat (can be made vegan by choosing vegetable broth)
Key Flavor: Earthy with a hearty, garlicky warmth
Skill Level: Beginner

Notable mentions

  • Meal Prep: This easy slow cooker lentil stew is a meal prepper’s friend. Cook a big batch on Sunday, and you’ll have a fridge full of healthy, ready-to-go meals for the week.
  • Seasonal Flexibility: While it’s comforting enough to take the chill off a cold winter’s evening, this stew’s mix of veggies keeps it feeling fresh and light. That means it’s just as perfect for those cool spring nights or when you want something satisfying in the summer without the heaviness.
  • Effortless Prep: Forget about fussy steps or constant stirring. Just chop up your veggies, rinse the lentils, and throw everything into the slow cooker.
  • Budget-Friendly: Lentils are not only nutritious and filling but also cheap. Like, INCREDIBLY cheap. You don’t have to spend a lot to eat well!

Ingredients to make Slow Cooker Lentil Stew

  • Lentils: Stick with green or brown lentils for this stew! They hold up during slow cooking, unlike red lentils, which tend to turn to mush.
  • Mixed Frozen Veggies: This is your time saver, adding variety and color without extra prep work. Yet, nothing’s stopping you from mixing in any fresh veggies you’ve got lying around!
  • Celery Stalks: The fresher, the better! These add a nice crunch and a fresh, slightly peppery flavor that really brightens up the stew.
  • Potatoes: They thicken the stew and add that heartiness we all love and crave.
  • Broth: The flavorful base. Veggie broth keeps it vegan-friendly, but chicken broth adds a little extra depth if you’re not avoiding meat.
  • Minced Garlic: Because garlic breath is worth it when it tastes this good!
  • Salt & Pepper: For that perfect seasoning. You can use the quantities in the recipe card, or adjust to taste.
Overhead shot of two bowls of slow cooker lentil stew and a white plate with toasted bread on a marble countertop

How to make Slow Cooker Lentil Stew

  1. Gently add all the ingredients to your slow cooker.
  2. Pour the broth over the lentils, ensuring that the liquid covers everything for even cooking. Then, season with salt and pepper, and give it a good stir.
  3. Cover the slow cooker with its lid, set it to low heat, and let the stew slow cook away until the lentils are soft.
A step by step image collage on how to make slow cooker lentil stew with ingredients, mixing all the ingredients in the pot, adding the broth and stirring, and final stew after cooking

Making Slow Cooker Lentil Stew As A Dump Freezer Meal

If you want to turn this into a prep, then freeze and dump in the crock pot for those days you don’t feel like cooking you can! Dried lentils and all!

Preparation For Freezing:

  1. Combine Ingredients: In a large zip-lock freezer bag, place the rinsed uncooked lentils, mixed frozen vegetables, diced fresh celery stalks, and diced potatoes.
  2. Add Seasonings: To the bag, add the minced garlic, salt, and freshly ground black pepper. This will ensure your stew is flavorful from the start.
  3. Seal and Mix: Before sealing the bag, expel as much air as possible to prevent freezer burn. Gently shake or knead the bag to distribute the seasonings and ensure that the lentils and vegetables are evenly mixed.
  4. Label and Freeze: Mark the freezer bag with the date and the recipe name, “Slow Cooker Lentil Stew.” Flatten the bag for efficient storage, and freeze it in a manner that facilitates easy thawing later.

Cooking From Thawed:

  1. Broth Addition: When you’re ready to cook, transfer the thawed contents into your slow cooker. Add 10 cups of chicken or vegetable broth, ensuring that the liquid fully covers the ingredients for even cooking.
  2. Cooking Time: Cover the slow cooker with its lid, set it to low heat, and let the stew cook for 7 to 8 hours. Alternatively, if you’re short on time, you can cook it on high heat for about 3-4 hours. Either way, the stew is done once the lentils are tender and the flavors have melded beautifully.
  3. Final Stir: Give the stew a good stir before serving to blend all the flavors together. Adjust the seasoning with more salt and pepper if needed.

Cooking From Frozen (No-Thaw Method):

  1. Transfer to Slow Cooker: Carefully cut open the freezer bag and empty its frozen contents into the slow cooker. There’s no need to thaw beforehand.
  2. Add Broth: Pour 10 cups of chicken or vegetable broth over the frozen ingredients. It’s crucial that the broth fully covers the ingredients to ensure even cooking and proper hydration of the lentils.
  3. Adjust Cooking Time: When cooking from frozen, the stew may require a bit longer to reach full tenderness and flavor melding. Set your slow cooker to low and cook for 8-9 hours, or on high for 4-5 hours. The key indicator of doneness is the tenderness of the lentils and vegetables.
  4. Stir and Serve: Once the cooking time is complete, stir the stew thoroughly to mix all the ingredients and flavors together. Taste and adjust the seasoning with additional salt and pepper if necessary.
  • Butternut Squash: Add about 2 cups of cubed butternut squash to the mix. It’ll soften up in the slow cooker, adding a creamy texture and a sweet, yummy nutty flavor.
  • Sweet Potato Swap: If you’re looking to switch up the starch, sweet potatoes are your go-to. They not only bring a sweet contrast to the savory flavors but also thicken the crockpot lentil stew beautifully as they soften.
  • Add Bay Leaves: Toss in a couple of bay leaves for an extra layer of flavor. They add a subtle herbal depth that makes the stew taste like it’s been simmerin’ for days. Just remember to fish them out before serving – they’re not so pleasant to chomp down on.
  • Seasoning Switch-Up: Shake up the seasoning by adding a teaspoon of smoked paprika or cumin for a smoky twist, or a pinch of chili flakes for a bit of heat. Feel free to play around with your favorite herbs and spices to make it uniquely yours!
  • Hearty Greens Addition: About 30 minutes before the stew is done, stir in some chopped kale or spinach. They’ll wilt down and add a pop of color, not to mention a nutritional boost.

Tips for making the best crockpot lentil stew

  1. Rinse Those Lentils Well: Before they hit the slow cooker, give your lentils a thorough rinse under cold water. This not only removes any dirt or debris but can also help reduce any natural bitterness.
  2. Layer the Ingredients Like a Pro: When adding your ingredients to the slow cooker, start with the lentils, then veggies, and finally pour the broth over everything. That’s THE strategy to help the lentils cook evenly and absorb all the broth.
  3. Keep the Heat Low and Slow: I know, you want to enjoy a hearty bowl of lentil stew ASAP, but resist the urge to crank up the heat to high. Cooking your stew on low heat for the full 7 to 8 hours allows the flavors to develop and meld together.
  4. Taste and Adjust Seasoning: About an hour before your stew is done, give it a taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary. Sometimes (just sometimes) the slow cooking process can mellow flavors, so this is your chance to add a bit more salt or pepper if needed.
Closeup of a bowl filled with slow cooker lentil stew, showing potatoes and vegetables, with toasted bread and another bowl with stew in the background

How to store & reheat Slow Cooker Lentil Stew

Once your lentil stew has cooled down a bit, transfer it into airtight containers and store them in the fridge. A little tip: shallow containers can help the stew cool quicker and more evenly.

You can reheat the stew in the microwave or back in a pot on the stove. If using the microwave, cover the container with a microwave-safe lid or paper towel and heat on high for a couple of minutes, stirring halfway through. On the stove, warm it over medium heat, adding a splash of water or broth if it’s looking a bit thick.

How long will Slow Cooker Lentil Stew last in the fridge?

Your slow cooker lentil stew will stay tasty in the fridge for up to 5 days. Just make sure it’s properly sealed up in those airtight containers!

Can I freeze This slow cooker lentil stew recipe?

Freezing is a great option if you’ve made a big batch! Pour the cooled stew into freezer-safe bags or containers, leaving a little space at the top for expansion. Label them with the date, and you’ll have a homemade, hearty meal ready to go for up to 3 months. To enjoy, let it thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.

What to serve with Slow Cooker Lentil Stew

  • Bread: Is there anything better than a piece of warm, crunchy toast or a soft, fluffy roll to dunk into your stew? I think not. It’s like they were made for each other!
  • Cornbread: For those of you ready to level up, pairing this stew with cornbread or, wait for it, cornbread dumplings, is where it’s at. The slight sweetness of the cornbread is just perfect with the savory stew.
  • Rice, Rice, Baby: A scoop of rice on the side makes this dish feel even more like a hug in a bowl. Whether it’s a fragrant cilantro lime rice (a personal fave) or cauliflower rice for those keeping it light, you can’t go wrong.
  • Green Salad: After a bowl of this hearty and easy slow cooker lentil stew, a crisp green salad is like a breath of fresh air. I love tossing together whatever greens I have, maybe some kale or arugula, with a simple vinaigrette.

Frequently asked questions

Do I have to soak the lentils before cooking?

Not at all, but if you feel like it, go ahead. Soaking lentils can reduce cooking time a bit and some say it makes them easier to digest.

Can I add meat to this stew?

Absolutely, you can! If you’re a meat lover, feel free to add diced chicken, beef, or even sausage. Just brown your choice of meat in a skillet before adding it to the slow cooker.

How do I know when the lentils are cooked?

Your lentils are done when they’re tender and have absorbed most of the liquid, but still hold their shape without being mushy. This usually takes about 7-8 hours on low in the slow cooker.

Two bowls filled with slow cooker lentil stew, showing potatoes and veggies, with toasted bread and another bowl with stew in the background

Even if you’re big on meaty stews, this Slow Cooker Lentil Stew is so hearty and flavorful, that you won’t feel like you’re missing out on anything. Trust me! It works whether you’re looking to cozy up with a warm bowl on a chilly evening or need a trusty meal prep solution for the week ahead. So, grab your slow cooker and let’s get stewing!

More Easy Slow Cooker Recipes:

I want to hear from you! If you try this easy Slow Cooker Lentil Stew recipe or any other of my easy recipes on Dinner in 5, then don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave a comment below! I read all the comments and respond!

Closeup of a red bowl filled with slow cooker lentil stew, with potatoes and vegetables
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Slow Cooker Lentil Stew

This easy Slow Cooker Lentil Stew may be a basic recipe (it only calls for 6 ingredients, excluding salt and pepper) but it tastes amazing and can be made with brown or green lentils!
No ratings yet
Author Jackie
Servings 8 servings
Course Main Course
Calories 261
Prep Time 20 minutes
0 minutes
Cook Time 7 hours
Total Time 7 hours 20 minutes

Equipment

Ingredients
  

  • cup uncooked lentils brown or green, rinsed
  • 4 cups mixed frozen vegetables
  • 5 celery ribs diced
  • cups potatoes diced
  • 10 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 4 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon salt or to taste
  • teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  • Gently add all the ingredients to your slow cooker.
  • Pour the broth over the lentils, ensuring that the liquid covers everything for even cooking. Then, season with salt and pepper, and give it a good stir.
  • Cover the slow cooker with its lid, set it to low heat, and let the stew simmer away for 7 to 8 hours or until the lentils are soft.

Notes

  • Rinse Those Lentils Well: Before they hit the slow cooker, give your lentils a thorough rinse under cold water. This not only removes any dirt or debris but can also help reduce any natural bitterness.
  • Layer the Ingredients Like a Pro: When adding your ingredients to the slow cooker, start with the lentils, then veggies, and finally pour the broth over everything. That’s THE strategy to help the lentils cook evenly and absorb all the broth.
  • Keep the Heat Low and Slow: I know, you want to enjoy a hearty bowl of lentil stew ASAP, but resist the urge to crank up the heat to high. Cooking your stew on low heat for the full 7 to 8 hours allows the flavors to develop and meld together.
  • Taste and Adjust Seasoning: About an hour before your stew is done, give it a taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary. Sometimes (just sometimes) the slow cooking process can mellow flavors, so this is your chance to add a bit more salt or pepper if needed.

Nutrition

Serving: 1.5 cups, Calories: 261kcal, Carbohydrates: 48g, Protein: 16g, Fat: 2g, Saturated Fat: 0.2g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.5g, Monounsaturated Fat: 0.2g, Cholesterol: 6mg, Sodium: 2013mg, Potassium: 894mg, Fiber: 16g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 4656IU, Vitamin C: 25mg, Calcium: 73mg, Iron: 4mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate. It will vary based on cooking method and specific ingredients used.

Cuisine American

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