Do Lentils Go Bad? | How To Tell If It’s Time To Toss Them?

Do Lentils Go Bad? | How To Tell If It's Time To Toss Them?

Lentils are among the best high-protein low-calorie vegan foods from the family of legumes that are full of essential nutrients for the heart, gut, and muscles. Lentils are rich in various nutrients like iron, zinc, folate, and many more. It also provides significant plant protein and fiber. Lentils do not load your body with unwanted calories or carbs. These superfoods are one of the most affordable options for multi-nutrition.

Like all food items, Lentils also come with an expiry date and require proper storage for using them in a hygienic and fresh way. After buying a pack of lentils, people often struggle with including them every day in meals.

Does a question arise of how long lentils last? Using expired lentils can cause health risks. This article will guide you on how to tell if lentils are bad and ways to store lentils longer.

How long do lentils last?

The shelf life of lentils varies greatly on their packaging and stage. Lentils are sold in two packages- cans/tins and dry lentils. Canned Lentils are ready to eat or cook directly from the tin without any further process. They are submerged in a preserving solution. Dried lentils cannot be consumed raw. Thorough rinsing and a duration for 25-30 mins cooking are required for lentils to become soft and edible. The shelf life of lentils is as follows:

Type Of LentilShelf Life
Dried Lentils (unopened)2-3 years or 6 months to 1 year
Dried Lentils(opened)1-2 years or expiration date
Canned Lentils(unopened)1-2 years if stored correctly
Canned Lentils(opened)2-3 days with refrigeration
Cooked Lentils3-4 days with refrigeration

These are based on general estimations and under the condition that lentils were stored ideally. The shelf life can differ based on your storage method. If lentils are outdated or kept for a very long time, it’s best to inspect them for any spoilage signs.

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How Long Do Dried Lentils Last?

Dried Lentils have a higher shelf life than canned or cooked lentils as they are not exposed to moisture or any growth mechanism which can spoil them. Dried Lentils usually last for a good 2 to 3 years, based on the brand. Some brands have a low shelf life of 6 months to 1 year. This is just for unopened dried lentils.

Once you open the lentils, it’s recommended to use them up within a year for the best health and taste. You must refer to the product packaging to see the manufacture date and best-before date to get the precise shelf life of the specific brand of dried lentils.

How To Store Dried Lentils?

Opened packets of dried lentils must be stored nicely for preserving their usability. Store the dried lentils in an airtight container and place them in a cool, dry place away from sunlight with no scope for moisture build-up. The moment moisture enters the container, it will lead to molds.

You also should be careful to keep it safe from any bugs. Use insect repellent around your cabinets. Lastly, for ease of remembering, put the expiry date label behind your container.

How To Store Cooked Lentils?

How To Store Cooked Lentils?

Cooked Lentils are more prone to spoilage. They can easily grow molds and bacteria. Wondering how to store lentils for a long time? It’s best to exhaust cooked lentils on the same day itself. But if you are left with some extra batch, there are some tips to store lentils effectively.

Place the cooked lentils in an airtight container and put it in the refrigerator within 2 hours of cooking. These lentils will last for 5 – 7 days. You can also freeze the lentils. This option allows you to extend the shelf life of cooked lentils to 3 to 4 months. Simply use a container specialized for freezing or any good quality freeze bag.

How To Tell If Lentils Are Bad?

Keeping an eye out for your lentils is the best practice for avoiding any unhealthy consumption. These are some signs of spoiled lentils or lentils close to expiration. 

Visual Signs

  • Dried Lentils: Moulds, discoloration, insect build-up, holes
  • Cooked Lentils: Moulds, white layers
  • Canned Lentils: Puffed can, dents, holes, leakage, bulge

Olfactory Signs

  • Dried Lentils: off smell
  • Cooked Lentils: unpleasant bacterial smell like rotten egg
  • Canned Lentils: foul/ too sour smell 

Gustatory Signs

  • Dried Lentils: You can make a small batch and take a taste test.
  • Cooked Lentils: Funky or sour taste
  • Canned Lentils: off flavor and stale taste

It’s advisable to throw the lentils if you notice the olfactory and gustatory signs or if your cooked lentils and opened cans have been sitting for more than a week. In case of visual factors, try a batch test by cooking a handful of lentils and inspecting their smell and taste.

Can I Use Expired Lentils?

Can I Use Expired Lentils?

If you are someone who is wondering about eating expired lentils and also about their effect on humans from a health perspective, then you should consider these facts. In general, eating expired items like meat or eggs can negatively affect human health. It can cause serious health issues like food poisoning.

But talking about lentils, you can consume expired ones only after assessing and rinsing them properly. Generally, lentils retain their best quality for 2 to 3 years after that; their vitamin content fades away. They can still be eaten but with less taste, texture, and nutritional value.

Secondly, expired lentils take longer than usual for cooking evenly. So, it’s essential to give extra time in cooking the lentils past expiration. The dry state of lentils helps provide them a longer and more durable life, making them a safe option for consuming expired.


This was all about the shelf life of lentils. It’s important to be mindful of their shelf life and storage conditions to ensure that they don’t go bad and cause digestive issues.

We persuade you to follow safe food practices. Since lentils by nature cause gas because they contain high levels of Raffinose, a complex carbohydrate that can be difficult to digest and leading to gas and bloating. Eating expired lentils can exacerbate these digestive problems and potentially cause food poisoning.

It’s best to bring dried lentils and cook them in small to large batches according to the volume of use. Freezing is also an innovative technique to lock the bacterial growth in cooked lentils and extend their shelf life to 3-4 months.

You can make many healthy and wholesome meals from lentils, so use them best. Don’t leave your lentils unnoticed on the shelf; pick up and whip up some protein-rich dishes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Cooked lentils have less shelf life than uncooked ones as cooked lentils have undergone a fermentation process that invites bacterial and mold growth. Uncooked lentils are dry, so they can last safely for 2-3 years on your shelf.

Packaging is the protective layer for lentils. Packed dried lentils are safe from moisture and bugs. Pre-cooked lentils that come in tin allow it to last for 1 year when unopened and 7 days when opened. Lastly, cooked lentils have a better shelf life when kept in airtight containers.

The safety of long-stored lentils will depend on their condition. Check for visual signs and evaluate the odor and taste of the lentils before consuming. Opened cans and cooked lentils must not be consumed after 5 to 7 days.

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