How to sort lentils

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Here’s how to sort lentils to remove any stones or debris, quickly and easily.

Lentils sheet pan POST
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Yes, we are talking about lentils. Chocolate will be on the docket again soon enough…

It may seem like a step you can skip, sorting through the lentils before cooking them. But once you discover that not all that is lentil is in the bag of lentils, the sorting step will never be skipped again.

I used to pour lentils into a colander and run my hand through them to see what was what. It wasn’t effective. Frances, my culinary school teacher, taught us to spread them out on a sheet pan, a simple but brilliant way that makes very swift, and above all accurate, work of picking out anything that is not lentil from the bunch. It might be a tiny stone, or some small grains, that you want to get rid of. There typically isn’t much of this, but usually something, and that something makes the task necessary and worthwhile.

Spread the lentils out evenly on the sheet pan by giving the pan a good shake from side to side. The lentils sound like rainfall and look remarkably perfect, a nice bonus without any OCD painstaking. My sort rule is to remove anything that isn’t the shape and color of the lentils, even if it might just be a misshapen lentil. With the French green lentils, some are split and yellow inside; those I recognize and allow them to stay with the team.

The process takes about a minute, and when you’re done the sheet pan is still clean and can go right back where it came from. Easy!

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  1. Vicki Olds says:

    Ms. Abood; Gee, … you are elegant and to the POINT in your presentation of kitchen and food prep knowledge; cooking tips, wisdom and, finally your website presentation is superior-ly organized and comprehisive. Thank you! Thank you. As a cook and media producer and publisher myself — in Print & in Motion since 1991 — I would only suggest that you revisit the “gamma” parameters for photo images on your website. Get them all to be as clear and crisp as you’d like, and in the gamma-range so different monitors using different web browsers can experience the photographic images, here, in the same “light”. I.e., some of the photos published here are much grayer and “tone deaf” than others. It’s easy to fix in Photoshop. Be well, and stay warm, and beautiful and creative in the kitchen chemistries creations!

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      Hi Vicki! Thanks so much for your kind words and for sharing your tips here! I’m in a huge process of updating my site including photos. It’s a big and lengthy endeavor but I’ll get to all of them eventually…

  2. Judy says:

    I have been doing this – yes, stones are found. My favorite lentil is the Pardinas lentil. Taste best and the shell is very digestible.

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      Beautiful pardinas lentils! Thank you Judy for the note.

  3. Kira says:

    Are the lentils supposed to be dry or wet when you spread them out? How is the pan still clean? Germs count!

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      Hi Kira–yes, the lentils are dry when you sort them!

  4. Lenita Richardson says:

    What a wonderfully simple idea! Thanks for posting! 🙂

  5. Lenita Richardson says:

    I found your page on the first try after keying in”how to sort lentils” on Google. This is such a great idea! Thanks for posting!

  6. Tlazolteotl says:

    haha, cool!
    Let me know if you find a gold nudget 😀