Jerk spices are among my favorite flavors: whenever I smell a little jerk seasoning, it feels like a big warm hug. Jerk seasoning is not limited to use with meat–trust me, you can still enjoy the flavors in fun plant-based ways.--Rachel Ama


Lentils can be confusing if you’re not a full-time legume eater. This recipe calls for Puy (or Le Puy) lentils which are also sold in the US as French green lentils. A small, gray-green legume, Le Puy lentils come from a specific place in France, where they’ve grown for over 2,000 years. They’re recognized for their peppery flavor and ability to retain their shape after cooking.

They have a high protein and fiber content, making them desirable for vegan diets. If you can’t find them, you can substitute most other lentils. Brown makes the best sub, while red makes an unappealing substitution in a recipe like this, as they get really soft, really fast. They’re best left for thickening soups and stews.

A large bowl filled with jerk spiced lentils topped with cilantro and sliced green onions, flanked by a bowl of sliced red onions and another bowl of rice.

Jerk-Style Lentils

5 / 4 votes
In this recipe, the dried lentils absorb the jerk spices and flavors for a seriously delicious dish. Full of Caribbean attitude and vegan sensibilities, you're going to love the taste and aroma of my jerk-style lentils.
David Leite
Servings4 to 6 servings
Calories348 kcal
Prep Time25 minutes
Cook Time45 minutes
Total Time1 hour 10 minutes


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 (8 oz) red onion, sliced
  • Thumb-sized (about 1 tablespoon) piece of fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons jerk seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon tomato purée
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 4 large (2 1/4 lbs) tomatoes, quartered
  • 10 1/2 ounces dried Puy lentils
  • 1 1/2 pints store-bought vegetable broth or homemade vegetable stock
  • 1/2 Scotch bonnet chile, seeded
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • Handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 scallions, sliced
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • In a deep skillet over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the onion and sauté until softened and slightly browned, about 5 minutes.
  • Stir in ginger, jerk seasoning, maple syrup, tomato purée, and garlic. Sauté for 3 minutes, then add the tomatoes, lentils, vegetable stock, chile, and thyme. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to maintain a simmer and cook until the lentils have softened, 35 to 45 minutes.
  • Sprinkle cilantro and scallions on top and serve. The lentils will keep in the fridge for 3 days or in the freezer for 3 months.
One Pot: Three Ways Cookbook

Adapted From

One Pot: Three Ways

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Serving: 1 servingCalories: 348 kcalCarbohydrates: 54 gProtein: 21 gFat: 5 gSaturated Fat: 1 gMonounsaturated Fat: 3 gSodium: 767 mgFiber: 25 gSugar: 7 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2021 Rachel Ama. Photo © 2021 Haraala Hamilton. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

These jerk-style lentils were absolutely delicious! When you initially hear jerk seasoning, you automatically think of traditional jerk chicken, not jerk lentils. However, the jerk seasoning worked perfectly with the lentils and was such a surprisingly flavorful dish, that you won’t even think of chicken. The combination of flavors created such rich, deep and savory flavors.  

I wasn’t sure if the half of the scotch bonnet chile and tablespoon and a half of jerk seasoning would be too overpowering, but it turned out to be just the perfect amount of spiciness. The aromas alone in the kitchen during cooking were mouthwatering. The fact that this was also a meatless dish packed with so much flavor was another great surprise! This dish could easily be on a menu at a restaurant. This was by far one of the best and most delicious lentil recipes that I have ever eaten.

Lentils are a favorite of mine, whether simply prepared as a salad with shallots and a Dijon vinaigrette and now in this tasty version with spice, ginger, and tomatoes. These lentils are so good they don’t need to be served with anything else. The jerk spice isn’t too assertive and the ginger adds a nice bit of zing. 

They’re good warm, room temp, and cold out of the fridge. The cilantro and scallions add crunch and brightness to the mellow flavors of the spices and ginger. I took them to work for a mid-shift snack all week and they were delightful.

I’ve made jerk chicken countless times and always enjoy the heck out of it and while I’ve thought it would be good with pork, I never considered lentils. So when I saw this recipe, I had to make it. And boy was I glad I did! It’s very easy to make, gives you the satisfaction of making your own jerk seasoning, and is absolutely delicious.

With three easy steps, I had the dish on the table within an hour. The lentils simmer for a good 30 minutes, allowing the seasonings to really come alive and the tomatoes to soften, adding a nice tartness to the spicy jerk lentils. I loved the idea of maple syrup to give a touch of sweetness, and it’s the kind of dish that allows you to crank up (or down) the heat level. Of course, the kitchen smelled wonderful. I served it with coconut rice, which was a perfect complement to the full flavor of the lentils. A definite go-to meal for weekdays.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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