Kung Pao Lentils over brown rice on a black plate with chopsticks
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4.85 from 40 votes

Kung Pao Lentils

Spicy, sweet, and sour Kung Pao Lentils come together with a delicious kung pao sauce, veggies, and cooked lentils. This is a super easy one pot, 30 minute weeknight dinner that is gluten-free and vegan.  The earthy lentils and Asian flavors of garlic, ginger, and soy sauce work perfect together.  Serve these vegan lentils with brown rice to turn it into a complete meal!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Entree
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: Kung Pao Lentils
Servings: 3
Calories: 283kcal
Author: Vegan Richa


For the Lentils:

  • 1/2 cup dry brown lentils washed and drained
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • a generous pinch of salt

For the Sauce:

  • 2-3 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp dry sherry or rice wine
  • 1 tsp hoisin sauce or use more soy sauce
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 2-3 tsp raw sugar or use 1 to 2 Tbsp maple syrup or other sweetener
  • a generous dash of lime zest 1/4 tsp
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 3 Tbsp water

For the vegetables:

  • 2 tsp grapeseed oil or other neutral oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped white or red onion
  • 4 dried red chilies like arbol or red chinese broken into halfs (or use red pepper flakes to taste)
  • 3 Tbsp cashews or peanuts
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 inch knob of ginger, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 3/4 cup chopped celery
  • lemon juice and black pepper, for garnish


  • Cook the Lentils: Combine the lentils, water, and salt in a saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil over medium high heat, about 6 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the lentils are tender to preference. Let the lentils sit for 5 minutes before using. Drain excess water if needed and keep aside. Or use 1 1/4 cup cooked lentils or beans.
  • Make the Sauce: Combine all the sauce ingredients into a bowl. Mix well to combine and keep aside.
  • Cook the Veggies: Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add onion and chilies and cook for 3 minutes. Add the cashews or peanuts and mix for a few seconds. Add garlic and ginger and mix in. Add the peppers and celery and mix well. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Add in the sauce and cooked lentils and mix well. Add a few more tbsp water, if you like extra sauce. Reduce heat to low and cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until the sauce thickens and some is absorbed by the lentils. Taste and adjust spice and sweet. Add red pepper flakes to taste, if needed, and mix in. Garnish with a dash of lemon juice and black pepper. Serve with cooked rice or grains of choice.



I used Brown Basmati Rice with the lentils: Make it in pressure cooker. Add 1 cup washed brown rice, scant 1 1/2 cup water, a generous pinch of salt, and a few drops of oil to the pressure cooker. Close the lid and cook for over medium high heat until the pressure reaches and then over low-medium heat, total 18 to 19 minutes. (1 whistle and then 13 to 14 minutes over low-medium heat). Let the pressure release naturally.
Nutritional values based on one serving.


Calories: 283kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 413mg | Potassium: 672mg | Fiber: 12g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 1680IU | Vitamin C: 87.6mg | Calcium: 51mg | Iron: 3.6mg