French Split Lentils with Caramelized Onion & Potatoes

split lentils
Split lentils, caramelized onion, and crispy potatoes make this lentil dish a hearty, delicious, and flavorful plant-based meal.

I love lentils.

And I’m certain I’ve said that before.

In my book, lentils are just about the perfect food: they taste great and are great for you.

Did you know there are 12 grams of protein per ½ cup of cooked lentils?

Yep.  Plant-based protein is pretty incredible.

split lentils

My Favorite Split Lentil Recipe

Lentils are also extremely versatile.  You can do just about anything with them.

I usually stick with the standard green lentils you find at any grocery store.  But a few months ago I came across a bag of red split lentils at Trader Joe’s.  They were so gorgeous, I had to buy a couple of bags.

Red split lentils—despite the name—are actually more orange in color, and are commonly used to make dishes like daal.

The main difference between a split lentil and a…not split lentil is simply that split lentils are dehulled, split, and polished before making it to the grocery store.  Regular lentils are not.

Make These Split Lentils!

This split lentil dish is definitely one of my favorite lentil recipes.

The earthy flavor of the lentils, combined with the caramelized onion and potatoes, is the definition of comfort food.

I describe this dish as “French” not because of the lentils themselves, but because of the ingredient combination and seasonings: there’s something so classically French about pairing lentils and white beans. Season those lentils and beans with caramelized onion and fresh parsley, and you’ve got an easy, delicious, hearty, and healthy meal.

split lentils

A Few Things!

I season the potatoes here with nutritional yeast.  If you’ve never heard of nutritional yeast—or “nooch,” it imparts a cheesy, nutty flavor, and can be used in place of cheese in many dishes. 


Better still, nutritional yeast has 8 grams of protein in a ¼ cup serving.

You can find nutritional yeast at the grocery store, but here’s my favorite deal on Amazon [aff. link].

This hearty dish is a meal by itself, but it’s also great over a bed of spinach or kale, with a side of Gardein or your favorite meat substitute.  And if you can’t find red split lentils, this recipe would be delicious with whatever lentils you can find.  Split lentils understandably cook much faster than other lentils, so just be sure to adjust your lentil cooking time accordingly.  Most lentils will have decent cooking instructions on the package.

split lentils
4.67 from 3 votes

French Split Lentils with Caramelized Onion and Potatoes

Split lentils, caramelized onion, and crispy potatoes make this lentil dish a hearty, delicious, and flavorful plant-based meal.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time35 mins
Total Time50 mins
Servings: 5
Print Recipe


For the potatoes:

  • 6 red potatoes, washed but not peeled, diced into ¾ inch pieces
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 pinch of ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast, optional, but highly recommended
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil

For the onion:

  • 1 onion, chopped into ½ inch pieces
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil, plus more during caramelization

For the lentils:

  • 1 ½ cups red split lentils, rinsed
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • tsp ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp onion powder

Everything else:

  • 15 oz can cannelloni or white kidney beans, drained
  • ¼ cup parsley, minced


Cook the onion

  • To a skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil, onion, and sea salt. Cook for 3 minutes, until the onion begins to sizzle and brown a little.
  • Now turn the heat down to low, and let the onion caramelize while you prepare the other ingredients. Just let the onion keep cooking on low until all the other ingredients are done cooking, and you're ready to compile the dish.
  • Use your spatula to toss the onion every so often. After about 12 minutes, you may want to add a little more olive oil—just a few teaspoons—to help the onion caramelize even more.

Roast the potatoes

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. To a standard-sized baking sheet, add the potatoes, olive oil, sea salt, pepper, and nutritional yeast.
  • With your hands, toss the potatoes until the oil and the seasonings coat them evenly. Distribute the potatoes on the baking sheet so they're not touching each other.
  • Place the baking sheet in the oven, and roast for 15 minutes. Remove the pan, and flip the potatoes so that a different side of each potato touches the bottom of the pan. Place back in the oven and roast the potatoes for an additional 20 minutes. Potatoes are done.

Alternate cooking method for the onions and potatoes

  • Alternately, you can cook the onion and potatoes together in a skillet.  Start by adding the potatoes, salt, pepper, and olive oil to a large skillet.  Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, flipping occasionally.
  • After 10 minutes, add the onion, ½ tsp sea salt, and 2 additional Tbsp of olive oil to the pan, and toss.  Cook both the potatoes and the onions together over medium-low heat for an additional 20 minutes, flipping occasionally, until the potatoes are cooked through and slightly browned.

Cook the lentils

  • While the potatoes roast and the onion caramelizes, make your lentils. To a large pot, add your lentils and olive oil. Cook over medium heat for about a minute, tossing the lentils in the olive oil with your spatula.
  • Now add the sea salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and vegetable broth. Cover the pot, leaving the lid slightly ajar to allow steam to escape, and bring the lentils to a simmer over medium heat.
  • Once the lentils are simmering, bring the heat down to low to keep the lentils from coming to a boil. Simmer on low for 10-12 minutes until most of the liquid is absorbed. Keep the lentils covered, with the lid slightly ajar, throughout.
  • Now take the lid off the lentils and cook for an additional 3 minutes uncovered. The lentils are done. When you taste the lentils, they should be tender but still have a little bite. There may still be a little liquid in the pot and that’s fine.

Put it all together

  • Now add the caramelized onion and all of its juices to the pot with the lentils, along with one Tbsp of parsley. Stir to combine. Next add potatoes, a little more parsley, and toss.
  • Last, carefully fold in the beans and the rest of the parsley. You don’t want the beans to break, so fold gently.
  • Taste, and add a bit more salt, if desired.

Serve and enjoy!

  • Garnish each serving with more parsley. Serve alone, or on top of a bed of greens with a side of Gardein. Enjoy!


This dish is vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free.
You can substitute a different lentil if you can't find red split lentils, just adjust your lentil cooking time accordingly.
© Copyright 2024 Vanguard of Hollywood

6 Responses

  1. 5 stars
    Made this for dinner last night. The definition of healthy comfort food! It was my first time cooking with split lentils. They cook so fast I couldn’t believe it! Would make again, thanks.

  2. 4 stars
    This is actually a very tasty recipe, and I enjoyed it. I wound up adding 1/2 of a green bell pepper and a bit of carrot to the mix, and I pre=cooked the potatoes in the microwave. Otherwise, I followed the recipe as written. It made a hearty dinner. Thanks!

    1. The bell pepper and the carrot sound like delicious additions Dana! And that’s a great idea to pre-cook the potatoes. I’m so happy to hear you enjoyed the recipe, thanks for making it!

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