Marinara Sauce with Red Lentils

Marinara Sauce with Red Lentils (Instant Pot)

Vegan, gluten-free marinara that offers a boost of fiber from red lentils

Course Pasta, Sauces & Condiments
Cuisine Italian
Keyword marinara sauce, pasta sauce
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 23 minutes
Pressure Up/Down 34 minutes
Total Time 38 minutes
Servings 12
Calories 98 kcal


  • 1/2 cup red lentils
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 small green bell pepper chopped
  • 1 cup low-sodium store-bought vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 (28-ounce) carton or can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) carton or can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper


  1. Pick over the lentils and remove any stones or shriveled lentils. Rinse the lentils in a fine-mesh strainer and drain well.

  2. Set the electric pressure cooker to the Sauté setting. When the pot is hot, pour in the avocado oil.

  3. Add the onion and green pepper to the pot and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes or until the vegetables begin to soften. Hit Cancel.

  4. Add the broth to the pot and scrape up any brown bits. Stir in the tomato paste.

  5. Add the lentils, crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes and their juices, bay leaf, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, and brown sugar. Stir well.

  6. Close and lock the lid. Turn the pressure valve to sealing.

  7. Cook on high pressure for 13 minutes.

  8. When the cooking is complete, hit Cancel. Allow the pressure to release naturally.

  9. Once the pin drops, unlock and remove the lid.

  10. Season with salt and pepper and stir well.

  11. If the sauce is too thin for your liking, you can either use an immersion blender to blend it to the desired consistency or turn the pot back to Sauté/Less and cook for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the sauce thickens.

Recipe Video

Recipe Notes

Ingredient tip: Lentils come in many different varieties. Red lentils tend to be more delicate than green or brown ones, and they pretty much disintegrate when cooked. This makes them perfect for thickening sauces, soups, and stews.

Serving suggestions: Try this marinara sauce on top of spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles. You can also use it as the pasta sauce in Acorn Squash Stuffed with Pasta and Turkey Italian Sausage or as a topping for Cauliflower Pizza Crust.