Lentils and Ham

Leftover ham and lentils make a quick and satisfying meal. Get a pot simmering to make this recipe after a big holiday.

Lentils and Ham recipe
Elise Bauer

One of the reasons we love serving ham for Easter is the leftover ham, especially the ham bone. That bone can be used to make a flavorful stock for split pea or white bean soup, helping to stretch out that ham for days.

Another great pairing with ham is lentils. Make an easy ham broth with the bone, cook the lentils in it, and serve with some leftover ham slices. Inexpensive, easy, and satisfying.

Ham Broth—The Secret to Flavorful Lentils

Ham is so strongly flavored that you can make the broth in as little as an hour, or you can simmer it all day if you want. The cooking time for the lentils will depend on what kind you use.

Always use dark lentils—green, black, or brown—for this recipe. Light-colored lentils are usually split and will turn to mush instantly. The darker ones will hold their shape better.

We like them a little on the firm side. But if you prefer them more tender, just cook them longer.

Lentils and Ham

Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 100 mins
Total Time 115 mins
Servings 6 to 8 servings

Any leftover ham will do here, or you could use a smoked ham shank or ham hock in its place. Slices of thick-cut bacon are a good substitute for the slices of leftover ham.


For the ham stock:

  • Ham bone, and stray bits of leftover ham

  • 3 quarts water

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 2 carrots, roughly chopped

  • 2 stalks celery, roughly chopped

  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped

  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme

  • Salt, to taste

For the lentils:

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 cup minced yellow onion

  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic

  • 1 pound green, black or brown lentils, about 2 cups (we used French green lentils, which cook up a little on the firm side)

  • 5 cups ham stock

  • Salt, to taste

  • Slices of leftover ham


  1. Make the ham stock with the ham bone:

    Put the ham bone and any stray bits of ham into a large, thick-bottomed pot and cover with the water. Add the bay leaves. Bring to a simmer and cook gently for 30 minutes.

    Add the chopped carrots, celery, onion, and dried thyme, and simmer for at least another 30 minutes, preferably another hour.

    Strain the ham stock through a fine-meshed sieve and set in a large bowl. Taste and add salt, if needed.

  2. Saute the onion and garlic, then add the lentils:

    Heat the olive oil in a heavy pot set over medium-high heat. Add the onion and saute for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Don't let the onion brown.

    Add the garlic and cook another minute. Then, add the lentils and stir to combine. Cook the lentils, stirring often, for 2 minutes.

  3. Add the ham stock to lentils and simmer:

    Add 5 cups of ham stock and bring to a simmer. Cook very gently (you want the stock to barely be bubbling) until the lentils are done. That could be as little as 20 minutes, or as long as 1 hour, depending on how old your lentils are. Expect about 35 minutes.

    Check and taste the lentils from time to time while they cook. You don't want them to be mushy. When they are done, strain them from the stock (reserve the stock to make soup like split pea soup or ham and white bean soup, or just another batch of these lentils) in a fine-meshed sieve.

    Toss with a little more olive oil and serve with chopped pieces or slices of leftover ham. Serve either hot or at room temperature.

Lentils and Ham
Elise Bauer
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
214 Calories
6g Fat
20g Carbs
20g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 to 8
Amount per serving
Calories 214
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 6g 8%
Saturated Fat 1g 5%
Cholesterol 32mg 11%
Sodium 898mg 39%
Total Carbohydrate 20g 7%
Dietary Fiber 6g 21%
Total Sugars 5g
Protein 20g
Vitamin C 4mg 22%
Calcium 62mg 5%
Iron 3mg 18%
Potassium 806mg 17%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.