November 21, 2012

Grateful for Lentil Gravy

There’s so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

No-salt added sweet potato chips. Low-sodium swiss cheese. Chocolate. The fact that kale and banana smoothies may look gross, but actually taste really good.

And after today, you can add low-sodium lentil gravy to that list.

Like the kale banana smoothie, you may be nervous to try this recipe. I can understand that. If you haven’t eaten lentils lately (or have had a bad experience with them in the past), you probably think these legumes are mushy and flavorless. But you’re only half right.

Yes, they can be mushy…and that’s why they make the perfect gravy substitute. As for being flavorless, though, well, that’s up to you. You can add anything you want to these magical beans. Cumin, orange juice, apple cider vinegar, garlic and onion.

And in the case of Thanksgiving, mushrooms and herbs, to give this gravy a seconds-please, meaty texture.

Now, before we get to the recipe, let’s discuss why this gravy exists.

On a low-sodium diet, most pre-made gravies or ones made from a brined turkey all contain loads and loads of sodium. So unless you make your own stock, from chicken bones or even vegetables, and then make your own gravy (which is all TOTALLY doable) you’ll have to pass on the boat.

Or get creative with a new kind of gravy, filled with tasty non-traditional ingredients, that only take minutes to make. Meaning you won’t take up too much space on the stove or too much of your precious holiday time.

So give this gravy a shot this year and who knows, your family might make lentils a part of holiday feasting for years to come.


fills one gravy boat 


  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter (or vegetable oil)
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 cup split red lentils
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 cup brown cremini mushrooms, diced
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons thyme, leaves only


Melt the butter (or oil) in a medium pot over medium-high heat. As the butter begins to turn a caramel color, add the garlic and onions, and stir until they turn soft and slightly brown, about 5 to 8 minutes.

Add the lentils into the pot with 3 cups of water and the black peppercorns. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to a simmer. Cook until the lentils are soft and falling apart, about 20 minutes or so. Take the pot off of the heat and puree with a hand blender until silky smooth.

Place the pot back on the stove, add the mushrooms, and the orange juice. Bring to a boil again and then lower heat to a very gently simmer. Cover the pot and cook until the mushroom bits are soft, about another 10 minutes. Take the gravy off of the heat, add the herbs, pour into a gravy boat, and serve warm.

+ Sodium Count: Red Lentils: 0 to 15mg per cup, depending on brand

Laura November 21, 2012 at 1:57 pm

Gravy boats ahoy, Sis.. All the very best ! b.

Brusselslifebeauty November 24, 2012 at 12:38 am

I love lentils and this recipe will easily become my favorite one!
Thanks for posting it! And hugs from Europe

jessg23 December 13, 2012 at 4:49 pm

hugs back!

Damian D. January 11, 2013 at 2:14 pm

Given my Spanish heritage, I am a major lentils fan! Last time that I visited the home land, I had great traditional Spanish lentils soup. It is always so yummy! I am mentioning the soup because you could try mixing your gravy up with some ingredients from the soup, particularly: 1 medium tomato (diced) and 2 medium carrots (chopped). What do you think? I think the tomato would be a great addition.

caroline samuel June 25, 2013 at 9:23 am

this lentil gravy is called sambar in south india, we use tamarind water to improve the flavour and add veggies like brinjal and drumsticks

Peggy November 25, 2013 at 9:16 am

Looks great!! Have you ever made this ahead of serving? I’m thinking of starting thanksgiving prep a few days early but if storage changes the texture I will wait.

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