Pressure cooker, Side dish, Weeknight dinner
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Instant Pot Ethiopian Red Lentils (Misir Wat)

A bowl of misir wat, Ethiopian red lentils, in a yellow bowl, on a wooden table
Instant Pot Ethiopian Red Lentils (Misir Wat)

Instant Pot Ethiopian Red Lentils. Misir Wat, red lentil stew, loaded with berbere spice, is a taste of Ethiopia from my pressure cooker.

I love a pot of spicy lentils, and Misir Wat delivers. It’s a red lentil stew, seasoned with Ethiopia’s berbere spice blend, and a fantastic side dish for Tuesday’s Ethiopian chicken drumsticks. That said, this is a hearty pot of lentils. It makes a great vegetarian main dish, if that’s what you’re looking for.

Pressure cooking lentils is not much quicker than cooking on the stovetop. I use my Instant Pot for the convenience. Once I lock the lid, the Instant Pot takes over, and I can move on to getting the rest of dinner ready.

As I said in Tuesday’s recipe, Ethiopian food is traditionally served with Injera, a sourdough bread made from fermented teff flour, and that’s too much work for a non-baker like me. I substitute a flatbread from my local grocery store, usually tortillas.

And, as I said on Tuesday, berbere is pronounced Bear-berET. Think of a grizzly wearing a french cap. (I love the mental image of a bear in a beret, so I had to share it again.)

Recipe: Instant Pot Ethiopian Red Lentils (Misir Wat)

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A bowl of misir wat, Ethiopian red lentils, in a yellow bowl, on a wooden table

Instant Pot Ethiopian Red Lentils (Misir Wat)

  • Author: Mike Vrobel
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 3 cups of lentils 1x


Instant Pot Ethiopian Red Lentils. Misir Wat, red lentil stew, loaded with berbere spice, is a taste of Ethiopia from my pressure cooker.


  • 8 ounces (about 1 cup) red lentils, rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon Berbere seasoning blend
  • 2 cups homemade chicken or vegetable broth (or water, or low sodium store-bought broth)
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt (if using homemade broth or water)
  • 10-ounce can diced tomatoes and green chilies (Ro*Tel Tomatoes), with the juices


  • Flatbread (I substitute large tortillas or pita bread)


  1. Rinse the lentils: Put the lentils in a strainer and rinse thoroughly with cold water. Let stand to drain while you prepare the rest of the recipe.
  2. Saute the aromatics and toast the spices: Melt the butter in an Instant Pot set to Sauté mode (or in a stovetop PC over medium heat). Add the onion and garlic, then sprinkle with ½ teaspoon fine sea salt. Sauté until the onion softens and turns translucent, about 5 minutes. Make a hole in the center of the onions, add the berbere, and toast the berbere for one minute, then stir it into the onions.
  3. Everything in the pot: Stir in the lentils, 2 cups of broth or water, and ½ teaspoon fine sea salt if using homemade broth or water. Scrape the bottom of the pot with a flat-edged wooden spoon to loosen any bits of onion that stuck to the pot. Stir in the can of tomatoes and chilies.
  4. Pressure Cook the lentils for 10 minutes with a Quick Release: Lock the lid and cook at high pressure for 10 minutes (“Manual” or “Pressure Cook” mode in an Instant Pot), for both electric and stovetop PCs. Once the cooking time is done, quick release the remaining pressure.
  5. Serve: Open the pressure cooker lid (away from you – the steam is hot). Serve and enjoy!


This recipe can be halved or doubled easily. (I usually double it, so I can cook a 1 pound bag of beans.) Everything stays the same, including the cooking times.

If you can’t find red lentils, brown lentils will work in this recipe. But, they need a little to cook longer – cook for 12 minutes at high pressure with a natural release.

I get my berbere spices at Penzeys, or from Amazon.


6 quart or larger pressure cooker (I love my Instant Pot 6-Quart Pressure Cooker)

Flat edged wooden spoon

Fine Mesh Strainer

  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Pressure Cooker
  • Cuisine: Ethiopian

Keywords: Instant Pot Ethiopian Red Lentils (Misir Wat), Pressure Cooker Ethiopian Red Lentils (Misir Wat)

What do you think?

Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.

Instant Pot Ethiopian Chicken Drumsticks (Doro Wat)
Instant Pot Quick Lentil Curry
Instant Pot Rotisserie Chicken and Lentil Soup
My other Instant Pot and Pressure Cooker Recipes

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Filed under: Pressure cooker, Side dish, Weeknight dinner


Hi! I’m Mike Vrobel. I’m a dad and an enthusiastic home cook; an indie cookbook author and food blogger with a day job, a patient spouse, and three kids who would rather have hamburgers for dinner.


  1. Kelly says

    This was my third time making this recipe. It’s become a favorite in our household. I serve over rice and spinach. I mixed my our Berbere spice mix which was easy enough since I had everything on hand

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