What is the Difference Between Split Peas and Lentils?

A pictorial view of Lentils and Split Peas

Lentils are on the left from top: Brown, Black Beluga, French Green, Laird Green (largest in size), Pardina (brown) and Red split lentil.

Split peas are on the right:split peas are always green or yellow in colour.

What are lentils?

All lentils belong to the species Lens culinaris. They usually have seeds that are shaped like a lens. The seeds can be flat or roundish in shape.

Whole mature dried lentils vary in colour from green to brown to black and green mottled blue. Whole lentils are never red in colour. They only become red when they are husked and split. Whole lentils have more fibre than split lentils.

Split lentils are yellow, orange or red depending on the variety. It’s mostly the split red lentils that are sold in Canada.

SIZE: In general lentils are smaller in size than split peas. The largest lentils are the green laird lentils which are 6-7 mm in diameter and can equal the size of the split peas. The rest are 4mm or less in size. Laird lentils were developed in Canada and are cultivated for specific markets.

What is split pea?

Split peas on the other hand belong to the species Pisum sativum, together with the fresh garden peas, Sno Pea and Sugar Snap Pea.

Whole Green Pea and Split Green Pea (Pisum sativum) Field Pea myfavouritepastime.com

Dried mature whole peas are green or yellow in colour.

The whole green peas are dehulled and split to give the  green spilt peas and the whole yellow peas are dehulled and split to give the yellow split Pea.

Split peas have less fibre because most of the fibre is found in the skin (seed coat).

How are lentils and Split Peas Similar

Greean and Yellow Split Pea (Pisum sativum) myfavouritepastime.com
  1. Both lentils and peas belong to the same family Leguminosae (Fabaceae) and are both legumes.
  2. They are both grown for their mature dried edible seeds, so they are both known as pulses.
  3. Both lentils and peas, can be sold whole, split or ground into flour.
  4. The colour of the whole lentil or whole pea is always different from the colour of the split lentil or pea and this can cause a lot of confusion if you are not familiar with the varieties available in the market.
  5. Both lentils and peas are high in protein (about 25/100g) and carbohydrates (about 60/100g) and are fat and cholesterol free. They are also rich in Iron and calcium.


Author: Liz

I love everything food: eating, cooking, baking and travelling. I also love photography and nature.

12 thoughts

  1. Is there a difference in flavor between the two? I have a rare pea that has an orange color closer to that of a red lentil, but it is not a red lentil and it is not a yellow pea. I’m trying to figure out if it would be something the split pea companies or consumers would want. It has a higher beta-carotene content, so it might be healthier.

      1. No it is not those. It is not available commercially, i got it out of a seed bank as i breed peas. The one i have literally has an orange cotyledon gene. I am growing them out this year. I have not tried cooking or eating them yet so i don’t know how they taste. As of now i am really the only one who has them.

        1. Then it’s probably just peas. Whole peas come in different colours:

          “The dried seeds are enclosed in a pod, 1 to 4 inches (2.5-10cm) long that often has a rough inner membrane and 4-9 seeds. The mature seeds are round, smooth or wrinkled, and with a green, yellow, beige, brown, red-orange, blue-red, dark violet to almost black, or spotted, seed coat (testa) depending on the variety.

          Only selected varieties of the green and yellow peas are marketed for human consumption in whole or split form or ground into flour. Other varieties are produced for animal feed, and for seed.”

          Check out: https://myfavouritepastime.com/2017/10/27/what-is-yellow-split-pea/

          I hope we are now on the same page!

          Stay safe


        2. I’m not sure what point you are trying to make, but i specifically requested these out of a seed bank for breeding material. These have the ORC gene for orange cotyledons and have a different form of beta carotene that might be more bio-available to humans and thus healthier for humans (or they might not). The coteledons are orange, not the testa seed coat, though i do have varieties with purple, dark red, and black testa seed coats as well.

          It’s not important. We can just drop the conversation entirely. I just thought since you liked eating peas and lentils so much that you might be excited to hear that i might be able to introduce a split pea in the near future that is neither green nor yellow and might have another interesting flavor. But i have yet to try eating any.


          But anyway, have a good one Liz!
          Stay safe as well!

        3. Ok now I understand you. You are actually doing research-you should have said that from the beginning. I didn’t quite understand you. Of course I would be interested in a new variety of peas with beta carotene-lots of antioxidants. I am a plant taxonomist by profession. I have done a lot of taxonomic work on plants, so a new cultivar would be exciting to know and try. Wish you all the best with your research.

          Stay safe


    1. I know. i studied botany for years so I find it easy but it may not be easy to the layman. It’s like me and computers, I’m not tech savvy at all.

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