Lentil Coconut Curry (Instant Pot, Slow Cooker, or Stovetop)

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This easy Lentil Coconut Curry is a healthy and satisfying curry that can be made in the slow cooker, Instant Pot, or on the stovetop. It's hearty, filling, and a delicious vegetarian meal.

273 CAL 38g CARBS 7g FAT 14g PROTEIN

This easy lentil and coconut curry is a delicious dinner that the whole family will love! It’s rich, flavorful, vegan, gluten-free and can be made either in the instant pot, slow cooker or simply on the stovetop. There’s a method for everyone!

In fact, if you make this easy coconut curry in the instant pot or on the stovetop, it can be

ready in just 50 minutes, which is far from the several hours that most aromatic curries take to cook. However, of course, it takes much longer to cook in a slow cooker. I like to either make mine on high for 4 hours, or low for 7-8 hours. Plenty of time for the flavor to develop and for the lentils to become perfectly tender!

Coconut curried lentils in a bowl with white rice and cilantro with Naan bread on the side.

What do I need to make this recipe?

Well, for a lentil coconut curry, you’re obviously going to need lentils, coconut oil and coconut milk, but there are definitely a few other ingredients worth mentioning!

  • Ginger: you can use either grated fresh ginger root here, or ground ginger powder if you prefer. Personally, I prefer fresh ginger, but the ground ginger makes a good substitute if you’re in a pinch!
  • Curry powder: this is not the same as garam masala, so please stick to curry powder instead of trying to substitute it!
  • Ground turmeric: I’m afraid that here, you really can’t use fresh turmeric instead. Plus, you’d need such a tiny amount that it would probably feel like a waste to buy some - providing a store near you even sells it in the first place!
  • Lentils: I know I mentioned these above, but there are a couple of important notes. You can use either green or brown lentils, and you must rinse them before cooking. Trust me on that one!

To be honest, those are the main ingredient notes. I do include fresh cilantro and lime juice on the ingredients list (see the recipe card below). However, to be honest, they’re just for garnish - although I do adore the freshness that the lime juice brings to the curry!

How do I make this easy coconut curry?

Well, as I mentioned previously, there are 3 choices of methods; instant pot, slow cooker, or stovetop. It’s really important that you follow the right method out of the 3 because they all have fairly significant differences. After all, they are 3 completely different methods of cooking things!

For the full methods, please scroll down to the below recipe card.

In the Instant Pot

  1. Set the Instant Pot to saute. Add oil, then onion and soften. Add garlic and ginger, other seasonings and carrots.
  2. Turn pot off. Add lentils, tomatoes (and their juices), water and coconut milk. Stir.
  3. Put the lid on and cook on high. Then allow natural release.
  4. Release any remaining pressure and open lid. Stir and taste. Adjust seasonings. Serve over rice with lime and cilantro.

See? Easy! Then again, most recipes using an Instant Pot are pretty easy - they’re brilliant gadgets to have!

In the Slow Cooker

  1. Add everything except the coconut milk to the slow cooker.
  2. Cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 7-8 hours.
  3. Stir in the coconut milk and taste. Garnish and serve.

It’s literally 3 steps - what could be easier than that? I know slow cooker recipes are usually easy, but this one is definitely easier than most!

On the Stovetop

  1. Heat the oil. Add onion and carrots, then let them soften. Add garlic, ginger and other seasonings and toast.
  2. Add lentils, tomatoes (with juices) and water. Stir to combine then simmer.
  3. Stir in coconut milk, season, serve and garnish.

Once again, just 3 steps! And to be honest, you don’t even really need to be in the kitchen for most of the time (while the lentils cook) - you can go and put your feet up! That’s the dream, right? Dinner and a rest at once?

Is this lentil and coconut curry healthy?

Short answer: yes! Absolutely lentils are a healthy food source! They contain several vitamins and minerals, including magnesium, zinc, potassium, calcium and B vitamins. They are also a good source of iron and folic acid, and an excellent source of fiber. They contain a good amount of protein, making lentils a good meat replacement. And finally, lentils contain polyphenols which are compounds with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties.

What should I serve with this curry?

I’d personally recommend that you serve this lentil coconut curry over rice and/or with a side of naan (Indian bread).

Got a spare instant pot? You can make perfectly fluffy brown rice in it using this recipe!

What should I do with leftover lentil curry?

You can store any leftovers in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. You can also freeze for up to 6 months. Then just defrost (if frozen) and reheat until piping hot - simple!

Curry lentil with coconut milk, carrots, and tomatoes in a bowl with fresh cilantro on a white counter.

What should I make next?

Looking for more vegan slow cooker recipes? This Mexican quinoa is perfect for filling tacos and burritos!

Perhaps you’d prefer a simple vegan soup? Well, so long as your broth is vegetarian, then this healthy minestrone soup will do the job perfectly! Plus, it uses plenty of colorful fresh veggies.

Or, are you after more quick and easy curry recipes? Either way, this chana masala is perfect - and naturally vegan! We also love this Pumpkin Coconut Curry, especially during the fall months.

Perhaps you’re more interested in learning to cook with lentils more often? This beginner’s guide to lentils is exactly what you need!

However, if you need a recipe that uses lentils, is a curry and is made in the slow cooker then this lentil madras is exactly what you need! Or, how about this slow cooker curried lentil soup? There are so many delicious recipes to choose from!

The Recipe
Lentil coconut curry in a white bowl with creamy lentils, carrots, and tomatoes in a creamy coconut broth with rice.

Lentil Coconut Curry (Instant Pot, Slow Cooker, or Stovetop)

273 CAL 38g CARBS 7g FAT 14g PROTEIN
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  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp ginger, grated (or 1 teaspoon ground ginger powder)
  • 2 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (more or less to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup carrots, diced
  • 1.5 cups dry lentils, rinsed (green or brown)
  • 14 ounce canned diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 14 oz canned light coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup cilantro (for serving)
  • 1 lime (for serving)

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Instant Pot: Set Instant Pot to Saute. When hot, add oil and let melt. Add onion and cook until soft and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, other seasonings, and the carrots. Stir, cooking for 2 more minutes. Turn pot off. Add the lentils, tomatoes with juices, water, and coconut milk. Give it a stir to combine. Attach lid and set to Sealing. Cook on Manual (high) for 12 minutes. When Instant Pot beeps done, allow to natural release for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, release any remaining pressure and open the lid. Stir and taste, adjusting seasonings as desired. Serve over rice, with a squeeze of lime juice and garnished with cilantro.


Stovetop: Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium high heat. When hot, add oil and let melt. Add onion and carrots. Cook until beginning to soften, about 6-8 minutes, stirring as needed. Add the garlic, ginger, other seasonings. Cook for one minute. Add the lentils, tomatoes with juices, and water. Give it a stir to combine. Bring to a simmer and turn heat down to low, so it continues to simmer. Cover and cook 30-40 minutes until lentils are tender. Stir in the coconut milk. Season what salt and pepper as needed, Serve with fresh lime and cilantro.


Slow Cooker: Add everything except the coconut milk to the slow cooker. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 7-8 hours. once the lentil are cooked and tender, stir in the coconut milk. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve with fresh lime juice and cilantro.

Nutritional Facts
Serving Size: 2/3 cup
Amount Per Serving
Calories 273
Calories from Fat 66
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 7g
Saturated Fat 5g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 313mg
Total Carbohydrate 38g
Dietary Fiber 17g
Sugars 4g
Protein 14g

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.

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About the author Meet Kristen McCaffrey
Hi, I’m the cookbook author, recipe developer, and food enthusiast behind Slender Kitchen. I am obsessed with making healthy food that is easy to prepare and absolutely delicious. Meal planning is my secret weapon and I hope I can make meal time easier for you with our tried and tested recipes and foolproof meal plans. Learn More
On Lentil Coconut Curry (Instant Pot, Slow Cooker, or Stovetop)
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October 28, 2022 - 11:43
Add a Rating:
Made this today and it is delicious! Exactly what I was looking for on a rainy, fall day. I messed up and accidentally put in 1t Garam Masala instead of turmeric, but then just went ahead and added the turmeric, too. Also added some crused red pepper flakes to spice it up a little. I did end up having to add some extra water after cooking as mine was pretty pasty... so I'll probaby use at least 1c during cooking next time. Thank you for a great recipe!
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May 7, 2022 - 05:59
Two questions? Is 1/2 cup water really enough for slow cooker?
Can you freeze leftovers?
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