Slow Cooker Madras Lentils

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Creamy Madras Lentils cooked in the slow cooker with potatoes, spinach, and the most delicious curry coconut sauce.

242 CAL 44g CARBS 3g FAT 13g PROTEIN 2

Slow Cooker Madras Curry Lentils with hearty lentils, potatoes, and spinach all cooked in coconut milk and Indian spices is a warm, comforting dish that you will make again and again.

As much as I love to cook, I can't possibly cook all my meals, all the time (well, I mean, I could I suppose but then I'd honestly do nothing else). I've been known to eat out from time to time, of course. And, I also like to eat store-bought, pre-made meals as well. I am picky about the ones I choose though, and I try to find meals made with as many real ingredients and as little of the processed stuff as possible.

All that being said, the inspiration for today's recipe came from one of my favorite store-bought lunches: Tasty Bite Madras Lentils. They are an Indian lentil dish made with a curry of tomatoes, coconut milk, and spices. While I am a fan of the store bought-version, I always prefer to make things at home when I can, when I have time to figure them out. It's a fun game to me to try to guess all the right ingredients and get the home made version to taste just like the one I'm used to buying.

These lentils are made into a curry that happens to be a very milky Indian curry, except minus the deep smoky or spicy flavors of many of curries. Usually I make mine the traditional way with potatoes but you could use sweet potatoes or hearty squash as well. In addition, I love adding some spinach or kale to get some extra veggies but you could leave this out. It freezes great so consider making a large enough portion for leftovers.

Madras curry lentils in a bowl with potatoes, spinach, and Naan bread.

What is Madras Curry?

Madras curry is a type of curry that was made popular in the south of India, in a city called "Madras." But, like most things, no one in India actually calls it Madras curry, but it was referred to as that by the British when they were naming Indian dishes to serve at their restaurants.

Madras curry can contain ingredients such as Garam Masala, coriander, black peppercorns, curry leaves, dried chilies, aniseed, cumin, coriander seeds, and cinnamon. It all depends on the recipe for that particular preparation. I can tell you that I've never had a bad madras curry but I know I haven't tasted them all.

Are Tasty Bites healthy?

You know what? For "pre-packaged" food, Tasty Bites ARE healthy. You'd think that because they don't need to be refrigerated that they'd come packed full of preservatives to keep them "shelf-stable" but that's just not the case. They're free of all the yucky stuff (MSG, preservatives, GMOs, etc.) but still taste just as delicious. They are made with all-natural ingredients to boot.

All that being said, I still enjoyed making my own Madras Lentils in the crock-pot. I do believe I've cracked their secret recipe, too, because these tasted almost exactly like the store-bought varieties I love so much!

What is a lentil?

For a full breakdown of lentils, visit my guide to lentils. In a nutshell, though, lentils are a little legume packed full of flavor and nutrition. They make a great plant protein substitute for meat any night of the week! Other members of the legume family include beans, peanuts, peas, and chickpeas.

They come in four varieties: red, brown, green, black, and French. They are gluten-free and super low in fat and calories, considering how high in fiber they are.

Madras lentils in a coconut tomato curry sauce with spinach and potatoes.

Are Madras Lentils good for you?

Madras lentils (and all lentils, for that matter) are good for you. They are high in fiber, low in fat, medium on calories, and contain good amounts of folate, protein, and potassium. Lentils are also a good source of iron and antioxidants and the soluble fiber they contain are heart-healthy.

How do you serve Slow Cooker Madras Lentils?

I like to serve these slow cooker lentils over rice, but you can eat them all by themselves.

I also like to serve them over other grains such as quinoa or barley.

Madras Lentils make a great, chili-like topping for baked potatoes, oven fries, and sweet potatoes too.

This dish works great for a meatless stuffing for burritos and tacos!

Make a "grain bowl" with brown rice or quinoa as a base. Add the Slow Cooker Madras Lentils on top, then top some more! My favorite condiments for this dish include sour cream, sliced green onions, hot sauce, sunflower seeds, cilantro, and shredded carrots.

No matter how you serve it, these Madras Lentils will soon become one of your most favorite go-to meatless meals!

The Recipe
Slow cooker Madras Lentils with lentils, potatoes, and spinach in a creamy coconut sauce.

Slow Cooker Madras Lentils

Adapted from
242 CAL 44g CARBS 3g FAT 13g PROTEIN 2
COOK TIME: 4 Hours
TOTAL TIME: 4 Hours, 10 Min
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  • 3 cups canned lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 3 cups canned tomato sauce
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 3 cups potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 6 cups spinach
  • 3/4 cup canned lite coconut milk
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 3/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

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Add everything to the slow cooker. Stir well to combine.


Cook on low for 4 hours. Season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes as needed.

Nutritional Facts
Serving Size: 3/4 cup
Amount Per Serving
Calories 242
Calories from Fat 25
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 3g
Saturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 1079mg
Total Carbohydrate 44g
Dietary Fiber 12g
Sugars 9g
Protein 13g

* 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
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On Slow Cooker Madras Lentils
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Nancy Harrison
February 20, 2020 - 15:26
I tried this in the instant pot tonight; same recipe, but added 1-1/2C vegetable broth, 2 tsp curry powder in addition to the spices in the recipe, and a whole can of lite coconut milk. Pressure cooked on high for 15 min.
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October 9, 2019 - 07:09
Thanks for posting this recipe, we love the Tasty Bite version of this, and this sounds much more cost efficient! Can't wait to give it a try!
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October 2, 2019 - 05:55
I would also like to know how to cook this with dried lentils
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October 1, 2019 - 17:19
Would you add the same to dry lentils ?
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Mala S. Burt
October 1, 2019 - 02:53
How would this recipe need to be altered to use dried lentils?
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October 2, 2019 - 02:54
I would like to know this too.
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October 2, 2019 - 09:01
I am going to try it with dried lentils and see how it goes. The issue with using dried lentils with tomatoes is that the acid in the tomatoes sometimes prevents the lentils from softening. I am wondering if you could cook it with vegetable broth and then add the tomatoes after once the lentils are fully cooked, but I haven't tested it.
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Donnalee Hiorns
October 16, 2019 - 11:40
I always make my lentils from scratch:
4 C water or broth
1 C dry (brown) lentils, rinsed/drained

Let soak 45 min to 1 hr. in saucepan. Bring to boil, decrease heat. Simmer 20 to 30 min. { If you add some fresh spinach leaves (about 10) first, then pile the lentils on top, add about 2 tsp minced ginger and gently pour broth down the side of the pan---THEN soak and cook as above they taste very creamy and can be served over cooked rice when done for a different dish}
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