Coconut Lentils

$4.53 recipe / $0.76
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.64 from 11 votes
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One of my all-time favorite, easy side dishes is coconut jasmine rice. So, I started thinking that if cooking rice in coconut milk was so good, maybe cooking lentils in coconut milk would be too? It sure was!

I basically followed the same formula: coconut milk, a little garlic, and a little salt. This time I also added a little turmeric for flavor and color. I kept it simple and mild because I wanted to pair it with the Indian Style Creamed Spinach, which was pretty spicy. If you want to dress these lentils up a bit, you could add a little red pepper (which I did for garnish on a couple photos), or maybe even a little cinnamon! Any way you do it, this dish is quick, easy, and delicious.

I’ve been just putting the spinach and lentils in one dish for lunch, heating them up together, and taking them both up in one delicious spoonful. They’re made for each other!

**It’s very important to note that red lentils are different in texture than green or brown lentils. They break down much more and cook faster than the other two. They are like the split pea of the lentil family!

Coconut Lentils

Bowl of Coconut Lentils with Naan on the side

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Coconut Lentils

4.64 from 11 votes
Coconut lentils are a rich, savory way to add flavor to regular lentils.
Servings 6
Prep 10 minutes
Cook 20 minutes
Total 30 minutes


  • 1 lb. red lentils (about 2 cups) ($2.39)
  • 1 clove garlic ($0.08)
  • 1/2 tsp salt ($0.02)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric ($0.05)
  • 1 15oz. can light coconut milk ($1.99)
  • 1 1/2 cups water ($0.00)


  • Place the lentils in a medium pot and gently rinse 2-3 times or until the water runs clear. Drain as much water out after the last rinse as possible.
  • Mince the garlic and add it to the pot along with the salt, turmeric, coconut milk, and 1.5 cups of water. Give it a gentle stir to make sure everything is mixed.
  • Bring the pot up to a boil over medium-high heat (use a lid to make this faster). Once it is boiling, remove the lid and let it boil gently for about 20 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed. When most of the liquid is absorbed, turn off the heat and let sit for about 5 minutes to continue to absorb. Taste and season with more salt if desired.

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Serving: 1ServingCalories: 315.92kcalCarbohydrates: 48.8gProtein: 18gFat: 6.2gSodium: 202.07mgFiber: 8.17g
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bowl of coconut lentils with a bowl of creamed spinach and naan on the side

Step By Step Photos

dry red lentils in pot
Place the lentils in a medium pot and rinse a few times or until the water runs fairly clear. The lentils kind of stick together when wet, which makes it easier to pour the water out when rinsing without all of the lentils falling out.

seasoning added to lentils in pot
Mince the garlic and add it to the pot with the salt and turmeric.

coconut milk and water added to pot of lentils
Next, add the coconut milk and 1.5 cups of water. Give it a gentle stir to combine the ingredients.

lentils boiling in pot
Bring the pot up to a gentle boil over medium-high heat (use a lid to make it boil faster). Take the lid off and let boil/simmer for about 20 minutes.

cooked lentils in pot (liquid absorbed)
Or until most of the liquid is abosrbed. It’s okay to stir once or twice to see how much the liquid has absorbed, but don’t stir too much or you’ll get really mushy lentils. When most of the liquid is absorbed, turn off the heat and let them sit and continue to absorb for about five more minutes. Taste and adjust salt if needed.

bowl of coconut lentils with naan (pot of lentils on the side)
Mild, creamy, and super savory!

bowl of coconut lentils and bowl of creamed spinach with naan on the side
Pairs perfectly with Indian Creamed Spinach and Naan bread to scoop it all up with!

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  1. Easy fast and cheap! A simple lentil dish and solid flavors – I added half an onion, half a bell pepper, half a bag of spinach, some black pepper (to go with the turmeric), and a half tsp sugar to bring out the coconut flavor a little more. I ended up using a lot more water than the recipe called for because I wanted mine more soupy. Perfect with naan. Thank you Beth!

  2. Are these split red lentils? I have split red lentils and don’t know how to use them. Thought I would try this recipe with them…

  3. This was delicious. I definitely needed more liquid to get the lentils completely cooked (maybe half a cup extra water?), but otherwise it came out beautifully. A huge hit, and super-easy.