It’s HOT outside, so I’m experimenting a lot with my slow cooker this week. Slow cookers are awesome not only because they’re mostly hands-off, but also because they contain their heat well and don’t cause that dreaded ambient heat rise in your kitchen. So, while I totally could have just boiled these Coconut Curry Lentils on the stove top, I saved myself some steam and sweat by cooking them in my slow cooker.
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How to Serve Slow Cooker Coconut Curry Lentils
My only issue with using my slow cooker a lot in the summer is that slow cooker recipes are often warm and heavy, more like winter recipes. To freshen these Slow Cooker Coconut Curry Lentils up a bit, I topped them with finely diced red onion and a liberal sprinkle of chopped cilantro. If you don’t like cilantro, you can add some sliced green onion for a similar effect. For even more freshness, try adding a dollop of plain yogurt and a squeeze of lime juice.
Can I Freeze Coconut Curry Lentils?
This recipe makes a lot but luckily it freezes well–rice and all! Just portion everything out into single-serving freezer-safe containers, chill completely in the refrigerator, then transfer to the freezer.
What Size Slow Cooker Should I Use?
This makes a super big batch of lentils, so I would suggest using a 6-quart slow cooker. I use a very basic slow cooker from Hamilton Beach, which is so old that it’s not in production anymore, but you can find a similar slow cooker here. (affiliate link)
What Kind of Curry Powder Should I Use?
You can use either a hot or mild curry powder, depending on whether you prefer your lentils to be mild or spicy. People often ask me what brand curry powder I use, and I have enjoyed both the 365 brand curry powder and Sharwood’s curry powder. Or you can try making your own curry powder at home with this recipe for Easy Homemade Curry Powder from Spiceitupp.com
Slow Cooker Coconut Curry Lentils
COCONUT CURRY LENTILS
- 1 yellow onion ($0.37)
- 2 cloves garlic ($0.16)
- 2 cups brown lentils ($1.36)
- 1 sweet potato (about 3/4 lb.) ($0.98)
- 2 carrots ($0.22)
- 3 Tbsp curry powder (hot or mild) ($0.45)
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves (optional) ($0.03)
- 1 15oz. can petite diced tomatoes ($0.65)
- 1 15oz. can tomato sauce ($0.99)
- 3 cups vegetable broth* ($0.39)
- 1 14oz. can coconut milk (full fat) ($2.47)
- 10 cups cooked rice ($0.99)
- 1/2 red onion ($0.40)
- 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro or green onions ($0.40)
- Dice the onion and mince the garlic. Peel the sweet potato and carrots. Dice the sweet potato (1/4-1/2 inch cubes) and slice the carrots.
- Add the onion, garlic, sweet potato, carrots, lentils, curry powder, cloves, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and vegetable broth to the slow cooker. Stir to combine. Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 7-8 hours. Once cooked, the lentils should be tender and most of the liquid should be absorbed.
- Stir the can of coconut milk into the lentils. Taste and adjust the salt or other spices as needed (the amount of salt needed will depend on the type of broth used and the salt content of the canned tomatoes).
- To serve, add 1 cup cooked rice to a bowl followed by 1 cup of the lentil mixture. Top with finely diced red onion and fresh cilantro.
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Scroll down for the step by step photos!
How to Make Slow Cooker Curry Lentils – Step by Step Photos
Dice one onion (it’s under all that stuff) and mince two cloves of garlic. Peel one sweet potato (3/4-1 lb.) and peel two carrots. Dice the sweet potato and slice the carrots. Add the onion, garlic, sweet potato, and carrots to the slow cooker, along with 2 cups uncooked brown lentils.
Also add one 15oz. can of petite diced tomatoes, a 15oz. can of tomato sauce, 3 Tbsp curry powder (mild or hot–your preference), and 1/4 tsp ground cloves. I’ve decided that I really like cloves in my curry, but if you’re not a clove person you can leave it out.
This is the curry powder I use, BTW. It’s just something I picked up at the grocery store, but it has pretty good potency. Curry powders can vary quite a bit from brand to brand in both flavor and potency, so you might have to experiment to find one that you like. I like to buy mild curry powder and then just add cayenne to dishes when I want things spicy.
Finally, add 3 cups vegetable broth to the slow cooker and give everything a good stir.
Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 7-8 hours. If your slow cooker runs extra hot or doesn’t hold in moisture well, keep an eye on the cooker to make sure the lentils are not drying out. If they begin to look dry or burned on the edges, add more water. After cooking the lentils should be tender and most of the broth absorbed.
Stir in one 14oz. can of full-fat coconut milk. Give the lentils a taste and adjust the salt or other spices if needed. The amount of salt needed will depend on the salt content of your vegetable broth and canned tomatoes. Mine had plenty of salt, so I added none. If you find the lentils to be bland at this point, add a 1/2 tsp of salt or so to see if that makes the flavors pop.
To serve the lentils, add 1 cup cooked rice to a bowl, followed by 1 cup of the coconut curried lentils. Top with finely diced red onion and fresh cilantro (or green onions if you’re not a cilantro person). Other optional toppings include: plain yogurt, a squeeze of fresh lime, or thinly sliced jalapeños.
These Slow Cooker Coconut Curry Lentils are sure to fuel ALL of your summer adventures! :D
So yummy! I ended up adding an extra sweet potato and added a tablespoon of garam masala. Increased the veggie stock a little to make up for the extra starch and it turned out perfectly.
This was just excellent, especially for its perfect quality/effort ratio and generous portions. It’s not a real Indian curry, but whatever. It’s good and almost effortless. I thought the tomatoes and curry powder would clash, but not so, with coconut milk the final result is similar to makhani gravy (but much less effort required).
I accidentally added the coconut milk to the beginning of the recipe. Did this just mess it up?
I’m not really sure how it will turn out, but hopefully, it works out okay! If not, don’t let it get ya down! ~ Marion :)
My family loves this recipe and it freezes really well so I always make the full monty.
This recipe is amazing. I did tweak it to make it with meat.
To alter the recipe I used beef broth instead of veggie broth and I added 1 pound of cooked ground beef.
My husband LOVED this recipe.
I have an 8 month old, so since this made so much I took a good bit of it, blended it with an immersion blender until it was smooth, and got a good bit of baby food, too. I know that isn’t the intended use, but I’m always looking for ways to make feeding my baby easier, cheaper, and healthier than buying the goop at the store. Oh, and she LOVED it too.
I am feeding 8 people so intend to double the recipe. Would you double the spices as well?
Hi, Krista! You can definitely double this recipe. When doing so, you should double every ingredient, including the spices, so that the final result is just as flavorful as the one that we tested. While curry powder does include some chili, it has more of a “warming” heat than a “spicy” one. (Each brand is slightly different, so I would just taste a tiny bit of the dry powder to gauge the spice level in yours).
If you are highly sensitive to spices, you *could* reduce them slightly in a double batch (but I would definitely add more than 1x) — however, since we haven’t tested it, I’d rather not give any specific recommendations. I will say — if the curry is missing that oomph — you can always add back the difference in Step 3 (after stirring in the coconut milk) when you go to taste and adjust the salt!
— Marion :)
Do you think this could be made in the instant pot? If so, any guidance?
Hi, Autumn! With some tweaking, I bet this recipe will work in an instant pot! But since we haven’t tested this recipe with that cooking method, I don’t want to give you any specific recommendations that might not be successful. I’d suggest adapting the times and temperatures you have used with similar recipes. I’m also not sure how coconut milk will react under high pressure — so I would also suggest looking up some tips online to give you additional guidance on that particular ingredient. If you do try it out, make sure to come back and let us know how it goes! ~ Marion :)
Works fine in instant pot, but might need more water to avoid burn error.
High for 10 min and then add coconut milk after cooking. Either fast or natural release should be ok.
I only ever make it in the instant pot.
Thanks for sharing these tips! ~Marion :)
I second the success with Instant Pot. I used the sautée function to cook the onions and garlic first, then high pressure for 14 minutes (I live at 7,000 feet) and quick release, and finally stirred in the coconut milk at the end. Great flavor, super easy. Total time 40 minutes.
Any chance this would work with green lentils? They’re the only ones I can ever find at ALDI
Hi! We haven’t tested this recipe with green lentils, so can’t give you exact guidance. Brown lentils are green lentils are just a touch different. Brown lentils are starchier and break down easier than green. They both generally cook in about the same time, though green takes a tad longer. The broth might be a touch watery with green, but the flavors should still be on point. XOXO -Monti
We really enjoyed this. For us the lentils were still a little firm at 8 hours so maybe I’ll quick soak beforehand next time. We also found fresh limes from our lime tree make a great addition to top it off, and perhaps some curry roasted cashews?