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Instant Pot Red Curry Lentils

66 reviews / 4.8 average

Guess what’s for dinner? Creamy, spicy, delicious red curry lentils, made in the Instant Pot.

It’s almost embarrassingly easy: lentils, cooked with a can of tomato sauce, some warm spices, and the essential onion-garlic-ginger trifecta, and made creamy with a little bit of coconut milk and/or butter and/or ghee.

Scoop it over a pile of steamy rice and throw some fresh greens on there and you’ve got a serious comfort food situation that is hard to quit.

It’s amazing for dinner and more amazing for leftovers.

Here’s how it goes:

Put everything in the Instant Pot.

Ingredients for red curry lentils in the Instant Pot.

Cook it up. Mix it with something creamy (hello, coconut milk).

Red curry lentils in Instant Pot with coconut milk.

Annnd you’re done.

LOL.

This is so good on so many levels.

Red curry lentils in a bowl with rice.

This recipe was based off of the original red curry lentils of way back when – a tried and true favorite that does not require an Instant Pot!

And here’s a big-batch crockpot version which freezes super well for those who are as obsessed with these humble little lentils as I am.

Check Out Our Video For How To Make Instant Pot Red Curry Lentils:

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Instant Pot Red Curry Lentils


  • Author: Lindsay
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x

Description

Guess what’s for dinner? Creamy, spicy, delicious red curry lentils, made in the Instant Pot. This is the BEST easy, filling, healthy dinner!


Ingredients

Scale

Into The Instant Pot:

  • 1 1/2 cups brown lentils
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoonred curry paste
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 cloves garlicminced
  • one 1-inch knob of gingerminced
  • a few good shakes of cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 14-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt (more to taste)

And Then:

  • 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter or ghee (optional)
  • cilantro for garnishing
  • rice for serving

Instructions

  1. Place all ingredients in the Instant Pot. Cook on high pressure for 15 minutes. Natural pressure release (meaning just let it sit) for 10 more minutes.
  2. Stir in the coconut milk and butter. Taste and adjust seasonings.
  3. Serve with rice, top with cilantro, and be amazed at the yumminess of the humble little lentil.

Notes

What to serve with: I often serve this with some extras – like, whatever produce we have hanging around in the fridge. Roasted bell peppers, slices of mango, avocado chunks… this is a very flexible recipe and works great as the base of a healthy and delicious fridge-clean-out bowl!

Crockpot Version: Follow this recipe.

Stovetop Version: Follow this recipe.

Freezing: This recipe freezes super well, cooked OR uncooked. I froze mine, uncooked, without liquids (just lentils, onion, garlic, ginger, spices) and then added the water and tomato sauce when I cooked it. Timing should be the same either way!

  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Instant Pot
  • Cuisine: Thai-Inspired

Keywords: instant pot red curry lentils, red curry lentils, red curry recipe

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One More Thing!

This recipe is part of our best Instant Pot recipes page. Check it out!

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Recipe rating

199 Comments

  1. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Jen

    I am so happy to see this. We really love the other versions of this recipe, but they are more time consuming/take more planning. Thank you!

        1. Pinch of Yum Logo

          Sure! The chicken thighs might cook at a different rate compared to the lentils, so we’d suggest just cooking them separately and adding them to the finished dish. Enjoy!

  2. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Jennifer

    Yay! So excited to see one of my favorites converted to the IP! Question, what lentils works best with this? I have been shortcutting with Trader Joes precooked lentils for so long, I don’t have a clue where to start with dried lentils!






      1. Pinch of Yum Logo

        I love salads. My hubby is totally opposite to me in this case. I always force him to have salad, just like my daughter. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful recipe. 🙂

  3. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Courtney

    Hi! Is this made with tomato sauce or tomato puree? The recipe and the written part say different things and I want to make sure I pick the correct option! Thanks!

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Pammela

      Looks like sauce in the picture. I would definitely say it would be sauce, not puree. I have tried lentils once and didn’t care for them, but i am going to try this recipe, as i love me a good red curry and i have all the ingredients except lentils!

        1. Pinch of Yum Logo

          Red lentils cook much faster than brown lentils and have a mushier consistency, so we’d recommend sticking with the brown or cooking it for less time – probably about 10 mins!

          1. Pinch of Yum Logo
            Megan

            Well – this answers my question! I made this last night exactly as written, but with red lentils (looking back now, I see that it doesn’t specify RED lentils, but I thought it did when I wrote my shopping list). While the flavor is INSANELY YUM, it is definitely a mushy consistency, though not at all off-putting. I will try it next with brown lentils!

            Thanks again for another awesome recipe!

          2. Pinch of Yum Logo
            nicole

            I wish I had known this lol! it was DELICIOUS but definitely mushy. Can’t wait to try it again with brown lentils! I’m v new to the world of lentils for sure






          3. Pinch of Yum Logo
            Sheena

            So I actually made this with red lentils because I couldn’t find brown ones at the time, and yes, I knew that it would cook much faster than brown. So I adjusted the IP to cook on high for 4 mins and added chickpeas/garbanzo beans to vary the texture just in case it came out too mushy. Which it did, but it still worked! I also added some mild Italian chicken sausages I had in the fridge. However, I wasn’t entirely sure that the sausages cooked completely through so I would not suggest using red lentils with any protein if cooking for a shorter time. Definitely with brown lentils, it would be great and plenty of time to cook even with the 10 mins for NSR. I also made the mistake of adding a whole can of coconut milk at the end, but hey! It was still so delicious, I was licking the bowl at the end. If you live in an area where you can find culantro, just do it. Throw it in there. Trust me. 😉

  4. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Vaish

    Made this today and it was perfect! There is nothing about it I’d change. Delicious!






  5. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Lynette

    Hello!

    I’ve made so many of your recipes and they have all been great. I tried this one but my instapot showed a ‘burn’ display while it was cooking. I followed the recipe so I’m not sure if it’s because there wasn’t enough liquid or what. I added more liquid and tried again but it showed up again. It’s never happened before so could be user error. Bummer!

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Aimee Stacy

      Same thing happened to me, but I used red lentils and as Jenna says above, they cooked much faster. I misread the recipe and thought it was red lentils that I should use. However, it’s still delicious! When I opened my IP to find out what was going on, it was indeed burned on the bottom but was still able to salvage most of it without further cooking.

    2. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Breanne

      I also read online that it matters what order you put the ingredients in. Liquids should go in first, then the other items. And not to stir it too much before starting the cooking process. I put the water and tomato sauce in first, then added everything else on top. I did have to stir a little, because it didn’t seem right to NOT stir. I didn’t get a burn notice. Just a thought!

      1. Pinch of Yum Logo
        Helen in CA

        I’d suggest layering. Put everything in EXCEPT the tomato sauce. Stir. Then pour the sauce on top. Pressure cook. Then, follow the rest of the instructions.

    3. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Kayla

      I also struggled with this (or the equivalent of it – my Foodi showed up with “WATR” before it got started). I just added two cups of water and set it to only cook for 8 minutes, so fingers crossed it makes a full recovery!

    4. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Steve M.

      Same here. Got the burn message three times in a row. Could not fix it. No mention of this in the recipe.






  6. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Rob

    This Red Curry Lentils recipe is fabulous! As a variation, I substitute freekah for 1/2 the lentils to vary texture and nutrition. I served over baked potatoes pieces as substitute for rice.






  7. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Radha Sitaraman

    Made this today, loved it. Forgot and dumped everything along with coconut milk and ghee. Was totally fine.
    Portion size is quiet a lot, glad it freezes well.

  8. Pinch of Yum Logo

    This recipe is life changing. So easy, so delicious! Left out the curry powder (for my husband) but followed the rest to a T. Tons of flavor even w/o the curry powder. The coconut milk takes this to the next level. Also used about 2 teaspoons of jarred minced ginger (so easy) instead of buying fresh (always forget about it in the fridge). Family approved! (husband, 2yr old, and 23yr old sis-in-law ;))

  9. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Breanne

    Made this last night so I could have healthy lunches at work this week – really yummy. Good to have another reason to pull out the instantpot.






  10. Pinch of Yum Logo
    patty

    I could not believe how delicious this was. My husband loved it too. Thank you so much for another great recipe.






    1. Pinch of Yum Logo

      You could, but the cook time might be a little tricky! If you’re using canned, you could probably reduce the time so they’re not mush. If you’re using dry, you’ll have to increase the time – probably to around 22 mins.

  11. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Alexandra

    That looks absolutely delicious.

    Just a question. The calories per serving – is that include the rice or just the curry lentils?

  12. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Thank you for this wonderful recipe and easy to follow instructions! I made this last Sunday and it turned out delicious, all my family loved it! Highly recommend this. My wife was pretty impressed that the instant pot sautéed like that. I ran out of red lentils so used green lentils and added two sweet potatoes too. Pinned!






  13. Pinch of Yum Logo

    This recipe turned out perfect exactly as written, which makes me very happy! I served it with flat bread, basmati rice and thin strips of carrot and cucumber. I feel like the lentils are delicious enough on their own though. Thank you Pinch of Yum!






    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Luljeta

      How can I replace the red curry in the recipe so that it is not spicy for my toddlers?

      1. Pinch of Yum Logo

        Hi, Luljeta! The red curry is pretty essential here, so there’s not necessarily a good sub we’d recommend here. To cut back on the flavor, you could use less of the red curry paste. Let us know how this goes for you! 😊