Although I couldn’t have predicted it, coming home from our trip to Notre Dame to find leftovers of this Slow Cooker Red Lentil Cauliflower Curry stowed safely in our freezer was a perfect ending to a weekend of dear friends, soulful cheering, cool brews, and tasty food.

bowl of healthy red lentil curry with cauliflower garnished with cilantro

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The wonderful and terrible thing about graduating from Notre Dame is that my friends from college live all over the country.

This past weekend, Ben and I headed back to campus for the season’s opening football game, and I was incredibly blessed by the fact that so many of my friends returned to campus for the game.

It was a night game, which gave us plenty of time to catch up during a full day of tailgating, though as we hugged goodbye to head to our separate seats, it didn’t feel like nearly long enough.

Time with dear friends, it seems, is one of life’s greatest comforts of all—with this slow cooker red lentil cauliflower curry being a close second.

vegan cauliflower curry being stirred inside of a crockpot with cilantro

5 Star Review

“I made this and it tastes wonderful! The cilantro and full-fat coconut milk are a must!”

— Amber —

This slow cooker red lentil cauliflower curry offers the richness and warmth that I crave in my comfort food.

  • Unlike typical comfort-food recipes, this red lentil curry with cauliflower is healthy, so instead of feeling weighed down after a big serving, I feel soothed and satisfied (this Instant Pot Lentil Curry has a similar effect).
  • Leftovers can be easily enjoyed for lunch—leaving me full and happy (like this Coconut Curry), versus ready to slip into a food coma at my desk.
  • Plus, during busy work weeks, this recipe is a breeze to prepare since it’s made entirely in a crockpot (similar to this Red Lentil Curry with Sweet Potatoes.
bowl of vegetarian lentil and cauliflower curry, made in a slow cooker with coconut milk

How to Make Slow Cooker Red Lentil Cauliflower Curry

Like 99% of my slow cooker recipes, this cauliflower curry requires almost zero prep beyond a little chopping: simply mix the ingredients together in your crockpot, set it, and go about your business.


The Ingredients

  • Tomato Puree. The base for our simple, homemade red curry sauce.
  • Red Curry Paste. Choose your favorite brand and adjust the amount accordingly to suit your taste preferences since some red curry pastes can be spicier than others. (Make this Thai Chicken Curry with leftover curry paste.)
  • Coconut Milk. Creamy canned coconut milk cuts through the acidity of the tomatoes and the heat of the red curry paste.
  • Cauliflower. A classic vegetable often used in curries (see this Curry Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Chickpeas and Sweet Potatoes), because its mild taste can fully absorb the flavors of the sauce.
  • Red Lentils. Make this dish hearty and filling (like this Curry Lentil Soup). These mighty little legumes are filled with fiber, and a single serving contains a whopping 13 grams of protein.
  • Onion + Garlic. Adds a layer of added zip to the cauliflower curry.
  • Ginger. I love the bold, spicy bite fresh ginger gives any dish.
  • Spices. A blend of turmeric, coriander, cumin, cayenne, and cardamom season the dish with fragrant, earthy flavors with just the right amount of kick.

Substitution Tip!

You may swap the coriander, cumin, and cardamom for garam masala if you keep it stocked in your pantry. It is a spice blend that can be found in most grocery stores and specialty food or spice shops.

  • Cilantro. The perfect finish that adds color and freshness to this hearty dish.
  • Brown Rice. My favorite way to enjoy this red lentil curry is over a bed of brown rice. Quinoa, farro, or basmati rice would be equally delicious.
using a wooden spoon to stir healthy cauliflower red lentil curry in a slow cooker

The Directions

  1. To a larger slow cooker add the lentils, onions, garlic, cauliflower, ginger, curry paste, salt, and spices. Stir to combine.
  2. Add the tomato puree and water, stir, and cover.
  3. Cook on high for 4-5 hours or low for 7-8 hours, until the lentils are soft.
  4. Before serving, stir in the coconut milk. Serve over brown rice, quinoa, or farro, topped with fresh cilantro. ENJOY!

Storage Tips

  • To Store. Place leftover curry in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  • To Reheat. Gently rewarm leftovers in a Dutch oven on the stove over medium-low heat. You can also reheat this recipe in the microwave.
  • To Freeze. Store curry in an airtight freezer-safe storage container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
bowl of healthy Red Lentil Curry with Cauliflower

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Use Frozen Cauliflower in Slow Cooker Curry?

No. Frozen cauliflower is not recommended since it would easily become overcooked and mushy. It would likely also release excess liquid, making the curry too soupy.

What is the Difference Between Split and Whole Lentils?

Unlike whole lentils, whose seed coat is fully intact, the seed coat of split lentils is cracked. This causes split lentils to cook much faster than whole lentils. Split lentils are best for soups, curries, and stews while whole lentils are ideal for salads or side dishes.

Why are my Lentils Not Cooking?

Lentils may remain crunchy or tough if they have not been cooked long enough. The age of the lentils may also play a factor since old lentils tend to not become tender, even after hours of cooking. Finally, adding too much salt to lentils as they cook can also impact their ability to soften.

Slow Cooker Cauliflower Curry with red lentils

Slow Cooker Red Lentil Cauliflower Curry

4.75 from 4 votes
This slow cooker red lentil cauliflower curry is simple to prepare, healthy, and richly flavored. Perfect vegetarian weeknight dinner.

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 7 hrs
Total: 7 hrs 15 mins

Servings: 8 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cups split red lentils I like Bob’s Red Mill Red Lentils
  • 1 yellow onion diced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 head cauliflower chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ginger minced
  • 2 tablespoons red curry paste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander*
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin*
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom*
  • 1 can tomato puree (29 ounces) NOT tomato sauce
  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk use full fat—it’s worth it
  • Freshly chopped cilantro for serving
  • Brown rice, cooked quinoa, farro, or similar for serving

Instructions
 

  • Place the lentils in the bottom of a 4-quart or larger slow cooker. Add the onions, garlic, cauliflower, ginger, curry paste, salt, turmeric, coriander, cumin, cayenne, and cardamom, then stir to combine.
  • Pour the tomato puree over the top of the cauliflower and lentils. Refill the tomato puree can halfway with water, then pour it over the top of the slow cooker ingredients so that they are covered with liquid.
  • Cover and cook on high for 4-5 hours or low for 7-8 hours, until the lentils are soft.
  • Just before serving, stir in the coconut milk. Serve over brown rice, quinoa, or farro, topped with fresh cilantro.

Notes

  • TO STORE: Place leftover curry in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  • TO REHEAT: Gently rewarm leftovers in a Dutch oven on the stove over medium-low heat. You can also reheat this recipe in the microwave.
  • TO FREEZE: Store curry in an airtight freezer-safe storage container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
  • The spices with an asterisk can be replaced with 1 1/2 teaspoons of garam masala, a spice blend that can be found in most grocery stores and specialty food or spice shops. If you can’t find garam masala, the spices I suggested in the recipe (which are more easily available), taste wonderful.

Nutrition

Serving: 1(of 8) without riceCalories: 227kcalCarbohydrates: 35gProtein: 14gFat: 4gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gPotassium: 809mgFiber: 16gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 770IUVitamin C: 41mgCalcium: 62mgIron: 5mg

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Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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54 Comments

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  1. I notice many comments about lentils not cooking. Could it be the difference between using whole red lentils and split red lentils which cook more quickly? I have found so many recipes in general don’t specify whole or split red lentils and it makes a big difference.

    1. Hi Sandra, that could be! It could also be the age of the lentils as well. I have only seen split red lentils at my store, so that is what the recipe used.

  2. Hello! Just finished cooking (4 hours on high pressure) and the texture seems very soft; the cauliflower dissolves as soon as it hits the mouth. Is that the intended outcome? Flavors seem good though!

    1. Hi Nina! It definitely gets quite soft (and product of slow cooking). You can chop the cauliflower larger next time if you’d like it more firm.

  3. Definitely a 5 star for flavor! I cooked it for 4 hrs on high and when I stirred in the coconut milk, everything turned to mush. Although flavorful, I would have liked more texture. The lentils and cauliflower all appeared to be a sweet potato mash. I did use split lentils, so next time, I will cook for a shorter time and cut the cauliflower bigger.4 stars

  4. I can’t buy canned tomato puree where I live. Can I peel tomatoes and blend them in the blender? Would I need to then cook them down to reduce liquid?

    1. Hi Karen! I haven’t tried it, but you could certainly experiment by making your own tomato puree. I’d suggest referencing a recipe like this one for tips on how to prepare your own. Thankfully, it’s freezer friendly, so you could make a big batch to use in future recipes as well!

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