Let’s talk dinner beauty. One-pot, WOW-flavor, inexpensive, how-can-something-this-easy-taste-this-good? meal gorgeousness. This simple, healthy Instant Pot Lentil Curry could be a dinner pageant queen! It’s creamy, not too spicy, and can be either a brown lentil curry or green lentil curry recipe, depending upon which lentils you use.

Easy, creamy, vegan Instant Pot Lentil Curry in a bowl with brown rice

Since this time of year is especially busy (and I expect a few of you might have an Instant Pot on your wish list!), I wanted to take a moment to share this lentil curry coconut recipe. It takes mere minutes to prep, the entire thing cooks in one pot, and it yields a generous batch that reheats beautifully.

Like my Tofu Curry, this creamy lentil curry also manages the tricky feat of being both stick-to-your-ribs warm and comforting (what my body wants) AND feel-great nutritious (what my body needs).

Now, I’m not going to pretend that if every recipe to come out of my kitchen could strut the red carpet, Instant Pot Lentil Curry would be the one to land the cover of Vogue. I’m talking meal inner beauty here.

Lentil Curry is humble. Her appearance is understated. She does not demand attention.

Take one bite, however, and you’ll see immediately why this dinner earned a coveted stop on the regular dinner rotation around here.

Indian Lentil Curry made in the instant pot with coconut milk in a bowl

Why I Love This Instant Pot Lentil Curry

Don’t be fooled by Instant Pot Lentil Curry’s modest appearance. Every bite is rich and lively, courtesy of fresh ingredients such as ginger and garlic and captivating Indian spices such as turmeric and curry powder.

In addition to its flavor, what I love most about this lentil curry is its indulgent, creamy texture.

This perceived richness is due in part to the addition of coconut milk but even more so to the way the lentils are cooked.

I used light coconut milk and was worried the curry wouldn’t be creamy enough. I couldn’t have been more pleasantly surprised! The texture was PERFECT.

If coconut milk isn’t an ingredient you regularly keep in your pantry, consider picking up a few cans, which are sold in the Asian or international food aisle of most grocery stores. You can use one for today’s Instant Pot Lentil Curry, then the others to make other quick, healthy dinners like this fabulous Coconut Curry and this Chickpea Curry.

Those looking for a vegan lentil curry without coconut milk could swap it for a nut milk, such as cashew milk or almond milk, though coconut milk is my overall recommendation. It’s worth it here.

easy, healthy, vegan lentil curry recipe that cooks in ONE POT with Indian spices

How to Make the Best Lentil Curry

This Lentil Curry was the very first recipe I tried in my Instant Pot. Cooking lentils in an Instant Pot isn’t a huge time saver because lentils are fairly quick cooking already, BUT using the Instant Pot did make an incredible difference in three important ways when compared to other curry recipes.

  • One, TEXTURE. Cooking lentils in the Instant Pot makes them marvelously creamy while maintaining just enough texture so that they do not taste mushy.

If you’ve ever cooked lentils (and you definitely should—they are one of the most delicious, healthy, and inexpensive ingredients you can buy), you know this can be a tricky balance to strike. Cooking the lentils in the Instant Pot resulted in textbook creamy lentils, and I never even needed to stir the pot.

  • Two, ONE POT. Most lentil curry recipes require two pots, one for cooking the lentils and one for simmering the coconut curry sauce.

With this recipe, everything happens right in the pressure cooker, so you only have one dish to wash at the end.

  • Three, HANDS FREE. As soon as the aromatics were sautéed, all I needed to do was stir in the lentils and coconut milk, seal the Instant Pot, and walk away. After 15 minutes of cooking time, our creamy Lentil Curry was ready to serve.

The finishing touch to this recipe is a squeeze of fresh lemon juice after the lentils have cooked. Don’t skip it! Its brightness is needed to balance the coconut curry flavors.

If you don’t yet have an Instant Pot, I do think this recipe could be adapted to the stove. I’ve included my best thoughts in the recipe notes below.

If you do have an Instant Pot, don’t miss these 15 Healthy Instant Pot recipes!

Instant Pot Lentil Curry Dal with coconut milk in a bowl

As far as different types of lentils, if you are using an Instant Pot, I’d recommend sticking with green or brown lentils. (I’ve done the recipe both ways and each was delicious.)

Red and yellow lentils are more delicate and didn’t hold up as well in the Instant Pot, so I wasn’t *as* smitten with their final texture. That said, if red or yellow lentils are all you have on hand (and you don’t mind a slightly mushier lentil curry), feel free to use them.

If you are cooking lentil curry on the stove, the color of the lentils is less important. Just be sure to adjust the cooking time accordingly.

More Easy Indian Recipes and Lentil Recipes

For Lentil Curry in the Slow Cooker

Recommended Tools to Make This Curry

  • Instant Pot (other pressure/multicooker brands with a similar sauté and pressure cooking function should work too)
Easy, CREAMY Instant Pot Lentil Curry. Amazing flavors, not too spicy, and it’s hands free, vegan, and healthy! Made with green or brown lentils, Indian spices, and coconut milk.

Instant Pot Lentil Curry

4.91 from 150 votes
Easy Instant Pot Lentil Curry with Indian flavors, not too spicy, healthy and vegan! One pot recipe with brown lentils or green lentils.

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Total: 45 mins

Servings: 3 cups, approx. (4 to 6 servings)


  • 1 1/2 cups lentils green or brown
  • 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon water divided
  • 1 small shallot finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic about 6 cloves
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder plus 1 teaspoon
  • 1/2 tablespoon coconut sugar or brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper use more for more spice or omit if sensitive to spice
  • 1 can light coconut milk about 14 ounces
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice about 1/2 large lemon
  • Cooked brown rice for serving
  • Chopped fresh cilantro for serving


  • Rinse and drain the lentils, then set aside. Set the Instant Pot to sauté and add the coconut oil. Once the oil has melted, add 1 tablespoon water, the shallot, ginger, and garlic. Cook, stirring often, until very fragrant and the shallot is soft, about 2 minutes. Add the curry powder, coconut sugar, salt, turmeric, and cayenne and stir vigorously. Stand back and try not to breath in any of the steam coming from the pot (it’s spicy!). Add the lentils, coconut milk, and 1 cup of water. Stir to coat the lentils completely with the liquid.
  • Hit cancel to stop the sauté function, seal the lid, then set to cook on HIGH pressure for 15 minutes. (It will take about 8 minutes for the pressure to build, then the timer will begin.) Once the timer has stopped, let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes, then vent to release the pressure completely. Open the lid and stir in the lemon juice. Taste and adjust the seasoning as desired. If the curry is too thick, add a bit more water to loosen as needed. Serve hot with rice, sprinkled with cilantro.


  • Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days or freeze for 2 to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator. The lentils thicken as they cool, so to reheat, sprinkle with a little water, vegetable or chicken stock, or coconut milk, then rewarm gently in the microwave or on the stovetop, adding more liquid as needed.
  • I do not recommend using red or yellow lentils in the Instant Pot, as their texture is more delicate and they tend to fall apart.
  • To make on the stove: Cook the lentils (you can use any kind of lentils you like). In a separate large, rimmed skillet, sauté the shallot, ginger, garlic, and spices as directed over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low, then add the coconut milk and coconut sugar. Let simmer gently for 4 to 5 minutes, until slightly thickened. Stir in the lemon juice and cooked lentils.


Serving: 0.5cup cooked lentils with 1/2 cup cooked brown riceCalories: 315kcalCarbohydrates: 59gProtein: 7gFat: 12gSaturated Fat: 4gFiber: 6gSugar: 8g

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Erin Clarke

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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  1. Wow, Erin! Great job figuring this one out for the Instant Pot! I have another curried lentil recipe that I use and my husband said this one is WAY better and I agree! I subbed a half regular onion because I didn’t have a shallot and I used full fat coconut milk. The fresh ginger adds the best flavor and the texture is PERFECT! I served it with chicken thighs cooked in the Primal Kitchen Lime Cilantro marinade/dressing. Perfect combo!
    PS- You can always add large chunks of sweet potato to the instant pot to make a heartier meal!5 stars

      1. So creamy and delicious, I did half green and half brown! I really enjoyed prepping the ingredients for this one and taking in all of the healthful spices. But the best thing about this recipe is how I feel after eating it. Completely satisfied, energized and happy. This is easy enough for a weeknight and definitely going into our rotation. Thank you!5 stars

  2. I loved this! I used veggie stock instead of water and added potatoes last minute. What a great weeknight meal :)5 stars

    1. HI Jade! I’ve only tested the recipe as written. If you decide to experiment with chicken, let me know how it goes.

    2. I made a lentil soup recipe yesterday and added chicken thighs (same cooking timeframe) and they came out good! I’m looking forward to trying this recipe and adding chicken as well.5 stars

  3. This was so easy to make and, based on the spoonful we taste tested, absolutely delicious! I made in advance so my instant pot was available to make the rice. I plan on adding green peas (maybe carrots or tomatoes) to the curry when I serve it for dinner. Definitely going into my recipe rotation!5 stars

  4. Super easy to make — and I appreciated the substitution ideas in the recipe (brown sugar instead of coconut sugar, etc.). I made it in advance (made this morning for dinner tonight) and it was quick and very delicious (I had to do a quick taste test!). I think I’ll add some vegetables to it when I reheat it for dinner tonight. Definitely going into my recipe rotation!5 stars

  5. Hi there, for some strange reason I kept getting a burn warning every time it got to the point of pressure. I opened the pot, de-glazed, and even added additional liquid but it kept burning on me. I’m currently using slow cook on the IP to finish it up. I was looking forward to this recipe but although I’m following the instructions it didn’t work :(

    1. Hi Travis, I’m sorry this happened! I’ve made this recipe a few times and never had that issue. That said, I’ve heard some of the newer Instant Pots trigger a burn warning more easily than others. Also check to make sure that when your instant pot is coming to pressure it should not be steaming. If so, that is releasing the liquid and could trigger the warning. The recipe has worked great for me and other readers as written, but I know it’s disappointing to run into problems, so I hope it goes better next time!

    2. Hi. Do you have a “beans/chilli” setting on your instant pot? I find that works best for lentils/beans etc as I have gotten burn warnings before

  6. By far the best Instapot recipe I have. These are delicious and vegan, which my family loves. Even the 3 year old gobbles it up. I add a pack extra firm tofu, pressed and cubed with the lentils and cook. It’s like vegan paneer! So good5 stars

  7. Just made this for the firs time today and it was delicious!
    With few differences: I used chicken tights cause we were too hungry lol. I did the veggies and spices in a separate pan where I later added the chicken for browning and then moved everything in the IP.
    I got few “burn” notices in the past when using the saute function and eversince I decided not to risk it anymore.
    Also instead of “curry powder” I used home made garam masala powder.
    So so so good!
    Thank you for this recipe. It has been now pinned and will be a family favourite for years to come.
    Love from London xx5 stars

  8. Hi- I have a 3 quart instant pot. Do I have to halve the recipe. You didn’t say the size of the pot that is needed.

    1. Hi Pam! I use a 6qt instant pot for all of my recipes. I haven’t tested this in a 3 qt but you might have to halve it. If you decide to experiment with it, let me know how it goes!

  9. Was very tasty and not a difficult recipe. I soaked the lentils for a couple of hours as read it could help reduce the gassyness and it made the lentils a bit mushy. They turned out very dense probably had 2 cups instead of following the recipes 1/5 cups, but still tasted good. I could add another can of coconut milk but did not want to increase calories.

    Just some feedback to be helpful, not dissing you at all, I found the instructions quite dense and not that easy to whip through as say the recipes on the IFoodreal site.4 stars

  10. Absolutely delicious recipe! My go to lentil curry, very easy to make and just the right amount of spices, and I looooooove the fresh ginger in it!5 stars

  11. My lentils required way more water, like 2 1/2C total…Instapot gave me a burning signal twice and I had to dump into a saucepan to cook.3 stars

    1. Hi KMK! I’m sorry to hear you had trouble with the recipe the timing and totals have worked well for myself (and others) so I wish they had worked well for you. All instant pots are a little different and seem to give different results.

  12. This recipe is sooo good. My husband gets tired of me making curry all the time but loves this one. It also makes the whole house smell so fragrant and good.5 stars

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