Red Lentil Curry with Sweet Potatoes {Slow Cooker}

Who’s ready to take it easy this week? Red Lentil Curry and I are! This creamy vegan curry is made in your slow cooker hands free, includes a generous serving of vegetables (sweet potatoes!), and thanks to the addition of cooling coconut milk, the Indian spices are well balanced for a warm but not overpowering level of heat.

Easy, healthy Slow Cooker Red Lentil Curry with Sweet Potatoes and coconut milk. Creamy, delicious vegan recipe with the perfect amount of Indian spice!

I first made this simple red lentil curry recipe when we moved into our new home and—after two weeks straight of moving-stress-induced takeout dinners—I needed a healthy reset.

WELL, here I am again! I’ve spent the last few weeks eating out as often as I’ve eaten in. It’s been delicious and fun and I’m likely to do it again, which is exactly why I need more easy red lentil recipes like this one in my life this week.

For me, it’s much easier to be excited about eating at home when I’m genuinely looking forward to the food in my refrigerator. Having delicious food on hand helps me avoid the temptation to say “Forget it—let’s go out” or to reach for a bag of chips instead of going to the effort to cook.

This Red Lentil Curry is absolutely scrumptious. I feel giddy and impatient to eat it every time I warm up a bowl!

Easy Red Lentil Curry made in the slow cooker! Loaded with sweet potato and delicious spices.

Healthy Red Lentil Curry—Reasons to ♥ Thee

I adore this recipe for so many reasons. Here’s why you will too.

First, let’s talk practicalities:

  • Dreamy Leftovers. This recipe yields a large portion and reheats like a dream, so when you make it once for dinner, you’re also gifting yourself with multiple healthy meals you can enjoy later in the week.
  • Meal-Prep Maven. You can either cook the recipe over the weekend, then warm up the leftovers, OR chop all of the vegetables in advance if you’d like to make it fresh the day you plan to serve it.
  • Healthy. Between the red lentils and superfood sweet potatoes, this recipe is loaded with fiber, protein, and nutrients. (For the curious, I’ve included more about red lentils below.)
  • Diet Friendly. This recipe is naturally vegan, gluten free, dairy free, and nut free.
  • CHEAP. Red lentils are one of the least expensive items in the grocery store. It’s hard to get more nutritional bang for your buck than with these red beauties!

Now, let’s address another Very Important Matter: YUM FACTOR. Because life is just too short to eat food that isn’t delicious.

  • TASTE. This Red Lentil curry is nothing short of fabulous. The layers of spice are complex, without being excessively spicy.
  • Texture. Thick, creamy, and utterly satisfying.
  • Glow Factor. You are going to feel marvelous after finishing a serving of this Red Lentil Curry, because it leaves you truly full and because the clean ingredient list means you did something truly positive for your well being!

Simple Slow Cooker Red Lentil Curry with Sweet Potato is an easy, vegan meal.

More about Red Lentils

If you are not ultra familiar with red lentils, then I am so pleased to introduce you to one of the least-expensive, best-tasting healthy foods on the planet.

Lentils are a member of the legume family, along with split peas, peanuts, chickpeas, and more. A few reasons to add them to your pantry (in addition to how inexpensive they are):

  • Versatility. Red lentils are mild and readily absorb spices, meaning they can soak up any flavors you add to them. They’re an easy ingredient in a wide range of recipes that range from more Indian-spiced dishes like this Instant Pot Lentil Curry to more traditional ones like Instant Pot Lentil Soup.
  • High in Fiber and Protein. That means this Red Lentil Curry (and other recipes with lentils) will keep you full and happy, no meat required.
  • Low on Calories. Just 230 in a whole cup!
  • Big on Nutrients. Think iron, folate, and more.
  • Creamy but Not Mushy. With their pleasant texture, lentils are a delight to eat.
  • Fast. Lentils do not need to be soaked before cooking, saving you a recipe step. They do need to be rinsed to remove any dirt or stray bits, but this takes only a minute or two.

How to Make a Red Lentil Curry with Max Flavor and Minimal Effort

Today’s Slow Cooker Red Lentil Curry is one of my absolute favorite ways to spice and flavor the versatile red lentil.

In a bit of a mashup, I ended up with an Indian-meets-Thai approach. (Does this make this curry Asian fusion? If yes, according to my last issue of Bon Appetit, we are right on trend!)

  • Thai Red Curry Paste. Think of this ingredient as a jar of instant flavor. It’s widely available and sold in the international food or Asian food section of almost any grocery store. Once you have it, you can use it to make many more healthy recipes, including Thai Chicken Curry, Coconut Curry, and Pumpkin Curry Soup.
  • Garam Masala. This ingredient is a blend of many spices and a staple in Indian cooking. You can find garam masala in the spice section of many grocery stores or online here. Once you have a bottle, in addition to this Slow Cooker Red Lentil Curry, you can use it to make my healthy Instant Pot Chicken Tikka MasalaPaneer Tikka Masala, and Instant Pot Butter Chicken.

Spices like garam masala and the red curry paste are key allies to cooking that is a) healthy (spice = big taste without extra fat), b) easy (you can measure one spoonful of one spice blend instead of 10 of individual spices), and c) DELISH.

The sweet potatoes and lentils calm the spices so they are warm and flavorful but not hot, making this red lentil curry recipe accessible to more sensitive palates.

Creamy Curry without the Cream

One of my favorite parts of Indian red lentil curry is how creamy it is. I love the way the sauce coats the rice and how rich it makes even an ingredient as healthy as lentils taste.

In a restaurant, that creaminess often comes from cream (surprise!), but I’ve found that you can achieve a similar effect (and make the red lentil curry vegan) by using coconut milk. I used light coconut milk and the curry was plenty thick and satisfying for us, but if you wanted extra indulgence, you could use full fat instead.

Slow Cooker Red Lentil Curry with Sweet Potato is an easy vegan dinner that's great for meal prep!

The next time you are thinking about takeout, instead of picking up the phone, pull out your crock pot and give this red lentil curry recipe a try!

Slow Cooker Red Lentil Curry with Sweet Potatoes

Yield: 6 people
Prep Time:
20 mins
Cook Time:
6 hrs
Total Time:
6 hrs 20 mins
Easy, healthy Slow Cooker Red Lentil Curry with Sweet Potatoes and coconut milk. Creamy, delicious vegan recipe with the perfect amount of Indian spice!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups dried red lentils
  • 6 cups peeled, cubed sweet potato — (about 3 medium)
  • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 small shallot — finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 tablespoon coconut sugar or light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 cloves garlic — minced (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1 cup canned light coconut milk

For serving:

  • Cooked brown rice or quinoa
  • Fresh cilantro — (highly encouraged)
  • Lemon or lime wedges — (optional but tasty)

Instructions

  1. Coat a 5-quart or larger slow cooker with nonstick spray. Rinse the lentils, then add them to the slow cooker. Add the sweet potato, vegetable broth, water, shallot, curry paste, garam masala, turmeric, sugar, ginger, salt, garlic, and tomato paste. Stir well to combine. Cover and cook on HIGH for 3 to 4 hours or LOW for 6 to 7 hours, until the lentils and sweet potatoes are tender. Turn off the heat and stir in the coconut milk. If you’d like a thinner consistency, stir in additional broth or water.

  2. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. Serve hot over prepared brown rice or quinoa. Garnish with lots of fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lemon or lime.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian, Thai
Keyword: Red Lentil Curry, Slow Cooker Curry

Nutrition Information

Amount per serving (1.5 cups) — Calories: 354, Fat: 4g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Carbohydrates: 66g, Fiber: 11g, Sugar: 17g, Protein: 17g

Did you try this recipe? I want to see! Follow Well Plated on Instagram, snap a photo, and tag it #wellplated. I love to know what you are making!

This post contains some affiliate links, which means that I make a small commission off items you purchase at no additional cost to you.

About Erin Clarke

I’m fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food taste incredible. Wearer of plaid, travel enthusiast, and firmly convinced that sweets and veggies both deserve a place at the table. MORE ABOUT ERIN…

37 comments

  1. how do you do this recipe without a slow cooker?

    • Hi Nancy, I haven’t tried it myself, but I think you could make it on the stovetop in a dutch oven or similar large pot. I hope you enjoy the recipe!

  2. This curry looks way better than takeout! I’ve also been challenging myself lately to see if I can recreate my favorite takeout meals at home, it’s much more budget-friendly ;)

  3. I just want to bundle up in blankets and eat this cozy dinner!

  4. This looks amazing! Do you think it is possible to make if you don’t have a slow cooker?

    • Hi Sigrid, yes, I think you could make it on the stovetop in a dutch oven or similar large pot. I hope you enjoy the recipe!

  5. Erin, I just discovered your blog because I just got an Instant Pot and started Googling. I have tried a couple of your baked goods so far and they are wonderful! As someone who loves to cook and eat but who is perpetually altering “regular” recipes to reduce saturated fat and simple sugars, it’s terrific to find your blog and all of the ideas for healthy food. (Not to mention that I very much agree with your take on what constitutes healthy eating.)

    • I’m so happy to have you here! Thank you so much for the kind words about my blog, and I hope you find many more new favorites!

  6. Do you think one can cook this using regular potatoes, instead of sweet potatoes?

    • Hi Stephanie, I haven’t tried it myself, but that should work. If you do decide to give it a try, I’d love to hear how it goes.

  7. Made this yesterday on the stove top as opposed to a slow cooker. It took a while for the lentils to soften, I think because cooking them in such a liquid that has sugar, salt, among others makes it go slower. It needed about 50 minutes at a light simmer. However, it tasted great for dinner, and even better reheated for lunch today! The amount of effort relative to the results is outstanding.

    I think next time I might presoak the lentils a bit.

    Thanks a lot!

  8. Do you have suggestions on how you could modify this recipe with an instant pot?

    • Hi Madeleine, I haven’t made this in the Instant Pot myself, but similar recipes online seemed to call for cooking it for 12 minutes on manual/high pressure. If you’re interested in a lentil curry that I can 100% vouch for, check out this one!

      • Just tried this for 12 mins in the IP and it was too long. I would maybe do 6-8? Delicious flavors still though, just more of a mushy soup. 

        • Thanks for reporting back about the experiment, Amanda! I’m glad you still enjoyed the flavors.

          • I was just scrolling the comments to see if anyone had attempted this in an instant pot! I’m curious to try (6-8min) but it could be a hard balance cooking through the lentils without making the sweet potatoes mush. Erin I LOVE your instant pot lentil recipe, it is a weekly staple in our house. Thank you!!! Love your blog.

          • Hi Lesley, as you probably noticed in the comments, I have not tried this in the Instant Pot myself, but I bet it would be worth experimentation! I would love to hear how it goes if you give it a try.

  9. I am a vegetarian, so thank you for writing this recipe for all Vegetarians.

    I am a big fan of your recipes!

    Tried your other recipes today and this one seems awesome as well!

  10. Made this with the only change being almond milk instead of coconut milk – it was really tasty and I’m happy I have lots of leftovers!

  11. I just made this and it was great! I’m left with a lot of leftovers though. Can they be frozen?

  12. Elizabeth made this recipe (Slow Cooker Red Lentil Curry with Sweet Potatoes) following the recipe precisely, which is always a good idea, at least for the first time, and brought it to work. I guess it made plenty because several of us ate it and LOVED IT!!! It’s an amazing combination of flavors. Also, it felt really good in my stomach! I haven’t asked for a recipe in a long time, but we all fell in love with this dish! I signed up with Erin today! THANK YOU! Also, two of us co-workers who ate this are vegetarians, so we are especially grateful for this recipe. We were all going “WOW!!” over this!

  13. Très bon. Merci!!

    Much appreciated. 

  14. Made the recipe today and OMG it is very good! I didn’t add the coconut milk, unfortunately I am allergic to coconut. Also, to save on some calories, I did without rice or sugar. I will totally keep this recipe in my back pocket. Very delicious! Thanks so much for the recipe. =)

  15. This looks amazing.  Can it be frozen, if not I will cut  this recipe in half and mske in my smalll slow cooker.    Thank you 

    • Hi Barbara! Because this has a good amount of tomato sauce in it, I find that it freezes fine (vs. more a more liquidy/pure coconut milk curry.). I hope you love it!

  16. Thank you for this recipe, which looks delicious!  I’m wondering about the Thai red curry paste. I’m sensitive to hot spiciness and would like to know if this recipe is spicy. Thank you. 

    • Betsy, it’s not terribly spicy because the sweet potatoes balance the curry paste, but if you are sensitive to any kind of heat, it might be too much for you. You can always reduce the amount if you are unsure.

  17. Jeanette Paisley Reply

    I noticed in previous comments about making this red lentil curry recipe in an Instant Pot. The Instant Pot has a slow cooker function that I am going to try.

  18. Hi, Erin, I made this red lentil and sweet potato curry yesterday and I think it is delicious. I did it stove top as it was a spur of the moment decision and I didn’t have time to slow cook. The stove top method worked great. I did pre cook the lentils as I have had trouble in the past getting them to soften and cook when mixed with tomato products. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe! As a vegetarian I like it when you have meat free posts!

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