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 Crockpot Lentil Soup and 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.

Check out my Slow Cooker Chicken Curry for another lightened-up curry dish!

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!

Red lentil curry with rice in a bowl

Slow Cooker Red Lentil Curry with Sweet Potatoes

4.86 from 56 votes
Easy, healthy Slow Cooker Red Lentil Curry with Sweet Potatoes and coconut milk. Creamy, delicious vegan recipe with the perfect amount of Indian spice!

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 6 hrs
Total: 6 hrs 20 mins

Servings: 6 people


  • 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)


  • 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.
  • 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.


Serving: 1.5cupsCalories: 354kcalCarbohydrates: 66gProtein: 17gFat: 4gSaturated Fat: 3gFiber: 11gSugar: 17g

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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. This was absolutely delicious. I think will be eating it for the next few days. Served it over quinoa. with a green salad & nann bread. Added heaping spoonfuls of the spices. I Love when I have left overs. It’s only the 2 of us but I plan on making this for company.5 stars

  2. I’ve made this twice and it’s amazingly delicious and easy! First time I followed the recipe exactly except using a small red onion for the shallot. It was so good and made alot, so my spouse and I started making burritos with it. Amazing. The second time I made this I substituted the thai curry with chili garlic sauce (2 TBS) and added a drained can of diced mango. I love this recipe.5 stars

    1. Hi Luke! Did you see Step 1 in the instructions of the recipe card? The second to the last line says “turn off the heat and stir in the coconut milk.” Hope this helps.

  3. Flavor profile was too acidic and so the natural sweetness of the sweet potatoes was completely lost. The other spices didn’t blend well either. Nutritionally, I didn’t like the carb to protein ratio. Unfortunately it made enough to feed a small army.1 star

    1. I’m sorry to hear the recipe wasn’t to your taste, Rachel. I know it’s disappointing to try a new recipe and not enjoy it, so I truly wish it would have been a hit for you.

  4. This was great, but a word of caution – be sure you are using the correct red curry paste! I used Aroy-D, and knew 3TB was entirely too much, so I cut it down to 1, which still seemed like a lot, but I like spicy… Let’s just say that my sinuses will not give me trouble this winter and I won’t need any lip fillers to plump up my lips ;)
    I did some recon and found the link to the paste you use in other recipes, so it may be helpful to link it here as well? I doubt too many people have Aroy-D pastes, and if they do, they probably know what they are working with, but just in case :)
    (I’d say a ts or 1/2tb of Aroy-D would be more than enough)

  5. Excellent recipe, fantastic flavor. I did have to make just a few adjustments based on what I had on hand, but this is on point as originally written and as a guide for the flexible cook.(yellow onion instead of shallot, curry powder instead of masala, full-fat coconut milk ,1 inch knob ginger minced instead of ground, maple syrup instead of brown sugar, and used 3-4 tbsp to offset the extra ginger). I ate it without rice or other grain and still found one serving perfectly delicious and filling as is. Thank you!5 stars

  6. Do you think this recipe would turn out just as good substituting yellow curry paste for red? To decrease the spiciness?

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

  7. Hi, do you use split red lentils or whole red lentils in the recipe? I have split red lentils on hand, which is how they’re typically sold, but I’m concerned they might get mushy in the crock pot, so wanted to check and see what you use! Thank you.

  8. Mine came out super watery. I used the slow cook setting on an instant pot. Maybe the water releases more on other slow cookers?

    1. Hi Jed! I actually have no knowledge of how to use a slow cooker setting on an instant pot or what kind of outcome there would be using it that way. Thanks for your feedback!

  9. Can I ask why you add the coconut milk at the end, I would have thought it would be good to cook it off with everything else?

    1. Hi! 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!

  10. Super easy and delicious. I’ve made this a few times now. I use korma paste when I’m cooking for the family as they have sensitive little mouths. Thanks for sharing this recipe 😊5 stars

  11. Made this on low in my crockpot and after 8 hours the lentils are still hard. Been reading if you add acidic ingredients like tomatoes or salt too early it can make lentils hard to cook. I think that’s what happened to me here. Maybe cook the lentils by themselves or with just the sweet potatoes and add all the seasonings in the final hours….

    1. Hi Julie! The recipe has worked well as written for me and other readers, so I’m not sure what might’ve gone wrong. I hope you were still able to enjoy it!

  12. I made lots of substitutions and this recipe still worked! I didn’t have sweet potatoes so substituted cauliflower and butternut squash directly from frozen. I used heavy cream instead of coconut milk at the end, and it worked fine. My only mistake was too much curry powder instead of the curry paste, but I was STILL able to save it with more cream and a heavy squeeze of citrus at the end.

    Enjoying it with a big piece of naan on day 2 and it’s tasty!5 stars

  13. Just made this and it was delicious. Followed the recipe exactly. Just enough of a spicy kick balanced with the sweet potato. Recipe made plenty ( at least 6 generous potions) and have frozen some for an easy dinner another time. Thank you5 stars

  14. This recipe is absolutely delicious! Mine was ready on high within 3 hours in the slow cooker and it is more like a lentil soup but I am sure you could cook it without the lid for a little longer to thicken it up but I am not planning to as it is so so delicious as it it. Thank you!5 stars

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