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 42 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

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
 

  • 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.

Nutrition

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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129 Comments

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  1. So delicious! That warming background heat is so comforting. And it makes so much and reheats well. Enough to share with friends. I actually took a risk and froze 2 servings (sweet potatoes don’t always freeze well) and it was a wonderful quick meal a few weeks later! Making again today, easy to throw together before a busy day! Will warm us up after being outside on a crisp fall day!5 stars

  2. Mine turned out a little runny so I may add a tad more lentils next time. But it’s definitely a keeper.
    10/105 stars

  3. I accidentally mixed in the coconut milk with everything else/before turning the heat on – will that affect the end result a lot?

  4. Loved it! Very yummy and food tastes better when you know you’re not hurting anything eating it. Left overs taste just as good. I will definitely be making this again!5 stars

  5. Fabulous!! It was easy to prepare, no muss, no fuss…and delicious. My husband went wild over it! I never purchase fresh cilantro but glad I did as it MADE it along with the squeeze of fresh lemon at the end. I’ll try lime next time though. Definitely there WILL BE A NEXT TIME! Great recipe, Erin. Thank you.5 stars

    1. Hi Lisa! I’ve never tried this swap myself, but another reader has reported success with it. If you decide to try it too, I’d love to hear how it goes!

      1. Hi Erin! I did use the green/brown lentils (whatever the basic lentil is) and it worked great. I also added a some chickpeas I had in the freezer. Served it with quinoa, cilantro, and lime with some naan on the side. Was delish! Thanks for an easy and yummy recipe!5 stars

  6. This is my go to winter crockpot meal for the family. It’s ridiculously easy to prepare, and it’s so delicious and versatile! You can add so many different things to it if you like. I always pass this recipe on to anybody that has a slow cooker, and so far it’s been nothing but positive remarks. Now that I know how easy your recipes are, I’ll be trying more of them!5 stars

  7. Very excited to do this! Can I add chicken thighs to it as well? if so should I add them in the beginning?

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Jennifer! I’ve only tested the recipe as written, so it would be an experiment. If you decide to try it, I’d love to hear how it goes!

  8. Excellent! Thank you for this recipe. I’ve made this twice already. I added cooked shredded chicken at the end and the second time I wanted a little more spicy heat so I added a little Cayenne with the other spices and then a little red pepper flakes and fresh ground pepper at the end. I served with fresh cilantro basmati rice and naan. It makes so much and is really good.

    Was wondering if I can freeze leftovers for another easy meal?5 stars

    1. YAY, so glad to hear it! Thanks for sharing! I think that it would be OK to freeze this—the texture might be somewhat compromised, but if that doesn’t bother you, you should be OK.

  9. Are you using split red lentils or whole? The cooking time (if you are not soaking) makes me think split. Thanks for your help.

    1. Hi Nathan! My bag simply says “red lentils,” but I believe they are whole. I hope you enjoy the recipe if you try it!

  10. This was spectacular! I used a 4.5 qt slow cooker and reduced the amount of sweet potato slightly and it seemed to work just fine. I also used a can of full fat coconut milk instead, and I found that it was extra creamy and delicious. Such a flavorful and healthy meal to make on a tight budget. Thank you, Erin!5 stars

  11. This was delicious! I used cream of coconut at the end to make it extra creamy, and changed ground ginger for fresh as it was all we had in the house. Really delicious and rich. Deffo going to make again.5 stars

    1. Hi Kay! Yes, I think you could make this recipe using the slow cooker setting on an Instant Pot. I hope you enjoy it!

  12. This was so delicious! I used butternut squash for four cups of the sweet potato (and a sweet potato for the last two cups) and half an onion instead of a shallot. I love how the Thai curry paste and other spices played together. It’s a good thing I liked this, since it made a ton – so it’s the perfect cold Monday prep meal!5 stars

  13. I rarely ever find a recipe that fully delivers on it’s promise, but this is one of the few that did… it really did just blow me away, it was so good. I did not follow the recipe to the letter, on account that I prefer more flavor and spice than most recipes provide. Instead of exact measurements, I did “heaping” measurements. If it called for tablespoon of something, I used a heaping tablespoon instead. I also added a habanero pepper, lol… it was a 6 qt batch, so it wasn’t super hot, but the sweetness of the potatoes against the heat of the pepper was fantastic. A seriously great recipe.5 stars

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