Creamy Coconut & Red Lentil Curry

pot of red lentil curry topped with coconut milk and cilantro on white background

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4.9 from 37 reviews

This creamy Coconut & Red Lentil Curry is ready in 30 minutes and you only need 8 ingredients to make it! A cozy, hearty, and flavorful dinner.


  • 1 small yellow onion, diced 
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, finely minced 
  • ½ bunch cilantro, chopped; stems and leaves divided
  • 1 tablespoon salt-free curry powder 
  • ¼½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1½ cups (309g) dry red lentils
  • 1 13.5 ounce (398 ml) can full-fat coconut milk 
  • 2 cups (470 ml) low-sodium vegetable broth + 2 cups water 
  • Serving suggestions: cooked basmati or jasmine rice, naan or roti


  1. Bring a large saucepan to medium heat and add a splash of vegetable broth or neutral cooking oil. Add the onion to the pan and sauté until translucent, 3 to 5 minutes
  2. Add the garlic, ginger, and chopped cilantro stems to the pan and sauté for an additional 1-2 minutes, then stir in the curry powder and cook for an additional minute. Rinse the lentils briefly, then add them to the saucepan with the coconut milk and vegetable broth and stir to combine. 
  3. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 18-20 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. Stir occasionally to ensure even cooking and flavor distribution.
  4. Serve warm with rice, or as desired; leftovers will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days or can be frozen for up to one month.


  • Instant Pot Instructions: select the “Sauté” setting on your pressure cooker and follow steps 1-2 as written. After you add the lentils and liquids, press “Cancel” to stop sauteeing and seal the Instant Pot with the lid. Cook on manual high-pressure for 4 minutes. Let the pressure naturally release for 10 minutes before covering the vent with a kitchen towel and manually releasing the remaining pressure.
  • Add-ins and Variations: this recipe is a great “base” for a lot of add-ins, like spicy peppers, carrots, potatoes, spinach, and mustard greens. I recommend adding the veggies along with the garlic and ginger in step 2, and stirring in any fresh greens just before the curry finishes simmering.