Simple Coconut Red Lentil Curry. Super easy weeknight meal. Instant Pot recipe.

Coconut red lentil curry in a bowl with white rice

I’m not gonna lie. I’m a super fan of things with coconut milk. Curry with coconut milk is my favourite way to curry.

This red lentil curry is quick and simple. And completely doable during a busy week night. Which for me, is the best part of this recipe. My gang, they just really like this dish. Like lick their plates love it. It has been on rotation on a weekly basis since we discovered it a few months ago. I use my Crockpot Express multi-cooker to make this recipe. It works the same as an instant pot, if you were wondering.

Not too spicy, and a bit sweet from the coconut, And also seems to make the dish more agreeable to kids. But the flavours are bright and fresh. I’ve added fresh baby spinach to the hot curry as soon as the lid comes off the pot and it completely melts into the sauce. Kale will do the same as long as it is thinly shredded.

This is a vegan recipe. Lentils are just so good for you. Legumes should be part of your daily diet, whether you are vegan or not. They are full of fibre and protein. Adding a legume based meal to your weekly meal plan is just a good and healthy idea. This dish has over 8g of plant-based protein per serving and 13g of fibre.

A couple words about my Crockpot Express Multi-cooker. {It’s the same as an Instant Pot}

I can’t believe I waited as long as I did to get one of these things. It has changed my life.  That’s right, my Crockpot Express has changed my life. And it is not what you think. It is not crazy quick. I would say that on average, most meals still take about 30-40 minutes start to finish. But a good portion of that time is hands off. So you can clean up the kitchen or make a salad, or do some laundry. You can walk away while dinner cooks. And that – is so amazing.

And it’s a one-pot clean up when it is all said in done. I love this machine.

The Crockpot Express works the same as an Instant Pot. If you were worried about which brand to buy, I have been using my Crockpot express for several months now and following all the Instant Pot recipes. I have had no issues at all.  And honestly, why did I buy a Crockpot and not an Instant Pot?  Because, I’m impatient.👋.  When I finally made up my mind that I was going to get one, I decided I wanted a 6-quart and the store only carried the Crockpot Express in that size, that day. That’s it. No other reason.

Your game-plan for dinner: Coconut Red Lentil Curry

  • This recipe uses red lentils. Green or brown are really not interchangeable here. Both varieties are larger and will take longer to cook. Red lentils will completely melt in this dish creating a smooth and creamy sauce. Other lentil varieties will not do that.  So you must use red lentils here. They are super cheap and can be stored in the pantry for eons.
  • I have a Crockpot Express Multi-cooker. I have found recipes are completely interchangeable with any “Instant Pot” recipe. The machines work exactly the same. There are some minor terminology differences, but really, nothing to worry about. More notes above.
  • Start the rice first. I use a rice cooker. And yes, I totally realize between the instant pot and the rice cooker, I have all the things plugged in. Trust me,I have said this before, you want to leave rice cooking to the rice cooker. I use this one. Until I got my instant pot, my rice cooker was my favourite small appliance. They are relatively inexpensive and guarantee no more burnt rice.
  • I use red curry paste in the recipe, not all red curry pastes are vegan. If this is important to you, check your labels. I use Thai Kitchen.
  • For the carnivores in you life, sauté some shrimp in some olive oil and a small amount of that red curry paste. Finish with a splash of coconut milk. Do this quickly while the Instant Pot pressure comes down. As my family is not vegetarian, they love sautéed shrimp with this curry.
  • I tend to use whatever greens I have on hand. Usually it is kale or spinach. Just thinly slice the kale and it will wilt quickly just like baby spinach


Coconut Red Lentil Curry in a bowl with rice and fresh squeesed lime.

Coconut Red Lentil Curry

A quick mid-week meal. Vegetarian. Recipe for the Instant Pot.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time40 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 312kcal


  • 2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion chopped
  • 2 carrots chopped
  • 1 bell pepper chopped and seeds removed
  • 2 tablespoon red curry paste
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger grated
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt plus more to taste
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 2 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup full fat coconut milk
  • 2 cup tightly packed shredded kale or baby spinach leaves
  • 1 tablespoon liquid sweetener (use honey, or if vegan, use maple syrup,agave or brown rice syrup)


  • Set the Instant Pot (or Crockpot Express) to the "saute" setting (or "brown" setting on the Crockpot Express) and add the olive oil to heat. Once the oil is hot (1 minute or so) add the onion, carrots and bell pepper. Saute about 10 minutes, until the veggies begin to soften and brown a little bit.
  • Hint: If you are serving this with rice, start the rice while you are browning the veggies.
  • While still on the saute (or brown) setting, add in the curry paste and ginger. Saute just one more minute then press cancel. Add salt, lentils and water. Put the lid on and lock. Set the knob at the top to "sealing" . Press the "manual" button ("beans" on the Crockpot Express), then adjust the time to cook at high pressure for 10 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally for at least 10 minutes. Vent any remaining steam then remove the lid. 
  • Stir in the coconut milk, sweetener and greens. Stir until wilted. Tasted for seasoning and add salt or pepper as needed.
    To serve garinsh with lime, sliced green onions and radish. Serve with rice. 


This recipe is adapted from this recipe found on Pulses.org. 
I've used spinach in this recipe. Thinly sliced kale or baby kale works nicely too. Red Curry paste is not always vegan, so check the labels and look for a vegan option if that is important to you.
Calorie and nutrition information is estimated and reflect main recipe ingredients only. Optional items, serving suggestions and garnishes are not included in these estimates.
Trish | The In Fine Balance Food Blog