This vegan Coconut Red Lentil Curry is ready in about 30 minutes from start to finish! Cooked in a creamy golden coconut milk sauce with butternut squash. Reheats well and you can even make a double batch for freezing leftovers.
Who else loves a good plant based dinner? This vegan curry recipe is easy to make, uses quite a few pantry staples and is great for easy weeknight dinners.
We’re using Indian inspired flavors for this lentil dish using yellow curry powder, some extra turmeric, coriander and ginger, too. It’s warm and cozy, creamy, flavorful and absolutely delicious.
A Quick & Easy One Pot Meal
If you like dinner ready in 30 minutes and made in one pot, then this red lentil curry recipe is for you! It takes a little bit of prep work with getting the vegetables prepared but once that’s ready, this dish comes together quickly.
You could even dice up the onion and butternut squash in advance if you want to save a little bit of time.
But what’s extra great about this lentil curry is that we’re using red lentils, which cook much faster than brown or green lentils, so dinner is ready in almost half the amount of time.
What are Red Lentils?
Most red lentils you can find in the store are hulled and split yellow lentils. Because they don’t have their protective coating, they break down and cook faster. They often get softer and mushier in texture with just a little cooking time. If you like lentil curry to have some texture, try my vegan lentil curry recipe, made with brown lentils.
- refined coconut oil – you could also use avocado oil or olive oil
- sweet onion, garlic, and ginger – make sure to use fresh
- butternut squash – I love the texture and extra flavor it adds to this lentil curry recipe.
- spices – mild yellow curry powder, turmeric, coriander, black pepper and cayenne for a little spice. It’s always a good idea to taste test and add more heat or spices to your liking. Different brands also use different ingredients in their yellow curry powder. I used Watkin’s brand.
- salt – to enhance flavor. Note if you use broth instead of water to cook the lentils, you may want to start with less salt.
- water or broth – for cooking the lentils
- canned coconut milk – you can use full-fat or light coconut milk, just shake before adding to the pot.
- red lentils –
- maple syrup – this is optional but I do like the little hint of sweetness it adds to the dish.
I love eating Indian lentil curry with either rice or quinoa, but you could also enjoy it on it’s own. Naan bread is always a favorite as well.
How to Make This Dish
Here’s a little step-by-step run through of how to make this coconut red lentil curry, with the full ingredients amounts and written instructions in the recipe card below.
Most of the hands on time comes from cutting the butternut squash getting all of the ingredients ready.
Cook Down Vegetables
First cook down diced onion, garlic, ginger and butternut squash in pot with some coconut oil. Then add all of the spices, salt and a little more oil to cook down and soften the butternut squash, about 3-4 minutes here.
Add Liquid & Lentils
Now it’s time to add the liquid – water and coconut milk – and lentils. Reduce the heat to medium and add the water and canned coconut milk. Then rinse the lentils and immediately stir into pot. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then cover and continue simmering for about 15-20 minutes, until lentils are soft and liquid has been absorbed.
When rinsing the lentils, be sure to do it quickly and right before adding into the pot. Since they don’t have a coating on them, they stick together once wet. So it’s best to rinse and then add immediately into the pot, after you’ve already added the coconut milk and water.
If you don’t have butternut squash, you could easily sub carrots or sweet potatoes with similar results, though the flavor will change slightly. You could also use another form of squash, like acorn, but it’s much stringier and fibrous in texture.
Taste test for saltiness and spice level. Everyone’s taste buds are different so add more salt and heat to your liking.
Perfect for Meal Prep
This coconut lentil curry recipe is a great dish to make for meal prep for the week. The leftovers can be reheated on the stovetop in a pot, adding just a little bit of water as needed so it doesn’t stick to pot. Or you can use the microwave.
If you’ve frozen a batch, let the container thaw in the fridge overnight. If you’re serving a family sized portion, transfer the curry into a pot and warm on the stovetop (adding just a few tablespoons of water) and warm over medium-low until heated through.
More Vegan Dinner Ideas
- Lentil Pumpkin Curry
- Chickpea Peanut Curry with Sweet Potatoes
- Vegan White Bean Chili
- Thai Inspired Tempeh Nourish Bowl
Let me know if you make this recipe by leaving a comment and rating below! It helps others learn more about the recipe too! Xx Ashley
- 1.5 tablespoons coconut oil, divided
- 1 medium sweet onion, diced
- 5 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2” piece of fresh ginger, grated (about 1 tablespoon)
- 1 small butternut squash (1 pound), peeled, seeds removed and cut into ½” cubes
- 1 tablespoon yellow curry powder (mild)
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- ½ teaspoon coriander
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne (to add optional heat)
- 1.25 teaspoons salt (or to taste)
- 2 cups water
- 1 (14.5 ounce) can coconut milk, shaken (full-fat or light)
- 1 cup red lentils
- 2 teaspoons maple syrup (optional)
- naan bread
- rice or favorite grain
- crushed red pepper
- In a large pot over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon coconut oil, onion, garlic, ginger and butternut squash. Cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add in curry powder, turmeric, cumin, coriander and salt. Turn heat up to medium-high, stirring continuously for another 4-5 minutes – add extra oil here as needed.
- Reduce heat to medium; water and canned coconut milk. Quickly rinse lentils and add immediately to pot. Stir to combine then bring mixture to a simmer, then cover and continue simmering for about 20 minutes, string every 5 minutes. After about 25 minutes, lentils should be soft and mixture creamy.
- Stir in maple syrup (optional), some fresh cilantro if you’d like, serve with your favorite rice, naan bread, or even on it’s own.
You can use vegetable broth if you’d like, just start with 1/2 teaspoon salt and go from there when taste testing.
If you don’t have butternut squash, you could sub sweet potato or even carrots.
Recipe adapted from my Vegan Lentil Curry.