Red Curry Lentils Recipe - Skillful Cook
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Red Curry Lentils

145 reviews / 4.8 average

Red curry lentils is my all-time favorite lentil recipe. Thick, creamy, saucy, and perfect as leftovers. Plus it's healthy and easy!

Now is a good time to:

  • wear cozy sweaters
  • get a few candles going
  • immerse your house in the flavors and smells of your favorite classic comfort-food-but-still-kinda-healthy simmering stovetop recipes.


These red curry lentils are one of my all-time favorite recipes. As is usually my vibe, we're working with very basic pantry ingredients here and simple, straightforward prep. It's hard to mess this one up.

Just cook your lentils and toss them in up this spicy red curry sauce with sauteed onions and a shot of coconut milk. OH MY PERFECTLY SPICY GOODNESS.

Red curry lentils on plate with rice.

I’ve kind of had a fling with lentils lately. Or wait, like, over the last 8 years. These guys, this one, that other one, and now a walk down memory lane back to the original that started my love affair? I can barely stand it. If you've never made lentils before, this is a perfect recipe to introduce you to the magic of the most cheap, healthy, versatile, and absolutely delicious little food in the pantry. The Humble Lentil reigns supreme.

Will you eat a big plate of these red curry lentils with rice? Or will you scoop up a creamy bite with a warm piece of naan? Or will you eat it cold out of the fridge with exactly zero judgement from me?

Only time will tell.

Red curry lentils on plate with rice and naan.

Variations For This Recipe

  • Vegan Version: Just sub oil in for the butter!
  • How to make in the Instant Pot: We have a recipe for that - follow our Instant Pot Red Curry Lentils here.
  • How to make in a slow cooker: Another one for that! You can find our Crockpot Red Curry Lentils here.

Watch How To Make Our Red Curry Lentils

Common Questions About Red Curry Lentils

Can I omit the sugar in this recipe?


Is this recipe meal prep-friendly?


What type of lentil should I use here?

We'd recommend brown or green lentils for this recipe. We don't recommend red lentils since they'll overcook in this case.

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Red curry lentils on a plate with rice.

Red Curry Lentils


Red curry lentils is my all-time favorite lentil recipe. Thick, creamy, saucy, and perfect as leftovers. Plus it's healthy and easy!


  • 1 1/2 cups lentils, rinsed and picked over
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons red curry paste
  • 1/2 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, minced
  • a few good shakes of cayenne pepper
  • 1 14-ounce can tomato puree
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk or cream
  • cilantro for garnishing
  • rice for serving


  1. Cook the lentils according to directions. Drain and set aside.
  2. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add the onion and saute for a few minutes until fragrant and golden. Add all the spices (curry paste, garam masala, curry powder, turmeric, cayenne, sugar, garlic, ginger) and stir fry for 1-2 minutes. Add the tomato puree; stir and simmer until smooth.
  3. Add the lentils and the cream. Stir to combine and simmer for another 15-20 minutes (the longer, the better)! Serve over rice and garnish with cilantro.


  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Cook
  • Cuisine: Thai-Inspired

Keywords: red curry lentils, curry lentils, indian lentils

One More Thing!

This recipe is part of our delicious lentil recipes page. Check it out!

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  1. Skillful Cook Logo

    Hmmm sounds delicious! I have some lentils leftover from the soup I made a while ago so will have to try this!

  2. Skillful Cook Logo

    Honestly, I’m not sure I’ve ever used any math (basics aside) beside cross multiplication in real life. I was an awesome math student and now I realize how damn silly it all was and means nothing in real life! ha.

  3. Skillful Cook Logo

    I made your Thai lentils the other day (with the sweet potato) and loved ’em (so did my husband!). So now these must go on the menu, too!

  4. Skillful Cook Logo

    My boyfriend keeps asking me to make the green curry lentils again (and again, and again). Maybe I’ll make these to mix it up a little! They look yummy!

  5. Skillful Cook Logo

    The coconut green curry lentils were great, can’t wait to try this. I may use some Earth Balance butter instead of oil.

  6. Skillful Cook Logo

    Ooh, I’m always looking for new things to make with lentils, and this looks like it will hit the spot! The curry-coconut-spicy-savory spot, that is. 🙂

  7. Skillful Cook Logo

    oh god, this looks so good. you know what? i was organizing my spice cabinet yesterday at the new house and i came across a package of spice that i have no clue what it is (i always forget to label when i get spices in bulk) and now after reading your ingredient list, you’ve helped me figure out what it is! garam masala! hehe now i have some to make this 🙂 i’ve been looking for a healthy lentils recipe with super packed flavor!

  8. Skillful Cook Logo

    I would love to try out this recipe for dinner soon! What would you recommend serving with it…chicken of some sort?

  9. Skillful Cook Logo

    I have the worlds biggest love affair with curry. I recently (okay, it was a year or two ago) discovered yellow curry at a local Thai restaurant, and I cannot get enough of it. I like to pretend I don’t know how to make it, so I won’t make it three times a week! I’ve never tried it with lentils, but any excuse will do!

  10. Skillful Cook Logo

    I have never tried lentils before, so am eager to try this. I see you use red curry paste and curry powder. Is the curry powder just the regular yellow kind?

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Yep! I’m not really sure it’s necessary to use the curry powder… I was just kind of grabbing spices and dumping them in, so you could probably get by fine with the curry paste because that’s where most of the flavor comes from. 🙂

  11. Skillful Cook Logo

    I am so making this. I love Indian curries and this one is mixed with several of my favorite spices 🙂 I have a few curries up in the blog as well but I am excited to try a new one!!

  12. Skillful Cook Logo

    Just stumbled on your blog and I love it! What an amazing adventure you have ahead! And this recipe looks amazing. I’ve been cooking a lot of beans lately, so I’ll have to give this lentil recipe a try!

  13. Skillful Cook Logo

    So until I read this post I definitely didn’t know how I felt about lentils. After reading this post I’m convinced that they’re my new favorite food and I just don’t know it yet. I am adding all the ingredients to my grocery list and I WILL be making lentils this week!!

  14. Skillful Cook Logo

    Yummy dish. This is really pure & delicious & can be cooked easily. It is vegetarian & above all, curry is my most favourite. Thanks for this dish.

  15. Skillful Cook Logo

    I do love lentils, and I can make different versions of them. But I have never seen this one being made. Sounds delicious! I just have one question? Can you use any type of lentil?

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      You could use any kind of lentil, but it will taste different. Brown lentils are firmer and have an earthier flavor. Green lentils can take longer to cook and are also firm. Red and yellow lentils have a soft texture and sweeter flavor so they’re more suited to curries like this.

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        Thank you for the response to the lentil question. Yet, no matter how long I cook my lentils they are always hard and dry! What am I doing wrong?

        1. Skillful Cook Logo

          Hi, Lydia! First off, were your lentils purchased recently? The older lentils are, the longer they take to cook. After a certain period of time, they don’t cook fully at all. Secondly, make sure you have enough liquid present for the lentils to soak up. Lastly, time. Simmer them on the stovetop for a long time or put them in the crockpot. Hope that helps! Good luck!

        2. Skillful Cook Logo

          Soak your lentils for at least 20-30 mins if you want them to come out perfect every time!

          1. Skillful Cook Logo

            Hi Julie! Yes, canned lentils should work just fine!