These red curry lentils are perfectly spiced and flavorful for a plant-based dinner that is incredibly satisfying. It’s brimming with vegetables and perfect for an easy weeknight meal.

Red Curry Lentils

It’s no surprise that as a vegetarian, I love lentils. They’re such a great source of protein and fiber and they’re so affordable. I always have a bag in my pantry since they have quite a long shelf life. I’m always looking for new ways to use them and this red curry lentil recipe is my latest obsession.

You’ll need green or brown lentils, Thai red curry paste, and coconut milk for this recipe. Everything else is flexible, so don’t stress if you’re missing an ingredient. I’ve provided some substitution suggestions below!

Ingredients & Substitutions

  • Olive oil– I used olive oil but you can use vegetable oil or avocado oil. If you want to make this recipe oil-free, you can use vegetable broth to sauté the vegetables.
  • Onion– I used a yellow onion but a white or red onion works fine too. You can even substitute with a couple of shallots if that’s what you have on hand.
  • Carrot & celery- I added some carrot and celery for extra veggies, but you can leave them out if you don’t have them.
  • Bell pepper– I used a red bell pepper for a little sweetness, but any color bell pepper can be used.
  • Lentils– You’ll need brown or green lentils as these lentils hold their shape even when cooked. For a different texture you could use black lentils, which stay firm even after they’re cooked. I don’t recommend using red lentils as they break down too much.
  • Thai red curry paste– This flavorful paste adds flavor and heat to the dish. It has a unique flavor so I don’t recommend trying to substitute anything in its place.
  • Vegetable broth– A little vegetable broth is necessary to cook the lentils. You can use water if you don’t have broth.
  • Coconut milk– This is essential for creating a creamy, flavorful sauce. I prefer full-fat coconut milk, but you can substitute light coconut milk if you prefer.
  • Lime juice- A little acid is essential for balancing the flavors. In a pinch you can use a dash of white vinegar or lemon juice.
  • Cilantro– Fresh cilantro adds color and a light, herbal flavor. It’s not necessary, but if you have some it’s a great addition!

What is red curry paste?

If you don’t have any Thai red curry paste, let me convince you to add some to your pantry. You can usually find it in the Asian section of the grocery store. It’s only a few bucks and it’s crucial to achieving this spicy curry flavor. I usually buy the Thai Kitchen brand which is vegan and gluten-free. You can also use it to make this addictive peanut sauce or these coconut curry noodle bowls!

a bowl of cooked lentils

Can I use red lentils?

This dish works best with green or brown lentils. (The “red” in the title of the recipe refers to the type of curry, not the type of lentils!) Red lentils breakdown and don’t hold their shape when cooked. If you want to make a recipe with red lentils, try my red lentil curry instead.

How to Make Thai Red Curry Lentils

How to Store and Reheat Leftovers

To store leftover curry, allow it to cool to room temperature after cooking and then divide it into smaller, airtight containers or freezer bags. Store it in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days or in the freezer for 2-3 months. When reheating, thaw the frozen curry in the refrigerator if necessary, then use the stovetop or microwave to heat until warm.

What to Serve with Lentil Curry

I like to pair this curry with rice or quinoa. If you want to add even more veggies to your plate, try it with cauliflower rice! Naan or flatbread also make a delicious side dish and it’s a great way to soak up any extra sauce!

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red curry lentils

Red Curry Lentils

  • Author: Liz Thomson
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 4 cups 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Thai Inspired
  • Diet: Vegan


These red curry lentils are perfectly spiced and flavorful for a plant-based dinner that is incredibly satisfying. It’s brimming with vegetables and perfect for an easy weeknight meal.


Units Scale
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small yellow or red onion, diced
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup brown or green lentils, rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 15oz can full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice


  1. In a large pan over medium, heat the oil. Add the onion, carrot, and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes until it begins to turn translucent.
  2. Add the pepper and continue to cook for 3 minutes.
  3. Add the lentils and Thai red curry paste. Cook, stirring consistently for one minute to toast the curry paste.
  4. Add the vegetable broth and bring to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the coconut milk.
  6. Cook for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are tender.
  7. Stir in lime juice and season with salt. Sprinkle with cilantro.
  8. Serve over rice.

Keywords: Red Curry Lentils