Instant Pot Lentil Curry is an easy one-pot meal when you need a quick dinner. It’s comforting, flavorful, and easy to customize with any veggies you have on hand.
This recipe is the perfect option when you need a delicious gluten-free meal. It’s hearty, creamy (without using dairy), and relatively hands-off once you add everything to your electric pressure cooker.
Ingredients You’ll Need
This recipe calls for green or brown lentils for the best texture. Red lentils can also be used, but they have a naturally mushy texture when compared to other varieties, so the curry might feel a little more soup-like with that swap. If you would prefer to use different types of lentils, be sure to review the recipe notes below.
Using curry powder makes this recipe convenient to prepare (no need to keep the curry paste in your fridge), and if you don’t have fresh ginger or garlic, you can also use dried spices instead.
Other vegetables, like sweet potatoes, celery, and tomatoes can be added in, too, so feel free to customize it to your liking.
How to Make Instant Pot Lentil Curry
Press the “Saute” button on your Instant Pot and add in the olive oil, onions, carrots, and red bell pepper. Stir for 5 minutes until the vegetables soften.
Press the “Off/Cancel” button and add the curry powder, garlic, and ginger. Stir briefly until the spices smell fragrant.
2. Pressure cook.
Add in the water and use a wooden spoon or spatula to scrape the bottom of the pot. This ensures that nothing is stuck to the pot that will trigger a burn error later.
Pour in the dried lentils, coconut milk, and salt. Stir well and secure the lid. Move the steam release valve to sealing, then cook at high pressure for 5 minutes. It will take the pot roughly 10 minutes to pressurize, so the screen will read “ON” until then.
3. Natural pressure release.
When the cooking cycle is complete, the screen will read L0:00. Allow the pressure to naturally release for 10 minutes, which means you don’t need to do anything until the screen reads L0:10.
At that point, move the steam release valve to “venting” to release any remaining pressure. You’ll know it’s safe to remove the lid when the floating valve drops.
4. Season to taste.
When you remove the lid, stir in the fresh cilantro. This is also a great time to stir in any leafy greens you might want to include, such as baby spinach or chopped kale.
Season with extra salt to taste (I usually add an additional 1/2 teaspoon), along with a squeeze of lime or lemon juice to help brighten up the flavor. You can also try a pinch of red pepper flakes if you’d like extra spice, or a splash of maple syrup for a sweeter flavor.
Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. You can also store it in a freezer-safe container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Reheat in the microwave or in a pot on the stove top for a quick meal later!
Frequently Asked Questions
Red lentils cook even faster than green lentils and will give this recipe a mushy texture. With that being said, they taste just as delicious, so feel free to use either one as long as you adjust your expectations on the texture.
Yes, you can use vegetable broth or chicken broth in this recipe (if you don’t need a vegan option), but you’ll want to cut back on the salt in this recipe since store-bought broth will already have sodium in it.
Add a can of tomato sauce to this recipe for a richer curry sauce.
Instant Pot Lentil Curry
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion , chopped
- 2 medium carrots , chopped
- 1 bell pepper , chopped and seeds removed
- 1 garlic clove , minced
- 1 inch fresh ginger , minced
- 1 tablespoon curry powder
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup dried green lentils
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 (15 oz.) can coconut milk
- ½ cup fresh cilantro
- lemon slices , for serving
- Press the "Saute" button on the Instant Pot. As soon as it starts to heat up, add in the olive oil, onion, carrots, and bell pepper. Stir until the veggies start to soften, about 5 minutes.
- Add in the garlic, ginger, and curry powder and stir for one more minute. Press the "Off/Cancel" button right away, and add the cup of water to prevent the spices from burning to the bottom of the pot. Use a spatula to scrape the bottom, making sure that no veggies or spices are stuck. (This will prevent a burn error later.)
- Add in the green lentils, salt, and coconut milk, then secure the lid. Move the steam release valve to "sealing" then use the Manual or Pressure Cook button to cook at high pressure for 5 minutes. It will take roughly 10 minutes for the pot to pressurize, so the screen will read ON until then.
- When the cooking cycle is complete, let the pressure naturally release for 10 minutes. When the screen reads L0:10, you can move the steam release valve to "venting" to release any remaining pressure. When the floating valve in the lid drops, it's safe to open the lid.
- Stir in the fresh cilantro and adjust any seasoning to taste. I usually add in an extra ½ teaspoon of salt, and a squeeze of lemon juice to brighten the flavor. Serve over cooked rice with extra cilantro on top, if you like. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
If you try this Instant Pot Lentil Curry recipe, please leave a comment and star rating below letting me know how you like it.