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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. 

Instant Pot Lentil Curry served in a white bowl with rice and naan bread.

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. 

Looking for a stovetop version? Try Sweet Potato Curry (made with red lentils) or Thai Chickpea Curry for even more options.

Ingredients You’ll Need

instant pot lentil curry ingredients labeled in glass bowls.

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.

lentil curry lifted from the Instant Pot in a ladle.

How to Make Instant Pot Lentil Curry

1. Sauté. 

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.

veggies sauteed in the Instant Pot with spices added last.

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. 

coconut milk and lentils added to instant pot next to the cooked version.

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. 

instant pot screen reading L0:00 and venting valve in dropped position.

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.

cilantro stirred into the lentil curry and lifted with a ladle.

Serve this dish warm over perfectly cooked quinoa, cauliflower rice, or basmati rice and garnish with fresh cilantro. It’s also delicious with a side of naan bread for dunking.

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! 

Instant Pot Lentil Curry served in a white bowl with rice and naan bread.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does it matter if you use red or green lentils?

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.

Can I use broth instead of water?

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. 

Want to try another variation? 

Add a can of tomato sauce to this recipe for a richer curry sauce.

Looking for more Instant Pot recipes? Try Instant Pot Lentil Soup, Steel Cut Oats, or Vegan Chili for more ideas.

Instant Pot Lentil Curry served in a bowl with rice and lemon slices.

Instant Pot Lentil Curry

4.66 from 47 votes
Instant Pot Lentil Curry is an easy weeknight dinner that your whole family will love! It cooks quickly for a meal that's ready to eat in just about 30 minutes.
prep10 mins cook5 mins Time to Pressurize:15 mins total30 mins


  • 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.


Nutrition information is for 1 of 4 servings, or roughly 1 cup of curry without the rice. This information is automatically calculated, and is just an estimate, not a guarantee.
Need to use another variety of lentil? Brown lentils will work just as well as green lentils in this recipe, and if you need to use red lentils just keep in mind that they will give this recipe a mushier texture. (More like a pureed soup.)
Update Note: This recipe was updated in October 2023 to use green lentils and a whole can of coconut milk for a better texture & flavor. You can find the original recipe here.


Calories: 236kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Sodium: 612mg | Potassium: 689mg | Fiber: 17g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 6196IU | Vitamin C: 44mg | Calcium: 55mg | Iron: 4mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Instant Pot Lentil Curry

If you try this Instant Pot Lentil Curry recipe, please leave a comment and star rating below letting me know how you like it.


Megan Gilmore leaning on her white countertop.

Megan Gilmore

Hi, I’m Megan. A former fast food junkie turned best-selling cookbook author. I create healthy recipes made with simple ingredients to make your life easier.

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  1. WOW! I adore this recipe. 🙂 I did not have green lentils, I have a 5-lb bag of Whole Red Lentils, AKA Brown Lentils.
    I cooked it 12 mins. and it was perfect. I used 1 “can” of water (not 1 cup). I cooked the onion first in 1 Tbsp butter.
    I bloomed 1 Tbsp of my new Moroccan spice and idid the rest of your recipe. Sooooooooooooo delicious!
    Thank you, I will only make this from now on. Thank you so much!

  2. This recipe is *so* adaptable, and simple.

    I make variations of this all the time, but my latest one is perfect for fall:
    1) I added about 2 handfuls of cherry tomato, halved, to the sautee step and
    2) Instead of coconut milk, I added ~15 oz of a pumpkin soup that I had just made, that was coconut based.

    Now I have a new favorite pumpkin curry!

  3. This may possibly be the easiest recipe ever! It’s hard to believe that a dish this yummy is super healthy. I highly recommend this recipe!

  4. I love this recipe. I always double it so we have leftovers. I have made it exactly per the directions. This time I am out of coconut milk. Is there a possible substitute?

  5. I just made this for my husband and two kids (age 9 and 11). RAVE reviews!!!! Everyone loved and I thought it was delicious, filling, healthy, and comforting. I didn’t have quite 1 cup of red lentils, so cooked on high pressure for just 8 minutes. We made jasmine rice to go with it and topped with fresh cilantro and lime (instead of lemon). The lime made the dish. Thanks for all your delicious recipes. I also love your lentil soup recipe.

  6. This is so easy and one of my favorite recipes! It’s great as it is but I’ve used spinach when I don’t have kale, and fresh garlic and ginger because I always have both on hand. I usually leave out the green pepper and substitute a jalapeno for some kick, add fresh cilantro after cooking, and squeeze the lemon right into the pot. This is comfort food and great leftover as well. Make extra, you won’t be sorry!

  7. This was delicious and not watery at all. I doubled the recipe and it worked really well. My husband added hot sauce to his!

  8. Perfect comfort food. Made the recipe last night and it’s delicious. I love that you can make it all in the Instant Pot. I used basmati instead of jasmine for the rice.