My goal these days has been to find easy plant-based meals, and my most recent creation is these Creamy Coconut Curried Lentils with Spinach, which are a creamy cousin to my curried chickpeas with spinach that I posted last week.

I have swapped out the canned chickpeas for quick cooking lentils, and rather than using a tomato-based curry sauce, I decided to use a creamy coconut sauce that pairs so well with the earthy lentils and heady curry spices, and it is a delicious dish.

I paired these Creamy Coconut Curried Lentils with my Curry Roasted Carrots and some naan as you can see in the photos. Using carrots and lentils together is a wonderful way to get a balance between the sweetness of the carrots and the earthy lentils.

If you do not wish to make an entire separate side dish, you could even just slice up a few carrots and simmer them along with the lentils in the skillet if you are not up for it.

Apronese shows you the most delicious and easy to make recipe, and you can customize it to your liking and taste.

Spice It up or Keep It Mild

If you want to make this recipe spicy or mild, it’s very simple to do. Curry powder comes in both hot and mild variations. Make sure that you know which kind you’re purchasing in order to be sure that you make the right choice.

Adding a little cayenne pepper to your coconut curry lentils or topping them with a few red pepper flakes is an excellent way to spice up your curry powder.

The following recipe for Easy Homemade Curry Powder from can help you make your own curry powder if you’d like to make your own.

How Do I Choose the Right Lentils?

The best way to cook this dish is to use brown lentils, since they keep their shape when simmering, unlike red or yellow lentils, but they still cook very quickly, unlike green lentils, so they are perfect for this dish.

In the U.S., brown lentils are sometimes just referred to as lentils, so make sure that you read the directions on the package before cooking them. If it says simmer for about 20 minutes, then that’s the right type of lentil for you!.

Is There a Substitute for Coconut Milk?

This recipe calls for heavy cream or half and half in place of coconut milk, although there probably won’t be as much of a need for either heavy cream or half and half as there would be for coconut milk.

Use about 1/2 cup of heavy cream or 3/4 cup of half and half instead of coconut milk in this recipe.
Close up of Creamy Coconut Curry Lentils and Spinach being stirred in the skillet

Creamy Coconut Curry Lentils with Spinach

It is easy to prepare these rich, creamy, and earthy Coconut Curry Lentils on the stovetop, which makes them the perfect vegan meal for dinner or as part of your weekly meal prep.

Author: Beth

Prep Time: 5 mins/ Cook Time: 40 mins/ Total Time: 45 mins

Servings: 4 (1.25 cups curry lentils + 1 cup rice)


  • 2 Tbsp olive oil ($0.24)
  • 2 cloves garlic ($0.16)
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger ($0.10)
  • 1 small yellow onion ($0.21)
  • 1 Tbsp curry powder* ($0.30)
  • 1 cup brown lentils (dry) ($0.67)
  • 2 cups vegetable broth** ($0.26)
  • 1 13oz. can coconut milk ($1.99)
  • 3 cups fresh baby spinach ($1.61)

For Serving (optional)

  • 4 cups cooked rice ($0.60)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro ($0.15)


  • You will need to mince the garlic, grate the ginger, and cut the onion, and place them in an ovenproof skillet, Dutch oven, or soup pot. Add a teaspoon of olive oil to the skillet and add the garlic and ginger to the skillet. Sauté the garlic and ginger over medium heat for 1 minute, or until the garlic becomes soft.
  • In a large skillet heat the oil over medium heat, place the diced onion in it, and fry over medium heat until the onion becomes soft and translucent. Add the curry powder and season with salt and pepper, and continue to fry for an additional minute.
  • Then, add the lentils and vegetable broth to the skillet. You will need to add the lentils and vegetable broth and stir to dissolve any brown bits that are still hanging around. Turn up the heat to medium-high and bring the broth to a boil. Once the liquid reaches boiling point, lower the heat, and let it simmer on low for about 20 minutes while stirring occasionally.
  • A 20-minute simmer should result in the lentils being tender and most of the broth being absorbed. Once they have been cooked for 20 minutes, stir in the coconut milk and stir well. Turn back the heat to medium and allow the skillet to come back up to a simmer again. As it simmers, stir frequently for an additional 10 minutes, without a lid, so that the mixture thickens up.
  • The mixture should thicken once it has reached your desired consistency. Remove it from the heat and sprinkle in the fresh spinach. Stir gently until the spinach is wilted. Taste and adjust the salt or curry powder, as needed.
  • It is best served over a bowl of rice, topped with chopped cilantro if desired, and served immediately.

*It is important to note that curry powder potency can vary quite a bit from brand to brand, as well as with freshness, so you might need to use more to reach the desired flavor.
**In the event that your vegetable broth does not contain a lot of salt, you will need to add some salt at the very end in order for the flavors to really stand out.


Serving: 1.25 Cups ・ Calories: 494.13 kcal ・ Carbohydrates: 83.93 g ・ Protein: 17.83 g ・ Fat: 8.18 g ・ Sodium: 844.08 mg ・ Fiber: 8 g
The nutritional values shown here are only estimates. Please see our nutrition disclaimer.
A hand dipping a piece of naan into the Creamy Coconut Curried Lentils with Spinach on a plate with curry roasted carrots

Step by Step Photos

Minced garlic and grated ginger being sautéed in a skillet with a wooden spatula
You should mince two cloves of garlic, grate about one tablespoon of fresh ginger, and chop one small onion into small pieces.

Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, minced garlic, and chopped ginger to a deep skillet (a Dutch oven or soup pot will also work) and cook everything for about one minute, or until the garlic melts and begins to smell good.
Sautéed onion and curry powder in the skillet
When the onion is soft and translucent, add 1 tablespoon of curry powder and continue to sauté for a minute more in order to toast the spices.

Once the onion has been softened, add another Tbsp of curry powder and continue to sauté for another minute in order to toast the curry powder.
Dry lentils being poured into the skillet
The lentils should be added to a skillet along with one cup of dry brown lentils.
Vegetable broth being poured into the skillet
This recipe also includes 2 cups of vegetable broth, which is made from Better Than Bouillon, which has a significant amount of salt which helps the flavors to pop.

If your broth doesn’t contain much salt, you might have to add it at the end to bring out the flavors even more.
Lentils after being simmered.
Using the lid on the skillet, turn up the heat and simmer the lentil dish for 20 minutes on low heat. Once the lentils are tender, you can add the lentils to the soup and let it simmer for another 10 minutes using the lid.

It should be pretty thick and most of the broth should have been absorbed by the lentils after that time.
Coconut milk being stirred into the skillet
Add one 13oz. can of coconut milk to the bowl and stir well.
Simmered coconut curry lentils with a wooden spatula
It is now time to turn the heat back up to medium and let it simmer for at least 10 more minutes without a cover, stirring often to make sure the lentils break down even further and the coconut milk becomes thicker.

The longer it simmers, the more the coconut milk will reduce and the more it will develop flavor.
Fresh spinach added to the skillet
When the heating element has been turned off, add about 3 cups (or 3 handfuls) of fresh spinach to the skillet and stir well to combine.
Spinach wilted into the coconut curry lentils
Once the spinach has wilted, stir it gently to prevent it from burning and remove it from the heat. Once the spinach has wilted, taste it and adjust the salt or curry powder if necessary.
Creamy Coconut Curry Lentils with spinach on a plate with rice, naan, and curry roasted carrots.
After that it’s ready to go! When I make Creamy Coconut Curry Lentils, I like to serve it over rice so that the rice can soak up all the delicious creamy curry sauce. I also like to serve it with Naan and curry roasted carrots.
Creamy Coconut Curry Lentils in a glass meal prep container with rice and curry roasted carrots
This meal was definitely meal prepped by me as well.
A forkful of Creamy Coconut Curry Lentils being lifted from the plate

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