This easy vegan pumpkin lentil curry will nourish your body and warm your soul. Made with coconut milk for a luscious texture and perfect over rice, this meal is ready in 30 minutes!
I’m back with one more pumpkin recipe! And maybe I will move on. This vegan Pumpkin Lentil Curry is ready in less than 30 minutes and couldn’t be easier to make. Plus, this recipe is one of my favorite ways to use up leftover pumpkin.
How to make an easy lentil curry
For this recipe, you’ll need canned pumpkin (or cooked pumpkin puree), dry red lentils, coconut milk, and your favorite curry paste or spice mix plus plenty of aromatics like onions and garlic.
No. It’s not the prettiest recipe but it’s one of the tastiest. I’ve cooked it twice in the last month, and I’m making it again today as part of my Sunday meal prep.
A note about coconut milk
This curry includes coconut milk and vegetable broth. The coconut milk adds subtle sweetness along with a luxurious, creamy texture.
And yes. I used regular canned coconut milk. If you find it to be too thick or the coconut flavor too heavy, you can try using just half a can of coconut milk. In this case, you’ll replace the other half with broth.
NOTE: Canned light coconut milk is the same thing. You literally pay for half a can of water. So yeah. Skip that and add your own water.
That said, I cannot vouch for the flavor if you cut the coconut milk in half. I haven’t tested it. I love this curry just as is. But please let me know if you change it up in the comments.This easy Vegan Pumpkin Lentil Curry is perfect for fall and ready in less than 30 minutes!
The best lentils for curry
Enough about coconut milk. The lentils cook fast. Unlike other pulses, you can cook lentils from start to finish (no soaking) in under 20 minutes. Red lentils, in particular, cook really fast and will become mushy after about 15 minutes.
For a heartier, more stew-like finish, try brown or green lentils. These hold up a little longer to the heat.
Black lentils are even more firm and work great for salads, grain bowls, and meal prep.
Like any stew or curry, this pumpkin lentil curry starts with plenty of aromatics. Sauté the onion in plenty of olive oil then add garlic and curry paste. Cook until the paste blends in with the mixture.
Make it spicier with fresh habanero or other hot peppers, crushed red chili flakes, or just a bit more curry paste. Keep in mind that most curry pastes have added salt so you’ll need to adjust that accordingly.
Once the onions, garlic, and curry are well combined and fragrant, add the broth, coconut milk, pumpkin, and lentils. Cover and cook. Walk away for a bit but stir occasionally.
It’s not the prettiest dish. Because of that and to help add extra nutrition and some crunch, I stirred in baby spinach and topped the curry with cashews and cilantro.
You can opt out of these and enjoy it as is in all of its orange-brown glory! Make it your own by adding your favorite toppings and serving as is or with rice, cauliflower, or quinoa!
Is this a good meal prep recipe?
This pumpkin lentil curry will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days but it also freezes very well. Freeze any extras on the first day in a freezer-safe glass container or freezer bag. I hope you love it as much as I do! Tag me on Instagram when you make it and be sure to PIN it for later!
Can this curry be made in the slow cooker?
I don’t recommend it. Because red lentils cook so fast, they might melt into more of soup texture in the slow cooker. It will be a tasty soup but somewhat different than this recipe.
Plus, I like being able to saute the onion in the pot before adding the other ingredients. This delivers extra flavor for this simple recipe.
More easy pumpkin recipes
Remember to try out these other easy pumpkin recipes:
Healthy Pumpkin Spice Granola to make your house immediately smell like fall!
Creamy Pumpkin Pasta with Toasted Walnuts and Spinach which makes a delicious fall dinner!
Pumpkin Banana Bread that’s made with gluten-free with oats and no regular flour.
Pumpkin Lentil Curry with Spinach
- 2 tablespoon olive oil or sesame oil
- 1 small sweet onion, diced
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoon red curry paste
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 can coconut milk
- 1 cup pureed pumpkin
- 2 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 cup red lentils (dry)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 cups baby spinach
- ¼ - ½ cup toasted salted cashews (optional)
- fresh cilantro (optional)
- Heat oil in a deep skillet or large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook about 2 minutes, just until it starts to turn golden. Stir in the garlic and curry paste and cook about 1 minute, until the curry paste is fully incorporated.
- Stir in the broth, coconut milk, pumpkin, tomato paste, and lentils. Cover and cook on medium-low heat about 15 minutes, until the lentils are cooked but not too soft. Stir occasionally. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.
- During the last 3-5 minutes of cooking, add 2 cups of baby spinach – allowing it to wilt into the curry.
- Serve over rice, quinoa, cauliflower or your favorite base. If desired, add chopped roasted cashews and cilantro to the top for color, flavor, and crunch.
Eden | Sweet Tea and Thyme
Looks so healthy and yet still so comforting and fall-esque. Love it!
It is so comforting. I made a new batch today… if only the fall weather would come through. 🙂
Lauren Vavala @ DeliciousLittleBites
This recipe is amazing! It has all my favorite flavors for this time of year!
Love how the pumpkin helps mellow it all out!
I love adding pumpkin to curry. It really bills them out in a healthy way.
This was my first time adding it. It won’t be the last!
Yum! This looks like a great recipe – love that it’s vegan!
Yes. Was easy to do this time. The coconut milk and the lentils lend a lovely heartiness!
This looks like such a great fall dinner! I love the idea of pumpkin and curry together!
It’s a nice dinner but I’ve also been enjoying for lunch too.
So you think I could make this in a slow cooker?
I wouldn’t. The lentils cook really fast and I think doing it in the slow cooker will turn it to mush. It comes together so quickly on the stovetop!
Huge fan of this curry 😀 love the pumpkin flavour. I also threw in about a tablespoon of finely chopped ginger. Thanks for sharing the great recipe!
Hi Justine! Thanks so much for letting me know you enjoyed the recipe. That ginger addition sounds just perfect!
Amazing recipe, thank you so much! A really tasty blend of creaminess and spices.
Thanks for the note, Nina! So glad you enjoyed the recipe.
Loved this dish! I made this tonight with a few differences. Substituted fresh chopped pumpkin, 3/8″ dice and added to the onions. I didn’t know how much coconut milk was to be added. My can was 13 1/2 oz, which I used, but had a smaller can on the shelf too. The larger can definitely made it creamy. Another change was using coconut oil.
Hi Peggy! I’m so happy to hear you enjoyed it. It’s one of my fall faves. Thanks so much for the note!
Delicious! All my favorites together in one dish and so easy to make! Thanks for the recipe!
Divine! Absolutely devoured this beaut creation. Thank you Marisa. I roasted the pumpkin then mashed it before adding to the dish. It’s full of flavour. Texture is lovely. And the roasted cashews on top really add a delightful crunch. I’ll be making this again!
This is a delicious curry. Please can you tell me how many mls in your can of coconut milk?
Hi Marianne! I just looked, it’s 400 ml.
Hi! Can it be red curry paste? Not sure which curry paste is the right one to use but I have red curry paste on hand.
Yes. Red curry paste is the one I use. Enjoy!
Can you make this with butternut squash instead of pumpkin?
Yes! It’s a perfect 1:1 substitution.
This was so tasty and easy! I didn’t have spinach, so I used kale and it tasted good as well. I made my own pumpkin puree too, which added to the taste.
This was delicious! I didn’t have any spinach, so I mixed in some zucchini and green beans with the rice. I will definitely make this again.
Delicious! I didn’t have any spinach in the house, so I mixed in some steamed green beans and zucchini with rice and covered it with the curry. I will be making this again.
This was delicious but cooking dry lentils takes A LOT longer than the recipe says.
So glad you enjoyed the recipe, Chloe! Did you by chance use brown or another type of lentils? The red ones cook up really quickly, 15- 20 minutes tops. The others – brown, green, and especially black or beluga lentils ones take a lot longer especially if they are not presoaked.
This has become a family favorite! My 6-year-old requests it all the time. Thank you!
Good basic recipe. I added a little cayenne and some cumin, as well as diced roasted sweet potatoes. The curry is much better the next day. Gives a chance for flavors to meld.
This is a new favorite. My husband could probably eat this everyday. I’m happy because it’s quick, easy to make, and nutritious. I like it over brown rice. I realized that I add too much pumpkin, but we love it that way so I’ll just continue to make it that way.
This looks delish!! What size can of pumpkin do you use? Thanks
For this recipe, I used 1 cup of pureed pumpkin from a standard 15 oz. can. You can absolutely use the whole can but it will change the consistency a bit and you’ll want to add a bit more spice since pumpkin is a little sweet but also bland on its own. Let me know when you give it a try!
This looks delicious but I always struggle with recipes based on curry paste. Any tips on brands or ways to select a good curry paste? There is a common one in MN stores that isn’t very good. I don’t need it to be vegan.
Hi Michelle! I find that curry paste preference is very personal 🙂 I suggest exploring your local Asian supermarket for the best variety. I often use Maesri brand or Thai Kitchen as a base (though that one is not at all spicy) from the regular grocery store.
I made this tonight for dinner and it was delicious and very easy. Next time I might add a little more pumpkin and maybe a handful of raisins for a little sweetness.
So glad you enjoyed it! I’m all for more pumpkin and the handful of raisins would be a sweet addition.
This was great – the pumpkin and coconut milk make it really smooth and creamy. Thank you! I found this recipe and you through the weekly meal plan on the Kitchn.
How would you suggest cooking using brown or green lentil? I was thinking cooking them partly in broth, and with 15 or so minutes left, add the pumpkin? or would you just add all and cook it longer?
Thank you for the recipe!
Hi Barbara, Great question. I’d add it all at the same time and let it cook longer. The pumpkin will be fine. I’d just monitor the liquid – adding more broth as needed. Enjoy!
Chopped and steamed fresh broccoli which was added along with spinach, adding a bit more texture to the soup. Best lentil soup ever! This will be a regular at our house!
This was so good! It’s really difficult to find pumpkin puree where I live so I used a sweet potato and cooked it in the coconut milk/curry/veggie broth, blended it with a stick blender, then added in the lentils which worked out really well! Just be sure to add a little extra water or broth as sweet potato is a bit thicker than pumpkin puree. I also used kale instead of spinach because that’s what I had.
This is yum, so simple yet so delicious and a great vegetarian option.
I know this is supposed to be vegan but I’m not a vegan lol would adding Turkey burger change the recipe to much?
Hi! Maybe you can enjoy a turkey burger on the side but I wouldn’t add it to the dish. The flavors won’t go well together.
I’m not sure I have curry paste, but I have powdered curry, Do you have any thoughts on how much I’d need, or if it’ll work? Thanks!
Hi Kelly! You can but the flavor won’t be the same. All curry powders are different and the powder will have a stronger flavor compared to the paste. I haven’t tested this but I’d start with 1 teaspoon of curry powder added to the step with the onions.
Made this today delicious. I added spinach after everything else. Lovely and very easy to prepare
Outstanding! I added ginger as recommended in another review. When finished cooking, I wanted a little extra pop, so added some garlic powder and ginger powder, and WOW! The flavor really popped and was incredible! I made this for Thanksgiving, but will be making this much more often!
Outstanding. My toddler asked for seconds. I call that a win!! We will definitely make again 🙂
I’m so happy to hear that! Thanks for the note!
One of my favorite lentil recipes ever- makes a giant batch and freezes super well! Even my carnivore friends love it!
I added fresh pumpkin with a little extra broth, then frozen spinach and canned chickpeas.. love by both my partner and daughter, thank you!
Just made this, took one bite, and immediately came back to the website to leave a comment. The stuff is amazing and I will definitely be adding this to my favorite recipes list!
So happy to hear that Brittany! Enjoy it in rotation!
Sounds delicious, making today, have you ever used green curry paste? Does it change the flavor much? Thank you!
Hi! I haven’t tried that and recommend sticking with red. For green, I’d be concerned about the color and expect the flavor to be a bit more mild.
Love this recipe! Thanks so much!
D G McCauley
Wow just made this. Was so yummy!!
I didn’t put the tomato paste in as my sister can’t have night shades and I didn’t miss it . Didn’t have any cashews and I think I will make sure I have some next time
Lovely! I made some additions based on my own tastes and the comments.
*Added Quorn chicken
*1teaspoon of curry powder (1 less of the red curry paste)
*1tblspn of Sriracha garlic chili sauce
*1tblspn Better than bullion veggie stock
*1/4 teaspoon of brown sugar
*1/4 teaspoon of smoked paprika
*1/4 teaspoon tumeric