Madras Lentils

Crock-pot Madras Lentils: whip up this delicious vegan comfort food with zero effort at all! Simply break out your slow cooker and let dinner make itself!

Vegetarian Madras Lentils... in the crockpot!

Sometimes I eff around in the grocery store for hours.

Yes, hours.

My typical grocery shopping routine is quick and concise thanks to my finely tuned cart-stuffing system but sometimes… I just want to wander!

I recently spent a little extra time playing in the ethnic food aisle and found myself gawking at all the colorful Indian sauces and fancy packaged meals.  When was the last time I made an Indian dish!?  It’s been forever right?  I glanced at a random pouch of Madras Lentils and decided to play a little game of copycat.

Though this will be my most inventive copycat creation yet, simply because I’ve [a.] never had madras lentils and [b.] glanced at the pouch for a total of 2.5 seconds before getting distracted by something shiny.  I’m writing this part of the post before the dish has even been completed but oh. my. gosh. does my kitchen smell amazing!  I’ll be back in a little bit with the outcome!

…I’m back! Ahhh! This dish is INSANE! It was love at first bite. Make it.

Crock-Pot Madras Lentils

Crock-Pot Madras Lentils




Yield 4 servings


  • 2 cups of cooked lentils
  • 2 cups of canned tomato sauce/puree
  • 1/2 a large onion, finely diced
  • 1 large potato, peeled and cubed [1 russet or a few yukon gold]
  • 1/2 cup of unsweetened coconut milk
  • 3 TBSP butter
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • red pepper flakes, to taste


  1. You're going to laugh at how easy this is:
  2. Dump EVERYTHING into your slow cooker.
  3. Set to HIGH for 3.5-4 hours and go about your day/evening without so much as glancing at the pot. Once time is up, taste and add any additional seasonings your taste buds prefer.
  4. I added an extra pinch of red pepper flakes and was good to go!
  5. Garnish with a sprinkle of parsley and serve over a bed of fluffy rice, quinoa, or alongside a big green salad!
  6. Hungry NOW? This dish can also be whipped up on the stove-top in under 30 minutes!

Courses entree, side dish

Cuisine crock-pot

special diets and swaps

t-rex chefs add chicken, serve this up as a side dish, or go veggie!

vegansaurus chefs simply swap the butter for your favorite vegan variety or use a little bit of olive or coconut oil; easy peasy!

#vegetarian Madras Lentils... in the crockpot!

Much like my crockpot black beans, I cook up a big batch of lentils, portion them into 1-2 cup servings and then pop them in the freezer to enjoy all month long! They’re ridiculously simple to cook. The instructions on the bag should tell you sort and rinse the lentils while you bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a pot. Once the water is boiling, add the lentils and reduce to simmer, in about 15-25 minutes you’ll have a pot of lentils to play with! Drain the water from the pot, portion them out and make this recipe! Then make lentil-veggie tacos with the rest! 

Garnish with a sprinkle of parsley and serve over a bed of fluffy rice, quinoa, or alongside a big green salad! This dish will also pair marvelously with lamb/beef/poultry if you’re into that sort of thing =)

So pictured above is the blog photo shoot version obviously; my fancy schmantzy attempt to make this delish dish easy on your eyes.  But I could never eat such a teeny portion!  After all, I thoroughly devoured all 4 servings by myself over the course of two days.  Here’s what my plate looked like once the photoshoot was complete, pre-faceplant:

#vegetarian Madras Lentils... in the crockpot!

umm… I think I need to make this again; STAT!

Join me?

I even made a soup version! Score!

This healthy vegetarian madras lentil soup channels the flavor of my favorite crock-pot lentil dish in a delicious vegan soup! 
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  • Caitlin

    Hi there! Do you have the nutritional data/macros for this meal?

    • Hey Caitlin! According to it has 267 calories per serving, 10 grams of fat, 35 grams of carbohydrates, 6 grams of sugar (depending on tomato sauce used), and 11 grams of protein. xo

  • amy

    would this work set to low? just longer cook time maybe?, im looking for meals to make for after i get home from work

    • Hey Amy! I’m sure low for longer should be fine! My only concern is too long and those potatoes are going to turn to potato soup, but it’s for sure worth a go! Let me know how it turns out and I hope it rocks your socks off! 🙂

  • Jane

    Your last line on the recipe says, “Hungry NOW? This dish can also be whipped up on the stove-top in under 30 minutes!” but there’s no recipe. Just throw it all on the stove and let in bubble for a half hour?

    • Hey Jane! Correct, I have not typed out stove-top instructions in this post, but it’s entirely possibly to adapt the recipe. You’ll probably want to boil/par-boil your cubed potato to soften it but other than that, you can really dump and simmer and be good to go! If using raw lentils versus already cooked lentils you’ll want to simmer/boil those in the liquids with everything except the potatoes (as to not have them fall apart) and if you prefer sautéed garlic and onion there will be an extra initial step there as well. Those are the only factors that should have any effect. I’ll work on adapting a fully descriptive stove-top version of the soup with all the variations when I get back from spending time with family if you think it would help? I’d be happy to just let me know! 🙂 Happy Holidays Jane! xo

  • knutas

    Why should the lentils be cooked twice? First 20 min on the oven and then 4 hours in the slow cooker?

    • Hey knutas! That probably has more to do with my comfort level than anything else, it’s what I’m used to doing and I tend to stick with what I know works. I’ll also make a huge batch of lentils often and freeze some for later, use some for soup, and some for my Madras Lentil dish. That being said, you could surely try it with raw lentils, though cook time may need to be adjusted to get them nice and tender. Let me know how it goes! xo

  • Hannah K

    For the unsweetened coconut milk, is that the dairy alternative coconut milk or the canned coconut milk?

    • Jenn

      Whichever you prefer will work great! The canned will be richer with more thickness and coconut flavor while the carton of coconut milk will be lighter/thinner. Either are fantastic; hope you love the lentils, Hannah! 🙂

  • Tika

    is the coconut milk the kind in the Asian sections, the yummy canned stuff or they coconut milk that is used as a milk substitute? Thank u!

    • Jenn

      I used the unsweetened milk substitute coconut milk since that’s what I had on hand. You may also use the canned coconut milk if you’d like – it’s a little richer and creamier 🙂 Hope you love it Tika! Thanks!

  • Sarah

    Thank you! I just peeled myself away from a costco size box of those lentils for $13 knowing I could do it cheaper. All these ingredients are in my pantry just waiting for me to throw them in the crackpot.

  • Hey Kim! I will recipe test it next time I make this [which will hopefully be soon!] but I could venture a guess and say it works! Dried lentils usually need 20 minutes of a good simmer/boil to cook so I think they would do fabulously. Maybe add vegetable broth instead of water and then add any extra seasoning at the end to taste, sometimes they lose intensity when more broth/water/sauce gets added! Hope that helps! xo

  • Kim Anetsberger

    Can you use dried lentils instead and add extra water to it?

  • Lauren

    this was wonderful. thank you for the recipe!

  • I am making this tonight!

  • Oh very very delicious! Thank you for the great recipe!

  • Anonymous

    Made this last night in the ol’ crock! It was really good and different! Paired it with brown rice and it made a good hearty / healthy dinner.

  • Budda Mccullin

    OH MY Gosh!!!!!! This is delicious. So easy to make! LOve it!!!!!!!!!!

  • Camille

    Crockpot in the summer… I plug it in out on my porch and the house stays cool. Just be sure it is up on a table or something and the lid is heavy so your pets don’t try to snack.

  • I always photography a fraction of what actually ends up on my plate! It’s like once the camera’s down, it’s time to get REAL! LOL

    I’m just so glad to hear I’m not the only one who makes a field trip out of going to the grocery store…there’s just SO many things to see…like a treasure hunt! Yes…I am in fact a five year old! But seriously, the international food aisle is one of my favorites. And the condiment aisle…especially the spreads/sauces/dips section. It’s funny, now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure I have like 5 open bottles of mustard in my fridge right now! 😉

  • Jen

    So I didn’t make it tuesday,as hubby was intent on going shopping (weird, right?) But it’s in the crockpot right now and I’ve taste-tested and APPROVE of it. Two thumbs up.. vegan, healthy, and running..people are going to start worrying about me haha.

  • I am so making this next week when I get back home!  You made me realize that I don’t use my crock pot enough!  Thanks for sharing this recipe!

  • I just LOVE that you made this in the crockpot! Next to outdoor grilling, the crockpot is the only way to cook in the Summer! I always assumed Madres Lentils required a bunch of exotic ingredients, this sounds really good, can’t wait to try it!

  • Amanda

    I am ALWAYS offing around at the grocery store, happily of course!  This looks incredibly delicious and easy!  Pinning to try one night! Probably tastes marvelous over basmati or jasmine rice!

  • FraijoManda

    Lookin yummy! I’ll have to make this next week. Thanks for the recipe!

  • Yes!!! Ohmygosh make it – soo good!

  • Wow! This really looks delicious- I love lentil curry so so much!

  • RCrown2

    Tasty, easy, and healthy = a win in my book.  Set it and forget it crock pot cooking is awesome! I think adding some creamy goat cheese to mix into everything would add a nice tang to the dish.  You a fan of goat cheese?

  • Mine was like… under $20 and its huge! Even the cheapo ones work great! =)

  • EvaCommitted2Nutrition

    Absolutely LOVE this and cannot wait for a crock pot!

  • yay!!!!!! hope you love it — make an extra giant batch to freeze!!! I am already contemplating sneaking back into the kitchen to whip up some more for freezer meals for the month =)

  • I imagine you smiling and going through the isles with delight and wonder as a kid in Toys R Us!  We would be dangerous together hahaha!  I love your energy and upbeat posts.  I came across this post at the perfect time because I just obtained 15 pounds of lentils and I’ll need to find new ways to serve them! 🙂

  • Hungry_Healthy_Happy

    Look yummy. I have been looking for a new lentil dish to try!

  • you have a potato chopper, don’t you? those potatoes look too perfect, dear. 😉

    I love lentils. love love love. I also love grocery stores, and just got back from wandering my own…  (yep, I go in the early morning, I have the store to myself, yeeeee!)

  • Oh, and where or where did you get your colorful measuring spoons? They’re spectacular and I want some!

  • Looks yummy! Just another recipe to add to my “to-make” list. And while my black beans cook, I should be prepping some lentils. 

    I nominated you for a Beautiful Blogger Award, because well you’re AWESOME and beautiful! If you have time, check it out 😉 

  • wait. for HOURS?! I wanna come….

  • I love these types of side dishes because you can leave it alone while you can focus on your protein. Looks delicious!

  • Catherine P

    It’s good to hear I’m not alone in wandering around the grocery store for long periods of time! Sometimes its just fun to explore. This looks amazing! I’ve been slowly trying to get my parents to go vegetarian a few days a week, and so far they’re into it. I’m definitely suggesting this as a meal to do later in the week! I could eat lentils forever. Thanks for sharing!

  • Bella Capri

    This looks so yummy. I absolutely love lentils, and in the fall and winter I love using my crockpot for easy meals, so this recipe is a must-make.  Thanks so much for sharing it.  

  • Ooh good question! Just canned generic. all-natural with no perservatives or gunk. It’s usually just labeled “tomato sauce” at the store — sometimes “tomato puree” — i got the one with a little bit of seasoning in it. garlic, onion, basil, oregnao =)

  • Dailyrundown

    Yum! What kind of tomato sauce did you use?

  • It saves our butts from turning on the oven! whoo! =) Thanks Emily!

  • Oh my goodness, I haven’t used my crock pot in months! I always associate slow cookers with winter and tend to forget about them during the summer. This recipe is the perfect reason to bust it out again! You can never go wrong with lentils and potatoes, in my opinion. (: 

  • Thanks Natalie!!!

  • I have been trying to figure out what to do with my lentils so this gives me a good recipe! Love your recipe ideas 🙂

  • it will work marvelously on the stove-top! no worries!

  • I have a can of lentils in my cabinet and need recipes to try! This sounds good, and I’ve never really experienced with Indian flavors so I might have to give it a shot. I don’t have a crock pot though so I’ll have to do some adjusting 🙂

  • Yay!!!!!! Chow down on those lentils!!!

  • Yay!!!!!! Ohmygosh it is SO TASTY! You’ll have to let me know what you think! I had the leftovers today alongside some falafel and a fieldgreen/cucumber salad with vinaigrette and it was amazing! =)

  • Ahh, what lovely presentation…and you’ve just helped me solve the giant bag of lentils problem. Thanks Jenn!

  • Jen

    I think you found my tuesday night new recipe. And I love stalking grocery stores; could and have stayed for hours before depending on the store. 

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