Crock-Pot Madras Lentils make a delicious side that doubles as a main dish. Whip up this delicious vegan comfort food with zero effort at all! Simply break out your slow cooker and let dinner make itself!
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.
I glanced at a random pouch of Madras Lentils that looked oh so tasty and decided to play a little game of copycat.
The result? “This dish is INSANE! It was love at first bite!!!!! MAKE IT NOW.“
Much like my crockpot black beans, I like to 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.
This works perfect with both brown and green lentils – whichever you prefer! I haven’t had a chance to try it with canned lentils but I imagine they would work great as well!
Lentils are ridiculously simple to cook. Here’s a rundown if you’d like to join me in my lentil meal prep shenanigans:
How to cook a bag of dry lentils
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 or Lentil Tortilla Soup with the rest!
Now of course you can add your lentils straight up to this recipe as well.
Simply add 1 cup of raw dried lentils to your crock-pot and increase the amount of tomato sauce used to two 15 oz cans total of sauce, plus add 1/2-1 cup of veggie broth to the mix. The lentils will soak up the extra liquid as it cooks.
Madras Lentils Ingredients
- brown or green lentils
- canned tomato sauce
- potato (russet or yukon gold)
- unsweetened coconut milk
- butter (vegan or regular)
- salt and pepper
- crushed red pepper flakes
Be sure to use either brown lentils or green lentils since red lentils (while delicious) won’t maintain their shape and fall apart.
I didn’t have red kidney beans handy when I first developed this recipe but have tried them some of the other times we had this and it’s a GREAT addition! They add a great extra punch of fiber and protein. I always use canned when I have them handy as cooking from dry can be a bit finicky.
Garnish these crock-pot madras lentils with a sprinkle of parsley or basil and serve over a bed of fluffy rice, quinoa, or alongside a big green salad
Looking to amp up the flavors even more? I’ve added a spoonful or so of curry powder to these luscious lentils and LOVED IT! It’s also crazy delicious with Thai red curry paste too.
Slow Cooker Madras Lentils Recipe
This deeeeeelish slow cooker dish yields 6 larger portions (add some rice, pita, and/or naan bread and make it a meal!) or 10 vegetarian side-dish sized servings.
It’s one of those super versatile recipes that doubles as a main dish and a side dish.
Leftovers freeze marvelously if needed and it’s AMAZING the next day — I always get so excited knowing I have some in the fridge for lunch the following day.
You can even add this deliciousness to your meal prep rotation as it makes the most flavorful heat and eat lunches! I always feel so great having this in our meal rotation. It’s a nutritious whole food powerhouse and full of flavor.
Crock-Pot Madras Lentils
- 2 cups cooked lentils*
- 2 cups canned tomato sauce/puree
- ½ large onion (approx. 1 + 1/2 cups finely diced)
- 1 large russed potato (approx. 2-3 cups peeled and cubed)
- ½ cup unsweetened coconut milk
- 3 TBSP butter (or vegan equivalent)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp dried oregano
- ½ tsp cumin
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- crushed red pepper flakes to taste
- rice or quinoa make a great base for this dish!
- fresh chopped basil or parsley to garnish
- a dollop of sour cream (vegan or regular — MY FAVORITE TOPPING!)
- something SPICY! I added chili paste to this dish recently and LOVED it!
- curry powder/paste <– they change the entire flavor profile of the dish but are super delicious if you're up for it!
- The original dish also had red kidney beans in the mix so if you’re a fan feel free to add some cooked beans! You may want to add little extra liquid and seasonings if you do, but otherwise you’re good to go!
- You’re going to laugh at how easy this is: Use some the butter or Earth Balance to lightly grease the sides of your crock-pot then dump EVERYTHING into your slow cooker.
- Set to HIGH for 3.5-4 hours and go about your day/evening as per usual.
- Once time is up, taste and add any additional seasonings your taste buds prefer. This dish comes out super thick (LOVE IT) but you could also thin it a bit with some additional coconut milk or veggie broth as desired. Simply amp up the seasonings to compensate!
- Garnish with an optional sprinkle of parsley or basil and serve over a bed of fluffy rice, quinoa, or alongside a big green salad!
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:
Sometimes I’ll add red kidney beans for extra protein. It’s DELICIOUS!
This dish will also pair marvelously with lamb/beef/poultry if you’re of the t-rex variety.
umm… I think I need to make this again; STAT!
I even made a soup version inspired by my beloved madras lentils: Easy Lentil Soup
Looking for More Healthy Lentil Recipes?
- NEW! Slow Cooker Lentil Taco Chili
- Lentil Minestrone (just made this last night – so good!)
- Instant Pot Lentil Tacos
- Mediterranean Lentil Salad via Recipe Runner
- Italian Lentil Soup (Instant Pot + Crock Pot)
- Vegan Lentil Chili (Instant Pot + Crock Pot)
If you get a chance to try these Slow Cooker Madras Lentils, let me know!
You can leave me a comment here (LOVE checking those daily!) or tag @PEASandCRAYONS on Instagram so I can happy dance over your creations. I can’t wait to see what you whip up!
Omg! I was hesitant as I really like Madras Lentils take out and never made Indian food. This was delicious!!!!!! I used dried lentils and it took 5.5 hours instead of 4. My husband loved it and we will definitely be making this again!!!!!!
all I have to say is AMAZING, i’m gonna be making this a lot. Thank you.
I’m so happy to hear it, Yasameen! Thank you!
Made this wanting to try something a little different then what I usually make. It was sooo good im back to make some more. I can’t believe how easy it was, and was so happy to find that it was easally made vegan. Love it so much I came back to your website and made another one of your recipies.
Home run crockpot recipe!! Newly committed to plant based eating and this is on rotation for our cold Chicago winters. Stayed true to recipe, added the curry and it was outstanding. Husband went for seconds, 4 year old daughter cleaned her plate. We served with toasted Naan bread and made taco type wraps. So so so good. NOTE: I followed the recipe for uncooked lentils.
Whooooo! Thank you Shellie! I am so glad y’all enjoyed the recipe!
We aren’t even big fans of lentils but always ISO healthy, easy, pantry friendly meals, we tried this recipe this week after another family recommended it. As described, it was so easy, healthy, pantry friendly, delicious. We made a double, used dried lentils so followed your recommendations for that approach, ended up using the entire can of coconut milk, substituted sweet potato for russet potato. All worked great. So this recipe is also easily adaptable. We ate it served over brown rice but could serve it over other grains or as a side. A definite 10. Thank you!
This recipe turned out great! I did tweak it a little ( added some curry powder) and used butternut squash instead of potato. I actually think it was my favorite crockpot meal ever. Thanks for the recipe we will definitely be having this again!
Could you please add a stove top version with raw lentils and with canned lentils. Would love to see recipes with Pearl Couscous, also vegan biscuits. I love your vegan/vegetarian recipes.
Love all these ideas Rose – thanks! I’ll add them to my recipe testing list!
Can you cook this recipe on low for 10 hours using raw lentils and have the same results?
Hi Katherine! I haven’t tested it on low for 10 but it’s worth a shot! Let me know if you try it?
I tried this in my instant pot, and it came out great! These were my modifications:
I omitted the potatoes. I usually make it as a potato topper, so I do that with the crock pot too. I used 1 cup of dried lentils, and added 1 cup of chicken broth (veggie broth should work fine too). I used a full can of coconut milk, instead of 1 cup. Everything else, I left the same. I put it all in the IP and cooked on high pressure for 15 minutes plus 5 minutes natural release.
Crock pot or IP, this is really a great recipe. Thanks!
Thank you for the tip! I did get the burn notice a few times but just kept stirring and started it again. Eventually it finished and it was delicious!
This is absolutely delicious! I made this for meal preps and it works super great!
MKing right now super excited to try this. Thank yo
Boo. Didn’t turn out 🙁 1) should have sauteed the onions for sure 2) it’s waaaay more liquidy than picture shows, I’m thinking because I went the dried lentils route, probably should have had 2 cups dried lentils maybe.
Eek! I’ve tested it with straight dried lentils and mine soaks it all up and comes out crazy thick. What kind of tomato sauce did you use and what amount did you increase to? Any other ingredient swaps like red or split lentils instead of whole green/brown?
This madras lentils recipe has been a favorite of ours for a few years now, so I thought I should let you know! We easily make it 2-3 times per month. My husband always requests this meal when I ask him if he has any dinner recommendations for the week… and I am thrilled for the delicious easy meal! Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe!
SO excited to hear it’s earned repeat status, Victoria! Thank you!
This dish is incredibly simple and surprisingly hearty! This will work quite well as a freezer meal! I might try skipping the potato next time and using the remainder of the recipe as a potato topper. I think that will make a fun twist.
So so excited you enjoyed it Jen and that it made freezer meal status! It’s sooooo good as a potato topper – you’ve for sure got to try it!
This looks so good! Have you tried making it in an instapot?
Thanks Stephanie! I want to try it in the IP super soon – I bet it would be crazy easy to adapt it! It’s crazy thick though so I’m wondering it I should test it PIP instead of in the stainless drum itself (to make sure it doesn’t stick) – thoughts? 🙂
Super easy! Looks delicious!
These lentils look so tasty and comforting Jenn, great recipe and so easy to make, I also have my quick routine when I grocery shop, but sometimes it is nice to wander around 🙂
So easy , tasty, and did I mention easy?? I love yummy crockpot recipes!
I’m obsessed with lentils, this looks so good!
Hi there! Do you have the nutritional data/macros for this meal?
Hey Caitlin! According to myfitnesspal.com 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
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! 🙂
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
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
For the unsweetened coconut milk, is that the dairy alternative coconut milk or the canned coconut milk?
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! 🙂
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!
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!
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
Can you use dried lentils instead and add extra water to it?
Absolutely! I’ll update the blog post with instructions for using dried vs. pre-cooked lentils!
this was wonderful. thank you for the recipe!
So glad you enjoyed the recipe Lauren! xo
I am making this tonight!
Oh very very delicious! Thank you for the great recipe!
So happy you liked it Georgia, thank you!
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.
OH MY Gosh!!!!!! This is delicious. So easy to make! LOve it!!!!!!!!!!
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! 😉
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!
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!
Wow! This really looks delicious- I love lentil curry so so much!
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?
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! 🙂
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 =)
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!)
I love these types of side dishes because you can leave it alone while you can focus on your protein. Looks delicious!
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!
wait. for HOURS?! I wanna come….
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.
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. (:
I have been trying to figure out what to do with my lentils so this gives me a good recipe! Love your recipe ideas 🙂
Ahh, what lovely presentation…and you’ve just helped me solve the giant bag of lentils problem. Thanks Jenn!
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.
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 =)
Yum! What kind of tomato sauce did you use?
I used canned tomato basil sauce from Muir Glen – I love their BPA-free canned tomato products!
It saves our butts from turning on the oven! whoo! =) Thanks Emily!
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! =)