Slow cooker sweet potato and red lentil tikka masala delivers big flavor with little work. Enjoy this vegan, one-dish wonder over rice with warm pita to fend off winter chill on any hectic weeknight.
Why You'll Love this Vegan Tikka Masala
The temps are cooling down in Colorado (lows in the 30's all next week) with the lingering threat of our first snow of the season on Monday(!!). I'd be lying if I said I were excited about my first winter in Denver (read: I'm terrified), but as long as this Florida girl is equipped with endless mugs of hot coffee and vats of cozy curries and spicy soups, I'll survive.
Enter: this hug in a bowl.
This fragrant, Indian-style main hits all the right notes with its rich spices and concentrated dose of aromatics. And despite being 100% plant-based, the lentils pump up the protein to make the dish far more satisfying and satiating than it may seem.
One of the key spices in tikka masala is Garam Masala—a Northern Indian spice blend known to give curries and strews their dynamic layers of flavor. If you don't feel the need to buy a whole container of it, just look for it in the bulk spice section of your local supermarket and buy as little or as much as you need (I usually do this at Sprouts or Whole Foods).
Adding the coconut milk at the end mellows the acidity and spice while adding unrivaled creaminess.I love serving this over brown basmati rice with a dollop of yogurt and warm pita on the side. Feel free to top it with toasted cashews or peanuts for added crunch, and loads of fresh herbs to brighten it up (cilantro, Thai basil, etc.).
And to make dinnertime even easier, use heat-and-eat pouches of precooked unseasoned basmati rice (such as Uncle Ben's) to spoon the tikka masala over.Set it in the morning and come home to the comforting scents of Indian spice wafting through your kitchen. It doesn't get easier (or tastier) than this.
If you give this vegan tikka masala a try, snap a pic and tag #dishingouthealth so I can see your beautiful creations. Also, follow along on Facebook and Pinterest for the latest recipe updates!
Slow Cooker Sweet Potato and Lentil Tikka Masala (Vegan)
- Cooking spray
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 4 cups peeled cubed sweet potato (about 2 medium)
- 1 cup dried red lentils
- 1 Tbsp. garam masala
- 2 tsp. curry powder
- 1 tsp. ground ginger
- ½ tsp. kosher salt
- ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 1 6-oz. can tomato paste
- 1 qt. vegetable broth
- 1 13.5-oz. can lite coconut milk
- For serving: white or brown basmati rice a dollop of yogurt, grilled pita, and fresh cilantro or basil (if desired).
- Place all ingredients (excluding coconut milk, rice, and garnishes) in a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker coated with cooking spray; stir well to combine. Cover and cook on low 8 hours. Turn off heat; stir in coconut milk. Let stand, covered, 5 minutes.
- Serve over rice and garnish with pita, cilantro, or basil, if desired.
I like your recipes as they fit with a 5:2 Intermittent Fasting lifestyle. Do you have a calorie count on this recipe? It looks so good that if it's high, I'll just make it on a non-fast day. Thanks--I enjoy your blog.
I made this yesterday and it was absolutely DELICIOUS! Wonderful flavors and easy to make. Thank you!
Could I use a tube of tomato paste?
How about garlic/ginger paste instead of garlic and ginger separate
Yes, you could certainly use tubed tomato paste. I would use about 2 tsp. each of garlic and ginger paste.
Can you cook on high for 4 hours instead of on low for 8 hours?
I can’t have coconut milk. Could I substitute it with soy milk and coconut essence?
Hi Stacie--I'd swap it for either 1 cup half-and-half or 3/4 cup heavy cream (if not needing to make it plant-based), or silken tofu blended until smooth. You could use soy milk, however it just won't be quite as thick and creamy.
I looked at an Instant Pot conversion, put everything but coconut milk in the IP and cooked on high pressure for 24 min, then natural release and added the coconut milk. It's a little more soupy than when I made it in the slow cooker, but tastes good! I think 24 min was maybe a little much, bit I am still new to IP cooking.
Oh man, I had to come back and amend my earlier post because I no longer care about the texture - this stuff is AMAZING! 10/10 will be making again
Hi! Instead of 8 hours on low could we cook if for four hours on high?
I tried this recipe and it turned out so much better than I expected. It was so rich, filling and delicious. I will add it to my regular rotation. Kiesha
Oh I'm so thrilled to hear that! Thank you for coming back and leaving a review. Cheers.
Hi! Do you cook for 8 hours on high or low?
This is pretty good! Mine turned into a soup-like mixture about 6 hours in... followed the recipe to a T so I’m not sure what happened. Was looking more for a heart lentil dish vs a soup, but the rice helps with that and either way it is delicious!
I make a very similar recipe with brown lentils. But I add a can of chick peas, and frozen green peas toward the end since I like a very veggie dish.
Ooh that sounds delicious! Love the addition of green peas for a pop of color.
Not a fan of coconut milk. Would regular milk do? (if you're not trying to do it vegan, just vegetarian)
Hi Rachel, the regular dairy milk may break once it's added to the hot mixture. The high fat content in coconut milk is what helps prevent this. You won't be able to taste any hint of coconut once it's mixed into the tikka masala, promise! Enjoy.
The recipe says to add all ingredients except for rice and garnishes, but then after it cooks it says to add the coconut milk... So should I leave the coconut milk out of the original ingredients in the pot as well? What am I missing...?
Hi Jamie, so sorry for the confusion on that. You don't add the coconut milk until AFTER the tikka masala has cooked for 8 hours. I adjusted the directions to reflect this. Enjoy!
Looks great! Do you think this recipe could be made in a pressure cooker/Instant Pot?
YES! I actually just had a reader tell me the other day she made it in the IP with success. I'm not exactly sure which setting or time (I don't personally own one), but she mentioned it took about 30 minutes total.
I've never made a grain/bean/legume that had to fully cook in the slow cooker before so I'm a little anxious about how it would turn out; the red lentils fully cook in the slow cooker in this recipe without getting mushy?
Hi Hayley—yes, the lentils fully cook. Since they are red lentils, they do soften up quite a bit, but their texture helps thicken up the sauce. I hope you give it a try—it's a cold weather favorite over here!
I ended up making this last night. It was delicious and so much cheaper and healthier than traditional chicken tikka masala. Got lots of leftovers I’m looking forward to 🙂
Oh I'm so thrilled to hear that! It makes fantastic leftovers! Enjoy.
Honestly since freezing some and reheating leftovers I feel like I need to change my original rating. This gets so much better from being reheated it deserves a 6/5! I did up the spices a little (added cayenne) because I love spicy curries. Love it 🙂
LOVE hearing that!! And I have to agree—really giving the flavors a chance to marry is a game changer. Cheers!
So deelish! Even the littles loved it!
Yayy I'm so glad you enjoyed it, girl!
Does it freeze well? I can easily see doubling it and putting half away for another week.
Hi Layla, it freezes quite well, yes! The lentils will lose a little of their integrity, but other than that, it does fine!
Thank you! I might freeze a portion for a crazy week where I can’t cook.