Tikka Masala Lentils

Tikka Masala Lentils

One of the most popular recipes (and one of my personal favorite recipes) from my blog is this Crockpot/Instantpot Chicken Tikka Masala. It’s a Whole30 rendition on the Classic Indian dish and is actually one of my kids’ favorite dishes, too! They request it often and my entire family devours it. Because it is so popular, I created a meatless version with these Tikka Masala Lentils!

Tikka Masala Lentils

Here is a vegetarian-friendly rendition of my Tikka Masala using lentils instead of meat. The flavors are all still there in this meat-free dish, and it’s still just as satisfying! It’s not whole30 (since Lentils are in the legume family) but it is made using only clean, wholesome ingredients and it is also dairy-free.

You can serve it alone or alongside some steamed rice or any steamed veggie goes great alongside it as well! 

Tikka Masala Lentils


Tikka Masala Lentils

tikka masala lentils
Serves: 6
5 from 7 votes
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time35 mins


  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups yellow onion, diced fine (1 yellow onion)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 inch knob of ginger, peeled and finely grated or 1/2 tsp powdered ginger
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • t tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 can tomato paste (6 oz)
  • 2 cups brown lentils (dry)
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth, low sodium
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 (13 oz) can unsweetened coconut milk I use Thai Kitchen's Brand
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
  • 1 tbsp fresh cilantro, for serving


  • In a dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the yellow onion, salt, pepper, garlic and ginger. Saute, stirring, until the onions are tender, about 4 minutes. 
  • Add the paprika, curry powder, cayenne, cinnamon, cumin, turmeric and tomato paste. Toast spices, stirring, until very fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  • Add the lentils and stir to incorporate. Once incorporated, add the broth and bay leaf and stir to combine. 
  • Bring lentils to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until lentils are almost tender, about 20 minutes. They should still have a little bit of a bite to them at this time. 
  • Add the coconut milk and stir to combine. Cook, uncovered and stirring often, until the lentils are tender, but not mushy, 5 to 10 more minutes. Once the lentils are tender, stir in the fresh lemon juice. Taste, and add salt to taste.
  • Top with fresh cilantro. Serve however you please and enjoy!


  • Reply
    August 18, 2021 at 8:03 pm

    5 stars
    this was so good!! i am only cooking for two so we made the entire recipe and then froze half for an easy meal in the future. we used a mixed bag of lentils and all were cooked through by the end of the 20 minute mark before adding in the coconut milk.

    • Reply
      August 19, 2021 at 10:02 pm

      love that!

  • Reply
    April 10, 2021 at 12:59 pm

    5 stars
    So good! Perfect spice level it was not super spicy at all. Paired with white rice, maple glazed carrots, and roasted cauliflower. Truly will make many more times! I used red lentils because that’s all I had and only cooked them about 8min since they cook a bit faster.

  • Reply
    Summer Turner
    April 10, 2021 at 12:58 pm

    5 stars
    So good! Perfect spice level it was not super spicy at all. Paired with white rice, maple glazed carrots, and roasted cauliflower. Truly will make many more times! I used red lentils because that’s all I had and only cooked them about 8min since they cook a bit faster.

  • Reply
    January 25, 2021 at 10:19 pm

    5 stars
    So yummy! Definitely getting added to the rotation!

  • Reply
    January 14, 2021 at 11:25 pm

    5 stars
    Picky 7 year old approved! I left out the cayenne though. Delicious with a side of naan. Made mine in the IP too 😃

  • Reply
    January 12, 2021 at 9:55 am

    What is the amount for the cumin? It doesn’t say.

  • Reply
    December 8, 2020 at 6:25 pm

    I am so excited to make this! What do you think about freezing the lentils and sauce for an easier meal next time?

    • Reply
      December 11, 2020 at 7:28 pm

      I think it would freeze very well!

  • Reply
    Alissa Fox
    November 9, 2020 at 4:11 pm

    Could I use green lentils? Thanks!

    • Reply
      November 9, 2020 at 10:09 pm


      • Reply
        December 3, 2020 at 7:00 pm

        How much longer should the cooking time be if using green lentils? Thanks !!

        • Reply
          December 3, 2020 at 11:15 pm

          It should be close to the same!

  • Reply
    November 5, 2020 at 1:41 am

    5 stars
    Made this tonight and its Really good! It was also spicy for me so I would cut the cayenne in half if you don’t like a ton of heat!

  • Reply
    Kristin L
    October 28, 2020 at 2:07 am

    Super delicious! The lemon makes the flavors really pop. Definitely a great option when you need a fairly easy meal and a break from meat. I soaked the lentils for a few hours before hand (easier for my digestion) and it still turned out great

    • Reply
      October 28, 2020 at 3:35 pm

      Fantastic!! thank you, Kristin!

    • Reply
      Shannon Darling
      May 10, 2021 at 5:39 pm

      Hello, is there any substitute for tomato paste? I try to stay away from canned goods.

  • Reply
    October 27, 2020 at 10:21 pm

    Hi! Have you tried this in the instant pot? Thank you!

    • Reply
      October 28, 2020 at 3:37 pm

      I haven’t tried this specific recipe in the IP, but i have cooked lentils in the IP before! they only take about 10 minutes on manual high pressure! just be sure to wait and add the coconut milk + lemon after the cook time for best results.

  • Reply
    October 27, 2020 at 4:40 am

    5 stars
    Delicious! It was a little spicy for me, so I will scale back on the cayenne next time. I also did 1/2 the amount of tomato paste recommended.

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