Instant Pot Butternut Squash Lentil Curry

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With just a few minutes of hands-on cooking, this Instant Pot Butternut Squash Lentil Curry will become your go-to for weeknight meals. It’s hearty, healthy comfort food at its finest (and easiest).
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 45 mins
Total Time: 1 hr
5 from 12 votes

Being a food blogger is great. I get to try out new recipes on a regular basis, my fridge is perpetually stocked, and I always have leftovers. I am literally never hungry. But the food blogging life has its downsides. For instance, I am always trying out new recipes, so I rarely get to make the same dish more than once or twice.

But, this Instant Pot Butternut Squash Lentil Curry was so good and so easy to make that not only did I make it more than once, I made it three times in just two weeks.

And if you want more than 90 incredible vegan Instant Pot recipes, be sure to order my 5-star-rated cookbook, The Vegan Instant Pot Cookbook!

Instant Pot Butternut Squash Lentil Curry

Why you’ll love this Instant Pot Butternut Squash Lentil Curry

First, it has a low-effort, high-reward ratio. Thanks to the Instant Pot, there’s just 5ish minutes of hands-on cooking involved, so it’s one of those meals you can easily throw together on a weeknight. Once you sauté the aromatics for a few minutes, you can just toss everything in the Instant Pot and let the machine do its pressure cooking magic.

If being able to prepare a delicious, healthy, and crowd-pleasing dinner on a weeknight with minimal work isn’t motivation enough to finally buy an Instant Pot, I don’t know what is. Even better, it makes for fabulous leftovers!

Instant Pot Butternut Squash Lentil Curry

Another reason I love this curry so much is that it is incredibly flavorful but has a fairly minimal ingredient list and is made with commonly available ingredients you likely already have in your pantry.

Another selling point: this curry is creamy and hearty AF, making it the perfect winter comfort food. The Instant Pot magically transforms plain old lentils into creamy morsels bathing in a velvety stew made of coconut milk and cashew butter.

But to keep this curry on the lighter side, I opted for “lite” coconut milk instead of the full-fat variety. While you can definitely use the full-fat variety, I find that “lite” coconut milk is sufficient to yield a rich, creamy texture.

As for cashew butter? No, it’s not a traditional ingredient in curries, but it does add a nice, rich creaminess, just like almond butter does in my Red Lentil Curry, which you all love so much.

Instant Pot Butternut Squash Lentil Curry

This curry, however, isn’t just indulgent comfort food – it’s healthy, too. This is the kind of comfort food that will nourish your soul and your body. This butternut squash lentil curry starts with anti-inflammatory powerhouses ginger and turmeric, then gets a healthy dose of vitamin-rich butternut squash, followed by heart-healthy lentils and cashew butter, and finally a generous sprinkling of antioxidant-rich kale.

Instant Pot Butternut Squash Lentil Curry

Substitutions for this recipe

A few notes on substitutions. I use whole cumin seeds because I love the aroma and extra depth of flavor that whole spices bring to a curry, but if you don’t have cumin seeds, you can just use the same amount of ground cumin and add it along with the turmeric and curry powder (skip the first step).

If you can find fresh turmeric (Whole Foods usually stocks it), that would make this curry even better. Grate or mince 1 1/2 tablespoons of the fresh stuff, and add it along with the garlic and ginger.

Regarding butternut squash, you can use any winter squash you like, such as kabocha squash or red kuri squash. Red kuri squash, also known as hokkaido pumpkin, makes the prep work even easier because you don’t have to peel the skin.

And if you’re having trouble finding cashew butter, just substitute almond butter or tahini (peanut butter has a much stronger taste and might be overwhelming in this curry).

That’s all there is to say about this easy Instant Pot Butternut Squash Lentil Curry, so I hope you give it a try and enjoy it!

Instant Pot Butternut Squash Lentil Curry

5 from 12 votes
With just a few minutes of hands-on cooking, this Instant Pot Butternut Squash Lentil Curry will become your go-to for weeknight meals. It’s hearty, healthy comfort food at its finest (and easiest).
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 45 mins
Total Time: 1 hr
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Indian-Inspired
Diet Vegan
Keyword: black beluga lentils, butternut squash, curry, gluten-free, instant pot, soy-free
Serving size: 6

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unrefined virgin coconut oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (2-inch) piece of fresh ginger, finely minced or grated
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional, for spiciness)
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 5-6 cups (700-850g) peeled and roughly chopped butternut squash, (can buy pre-cut squash)*
  • 1 1/2 cups (360 mL) low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 cup brown lentils or green lentils
  • 1 (15-ounce/ (400 mL) can “lite” coconut milk
  • 3 tablespoons cashew butter (can substitute with almond butter or tahini)
  • 4 ounces baby kale or baby spinach (or 4-5 large handfuls)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon or lime juice
  • 1 large handful fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • For serving: white rice and/or flatbread

Instructions

Instant Pot Directions

  • Rinse the lentils and drain them.
  • Select the Sauté setting on the Instant Pot and after a few minutes, add 1/2 tablespoon of the coconut oil, followed by the cumin seeds. Toss for 30-60 seconds until lightly browned and very fragrant.
  • Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, followed by the onion and 1/2 teaspoon of the kosher salt. Cook the onion for 4-5 minutes until lightly browned. Then add the garlic and ginger and cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently to prevent sticking.
  • Stir in the the curry powder, turmeric, and cayenne (if using) for 30 seconds, adding the 2 tbsp water to prevent the mixture from drying out too much.
  • Add the chopped butternut squash and stir to coat it in the spice mixture. Pour in the vegetable broth and use a wooden spoon or spatula to scrape up any browned bits at the bottom of the pan. Then add the remaining 1 teaspoon kosher salt, the lentils, and coconut milk. Scoop the cashew butter on top but do not stir. This helps prevent the nut butter from sinking to the bottom and possibly triggering the Instant Pot burn warning.
  • Secure the Instant Pot lid and set the Pressure Release to Sealing. Select the Pressure Cook or Manual setting and set the cook time for 10 minutes.
  • Once the timer goes off, allow a natural pressure release. Once the pressure has released, open the pot and stir in the baby kale. Select the Sauté setting and heat for about 2 minutes or until the kale has wilted, then select Cancel. Add the lemon or lime juice and the cilantro and stir to combine.
  • Serve the butternut squash lentil curry over white rice or with flatbread.

Stovetop Directions

  • Heat a deep, heavy skillet or a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add 1/2 tablespoon of the coconut oil, and once hot, add the cumin seeds and fry for 30-60 seconds until lightly browned and very fragrant.
  • Add the onions and cook until they are translucent, about 5 minutes. Then add the garlic and ginger and cook for 1-2 minutes until lightly golden and fragrant. Stir in the curry powder, turmeric, and cayenne (if using) until well incorporated.
  • Add the butternut squash, vegetable broth, lentils, coconut milk, and cashew butter. Stir well to combine.
  • Bring the curry mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat, and simmer for about 30 minutes, until the lentils are tender and the squash is cooked through, stirring every few minutes.
  • Add the baby kale and allow to cook for 1-2 minutes until wilted. Add the lemon or lime juice and the cilantro and stir to combine.
  • Serve the butternut squash lentil curry over white rice or with flatbread.

Notes

  • If using the stovetop method, cut the squash into smaller cubes

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38 comments on Instant Pot Butternut Squash Lentil Curry

  1. Gloria B

    I was doing a gratitude meditation this morning and was suppose to think of something I am grateful for. It was this curry! I’m looking forward to having it again tonight. Very delicious. Thanks Nisha!

  2. Amy Hough

    Man, I’ve had this saved forever and finally tried it after getting a butternut squash in my CSA box. This was easily one of my favorite curries ever! Brilliant use of a squash, and not a ton on prep work. My favorite kind of recipe!

  3. Kelly

    Delish and super easy! It was so creamy, filling, and flavorful. Thank you so much, Nisha!! :)

  4. LSloan

    This was easy and delicious! Perfect for a NY winter day.

    I am fairly new to plant-based eating. Nisha, your site/channel/emails have been such a wonderful resource!

  5. Jennifer Jordan

    Have made this twice and it always turns out great! Super easy, delicious, and comforting!

  6. Amanda

    Hi Nisha!Can I use frozen butternut squash? Should I let it defrost first?Thank you!

  7. Yukti

    Hi Nisha! This recipe is delicious- thank you for sharing!Wondering if this recipe can also be cooked without an Instant Pot, and if so, how would the recipe/cooking time change?

  8. Diane

    Love this recipe! Made it so many times now – thank you for sharing it 😁🤩

  9. Lindsay

    We made this for dinner and it was sooooo rich and creamy! So flavorful and the right amount of heat. I put it on before I went to the gym, so it sat for like another hour after it was done cooking. The squash broke down some, there were still chunks tho so no complaints here. We had it with cauli-rice and omg. My husband and I both devoured our bowls. Great flavor/ingredient combination!!

  10. Olga

    I have moong Dal, masoor Dal, red lentils, and split peas. Wonder if any of these can be substituted? (I found some green lentils as well but was curious for future reference)

    1. Olga

      Hi Nisha. I loved the recipe as written , but stillWould love your response on my question above?

      1. Nisha Vora

        Hi Olga, sorry just seeing your comments now. I am glad you loved the recipe! Since red lentils, split peas and masoor dal cook much quicker than green and brown lentils, the texture will be different – more mushy and soft and creamy, and you won’t have any distinct lentils. Which is fine, I’m sure it will be delicious. But just keep that in mind. Also, you might need a splash more liquid/broth/water just to be on the safe side since those types of lentils tend to stick to the bottom of the pot more so than green/brown lentils. Hope that helps!

  11. Elisa

    This was so good, wonderful flavours!
    Note: I reduced the Salt to 1 tsp, used less than 1/4 tsp Cayenne and used Cumin Powder and Almond Butter
    A true hit with Jasmine Rice

    1. Nisha Vora

      Thank you so much for sharing, Elisa! I am glad you loved the flavors. And I appreciate you including your modifications – super helpful for other readers!

  12. Amanda b

    Are your lentils cooked or dry? I’m new to the instant pot world and can’t wait to try this!

    1. Nisha Vora

      The lentils are dried – they are super easy to cook in the instant pot and taste way better than canned IMO :)

  13. Anka

    How long would you say the natural release takes for this? (Roughly)

    1. Nisha Vora

      Hi Anka,
      I would say 15 minutes? But you could also let it sit for 10 minutes and then perform a manual release to let off the remaining steam. Hope that helps!

  14. Michael

    Made this tonight. First time ever eating butternut squash. Was pleasantly surprised how delicious it was. It’s a keeper.

    1. Nisha Vora

      Hi Michael, Thanks for your feedback! So happy to hear that it will be a keeper for you :)

  15. Lisa

    Can you kindly add a PRINT button so we can print out the recipe without the (albeit delightful) blog?
    Thanks!

    1. Nisha Vora

      Hi Lisa! I am working on trying to add that! Unfortunately Squarespace (which hosts my blog) doesn’t have a convenient button or plugin I can just add, it has to be coded in on the backend (so I’m trying to figure out how to do that).

  16. edye

    This is SO delicious! …And it freezes well, too!

  17. Kimberly

    I made this because I was looking for a recipe that called for lentils and butternut squash. I had a squash I needed to use and the other ingredients are staples at our house. This was freaking delicious! I texted it to several friends and I am adding it to my rotation. Thanks very much for sharing it.

    1. Nisha Vora

      Hi Kimberly! That makes me so happy to hear. I really appreciate you stopping by to let me know it was a hit! And yay for adding it to the weekly rotation :)

  18. Janice Homola

    I live in a small town and often have trouble finding ingredients on short notice. Is there something I can substitute for cashew butter?

    1. Nisha Vora

      Hi Janice! Yes, you certainly can. The cashew butter adds a rich creaminess, but there’s already creaminess from the coconut milk, so you can omit it and it will still be really delicious, or you can use almond butter or peanut butter. If you use peanut butter, I would use a bit less than the recipe calls for since peanut butter has a stronger taste. Hope that helps!

  19. Beck

    Ok first time using insta pot I may or may not have run 2 cycles 🤔but it waa atill delicious!!! Cant wait for your book 🤗

    1. Nisha Vora

      Hey Beck! So happy it was delicious, even if the Instant Pot might have confused you a bit hehe. Thank you for your warm wishes on my book, I am very excited about it too! In the meantime, I have some Instant Pot videos on my Youtube channel if you are interested and want to get more comfortable with the machine :)
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LSsW2yBBUXo&list=PLZ34BtqrTir9ANVDfcD8LUFzzjK_QSyRT

  20. Amy E.

    My boyfriend and I are doing your Instagram vegan challenge and we made this recipe and we both loved it so much. We aren’t vegan but try to eat as many veg meals as possible and this one is our new favorite!

    1. Nisha Vora

      Hi Amy! Yay for the vegan challenge! So happy you and your bf are doing it. I hope it went well (today’s the last day)!

  21. A Dunn

    I want to try this tomorrow night! Wondering how many servings it makes. My husband and I are big eaters and we would like left over for our lunches. Should we double it?

    1. Nisha Vora

      Yay, I hope you enjoy it! The recipe makes 4 servings (roughly 500 calories each). If you’re comfortable using your Instant Pot and have tried doubling a recipe in it before, you should be just fine :)

      1. Amanda D

        We have made this twice now and it is amazing. My husband will even do it on his own. So good, thanks you for sharing.

        1. Nisha Vora

          Yay! That is the best compliment I can ask for! So awesome that your husband is making it too. Thank you for sharing your feedback, Amanda!

  22. Sam Westerly

    I just made this tonight for dinner and it was DELICIOUS! I was so excited when I noticed I had all the ingredients at home so I had to make it immediately. Best decision!

    1. Nisha Vora

      Hey Sam! I love that you’ve already tried this recipe. So great you had the ingredients ready to go and I’m thrilled to hear you enjoyed it!

      1. Clara

        This was so creamy and delicious! Very easy to make with pantry staples.

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