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Red lentils on rice in a black bowl

Red Lentils In The Instant Pot With Korean-Inspired Savory Sweet Sauce

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Asian
Keyword: Red lentils, Vegan Instant Pot
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 3 minutes
coming to pressure time: 7 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 271kcal
Author: Cindy Rainey
These deliciously flavored red lentils made in the Instant Pot will remind you of the flavors of a Korean BBQ. They are (mostly) oil-free, processed sugar-free, and spiced just right. Make them easily in your pressure cooker and serve over rice, vegetables, or roasted potatoes for a flavorful, healthy, plant-based dish.
Print Recipe


  • Pressure Cooker


The Vegetables and the Lentils

  • 1 cup onions chopped, white or yellow
  • cup red bell pepper chopped
  • cup carrots diced
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • ½ cup vegetable broth for sauteing see notes if you want to use oil

The Asian-Inspired Broth/Sauce

  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon ginger paste can sub minced ginger
  • 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil

Optional Topings

  • sesame seeds
  • green onions sliced
  • red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper


  • Chop the onion, carrots, and red bell pepper. Keep the onions seperate as you will be sauteeing them first. Set aside.
    For the sauce: mince the garlic and set aside. If you are mincing your own ginger, mince and set aside.
  • Measure out the red lentils and set aside
  • Mix together the wet ingredients: veggetable broth, soy sauce, brown sugar, minced garlic, ginger, and sesame oil. Set aside.
  • Line the bottom of the pot with 1/2 cup vegetable broth and add the onion. Set the Instant Pot to saute. Once it starts sizzling, set your timer for three minutes and saute, stirring often. You aren't cooking the onion, just getting it started. The Instant Pot will do the rest.
  • If the pot has any brown spots on the bottom, you will need to deglaze with a bit of the liquid. While the pot is still hot, pour about 1/4 cup in and stir around, scraping the spots, until the brown spots have dissapeared into the liquid.
  • Add in the chopped bell pepper and carrots, the rest of the mixed liquid, and the red lentils. Give it a stir.
  • Close and seal the lid according to manufactorer's directions. Make sure the seal is set to the correct spot. Set the Instant Pot to high for 3 minutes.
  • It will take about 5-7 minutes to come to pressure. After counting down the 3 minutes under pressure the lentils will be cooked. Very carefully, following the manufactorer's directions do a quick release and open the lid.
  • Add sliced green onions and sesame seeds. Serve over cooked rice, riced cauliflower, or potatoes.


For this recipe, I used a 6 quart Instant Pot. This should also work in the larger and smaller sizes. Time coming to pressure might be different. 
The saute time is included in the prep time.
The time coming to pressure is included in the total minutes.
If you are trying to eat oil-free you can leave out the sesame oil or cut it down to 1/2 teaspoon.  Be aware though that sesame oil is an important flavor element to this dish and it will affect the flavor. It will still be tasty - just not AS tasty. I personally cut it down to 1/2 teaspoon when I cook it for myself because I am trying to be a healthier vegan:)
Serving Suggestions:
The following are suggestions and not included in the nutritional information.
Spoon over:
  • baked potato
  • rice
  • riced veggies such as cauliflower
Keep any leftovers in a tightly closed container in your refrigerator for up to 5 days. 


Calories: 271kcal | Carbohydrates: 50g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 1333mg | Potassium: 810mg | Fiber: 17g | Sugar: 14g | Vitamin A: 8763IU | Vitamin C: 80mg | Calcium: 73mg | Iron: 4mg