gochujang lentils and rice  topped with scallions and cilantro

These Coconut Gochujang Lentils are creamy, spicy-sweet and full of flavour. It’s comforting, easy to make and perfect for a quick weeknight meal.

Lentils are like the underdogs of the legume, pulse and bean family. I’m totally guilty of this- opening a bag of lentils and forgetting about them for months because I’m such a bean. A cup of humble lentils have just been sitting in my pantry forever and it was time to finally use them up.

I honestly didn’t know what I wanted to make so I scoured my fridge to see what else I had going on in there that needed to be used up. I found half an onion, a few garlic cloves, grated ginger, bits of cilantro, scallion and an open can of coconut milk. At first I was just going to make a red lentil dahl, but as I was pulling out the aromatics, the container of gochujang fell on my feet. Then I looked to the side door and saw some miso paste.

Gochujang lentils… miso lentils…

I could have gone either way, but I was feelin’ something spicy so we went for the gochujang this time around. And it was a solid, SOLID choice. Although, spoiler alert, I did make something with coconut and miso later that week and it was incredibly delicious too.

This just goes to show, sometimes meals that you throw together with ingredients you have on hand already and need to use up make the best kind of meals which is why I love the idea of intuitive cooking. This whole recipe is sort of like a base, a guide or blue print. Adjust the ingredients as you like, add other ingredients like vegetables if you wish. Add some tomato paste for a little tomato-y kick, vinegar for acidity if you don’t have limes or swap out the coconut milk for some heavy cream or half and half if you don’t fancy coconut. Maybe even add a little curry powder for a curry-vibe or cheese. Oh, dang. I should have added some cheese.

Ingredients

Here are the main ingredients you will need:

  • unsalted butter: dairy free as needed
  • garlic
  • onion
  • scallion
  • ginger
  • gochujang
  • gochugaru
  • brown sugar: or sweeter of choice
  • red lentils
  • vegetable broth
  • coconut milk: or any creamy milk / half and half of choice
  • soy sauce

How to Creamy Gochujang Lentils

  1. Add butter to a medium pot or large shallow pan over medium-high heat. Once melted, add the onions, white part of scallion, garlic and ginger, and cook for about 3-5 minutes.
  2. Add the gochujang, gochugaru and sugar and cook for about 2 minutes until caramelized.
  3. Add the lentils, broth, coconut milk salt and pepper and stir to combine. Bring to a boil and reduce heat and simmer for 18-22 minutes, or until lentils are soft and becomes thick.
  4. Drizzle in soy sauce and stir to combine.
  5. Serve with rice, lime juice, cashews, cilantro and scallion tops.

How to Store Gochujang Lentils

  • Fridge: Once cooled, transfer to an airtight container and keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.
  • Freezer: Once cooled, transfer to freezer safe bags or containers and keep in freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge and then reheat in the microwave of over the stove top. Add a bit of liquid as needed as will be quite thick.

Recipe FAQ

  1. Are these gochujang lentils spicy? Yes, but not too spicy! If you don’t want to make it spicy, omit the gochugaru and substitute half the gochujang with red miso paste.
  2. How can I make it more spicy? Add more gochugaru, or even some cayenne pepper to taste!
  3. Can I make this in an Instant pot? Yes, see directions in Notes in the recipe card.
  4. Can I use a different type of lentil or legume? Sure! I personally have not tried using other lentils, but feel free to try. Note that red lentils are quick-cooking and may require additional time and liquid ingredients.

And that wraps up everything for these coconut gochjang lentils!

More Korean-inspired recipes to try:

SAVE IT FOR LATER! ↓

If you recreate this Creamy Gochujang Lentil recipe let me know how you liked it by leaving a comment and rating below or by tagging me on Instagram @Okonomikitchen, I love seeing all of your tasty recreations!
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gochujang lentils and rice with scallions and cilantro in a blue bowl

Creamy Coconut Gochujang Lentils


  • Author: Lisa Kitahara
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

These Coconut Gochujang Lentils are creamy, spicy-sweet and full of flavour. It’s comforting, easy to make and perfect for a quick weeknight meal. 


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 4 cloves (16 g) garlic, minced
  • 1 small (80 g) onion, finely diced
  • 2 scallions, greens and whites separated
  • 1 tbsp ginger, grated
  • 23 tbsp (32 g) gochujang, to taste
  • 2 tsp gochugaru
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 cup (180 g) red lentils, rinsed
  • 2 cups (500 ml) vegetable broth
  • 1 14 oz can coconut milk or 400 ml half and half
  • 1 tsp salt, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • lime juice, for serving (optional)
  • cilantro for serving (optional)
  • roasted cashews, chopped (optional)
  • rice for serving (optional)

Instructions

  1. Add butter to a medium pot or large shallow pan over medium-high heat. Once melted, add the onions, white part of scallion, garlic and ginger, and cook for about 3-5 minutes.
  2. Add the gochujang, gochugaru and sugar and cook for about 2 minutes until caramelized.
  3. Add the lentils, broth, coconut milk, salt and pepper and stir to combine. Bring to a boil and reduce heat and simmer for 18-22 minutes, or until lentils are soft and becomes thick.
  4. Drizzle in soy sauce and stir to combine.
  5. Serve with rice, lime juice, cashews, cilantro and scallion tops. Enjoy!!

Notes

  • This stew becomes thick as it cooks. Add more vegetable broth or water to thin as needed to desired consistency.
  • Instant pot method: Set to ‘Sauté’ mode and follow steps 1-2. Add the lentils, broth, coconut milk, salt and pepper. Press Cancel and close lid with vent in sealing position. Cook on Manual High Pressure for 5 minutes. Natural release 10 minutes. Stir in soy sauce. 
  • Nutritional Information Disclaimer: Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated on an online tool (Cronometer). 
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stove top
  • Cuisine: Korean-inspired

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 serving

Keywords: gochujang lentils, red lentils

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Konnichiwa

About Lisa

I'm Lisa, a home cook, recipe developer and founder of Okonomi Kitchen. Here, you'll find a mix of classic and modernized Japanese recipes, and creative, plant-forward meal inspiration using seasonal ingredients. I hope to share more about Japanese cuisine and culture through food and recipes.


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15 Comments

  1. This was amazing. I made it exactly as written (with coconut milk) and it was OUTSTANDING. The only thing I’d do differently next time is double the recipe because I’d love to have leftovers. Really not too spicy either, just right. THANK YOU!!!

  2. Make this!! I had never cooked lentils before and this recipe comes out perfectly every time. I don’t have gochugaru so I used red curry paste instead and it’s delicious. 😋 makes great leftovers too!

  3. What the? Honestly, I only make lentils when I feel guilty for eating unhealthy stuff. Also had bought way to much gochujang when it was on sale and didn’t realize exactly how much I ended up with. Anyways, not much chance I would regularly make something like this, but here we are.

    This might be better than the stuff that makes me feel guilty for eating. It was that good. Like, I’m gonna make it again immediately cause I’m not sure if I can reproduce that magic but hot damn, I gonna try

  4. the recipe was fantastic!! super easy meal to make and extremely filling. definitely a meal i’ll be making consistently.