Split Pea Curry sits in a bowl over rice. Naan bread sits nearby.

I was a late-comer to curry—we didn’t have a lot of South Asian flavors at my very Midwestern childhood dinner table—but once I took my first bite of curry in college, I was sold! The layered, spicy explosion of flavor started me onto a path of curry adoration.

I’ve been making different curries for well over a decade now, and I have the quickest, easiest, most flavorful formula down pat. Thanks to a secret ingredient—red curry paste—anyone (even total cooking beginners) can get super tasty curry on the table in a flash!

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Ingredients to make curry sit together - vegetable broth, coconut milk, tomatoes, red curry paste, split peas, butter, and onion.

What ingredients do you need to make split pea curry?

This curry comes together with less than 10 ingredients—and chances are, you have most of them in your house already. You’ll need:

  • Cooking oil—I like avocado oil, but olive oil or coconut oil both work, too.
  • Diced onion—White or yellow will work.
  • Red curry paste—This “special” ingredient is found in the international foods section of your grocery store. If you want this dish to be strictly vegan, make sure to look for a plant-based brand!
  • Vegetable broth
  • Dried split peas—Find these with the dried beans in your supermarket.
  • Canned diced tomatoes—Plain diced tomatoes work fine, but fire-roasted tomatoes give the best flavor.
  • Canned coconut milk—Both light and full-fat coconut milk work here.
  • Salt and pepper
  • Rice, noodles, zucchini noodles, or spaghetti squash, for serving—Whatever you like!

Wholefully Protip

If you aren’t vegan or vegetarian, chicken broth or chicken bone broth also works well in this recipe.

Curry ingredients are mixed together with a wooden spoon.

What’s the difference between curry powder and curry paste?

The best way to get robust flavor in your curry is to use curry paste. Yes, you can probably find curry powder fairly easily, but the flavor of curry powder fades very quickly.

Curry paste is the wet version of curry powder, and is sold in most big grocery stores with the other international foods. Keeping a jar on hand makes it super easy to throw together a delicious curry.

I recommend red curry paste for this recipe. A lot of people like Mae Ploy because it has a super robust flavor, but it does contain animal ingredients, so if you want this dish to be strictly vegan, Thai Kitchen is an easy-to-find plant-based option. You can also make your own curry paste at home, following this how-to from Hot Thai Kitchen!

Curry sits in a bowl, mixed with a wooden spoon.

Do split peas need to be soaked before cooking?

Nope! Split peas will cook just fine on the stove without soaking them ahead of time. You can choose to soak them if they cause digestive problems for you.

Wholefully Protip

Unlike other dried legumes, split peas don’t need soaking prior to cooking!

A bowl of split pea curry sits surrounded by naan bread.

What should I serve this split pea curry with?

This plant-based curry needs a base to fill out the meal, and we recommend serving it on top of one of these options:


Split pea curry itself is a pretty rounded-out meal, but if you want to add some sides, try adding some warm naan bread and a fresh green salad.

Two bowls of Split Pea Curry sit next to each other with Naan bread nearby.

Can I meal prep this curry?

Sure can! Make it completely through the recipe, then break into individual serving containers along with the rice, noodles, or veggies you choose for serving.

Wholefully Protip

This vegan curry makes an excellent meal prep lunch. Make a batch on the weekend and stash it in the fridge for easy lunches all week.

What about freezing—can I freeze split pea curry?

Yes! This curry is a perfect candidate for freezing. In fact, we often double this recipe and then freeze half of it as an easy meal later. Just spoon the cooled curry (just the curry, not the rice or noodles) into a freezer-safe container. Label and freeze. It’ll keep in the freezer for at least three months without losing any flavor or texture.

A spoon holds a bite full of Split Pea Curry.

What else can I do with split peas?

Split peas are such an underrecognized legume! You need more split peas in your life. You can always go with the classic—soup. But there is so much more you can do with split peas! Try one of these fan-favorite recipes:

Split Pea Curry sits in a bowl over rice. Naan bread sits nearby.

Easy Vegan Split Pea Curry Recipe

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

This Easy Vegan Split Pea Curry recipe is bursting with flavor thanks to a secret ingredient! This 7-ingredient dinner is warm, hearty, and completely plant-based.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1/4 cup red curry paste (make sure to grab a plant-based version if you want this meal to be vegan)
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 2/3 cup split peas
  • 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes (fire roasted for best flavor)
  • 1 14-ounce can light coconut milk
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Cooked rice and warm naan, for serving


  1. In a large skillet with high sides, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add in the onions and cook until just translucent and fragrant, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add in the curry paste and stir. Continuing stirring for 1-2 minutes, or until the curry paste becomes fragrant (this helps to reactivate the spices in the curry paste).
  3. Add in the vegetable broth and split peas. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the split peas have become tender (but not mushy).
  4. Add in the diced tomatoes and coconut milk. Continue to simmer for an additional 20 minutes, or until the mixture is very thick and the split peas are very tender.
  5. Taste and adjust seasoning—some curry pastes are very salt-heavy, so you might not need to add any seasoning at all.
  6. Serve over hot rice and with a side of warm naan bread.


Instead of rice, you can also serve this curry over quinoa, spaghetti squash, rice noodles, or zucchini noodles.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1 serving
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 300Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1152mgCarbohydrates: 41gFiber: 6gSugar: 6gProtein: 9g

At Wholefully, we believe that good nutrition is about much more than just the numbers on the nutrition facts panel. Please use the above information as only a small part of what helps you decide what foods are nourishing for you.

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  1. Do you have a suggestion for making this in an instant pot? Seems like it could be super convenient. If not, i may experiment! 🙂

    1. Hi Renata! We haven’t tried this in the Instant Pot. If you do any experimenting, please let us know how it turns out for you!

  2. What type of curry past do you use? If I used 1/4 cup of the one I currently have it would be beyond spicy and inedible. I used 1TB of it to a cup of lentils last night and my mouth was numb.

    1. Hi, Tanya! We used the Thai Kitchen brand of red curry paste when making this and it didn’t turn out too spicy at all. But everyone’s spice tolerance and palate are different, so definitely adjust as you see fit. Also, as you mentioned, different brands are going to give different results, so hopefully you’ll find one that suits your tastes. Good luck and please let us know which brand you liked best!

    1. Thanks so much for letting us know, Barret! We’ve updated the post to reflect this info.

  3. I really like this recipe and I’ve made it several times. I have not been able to get the recipe to thicken. What could I be doing wrong?

    1. So glad you like it! We’ve never had this issue, but maybe try reducing the broth by 1/2 cup and straining your diced tomatoes.

  4. It didn’t thicken up at all and we boiled it for way longer than suggested, and the split peas didn’t soften up either. We ended up with something like pea soup with hard split peas 🙁

    1. It’s possible that commenters having a hard time with fully cooking and thickening the peas are using a curry paste that has extra tomato, or maybe adding the tomato ingredient too soon. Tomatoes impede the cooking of beans, and I’m betting, split peas, sometimes to the extent that they never full soften.

    1. Sure. It won’t be as creamy or give you the coconut flavor, but it’ll do the trick.

  5. This recipe was delicious and was full of flavor. Definitely will be making this again. I doubled the recipe and it didn’t thicken up like I expected so I added corn starch. I’m a novice dad cook so I probably did something incorrectly in preparing it. The basmati rice we used soaked up lots of the liquid so it turned out fine. All the kids enjoyed it! Thanks for sharing this recipe.

      1. you can looked it up on google just ask what can I sub curry paste with, it should give you a few options,hope it helps.