The ULTIMATE Vegan Shepherd’s Pie

GFGluten FreeGRGrain FreeNFNut FreeVVegan
5 from 15 votes
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This Vegan Shepherd’s Pie is inspired by the original cottage pie. It’s made with a lentil, mushroom and vegetable filling and topped with buttery vegan mashed potatoes. Gluten-free option, oil-free option, make-ahead option.

Table of Contents
  1. The Humble Beginnings of Shepherd’s Pie (Cottage Pie)
  2. What You Need for Vegan Shepherd’s Pie
  3. How to Make Vegan Shepherd’s Pie
  4. Serving Suggestions
  5. How to Store Vegan Shepherd’s Pie
  6. Substitutions and Variations
  7. Recipe FAQs
  8. The ULTIMATE Vegan Shepherd’s Pie Recipe

If you like hearty, warm comfort food, this Vegan Shepherd’s Pie is for you. It’s got a protein-rich, “meaty” filling under a thick, creamy layer of dairy free mashed potatoes. Add this savory casserole to this week’s menu for an affordable, satisfying meal that’s guaranteed to please the whole family! 

Slice of vegan shepherd's pie on speckled plate, on marble countertop

The Humble Beginnings of Shepherd’s Pie (Cottage Pie)

Shepherd’s Pie was originally created as a hearty way to use up leftover roasted meat. It dates back to the UK where the dish was actually first known as cottage pie (back in 1791!). The term Shepherd’s Pie didn’t come around until 1854, but strongly resembles the original cottage pie, only replacing the minced beef with minced lamb. 

This version is of course 100% vegetarian and vegan, swapping the meat for high-protein lentils and cremini mushrooms, among a few other small tweaks.

What You Need for Vegan Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherd’s pie is one of my favorite clean-out-the-fridge dinners because it’s chalked full of many of my budget-friendly pantry and fridge staples. Here are a few ingredients notes and recommendations to help you make the best vegan cottage pie:

Ingredients for shepherd's pie on marble background. top-to-bottom text labels read russet potato, parsley, salt & pepper, thyme, onion, rosemary, garlic, dairy-free butter, frozen vegetable blend, mushroom, garlic powder, vegetable broth, nutritional yeast, french lentils, tomato paste, non-dairy milk, vegan Worcestershire, and oil
  • French Lentils: Note that French lentils are not the same as the standard brown lentils. French lentils are smaller and have a firmer texture than brown lentils that often get soft and mushy (Save those for recipes like Coconut Curry Lentil Soup!). Find French lentils online or at some health foods stores, or if necessary, use brown lentils or black lentils as the next best option.
  • Vegan Worcestershire sauce: Be careful to use an anchovy-free Worcestershire sauce. Brands such as Annie’s, Whole Foods 365, and Edward & Sons carry them in large-chain grocery stores. You’ll want to hunt this ingredient down if you can – it has a powerful umami flavor plus a lovely tang from tamarind and vinegar that helps round out the flavors in this shepherd’s pie. Plus, it goes well in recipes like Vegan Meatballs and Portobello Mushroom Steaks.
  • Imitation “beef” broth: You are more than welcome to use vegetable broth or mushroom broth to make the filling, but I find that using an imitation “beef” broth really amps up the hearty flavors here. I typically use Better than Bouillon’s No Beef Base, but any plant-based friendly brand will do!
  • Fresh herbs: The flavor of fresh herbs is so much more complex than dried! You won’t be sorry you splurged for fresh. 

How to Make Vegan Shepherd’s Pie

Side-by-side photos of mashed potatoes in dutch oven next to cooked lentil and vegetable filling in large sauté pan
  1. Prep the recipe ingredients. If you haven’t already, cook the lentils, then get started on peeling and chopping your potatoes and other vegetables. 
  2. Cook the potatoes in a large pot filled with water until fork-tender. Drain, then return to the pot to cool.
  3. In a separate sauté pan, prepare the filling. Sauté the onions, then stir in the tomato paste. Add the mushrooms, rosemary, thyme, parsley, black pepper, and salt and cook until the mushrooms are reduced in size. 
  4. Add the garlic, Worcestershire sauce, and flour and stir to combine. Pour in the vegetable broth, cooked lentils, and frozen vegetable blend. Bring to a low simmer, then remove from the heat and set the filling aside. 
  5. Mash the potatoes with vegan butter, milk, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, salt and pepper until creamy. 
  6. Transfer the lentil mixture to a casserole dish, then spread the mashed potatoes mixture overtop. Cut a cross hatched or wavy texture into the top of the potatoes, then brush with melted butter. 
  7. Bake for about 30 minutes, then broil for 5 to 10 minutes or until crispy. 
  8. Serve warm as is or with desired sides. 
Side-by-side photos of shepherd's pie with potato topping before and after baking

Caitlin’s Cooking Tips

  • Cook and cool the lentils a day in advance. This not only cuts down on prep time, but prevents the lentils from overcooking and becoming mushy when simmered in the filling. Cooked lentils will last in the fridge for up to 5 days.
  • Don’t over mash the potatoes. It may seem counterintuitive, but it is possible to over mash potatoes. Mash just enough until smooth and creamy – any more and your potatoes will become gluey and unpleasant!

Serving Suggestions

This veg cottage pie is absolutely hearty enough to serve on its own, but if you’d like to offer a few sides, you can’t go wrong with light side dishes such as Easy Garlic Green BeansSweets & Beets, Roasted Red Cabbage or Balsamic Marinated Mushrooms.If you’re looking for more easy vegan casseroles, you’ll also love this Vegan Tamale Pie, Butternut Squash & Brown Rice Casserole, Creamy Green Enchilada Casserole and this Sweet Potato Rosemary Casserole.

How to Store Vegan Shepherd’s Pie

Vegan shepherd’s pie will store well in an airtight container for up to 5 days or in the freezer (unbaked) for up to 3 months. To defrost, place the frozen casserole in the fridge to defrost for 24-48 hours before baking as normal. 

Reheat any leftovers in the oven, toaster oven, or microwave until warmed through. If the potatoes seem dry, reheat with a splash of unsweetened plant milk and a small pat of vegan butter on top of the potatoes.

spoon serving vegan shepherd's pie from baking dish

Substitutions and Variations

  • Gluten-free option: Substitute the all-purpose flour with brown rice flour. This is used to thicken the filling’s gravy/sauce. 
  • Lower fat/Oil-free option: This recipe tastes best with the amounts of butter/oil as stated in the recipe. However, you can cut the oil in half and sauté the filling in vegetable broth or water. Replace the butter in the potatoes with 1/4 cup of coconut cream or Rosemary Garlic Cashew Cream, then skip brushing the potatoes with butter, or lightly spray them with nonstick cooking spray before baking.
  • Vegetable blend options: If you can’t find a frozen vegetable blend, use 2/3 cup each of corn, carrots, and peas. You could also add in some green beans, if you’d like! Use up what you have.
  • Mushroom substitute: If you’re out of mushrooms or simply don’t care for them, replace them with an extra ½ cup of cooked lentils. 
  • Milk options: Full-fat coconut milk, cashew milk or oat milk work best for this recipe. Avoid store-bought almond milk as it’s rather thin and not creamy. If interested, learn how to make your own creamy nut milks at home with minimal ingredients.
  • Potato options: Swap the potatoes for sweet potatoes and make a mashed sweet potatoes shepherd’s pie variation!
  • Dried herbs option: Fresh herbs give this dish its best flavor, but you can substitute 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, 1 teaspoon dried thyme, and 1 tablespoon dried parsley instead.
vegan shepherd's pie served on plate topped with parsley

Recipe FAQs

What is the difference between Shepherd’s Pie and Cottage?

The only notable difference between Shepherd’s Pie and Cottage Pie is the meat used. Shepherd’s pie is prepared with lamb whereas cottage pie is often beef or another cheaper meat.

How do you keep the mashed potatoes from sinking into the filling?

Allow the filling to cool slightly before topping with the mashed potatoes. Further, gently dollop the mashed potatoes over the filling and gently spread smooth using a spatula or the back of a spoon. This will help keep even layers and prevent sinking. 

Why is my shepherd’s pie so runny?

f your cottage pie is runny, you likely did not simmer the filling enough to thicken. Once ready, the consistency should be similar to thick gravy. 

Can I make vegan shepherd’s pie in advance?

The filling can be made up to 3 days in advance and stored in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to use. For best results, prepare the mashed potatoes day-of. 

Enjoy! If you make this recipe and decide to share it on Facebook or Instagram, don’t forget to tag me @FromMyBowl + #FromMyBowl! I would also love it if you could leave a comment below with a recipe rating! Thank you for the support 😊

Vegan Shepherd's Pie with crispy golden potato crust in white casserole dish with gold serving spoon

The ULTIMATE Vegan Shepherd’s Pie

5 from 15 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings 8 people
This Vegan Shepherd’s Pie is inspired by the original cottage pie. It’s made with a lentil, mushroom and vegetable filling and topped with buttery vegan mashed potatoes. Gluten-free option, oil-free option, make-ahead option.

Ingredients
 
 

For the Potato Topping:

  • 3 lbs. russet potatoes peeled and cubed (about 3-4 large)
  • 4 tablespoons vegan butter divided (½ stick)
  • 2/3 cup creamy non-dairy milk see notes
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste (optional)

For the Filling: 

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion diced
  • 6 ounces cremini mushrooms finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley finely chopped*
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary minced*
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves*
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Vegan Worcestershire sauce Optional, but recommended
  • 3-5 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tablespoons flour all-purpose, or brown rice for gluten-free
  • 4 cups cooked French or brown lentils see note
  • 2 cups frozen vegetable blend* peas, carrot, and corn
  • 1 ½ cups imitation beef broth or sub vegetable broth

Instructions

  • Prep: Cook the lentils, if you haven’t already. Peel and chop your potatoes first, then prepare the rest of the ingredients. Set a 9×13” casserole dish aside. Preheat the oven to 400F.
  • Cook the Potatoes: Add the potatoes to a large pot or Dutch oven and cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to medium-high heat and boil for 10 to 15 minutes, until fork-tender. Remove the pot from the heat, drain the potatoes well, and return to the pot to cool. 
  • Prep the Filling: In the meantime, warm the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté onion 3 minutes, until translucent. Then, add in the tomato paste and stir it into the onion. Fry for an additional 3 minutes. Add in the mushrooms, rosemary, thyme, parsley, black pepper, and salt. Sauté for 3 to 5 minutes, until the mushrooms have reduced in size. Add the garlic, vegan Worcestershire (optional), and flour, then sauté for an additional minute. Finally, add in the lentils, vegetables, and broth. Mix well and bring to a low simmer, then remove from the heat and set aside.
  • Mash the Potatoes: Add 3 tablespoons of the vegan butter, milk, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper (to taste) to the potatoes in the large pot. Mash well with a potato masher, then use a spoon or spatula to mix well, until you get a creamy uniform texture.
  • Assemble: Transfer the lentil mixture to the base of the casserole dish, then dollop spoonfuls of mashed potatoes evenly over the mixture. Use a spatula to spread the potatoes evenly. Then, use a fork to create a wavy or crosshatched textured pattern over the top of the potatoes – this helps then brown more. Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter, then brush it over the top of the potatoes.
  • Bake: If the casserole dish is full, place it on top of a baking dish when putting it in the oven, so it does not spill onto the oven base. Bake in the middle rack of the oven for 27 to 30 minutes, until bubbly. Transfer the casserole to the top rack of the oven and Broil for 5 to 10 minutes, with the door slightly ajar, for a crispier finish.  Let the shepherd’s pie cool (and set) for 15 minutes before serving. Serve warm; leftovers can be store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, and reheated in the oven, toaster oven, or microwave.

Recipe Notes

  • Lentils: I prefer to use French lentils because they are smaller and firmer, but brown lentils will work in a pinch. To cook your lentils, add 1 1/2 cups dried lentils to a pot with at least 5 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then simmer over medium-low heat until fork tender, 25-40 minutes.
  • Herbs: FFresh herbs help to give this dish its best flavor, but you can also used dried. If you choose to do so, use 1 tsp fresh rosemary, 1 tsp dried thyme, and 1 tbsp dried parsley instead of the fresh measurements, as dried herbs are more potent.
  • Milk: full-fat coconut or oat milk will work best for this recipe, but cashew milk will work well, too. I would advise against store-bought almond milk, as it’s rather thin and not creamy.
  • Other Substitutions: Cremini mushrooms can be substituted with another variety, or replaced with an extra 1/2 cup of lentils if you don’t like them. If you aren’t using Worcestershire Sauce, add 1 extra tablespoon of tomato paste and 1 tablespoon of soy sauce or tamari along with the spices for a more balanced flavor.
  • Frozen Vegetables: if you can’t find a frozen vegetable blend, use 2/3 cup each of corn, carrots, and peas. You could also add in some green beans, if you’d like!
  • Make-Ahead: The lentil filling can be made up to 3 days before baking the shepherd’s pie and stored in the refrigerator until ready to use. I would recommend making the potatoes day-of baking.
  • Low Fat / Oil Free: This recipe tastes best with the amounts of butter/oil as stated in the recipe. However, you can cut the oil in half, or reduce it in and sauté the filling in vegetable broth. Use 1/4 cup of coconut cream or cashew cream with the potatoes if you do not wish to use butter. You can skip brushing the potatoes with butter, or spray them with nonstick cooking spray before baking.
  • This recipe is inspired by The Wholesome Dish

Nutrition

Calories: 398kcalCarbohydrates: 65gProtein: 17gFat: 9gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0.03gSodium: 649mgPotassium: 1481mgFiber: 13gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 3062IUVitamin C: 24mgCalcium: 102mgIron: 6mg
Keyword: Vegan shepherd’s pie, vegetarian shepherd’s pie
Course: Main
Method: Oven, Stovetop
Cuisine: American
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian

About the Author

Hey there, I’m Caitlin! I make easy-to-follow, wholesome, and budget-friendly vegan recipes that are mostly gluten-free and refined sugar-free. I’m also an avid yogi, love the great outdoors, am chocolate-obsessed, and enjoy eating almond butter straight off of the spoon.

Learn More

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    AMAZING! My boyfriend (nonvegan)was incredibly impressed!!! This will be a staple now! It’s a bonus that it makes so much! It’s protein packed, flavorful, and not too much work. I made my lentils in an instant pot which made things easier. I think next time I will follow her note to prep the lentil filling a day ahead, or at least the lentils. I will recommend this to friends! So delicious!

  2. 5 stars
    Made this recipe last night and the whole family loved it!!! It’s hearty, satisfying, nutritious, comforting, and delicious. It’s also easy & pretty inexpensive. I used brown lentils because my local store did not have French- still came out great. Thanks for the recipe 🙂

  3. This is an awesome recipe, I made it for last Thanksgiving and will be making it again next week. Excited to share with non vegan family 💚🧡

  4. 5 stars
    This is so good!! I made it with a sweet potato topping and it came out great. I also added fennel seeds when I was sauteeing the onion and it was a really nice little pop of flavor. I would make this dish for someone who thinks they don’t like lentils. It’s so flavorful I think it would convert them!

  5. 5 stars
    We made the potatoes differently and had to sub some Prego for the tomato paste, but it still turned out delicious! Most of my family actually preferred this to the meat that was served (we had it on Christmas). This will definitely be a recipe we make again in the future. Thank you Caitlin!

  6. 5 stars
    AMAZING!!!! This is the first time my partner has asked for seconds on a vegan meal. This is for sure going to be a staple on our house and I am now on my way to Target to pick up your cookbook <3 Been a fan of yours for years and this is my favorite recipe yet!

  7. 5 stars
    Thank you so much for this hearty and delicious recipe! I enjoyed it last weekend with my sister and mum. We loved it very much! It’s really creamy and tastes sooo good!!!

  8. 5 stars
    Hearty and delicious – the height of vegan comfort food. After searching 3 grocery stores for French lentils I had to give up, so I used canned black lentils instead: they held up really well in the filling and weren’t mushy at all – yay! This will definitely be a repeat recipe. Thanks, Caitlin!

    1. Yes, black lentils are a great sub because they are still pretty firm! Thanks for leaving a review Vienna 🙂

  9. 5 stars
    It was so easy to pull this pie together for our Thanksgiving dinner. I substituted the lentils with one package of Impossible Meat and it was amazing!

  10. 5 stars
    Girl, thank you! Finding your YouTube channel/blog has been a game changer for trying to get my family on board the vegan ship! This was so delicious! My hubs said we can have this once a week!🙌🏼 We already have your fried rice once a week with stir fry veggies! We’re on our way☺️

    1. Wow Bethany, that’s exciting! I’m happy you found my YT channel/blog and I’m glad your family loves my recipes!💕

  11. Hi Caitlin!
    A Brits opinion (sorry we are rather direct!) Mushroom stock is a better alternative if you can get it. No corn over here in the dish it’s too sweet.
    Cashew or oat milk is best for the mash and add a little dijon mustard or wholegrain it’s sooo tasty.
    A tiny drop of dark soy sauce works wonders instead of worcester sauce if you don’t have any but it’s all personal preference. I like both!
    We call cremini mushrooms chestnut mushrooms 😊
    Other than that it’s pretty much the recipe I grew up minus the animal parts!