The ULTIMATE Vegan Shepherd’s Pie

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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, then topped with buttery vegan mashed potatoes. Gluten-free option, Oil-Free option, Make-Ahead option.

Table of Contents
  1. The Humble Origins of Shepherd’s Pie (Cottage Pie)
  2. Ingredients for Vegan Shepherd’s Pie
  3. How to Make Vegan Shepherd’s Pie
  4. Make this Recipe with Me!
  5. Serving Suggestions
  6. How to Store Vegan Shepherd’s Pie
  7. Substitutions and Variations
  8. Recipe FAQs
  9. 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, lentil filling layered below thick and creamy mashed potatoes, then baked until cozy and golden. Add this savory casserole to this week’s meal plan 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 Origins 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 traditional minced beef with minced lamb. 

This vegan version is of course 100% meat-free, swapping the minced meat for plant-based protein and hearty mushrooms. It’s a wonderful recipe to make when you’re craving the ultimate comfort food any time of year, but especially during the colder months when you’re craving a cozy bowl of goodness!

Ingredients for Vegan Shepherd’s Pie

Lentil 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, green lentils, or black lentils in a pinch.
  • Vegan Worcestershire sauce: 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 vegetarian 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 vegan “chicken” broth to make the savory filling, but I find that using an imitation “beef” broth really amps up the hearty flavors here. Remember, the traditional dish was made with minced beef. 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 for this vegan shepherd’s pie. Or, if you cook often with fresh herbs, why not start a small kitchen window herb garden? 😉

Now, for the mashed potato topping, I recommend using peeled and scrubbed russet potatoes and a rich and creamy plant-based milk, such as creamy coconut milk or homemade cashew cream. Russets have a higher starch content and lower moisture content compared to Yukon gold potatoes and waxy red potatoes and yields the best, light and fluffy mash.

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. Cook the russet potatoes in a large pot filled with water until fork-tender. Drain, then return to the pot to cool.
  2. In a separate sauté pan, begin to prepare the lentil filling. Sauté the onions in olive oil, then stir in the tomato paste. Add the mushrooms and herbs, and cook until the mushrooms reduce.
  3. Stir in the vegetable mixture and remaining filling ingredients. Bring to a low simmer, then remove from the heat when thick and creamy.
  4. Mash the potatoes with vegan butter, non-dairy milk, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, salt and black pepper until smooth. 
  5. 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. 
  6. Bake for about 30 minutes in a preheated oven, then broil for 5 to 10 minutes or until crispy. 
  7. Serve while warm as is, or with desired sides. 

Make this Recipe with Me!

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.
  • Use leftover mashed potatoes. ​Another great way to cut down on prep time and prevent food waste. A win-win! 
  • Don’t over mash the potatoes. It may seem counterintuitive, but it is possible to over mash potatoes. Mash the potatoes with a potato masher, large serving fork, or a potato ricer just enough until smooth and creamy. Any more and your potatoes will become gluey and unpleasant!

Serving Suggestions

This lentil shepherd’s pie is one of my favorite mains to serve on cold weeknights during the fall and winter, but it also doubles as a fantastic plant-based main for holiday feasts. 

If you’d like to offer a few side dishes, you can’t go wrong with vegetable-rich dishes such as Garlic Green Beans, Roasted Parsnips, Balsamic Marinated Mushrooms, or this Winter Kale Salad. Or, if you’re serving it for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, you might try serving with some of the classic holiday sides, such as this Mushroom Stuffing, Vegan Green Bean Casserole, and Cranberry Sauce! If you’re looking for more cozy vegan comfort food dishes, you’ll also love this Vegan Mushroom Stroganoff, this Easy Vegan Chili with Vegan Cornbread, and this Ultra Easy One Pot Pasta!

How to Store Vegan Shepherd’s Pie

Just like traditional shepherd’s pie, this vegan shepherd’s pie recipe will store well in the fridge for up to 5 days, or in the freezer (unbaked) for up to 3 months. To defrost, place the frozen lentil shepherd’s pie in the fridge to thaw for 24-48 hours before baking until warm and golden brown. 

Reheat any leftovers in the oven, toaster oven, or microwave. If the mashed potatoes seem dry, add a splash of unsweetened plant milk and a small pat of vegan butter on top of the potatoes before reheating to help rehydrate.

spoon serving vegan shepherd's pie from baking dish

Substitutions and Variations

  • Gluten-free option: Substitute the all-purpose flour with brown rice flour. 
  • Lower fat/Oil-free option: This lentil shepherd’s pie tastes best as written, however, there are a few ways to lower the fat, if necessary. First, sauté the lentil filling in broth or water. Then, replace the butter in the mashed potatoes with 1/4 cup of coconut cream or this Rosemary Garlic Cashew Cream. Finally, skip brushing the potatoes with butter, or very lightly spray with cooking spray before baking.
  • Veggie 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! Additionally, 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 mashed sweet potatoes and make a sweet potato mash topped lentil shepherd’s pie instead. 
  • 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.
Slice of vegan shepherd's pie on speckled plate, on marble countertop

Recipe FAQs

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

The only notable difference between Shepherd’s Pie and Cottage Pie is the ground meat used. Shepherd’s pie is traditionally prepared with minced 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 lentil 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.

Why is my lentil shepherd’s pie so runny?

If your vegan lentil shepherd’s pie is runny, you likely did not simmer the filling enough to thicken. Once ready, the consistency should be similar to thick gravy.

Is Worcestershire sauce vegan?

Standard Worcestershire sauce is not vegan because it contains anchovies. When shopping, be careful to read the label and look for an anchovy-free Worcestershire sauce. Brands such as Annie’s, Whole Foods 365, and Edward & Sons are some of the few that carry them in large-chain grocery stores.

Can I make vegan shepherd’s pie in advance?

This hearty lentil shepherd’s pie can be prepped as a make-ahead meal. Simply prep the filling up to 3 days in advance and store in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to use. The mashed potatoes can also be prepped in advance, but I find them to be best when prepped 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 20 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.


For the Potato Topping:

For the Filling: 


  • 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


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.

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  1. 5 stars
    I made this today and it was YUM! It is my son’s birthday and for every birthday I make him a shepherds pie! This year was no different, but I made this one along with it. Simple, easy and full of flavor. My husband has joined me on the Vegan journey this week. Thank goodness for your recipes! He loves them.

  2. 5 stars
    This is the best dish to bring if you’re the only plant-based eater at your Christmas party dinner! So hearty, healthy, delicious, and filling. I got compliments from a lot of my non-vegan family members on this dish <3

  3. 5 stars
    This turned out amazing…once again, as soon as I saw the picture I knew I had to make it. It turned out perfect…filling is hearty and tasty and the potatoes with creamy and fluffy. I didn’t have fake beef stock so I used beer and coconut milk…..turned out great. Thanks 🙂

  4. I can’t wait to try this! I would have made it for our vegan Thanksgiving if I’d had it in time for my planning. I think I will be making this for Christmas!

  5. I’ve made a few vegan shepherds pie recipes, but this one is the best. It’s so hearty and comforting, and the seasoning of the potatoes pairs perfectly with the filling!! As other people have mentioned, it makes a lot – I can’t wait to enjoy the leftovers over the next few days. A perfect recipe for this cold, rainy, chilly fall day!!