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Here’s the very best vegan shepherd’s pie! The hearty veggie and lentil filling contrasts fluffy potatoes in this tasty dinner recipe.

Vegan shepherd's pie
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This vegan shepherd’s pie is like wearing a fuzzy sweater while drinking mulled cider: cozy comfort food to the max! Imagine: a creamy gravy filled with tender vegetables, lentils and scented with fennel and sage. It’s topped with a fluffy layer of Yukon gold potatoes and fresh rosemary, then layered in a baking dish and baked until golden. “Wow” is all we can say about this one! It’s perfect for impressing guests…or just yourself.

Why it’s the best vegan shepherd’s pie

Vegan shepherd’s is cozy, slow-cooked comfort food, so you’ll need 1 hour to make this recipe. We think you’ll agree with us that this is 1 hour very well spent! Pull this one out when you’re looking to impress…it’s perfect for a Sunday dinner or warming winter meal. If you’re well organized, you can serve it on a weeknight, too! Here’s why we think this recipe stands out:

  • The filling is thick, meaty and savory. It’s hard to make vegan recipes taste as satisfying as meaty dishes. Here, fennel seed tricks your brain into thinking there’s meat (it’s an ingredient used in sausage). The gravy is ultra thick, and the tender French cut-onions are vaguely reminiscent of a meaty texture.
  • It’s full of plant-based protein. This shepherd’s pie is filled with plant-based protein: lentils and peas help it to have sticking power.
  • It can be made in about 1 hour. A shepherd’s pie recipe can often take multiple hours to make. But we’ve created this one to be as easy as possible (and even faster than our vegetarian shepherd’s pie!).
Vegan shepherd's pie

Make sure to use Yukon gold potatoes!

Some people claim the best shepherd’s pie is made with Russet potatoes. But we beg to differ! Maybe you can pull it off if you load them with dairy. But for a vegan shepherd’s pie: use Yukon gold potatoes. They have a naturally buttery flavor and creamy texture that can withstand the lack of dairy. It also makes for a beautiful bright yellow color!

Time saver: canned lentils vs cooked

Here’s a little time saver: you can use canned lentils instead of cooked for this vegan shepherd’s pie recipe! This speeds up the recipe so you don’t have to get out yet another pot. Here are a few notes:

  • Look for canned lentils near the canned beans in the grocery store. Use any type of canned lentils you can find. Make sure to drain before adding them to the filling.
  • Or, cook your own lentils! Add 1 ½ cups cooked lentils to the filling, following this brown and green lentils recipe or black lentils recipe. Cook them in water and omit the seasoning listed in the recipe. Do use the kosher salt listed in the recipe, but don’t add extra salt after cooking since the filling will be seasoned. If possible, do this step in advance and refrigerate until making the filling.
Vegan mashed potatoes
Make the mashed potatoes in advance as a time saver.

Some meal prep tips: make it even faster!

The canned lentils are a little trick to make this vegan shepherd’s pie quicker to prepare. Here are a few more things you can do to make your life easier the day of baking:

  • Make the mashed potatoes in advance. This will actually work to your advantage since it also helps the texture set. Refrigerate the Vegan Mashed Potatoes until serving, then reheat them to make it easier to spread onto the filling.
  • Make the filling in advance (if you’re really motivated!). You can make the filling in advance too, then refrigerate until serving. Reheat it before baking to keep the same bake time in the recipe (20 minutes). Or, you can bake it from cold: just add a few minutes to the bake time. Let us know if you try that out!
Vegan shepherd's pie

Step up vegan shepherd’s pie: add truffle oil!

Serving this vegan shepherd’s pie to impress? Stir a little truffle oil into the potatoes layer! Truffles are a luxury flavor of mushroom that’s used in Italian cooking. The exotic flavor is often paired with potatoes, like in these Truffle Fries. Stirring in a little truffle oil to taste would add a layer of magic to this dish. Here’s more about truffle oil: how to use & where to buy it.

More vegan comfort food recipes

Want a few more dinner ideas? These vegan comfort food recipes are fan favorites:

  • Vegan Pot Pie It’s next level: hearty vegetables, a gooey sauce, and a flaky, sage crust!
  • Favorite Vegan Lasagna Full of flavor, this vegan lasagna is a winner with everyone.
  • Best Vegan Pizza A total crowd pleaser! The veggie pizza toppings are so full of flavor no one notices it’s cheeseless.
  • Vegan Tacos These tasty tacos star a flavor-bursting taco meat with classic toppings like pico and lettuce.
Vegan shepherd's pie

This vegan shepherd’s pie recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free, and gluten-free (with cornstarch).

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Vegan shepherd's pie

Vegan Shepherd’s Pie (Best Ever!)


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4.6 from 25 reviews

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 40 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 6 1x

Description

Here’s the very best vegan shepherd’s pie! The hearty veggie and lentil filling contrasts fluffy potatoes in this stunning plant based dinner recipe.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 recipe Vegan Mashed Potatoes
  • ¼ cup olive oil, divided
  • 8 ounces portabella mushrooms (2 large mushroom caps)
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 2 large carrots
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour (or cornstarch for gluten-free)
  • 1 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried sage
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 15-ounce can lentils, drained (or 1 ½ cups cooked lentils; see note*)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce (or liquid aminos)
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary, for the garnish

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  2. Start the mashed potatoes: Start the Vegan Mashed Potatoes recipe**. (You can also make these in advance; just reheat before spreading onto the filling to bake.)
  3. Prep the vegetables: Meanwhile, dice mushrooms into bite-sized chunks. Peel and slice the carrots into thin half-circles. Cut the onion into thin slivers length-wise (also called French cut; see the instructions in 1:40 of the linked video).
  4. Make the filling: In a large pot, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil on medium high heat. Cook the mushrooms for 5 minutes until golden and tender. Reduce the heat to medium and add 2 tablespoons olive oil and the sliced onion and carrots. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon kosher salt and cook 5 to 7 minutes until the onions are tender and just browning.
  5. Reduce the heat to medium low. Stir in the flour (or cornstarch), fennel seeds, smoked paprika, garlic powder, and dried sage and cook for 1 minute. Add the vegetable broth, peas, lentils (drained if canned), soy sauce and remaining ½ teaspoon kosher salt. Cook for about 5 minutes until the broth is very thick and the vegetables are heated through.
  6. Finish the mashed potatoes: When the potatoes are done cooking, mash them according to the instructions in that recipe.
  7. Bake: Pour the filling into a 2-quart small baking dish. Spread the mashed potatoes in a layer on top. Bake 18 to 20 minutes until the potatoes are lightly browned. If desired, broil for 1 to 2 minutes to brown the top. Garnish with chopped rosemary and serve warm.

Notes

*If you can’t find canned lentils, cook your own lentils and add 1 ½ cups of the cooked lentils to the filling. Use our Brown Lentils, Green Lentils, French Lentils, or Black Lentils recipes: you can cook them in water and omit the seasoning (or leave it for extra flavor!). Do cook with the kosher salt, but don’t add extra after cooking.

**Want to impress? Stir in a little truffle oil to the mashed potatoes to taste. Here’s our favorite All Natural White Truffle Oil.

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: Vegan

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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62 Comments

  1. Monica says:

    Great recipe. Loved the fennel and sage flavors!






  2. fiona says:

    Weird taste.
    fennel was strange. Looks good. Taste was meh.
    Better to use your own gravy recipe that you KNOW tastes good. (Or… taste the gravy before adding to the veg.)

    I guess I was looking for a traditional taste gravy, but vegan.

    Other recipes on this site… 5Stars! This one just didn’t work for us.






    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      I’m sorry you didn’t enjoyed it!

  3. Alexandra says:

    This was SO good!! I’ve had other vegan shepherds pie and they were okay but this one is a hit! I omitted the oil and sautéed in broth instead and I tripled the amount of sage but that’s cause my husband & I love sage and we added a tbsp of flax for good measure and to help with the thickening (I’m celiac so we used arrowroot starch/flour).
    Thank you!






    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      So glad you enjoyed!

  4. Suzanne Kozy says:

    I made a few modifications and it was delicious!! Good enough for me to leave a review, which I never do! I added more lentils and peas because my husband forbids mushrooms (teehee). I made the lentils and mashed potatoes using my instant pot as well. My other modification for next time will be 1.5lb potatoes as the potatoes kind of dominated, possibly due to the lack of bulk from the mushrooms, but it also didn’t all fit in my 8×8.






  5. Shel says:

    Loved this. I made it with ordinary mash but it was fab. Very moreish and I love the hint of aniseed from the fennel. Definitely recommend this recipe.






  6. Dodi S. says:

    This was a lot of work; I think I dirtied every pot in my kitchen. :-) It was worth it, though. I swapped out the peas for a red bell pepper and otherwise followed the recipe. Delicious






  7. Lisa A says:

    I didn’t have fennel, so I used cardamom instead, but this filling was absolutely divine. I halved the recipe but kept the spice measurements the same, and it turned out hearty and earthy, the way a shepherd’s pie is meant to be. I’m loving this site and all your recipes!






  8. Cindy says:

    This is a perfect recipe! I made it just as written and it’s delicious. Important to save a little of the water the potatoes cooked in to use to thin them out, and I added vegan butter to them also.






    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      So glad you enjoyed!

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