Vegan Shepherd’s Pie

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.

Vegan shepherd's pie

Wow is all we can say about this one. This vegan shepherd’s pie is the dinner recipe version of wearing a fuzzy sweater and drinking hot mulled cider. It’s cozy comfort food to the max! Imagine: a creamy gravy filled with tender vegetables, lentils and scented with fennel and sage. Then a fluffy layer of Yukon gold potatoes, topped with fresh rosemary. It’s layered together in a baking dish and then baked until golden. This one’s a whole food plant based (WFPB) stunner: perfect for impressing guests…or just yourself.

Why it’s the best vegan shepherd’s pie

Know one thing: vegan shepherd’s pie is not quick and easy! Though we do have hundreds of fast and easy dinner recipes. But this one is cozy, slow-cooked comfort food. You’ll need 1 hour to make this recipe. And we think you’ll agree with us: this is 1 hour very well spent. Pull this one out when you’re looking to impress…it’s perfect for a Sunday dinner. But 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 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. Most recipes don’t brag about this. But with a shepherd’s pie, it can take multiple hours to make. But we’ve tweaked this one to be as easy as possible within the genre (even faster than our vegetarian shepherd’s pie).
Vegan shepherd's pie

Make sure to use Yukon gold potatoes!

Don’t even think about using Russet potatoes here! 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. Also, isn’t that bright yellow color beautiful?

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! If you can’t find canned lentils, cook your own lentils and add 1 1/2 cups of the cooked lentils to the filling. Use our Brown/Green Lentils or Black Lentils recipes. You can cook them in water and omit the seasoning listed in the recipe. Do cook with the kosher salt, but don’t add extra salt after cooking since the filling will be seasoned. If you can, 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!). If you’re really into meal prep, you can make the filling in advance too! Then refrigerate until serving. You can reheat it before baking to keep the same bake time in the recipe (20 minutes). You could also bake it from cold, and you’d need a few more minutes of baking 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 at a dinner party? If you’d like to impress, here’s a trick: 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 to continue to impress with plant based dinners? These vegan comfort food recipes are fan favorites and will knock your socks off (promise):

  • Best Vegan Pot Pie This vegan pot pie is next level: hearty vegetables, a gooey sauce, and a flaky, sage crust. Better yet, it’s easy enough to make on a weeknight!
  • Favorite Vegan Lasagna This vegan lasagna will become your new favorite: guaranteed. Full of flavor, it’s whole food plant based (dairy free) and a winner with everyone!
  • Best Vegan Pizza This best vegan pizza recipe is a total crowd pleaser! The veggie pizza toppings are so full of flavor no one notices it’s cheeseless.
Vegan shepherd's pie

This vegan shepherd’s pie recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free, and gluten-free.

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Vegan shepherd's pie

Vegan Shepherd’s Pie (Best Ever!)


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (13 votes, average: 4.38 out of 5)

  • 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.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 recipe Vegan Mashed Potatoes
  • 1/4 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
  • 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 1/2 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 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 1/2 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, 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 1/2 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 1/2 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

Keywords: Vegan Shepherd’s Pie

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.

4 Comments

  • Reply
    Beth
    February 20, 2020 at 6:30 pm

    I make your Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie, so I’m excited to try this version. Keep ya posted!

  • Reply
    Dawn
    February 21, 2020 at 2:09 pm

    Hi Sonia and Alex, I really enjoy your recipes, thank you! Question: Since there are only my husband and me, could I simply divide your recipes serving for 6 by 3? I’m going to try on this recipe for a test anyway but I get into trouble when it comes to the spice amounts. Thank you! Dawn

  • Reply
    Jennifer
    March 1, 2020 at 2:08 pm

    Is there anything else other than mushrooms you could use?? My husband refuses to eat them and I can’t even sneak them past him. I know it won’t be as “meaty” without them, but I don’t know if there would be a good substitute for them.

    • Reply
      Alex Overhiser
      March 2, 2020 at 11:40 am

      There’s not a perfect substitute. Sun-dried tomatoes would add a nice burst of flavor, or you could just add any additional veg such as zucchini or eggplant.

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