Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie with French Lentils

The delicious vegetarian shepherd’s pie is a savory pie recipe filled with French lentils and veggies, and topped with Parmesan mashed potatoes.

Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie with French Lentils | A Couple Cooks

Since most of our recipes are designed to be approachable, a disclaimer is in order for this one. This is a dirty-every-pan special occasion type recipe, where your kitchen looks like a tornado hit it when you’re finished. (At least, ours did.) While it could be called simple, it’s not quick. That said, this vegetarian shepherd’s pie absolutely worth the mess to end up with a cozy, creamy Parmesan mashed potato topping over the most savory and delicious lentils. Keep reading for our vegetarian shepherd’s pie recipe, and why it’s worth every second of the preparation.

Related: 15 Best Lentil Recipes | Quick Coconut Lentil Curry | How to Cook Lentils

Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie with French Lentils | A Couple Cooks

A hearty savory pie

Alex and I work together each year to create a fresh vegetarian Thanksgiving main dish and accessorize it with Thanksgiving sides. Our goal is to show that this holiday can both delicious and healthy at the same time, and that you don’t have to leave the table with a stomach ache. Instead of rich and processed food-based recipes, fresh and seasonal foods can be used to create a beautiful table. And, we love getting creative and thinking outside the turkey for a vegetable centered main dish. This year’s Thanksgiving main dish is this vegetarian shepherd’s pie: savory, hearty, and oh so good.

Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie with French Lentils | A Couple Cooks

How to make vegetarian shepherd’s pie

This vegetarian shepherd’s pie stars in our Thanksgiving lineup, but of course it can be made anytime! It’s great for a showstopping fall or winter main dish. Shepherd’s pie is typically a base of meat and vegetables, covered with mashed potatoes. For this vegetarian shepherd’s pie, we’ve substituted French lentils for the meat, along with umami-like flavors like miso and soy. The miso is worth finding at your grocery if you don’t have it on hand; it adds a savory, meat-y flavor punch to the vegetables.

Related: Lentil to Water Ratio | What are Lentils?

Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie with French Lentils | A Couple Cooks


Listen to us talk about Thanksgiving recipes and a cozy cocktail on the A Couple Cooks Podcast.

Looking for fall recipes?

Are you looking for fall recipes? Outside of this vegetarian shepherd’s pie, here are a few of our favorites:

Looking for savory pie recipes?

If you’re looking for some more savory pie recipes outside of our vegetarian shepherd’s pie, here are a few on our website and around the web:

This vegetarian shepherd’s pie recipe is…

This vegetarian shepherd’s pie with French lentils is vegetarian and gluten-free.

Related: Try using our Homemade Vegetable Broth for this recipe!

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Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie with Rosemary & Lentils

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (40 votes, average: 4.30 out of 5)

  • Author: a Couple Cooks
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Yield: 8 to 10 1x


The delicious vegetarian shepherd’s pie is a savory pie recipe filled with french lentils and veggies, and topped with Parmesan mashed potatoes.


  • 2 pounds russet potatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary, plus additional for topping
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper, divided
  • 11/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, plus additional for topping
  • 1 pound French lentils (2 1/4 cups)
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 3 medium or 2 large carrots
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 6 tablespoons miso
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Peel the potatoes, then dice them and place them in a bowl. Chop the rosemary very finely, making sure it is as small as possible; set aside an additional small amount (about 1/8 teaspoon) for the topping. Once the water is boiling, slide the potatoes into the water and boil 10 minutes until tender (test with a fork). Drain the potatoes and return them to the pot. Mash the potatoes, then add milk, butter, sour cream, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, and fresh rosemary. Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, place the French lentils into a large saucepan or pot with 6 cups water. Bring to a boil, then simmer 25 minutes until tender. Drain any excess liquid.
  3. Mince 2 cups onion. Peel and dice the carrots. Dice the celery and mince the garlic.
  4. Preheat oven to 400F.
  5. In a very large skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the onion, carrots, and celery, and saute for 5 minutes until the onion is translucent. Add garlic and saute for 1 minute until translucent. Add the lentils, broth, miso dissolved in 1/2 cup water, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, corn, peas, sage, 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Cook until most of the liquid cooks down but the filling is still moist, 10 to 12 minutes.
  6. Place the lentil filling in a 9 x 13” pan, then using a spatula, spread the mashed potatoes over the lentils in a smooth layer. Top with a thin layer of Parmesan cheese and the reserved rosemary. Bake for 25 minutes. If desired, broil for a few minutes until browned on top. Serve warm from the oven.
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: English

Keywords: Shepherd’s Pie, Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie, Savory Pie Recipe, Vegetarian, Gluten Free, Thanksgiving Recipes

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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.


  • Reply
    Abby @ Heart of a Baker
    November 7, 2016 at 9:49 am

    Have so much fun in AZ! I love going there when it’s cooler and not blazing hot :) I sometimes take solace in making dishes like this that dirty up ever pan, but are worth it in the end!

  • Reply
    Allyson (Considering The Radish)
    November 7, 2016 at 9:54 am

    This looks fantastic. I love simple recipes, but sometimes the extra effort and time really help make a dish spectacular.

  • Reply
    November 7, 2016 at 2:49 pm

    This is the perfect family dish! I really want to taste it :)

  • Reply
    November 7, 2016 at 10:23 pm

    This recipe looks great! I’m really excited to try it :) One quick question though – is there a good substitute for miso? Or could it be omitted from the recipe?

    • Reply
      November 9, 2016 at 2:37 pm

      Good question! It’s great if you could get ahold of miso — it brings a lot of flavor to the dish! We’ve seen it in lots of mainstream groceries. If you can’t find it, you could increase the soy sauce by quite a bit and taste to make sure there is enough flavor; you could also add some more herbs, dried or fresh, to increase the flavor.

  • Reply
    November 10, 2016 at 9:35 pm

    This looks amazeballs. I’m feeling the creeping winter of MN and am going to skip the potato step (even though it sounds delish!) and do tatertots for my kiddos instead. Love your recipes!

  • Reply
    Valencia @ Life of a Vegaholic
    November 16, 2016 at 12:59 am

    I’ve never had shepherd’s pie, but I’m intrigued by the use of lentils. I love lentils!

  • Reply
    November 19, 2016 at 2:08 pm

    This looks delicious- and doesn’t sound too difficult to make. I might just have to put it on my list for this week :) Check out my latest salmon recipe at

  • Reply
    December 9, 2018 at 2:49 pm

    Who needs meat since God’s blessed us with lentils?? I love lentils and make a meat-less-loaf with them that is, well, different every time because I don’t actually follow the original recipe, but oh so good. And I’ve been known to top with mashed potatoes as well and make it a shepherds pie. I’m going to try this recipe. The soy and miso sound like tasty ingredients!

    • Reply
      December 13, 2018 at 9:26 am

      Haha! We love lentils too. Hope you enjoy this one — let us know how it goes!

  • Reply
    July 10, 2019 at 6:10 am

    Just made this! Absolutely loved it. As a teen who lives on a pretty minimum budget it was a good dish to make for meal prep over a week! Even the meat eaters enjoyed it :)

    • Reply
      July 11, 2019 at 7:46 am

      So glad you enjoyed this recipe!

  • Reply
    November 6, 2019 at 10:48 pm

    Parmesan cheese isn’t vegetarian.

  • Reply
    November 10, 2019 at 7:51 pm

    Loved this. I had no idea how the combination of ingredients in the sauce would taste, great flavor. I didn’t add much salt throughout and it was just fine. Yes, a lot of prep but will definitely make this again.

    • Reply
      Alex Overhiser
      November 11, 2019 at 9:37 am

      So glad you enjoyed the recipe!

  • Reply
    October 22, 2020 at 3:09 pm

    Just found your site yesterday and made this for dinner last night. Thank you, this recipe is a WINNER!!!!!!! We are a family of 8 Vegans and I am always looking for new ways to add lentils into our diet. The kids all agreed that we should make this for our Thanksgiving Dinner. We didn’t have any leftovers so next time I may double and make two pans. To make it Vegan, the only change I made was substituting Nutritional Yeast for the Parmesan. Chef’s Kiss*!

    • Reply
      Sonja Overhiser
      October 22, 2020 at 8:34 pm

      Ahhh we are so thrilled to hear that it was such a hit! Thank you for making it! And, we also have a vegan shepherd’s pie that you could try next! I like it even better than the vegetarian one :) Let us know what you think!

  • Reply
    Caterina Servedio
    December 14, 2020 at 3:25 pm

    One hmmm this dish is AMAZING ! Big hit at home. So tasty & delicious. This recipe is a keeper ! Thanks

    • Reply
      Alex Overhiser
      December 14, 2020 at 5:23 pm

      So glad you enjoyed it!

  • Reply
    Caterina Servedio
    December 14, 2020 at 3:25 pm

    Number ONE dish.

  • Reply
    Jules H
    January 16, 2021 at 7:07 pm

    I love Shepherds Pie but stopped eat meat years ago. I can no longer deal with gluten or dairy …. recipe sounds great but dairy… nope. Do you have a dairy free recipe? By chance… I just went dairy free in the past year so I am not totally sure what can replace some of the dairy in this recipe? Thanks

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