December 10, 2021

Vegan Shepherd’s Pie

Perfect as a vegan main for Thanksgiving and Christmas!
Serves 6-8
The Ultimate Lentil Shepherd’s Pie! A rich and hearty lentil stew topped with homemade mashed potatoes. Perfect as a vegan main for Thanksgiving and Christmas!

Oh lentil shepherd’s pie, how I love you so. The perfect plant-based main dish for the holiday table, while also being cozy and easy enough to make for weeknight dinner. It’s one recipe that I come back to over and over again this time of year and it’s always a crowdpleaser.

If you’ve never made vegan shepherd’s pie before, you are essentially making a lentil stew and mashed potatoes, then combining the two. Easy, right? I’ve even made a video for this recipe below that shows you exactly how to make it step-by-step.

Lentil Shepherd's Pie! A rich, vegan lentil stew topped with homemade mashed potatoes. | www.delishknowledge.com

The Ultimate Comfort Food

Homemade mashed potatoes are one of my favorite comfort foods, especially when piled high on top of a creamy lentil stew. Not only is this one comforting, it’s healthy too! Lentils provide healthy plant-based protein and fiber and it’s much lower in both calories and fat than more traditional ground beef or lamb versions. 

This lentil shepherd’s pie is one of those recipes that everyone loves, regardless of diet. I’ve served it at countless holiday and family get togethers to rave reviews– if you like melt-in-your-mouth mashed potatoes and hearty, meaty stew then you will love this recipe.

Lentil Shepherd's Pie! A rich, vegan lentil stew topped with homemade mashed potatoes. | www.delishknowledge.com

Ingredients for this Lentil Shepherd’s Pie

Whether you call this a lentil shepherd’s pie, a cottage pie, or a casserole, it’s an easy comforting dish that’s perfect for company. Here’s what you’ll need: 

  • Vegetables. You’ll need fresh carrots, celery, leeks, garlic and potatoes. If you don’t have leeks, white or yellow onion will work instead. You can also add in finely chopped mushrooms or other root vegetables as desired. Frozen peas or fresh peas can be used. 
  • Herbs. I prefer fresh rosemary and thyme for this recipe, but dried will also work. For servings, I like to garnish with fresh parsley. You’ll also need bay leaves for adding an extra depth of flavor. 
  • Pantry staples.  Olive oil, brown or green lentils, vegetable broth (I usually opt for low-sodium, but regular broth works as well) and tomato paste. 
  • Dairy-free butter and unsweetened soy milk, though any unsweetened milk will work in this recipe.

Lentil Shepherd’s Pie Instructions

Start by heating the olive oil in a large pot,  pan, or a Dutch oven, over medium heat. Next, add the onion, carrots, celery and a pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper then sauté for 10 minutes until vegetables are soft and tender. 

For there, stir in the garlic, lentils, vegetable broth, bay leaves, thyme, rosemary and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to a low, cover and simmer for 30-35 minutes until lentils are tender. Stir every 5 minutes or so, making sure vegetables aren’t sticking to the bottom of the pan. Once lentils are cooked, whisk in the tomato paste.

Make the Vegan Mashed Potatoes

While the lentils are cooking, it’s time to make the mashed potatoes. Place the potatoes in a medium saucepan and cover by 1-inch with water. Stir in the salt and bring water to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer potatoes until they are fork tender, about 15 minutes.

Drain the water from the potatoes and pass them while they are still hot through a food mill or ricer. Place the potatoes back in the medium saucepan and stir in the milk and melted butter, then season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. See full directions for how to use a ricer to make mashed potatoes below. 

Remove the bay leaves, thyme bundle, rosemary from the lentil mixture and stir in the peas.

Assemble the Lentil Shepherd’s Pie

Transfer the lentil mixture to a 9×13 baking dish or large oven-safe skillet and spoon the mashed potatoes over the lentils in an even layer. Place the baking dish under the preheated broiler and broil until the potatoes are golden brown and crispy, about 5 minutes.

Finally, remove from oven, garnish with parsley and serve.

Lentil Shepherd's Pie! A rich, vegan lentil stew topped with homemade mashed potatoes. | www.delishknowledge.com

How to Make Mashed Potatoes with a Ricer

The key to these incredibly light and fluffy mashed potatoes is a ricer or food mill. I own a ricer for my how to make gnocchi afternoons, but I think it’s one of the easiest gadgets out there to produce the best mashed potatoes. Never again will you suffer from glue-like, lumpy mashers. After a quick run through the ricer, I literally just stir in milk and melted butter. This method is foolproof.

After your potatoes are cooked and peeled, but still warm, place them in the basket of your ricer. Hold the ricer over a large bowl and squeeze the handles of the rice together until the potato comes through the holes. Continue with the rest of your potatoes. 

Stir in the melted dairy-free butter, milk, salt and pepper then stir to combine. They milk and butter should melt into the potatoes creating a creamy, fluffy batch of mashed potatoes without additional mixing needing. 

If you don’t have a ricer or food mill, then I recommend using a potato masher instead to mash the potatoes, then stir in the melted butter, milk and seasonings as directed.

What potatoes are best for vegetarian shepherd’s pie? 

I love yukon gold potatoes first, followed by russet potatoes for making mashed potatoes. Their rich texture and subtle, buttery creaminess make them a great choice. 

How to store leftovers

If you have any leftovers, transfer them to an airtight container and place in the fridge for up to 4-5 days. I don’t recommend freezing after making this as the mashed potatoes will change consistency once frozen. 

However, you can make the cooked lentil mixture ahead of time and freeze until ready to use. Then thaw, warm and top with mashed potatoes and bake as directed.

Lentil Shepherd's Pie! A rich, vegan lentil stew topped with homemade mashed potatoes. | www.delishknowledge.com

You know how I feel about casserole-y things topped with carbs. In that I love them. Since soup is one of my food groups, it’s only natural that topping a thick, lentil stew-like base with carbs is my idea of the best meal ever. (Um, see also my Black Bean Tamale Pie and Vegetable Stew with Scallion Biscuits).

After reading this report on the myth of easy cooking, I know not to the the E word around lightly. But, for such a fancy looking dinner, this definitely borders on uncomplicated. If you can make soup and mashed potatoes, you can make this.

It’s such a show-stopping recipe and it’s perfect for Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving, Christmas or anytime you need a delicious, vegan and gluten-free main dish.

If you try this vegan lentil shepherd’s pie recipe, let me know! Leave a comment, rate it, and tag your Instagram photos with #delishknowledge . I absolutely love seeing your creations. Happy cooking! 

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vegan shepherd's pie

Vegan Lentil Shepherd’s Pie

  • Author: Alex Caspero
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hours 5 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 8
  • Category: shepherd pie, dinner, main, healthy, entree, vegan, glutenfree
  • Method: oven
  • Cuisine: Vegan, American
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

The Ultimate Lentil Shepherd’s Pie! A rich and hearty vegan lentil stew topped with homemade mashed potatoes. Perfect as a vegan main for Thanksgiving and Christmas!


  • Author: Alex Caspero
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hours 5 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 8
  • Category: shepherd pie, dinner, main, healthy, entree, vegan, glutenfree
  • Method: oven
  • Cuisine: Vegan, American
  • Diet: Vegan
  • Author: Alex Caspero
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hours 5 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 8
  • Category: shepherd pie, dinner, main, healthy, entree, vegan, glutenfree
  • Method: oven
  • Cuisine: Vegan, American
  • Diet: Vegan
Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped leeks (can substitute white onion)
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 cup green (or brown) lentils
  • 3 cups vegetable broth (I love Pacific Foods low-sodium broth)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 bundle fresh thyme
  • 1 stem fresh rosemary
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 pounds yukon gold potatoes, chopped into 1″ pieces
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/23/4 cup unsweetened soy milk (or other unsweetened milk)
  • 1/4 cup dairy-free butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • 1 cup frozen peas

Instructions

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large wide pan (like a Dutch oven) over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery and a pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper. Cook for 10 minutes until vegetables are soft and tender.
  2. Stir in the garlic, lentils, vegetable broth, bay leaves, thyme, rosemary and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a low, cover and simmer for 30-35 minutes until lentils are tender. Stir every 5 minutes or so, making sure vegetables aren’t sticking to the bottom of the pan. You may need to add more vegetable broth/water- I like to start with 3 cups broth and go from there, you may use up to 4 cups. Once lentils are cooked, whisk in the tomato paste.
    https://vimeo.com/681490929
  3. While the lentils are cooking, make the potatoes. Place the potatoes in a medium saucepan and cover by 1-inch with water. Stir in the salt and bring water to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer potatoes until they are fork tender, about 15 minutes.
  4. Drain the water from the potatoes and pass them while they are still hot through a food mill or ricer. Place the potatoes back in the medium saucepan and stir in the milk and melted butter. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.
    https://vimeo.com/681492465
  5. Remove the bay leaves, thyme bundle, rosemary and discard from the lentil mixture and stir in the peas.
  6. Preheat the broiler. Transfer the lentil mixture to a 9×13 baking dish. Spread the mashed potatoes over the lentils in an even layer. Place the baking dish under the preheated broiler and broil until the potatoes are golden brown and crispy, about 5 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven, garnish with parsley and serve.

did you make this?

Tag @delishknowledge on Instagram and hashtag it #delishknowledge

Lentil Shepherd's Pie! A rich, vegan lentil stew topped with homemade mashed potatoes. | www.delishknowledge.com

Meet Alex Caspero

Alex Caspero is a Registered Dietitian, Plant-Based Chef and Yoga Instructor. She aims to cut through the nutrition noise by providing real-life, nourishing tips for body and mind. Learn more about Alex.

78 comments
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    1. Cristina
      December 5, 2021 AT 7:54 am

      I have had this saved on Pinterest for a while now and just added it to my Christmas list as my vegetarian main, I can’t wait to make it, looks delicious!!

    2. Nina
      January 21, 2020 AT 10:38 pm

      This is absolutely amazing & so easy to cook! Will definitely be making this again!! Thank you!

    3. Aycan
      April 14, 2019 AT 2:38 pm

      This was an excellent dish! Thank you!!

      1. Alex
        April 14, 2019 AT 7:07 pm

        So glad you liked it! Thanks!

    4. Monica Heinen
      March 27, 2019 AT 11:25 am

      Today I made it for the second time. We loved it. It is a great variation from the original pie. Really delish !! Trying to eat more good protein, like legumes and veggies.

      1. Alex
        March 28, 2019 AT 1:14 pm

        So glad you liked it!

    5. Linda
      December 8, 2018 AT 4:18 pm

      This is one of my favorite vegan recipes. It makes several servings so we have leftovers to take for lunch through the week.

    6. Hannah
      November 3, 2018 AT 2:04 pm

      I’m new to cooking with lentils and a poor vegetarian uni student in need of some winter warming food and this was absolutely exactly what I needed – and even better enough to keep some in my fridge and keep me going on the nights where coursework takes up all my cooking time. When I had finished cooking the lentils and veg I almost ate it right there and then it smelt so good. It also made me rediscover my love of leeks, almost forgot how perfect they are in everything. Thanks so much!!

      1. Alex
        November 4, 2018 AT 9:46 am

        So glad you liked it! Thanks Hannah!

    7. Renee
      October 30, 2018 AT 9:39 am

      Absolutely, fantastic recipe!

      1. Alex
        November 1, 2018 AT 6:35 am

        Thanks Renee!

    8. Roxane
      August 1, 2018 AT 3:49 pm

      This vegan recipe looks tasty! Perfect for weeknight. I just pinned it to my ”Killer Vegan Recipes” Pinterest board. Can’t wait to try this deliciousness 🙂 Thank you for sharing

      1. Alex
        August 3, 2018 AT 7:16 am

        Thanks Roxane! Hope you like it!

    9. Daphne
      March 6, 2018 AT 2:08 pm

      Lovely recipe! Nice and hearty, but not too heavy because of the lentils and the fact that there’s no cream or dairy 🙂 I made it twice already! The second time I made some adjustments, because I felt like the lentil stew could use a little more depth of flavour. So I swapped some of the broth for a bottle of dark ale (Kasteel Donker, a Belgian quadrupel) and I made the potato mash with half potatoes and half root celery. That made it even more awesome! The beer gives a ton of extra flavour to the lentils.

      Greetings from Belgium!

      1. Alex
        March 11, 2018 AT 5:53 pm

        So glad you liked it! Thanks for sharing your changes!

    10. Crissy
      March 3, 2018 AT 12:59 pm

      I think nutritional yeast suppose to add flavor to food.