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This Vegan Shepherd’s Pie is made with a lentil and mushroom filling, then topped with the best, thick and fluffy mashed potato topping. It’s the perfect hearty comfort food to enjoy around the holidays, for filling vegan dinner, or as a make-ahead meal! All you need is 1 hour.
This Vegan Shepherd’s Pie is inspired by the filling in our Vegetable Wellington and our popular vegan mashed potatoes recipe. After a few attempts, we perfected the perfect potato to filling ratio and are pretty stoked with the outcome. We guarantee you’ll love the combination of savory and delicious flavors!
What is Shepherd’s Pie?
Shepherd’s pie is traditionally known as a meat dish with a mashed potato topping. Around 1791, it was first coined Cottage Pie and was a popular way to use up leftovers in the UK. The dish was typically made with minced meat, often veal or beef. By the 1850s, cottage pie inspired the invention of the shepherd’s pie – a very similar dish made with minced lamb instead of beef.
Today, shepherd’s pie recipes prepared in the United States are made with a number of different kinds of meat, but our vegan cottage pie recreates that “meaty” texture using hearty lentils and mushrooms.
Ingredients You’ll Need
The Vegetable Filling
- Lentils: For the sake of simplicity, we are using canned lentils for this recipe. If you’d like to use fresh lentils, make sure they’re cooled completely after cooking them before adding them to the recipe. Brown or green lentils both work well.
- Mushrooms: To chop the mushrooms finely and quickly, we recommend using a food processor!
- Veggies: To keep things simple, we use a frozen bag of mixed carrots, corn, peas, and green beans for this vegan shepherd’s pie. Feel free to substitute fresh if you’ve got it in the fridge.
- Worcestershire sauce: This will add a deep and rich flavor to your filling to help achieve the “meatiness” we’re looking for. It’s important to note that not all Worcestershire sauce is vegan, so read labels when purchasing! We recommend Annie’s or Edward & Son’s.
- Tomato Paste: Adds a nice depth of savory flavor to the filling without the need for red wine. If you’re like us and struggle getting through a can of tomato paste, opt for tomato paste in a resealable tube or make our Easy Roasted Tomato Sauce to use up the leftovers.
- Herbs: Add a burst of freshness and brighten up all of the flavors in this dish! Fresh is best when it comes to the herbs in this recipe. If you’d like to use dry herbs, use one teaspoon for every tablespoon of fresh herbs.
- Garlic, Onions, Celery: The simple yet essential aromatic flavor base to start this dish off right.
- All-Purpose Flour: Flour helps thicken up the shepherd’s pie filling to create the best consistency. If you’d like to make this vegan shepherd’s pie gluten-free, opt for a GF flour option such as brown rice flour or a gluten-free flour blend.
- Broth: To help bring the rich and savory flavor to life in this filling, we recommend using a vegan beef broth. If you can’t find vegan beef broth near you, you can also just use your favorite vegetable broth. Or, try our homemade vegetable broth if you haven’t already.
The Mashed Potato Topping
- Potatoes: Our go-to potato variety for this recipe is Yukon Gold, but russet potatoes would also work well. If using russet potatoes, we recommend baking them until soft, rather than boiling, or make our Shepherd’s Pie Twice Baked Potatoes!
- Vegan Cream Cheese: If you’ve made our Vegan Mashed Potatoes, you know vegan cream cheese is our secret ingredient for perfect mashed potatoes. It adds the perfect extra-creamy element and turns the flavor to eleven—a total game-changer. We like to use Kite Hill cream cheese.
- Vegan Butter: While vegan butter isn’t in our original mashed potato recipe, it adds an extra sense of fluffiness and flavor to the shepherd’s pie. We like using the Country Crock plant butter.
- Garlic: Add as much or as little as you like. We prefer 2-3 large cloves. Pro Tip: roast the garlic first to bring the flavor to the next level.
- Plant Milk: We like to use unsweetened oat milk for this vegan shepherd’s pie recipe, but any unsweetened plant-based milk will work, including our homemade almond milk (without dates!).
How to Make Vegan Shepherd’s Pie
- Prepare the mashed potato topping. Wash and quarter the Yukon gold potatoes, then add them to a large pot. Cover with water and a generous pinch of salt, then bring to a boil. Cook until the potatoes are tender, about 15-20 minutes. Drain the return to the pot.
- Mash the potatoes. Set the pot over medium-low heat, then mash the potatoes using a potato ricer or potato masher.
- Mix in the vegan cream cheese, butter, milk, and garlic. Stir until the potatoes are light and fluffy.
- Season to taste. Season with salt and pepper, then set aside and prepare the filling.
- Saute the onions, garlic, and celery. In a large pan over medium-high heat, add the olive oil, then cook the onions, garlic, and celery for 4-5 minutes or until translucent and fragrant.
- Add lentils, mushrooms, herbs, and spices. Stir to combine and continue to cook for 6-8 minutes.
- Stir in the tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, and salt and pepper. Cook for 1 minute, then sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of flour and cook a minute more.
- Add veggies and broth. Lastly, mix in the frozen veggies and broth and continue to cook for about 10 minutes or until the liquid has cooked off. Keep in mind that you want your vegan shepherd’s pie filling to be moist but not runny.
- Transfer to a 9×9 baking dish. First, spread the vegetable filling in the bottom of the casserole dish, then top it with the mashed potatoes. Use the back of a spoon to gently spread the mashed potatoes evenly while adding some texture to the top of the potatoes.
- Bake. Place the vegan shepherd’s pie into the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until warmed through. If desired, broil for 1-2 minutes or until crispy and golden brown.
The secret to making sure your shepherd’s pie does not fall apart is making sure the filling and potato topping are the right texture. If either layer contains too much liquid, you will have difficulty cutting clean slices of shepherd’s pie from the baking dish. If it’s falling apart, it will likely still taste amazing, but won’t be super pretty.
Similar to the above, if your cottage pie is runny, it’s likely you did not cook the filling long enough before baking. In order to prevent a runny cottage pie or shepherd’s pie, it is important to cook for the full 10 minutes or until the filling is no longer watery or drippy at all. It should be moist but thick, similar to the consistency of vegan gravy.
Our favorite way to thicken up the lentil and mushroom filling is with a couple of tablespoons of all-purpose flour. If needed, you could also use a gluten-free flour blend, brown rice flour, arrowroot powder, or cassava flour.
This vegan cottage pie recipe is healthier than the original recipes and is loaded with fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals! It’s also naturally cholesterol-free (as is every vegan recipe) and can be easily made gluten-free.
Storage and Freezing Instructions
Leftover vegan shepherd’s pie will keep for up to 1 week when stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Shepherd’s pie can also be frozen. To freeze, place leftovers in a freezer-safe container and tightly cover them. Freeze for up to 3 months. Or freeze shepherd’s pie unbaked for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator, then reheat or bake as usual.
More Vegan Casserole Recipes You May Enjoy:
- Fall-Inspired Quinoa Casserole
- Cheesy Broccoli Rice Casserole (Vegan)
- Fall Sweet Potato Breakfast Casserole (Gluten-Free Option)
- Vegan Enchilada Casserole
- Vegan Strata (Make-Ahead Holiday Breakfast Casserole)
Nutrition facts label provided by Nutri Fox.
Disclaimer: The nutritional information shown is an estimate provided by an online calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional’s advice. This page may contain affiliate links, which simply means that we earn a commission if you purchase through those links, but your price remains the same. Thank you for supporting Sweet Simple Vegan!