This vegan lentil shepherd’s pie is warm, hearty, and oh-so comforting for these cold winter months. Soft and creamy potatoes on top of intensely flavored mushrooms and lentils to warm those bellies.
This plant-based shepherd's pie would also work well as the main dish for holiday celebrations. It’s not a quick meal, but it’s flavorful and delicious. If you want to make the dish extra special, add roasted garlic to the mashed potatoes. Here's a detailed post on how to roast garlic without oil. Just add the garlic cloves to your cooked potatoes before you start to mash them. The potatoes can also be swapped with my recipe for rosemary roasted garlic mashed potatoes with coconut milk or mashed potatoes without butter or oil.
The brown lentils and mushrooms give the casserole a meaty texture and the tamari gives it that underlying umami flavor. If you can’t find tamari you can substitute low-sodium soy sauce (regular soy sauce may be too salty). Since tamari already has sodium, taste for salt before placing the lentil mixture in the casserole dish.
The recipe is vegetarian, vegan, and can be made gluten-free. To adjust, use brown rice flour instead of whole wheat flour and tamari instead of low sodium soy sauce.
Tips and Substitutions for Lentil Shepherd’s Pie (Vegan)
- Canned lentils can be used instead of dry. Skip the step of boiling with the bay leaves, drain the cans, and add them to the recipe as if you cooked them. Substitute 1 cup uncooked with about 2 ½ cups cooked.
- I normally just use white button or cremini mushrooms.
How to Make Vegan Shepherd’s Pie Recipe
Start with chopping all of the veggies and pre-measure the seasonings. Add the dry lentils, 3 cups of water and 2 bay leaves to a pot, bring to a boil then lower to a simmer for 20-25 minutes. The lentils should be tender when done. Drain the lentils, remove the bay leaves, and set them aside.
While the lentils are cooking, start the potatoes. Add the chopped potatoes to a pot, cover with water, and salt generously. Bring to boil, then lower to a simmer for 15-20 minutes. Cook until the potatoes are fork-tender. Drain the potatoes, add them back to their pot. Set them aside, keep them covered to steam until you’re ready to mash.
When mashing the potatoes, add the milk, nutritional yeast, and salt. Start with 1 cup of milk and mash into the potatoes. Add more milk if they’re too thick, taste and adjust for salt and nutritional yeast.
I use a large non-stick skillet when I sauté the vegetables to keep the dish oil-free. Preheat the pan on medium and once the skillet is hot add the veggies and a pinch of salt. Sauté until the onions are translucent, the carrots have softened, and the mushrooms have reduced in size and released their liquid.
Add a tablespoon of water or vegetable broth to the skillet if the veggies are sticking. Don’t use too much because you don’t want to boil the vegetables, you want them to brown. (You can use this method multiple times to alleviate sticking vegetables.)
Add the minced garlic, thyme, rosemary, and sauté for 2-3 more minutes. Then, add 2 tablespoons of flour and cook for 1 minute. Next, stir in the tomato paste and cook for 1-2 minutes.
Then add the vegetable broth and deglaze the pan, scraping off any cooked-on bits with a wooden spoon.
Add the diced tomatoes, tamari, balsamic vinegar, drained cooked lentils, and salt to the vegetable mixture.
Bring to a simmer and cook for about 5 minutes or until the mixture has thickened, if it gets too dry add a little more vegetable broth or water.
Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed. Stir in the peas, they'll thaw when added to the hot lentil mixture.
Scoop the vegetable mixture into a 9”x13” baking dish, then top with potatoes. Dropping mashed potatoes in small clumps versus one large one will make spreading them out easier. Then run the back of a fork across the top to get ridges.
Bake for 20 minutes at 400 F (200 C), if you want the top to be a little browner, broil for an additional 5 minutes.
Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. Or, freeze for 2-3 months. I like to thaw the shepherd’s pie before reheating. To reheat leftovers in the oven, preheat to 325 F (160 C), cover with aluminum foil, and heat until the filling and potatoes are warmed through. How long it takes will depend on how much you’re warming up. Or just use the microwave for small batches.
What to Serve with Lentil Vegan Shepherd’s Pie?
- A simple side salad
- Rustic bread
- Roasted maple dijon Brussels sprouts
More Hearty Vegan Meals
- Slow cooker quinoa chili
- Red lentil chili (instant pot and stovetop)
- Butternut squash chickpea curry soup
- White bean and potato soup
- Red lentil dahl with coconut milk
- Vegan loaded baked potatoes
I hope you enjoy the vegan lentil shepherd’s pie recipe!
Originally published on December 23, 2019, updated on February 7, 2022.Print
Vegan lentil shepherd's pie with a flavor-packed filling made from lentils and mushrooms. Then topped with creamy mashed potatoes for an oil-free, hearty, and filling dinner.
Shepherd's Pie Filling
- 1 cup (180 g) dried brown lentils
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 red onion (diced)
- 3 large carrots (diced)
- 8 oz (226 g) mushrooms (diced)
- 4 garlic cloves (minced)
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 2 tablespoon whole wheat flour (or brown rice flour)
- 1 cup (240 ml) low sodium vegetable broth
- 1 can (14.5 ounces) petite diced tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons tamari (or low sodium soy sauce)
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 2 cups (280 g) frozen peas
- ¾ teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 2 ½ pounds Gold Yukon(1151 g) potatoes cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1- 1 ¾ cup (240-414 ml) unsweetened dairy-free milk
- 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- ½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
- Preheat oven to 400 F (200 C).
- Add the dry lentils, 3 cups of water and 2 bay leaves to a pot, bring to a boil then lower to a simmer for 20-25 minutes. The lentils should be tender when done. Drain the lentils, remove the bay leaves, and set them aside.
- While the lentils are cooking, start the potatoes. Add the potatoes to a pot, cover with water, and salt generously. Bring to boil, then lower to a simmer for 15-20 minutes. Cook until the potatoes are fork-tender. Drain the potatoes, add them back to their pot. Set them aside, covered to steam until ready to mash. When ready to mash the potatoes, add the milk, nutritional yeast, and salt (to taste). Start with 1 cup of milk and mash into the potatoes. Depending on your desired consistency and how much liquid the potatoes need, add more milk if needed.
- In a large non-stick skillet, sauté the red onion, carrots, and mushrooms for about 10 minutes (or until the carrots have softened and the mushrooms have released their liquid and reduced in size), add a pinch of salt to the veggies while they're sautéing. For oil-free cooking add a tablespoon or two of water at a time if the veggies start to stick and prevent burning.
- Add the minced garlic, thyme, rosemary, and sauté for 2-3 more minutes.
- Add 2 tablespoons of flour and cook for 1 minute.
- Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 1-2 minutes.
- Then add the vegetable broth and deglaze the pan scraping off any cooked-on bits with a wooden spoon.
- Add the diced tomatoes, tamari, drained cooked lentils, balsamic vinegar, and salt to the vegetable mixture.
- Bring to a simmer and cook for about 5 minutes or until the mixture has thickened, stirring occasionally.
- Stir in frozen peas.
- Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed.
- Scoop the vegetable mixture into a 9”x13” baking dish, then top with potatoes. Use the back of a fork to make ridges in the potatoes.
- Bake uncovered for 20 minutes. To brown the potatoes, top broil for an additional 5 minutes.
For oil-free cooking having a bowl or squeeze bottle of water nearby is helpful if the vegetables are sticking.
If you use regular soy sauce (not low sodium), you may want to adjust the salt.
- Prep Time: 55 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Category: Main Course
- Method: Bake
- Cuisine: English, American
Keywords: How to make vegan shepherd's pie, vegan cottage pie, lentil shepherd's pie