Vegan Lentil Shepherd's Pie Recipe

Classic shepherd's pie (or cottage pie, as it's known in the United Kingdom) is a warming, cozy dish, consisting of a meaty layer of gravy and vegetables, topped with a layer of creamy mashed potatoes. Originally, this dish was designed to stretch out and repurpose small amounts of leftover meat. Today, it's comfort food at its finest.

For a meatless version of this classic meal, we turn to lentils. Lentils are an excellent source of protein, making them a go-to for plant-based eaters and vegans all over the world. They're also packed with essential minerals like folate, iron, and potassium. Another benefit of lentils is that they don't require soaking before cooking, like most other dried beans do. This lentil shepherd's pie — brought to you by Alex Shytsman of the plant-based blog The New Baguette — is super hearty and filling, and uses common ingredients you can find in practically any supermarket.

Gather the ingredients for vegan lentil shepherd's pie

To make this recipe, you'll need some cremini mushrooms, an onion, carrots, celery, garlic, dried thyme, smoked paprika, dried green lentils, potatoes, vegetable broth, canned tomatoes, and frozen peas. To speed things up, you can use canned lentils and add them at the end instead, along with the peas.

Start the filling

To start, heat the oil in a large sauté pan and add the mushrooms, onions, carrots, and celery. Cook until the vegetables are totally soft and lightly brown, up to 15 minutes. Then, add the spices and cook for another minute. We recommend adding them in the end, otherwise they could burn.

Finish the filling

Next, place the lentils in a mesh strainer and sort through quickly to make sure there are no large bits of dirt. Then, rinse them under running water and add them to the saucepan, along with the broth and tomatoes. Cover with a lid and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer gently until the lentils are tender. Their cooking time will depend on how old they are (older lentils take longer to cook) — typically this takes from 30-45 minutes.

Cook the potatoes

Meanwhile, peel and chop the potatoes. Put them in a pot, fill it with water, and add salt. Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the potatoes are tender. This takes about 15 minutes. We recommend white or Yukon Gold potatoes for their creamier texture, but regular russets work, too. When they're done, drain, and return them to the pot. Add milk and olive oil (or vegan butter), and mash until smooth.

Assemble the pie

When the filling is done, stir in the peas and turn the heat off. Be sure to taste the filling at this point, since you won't get a chance to adjust the seasonings later on. Transfer the filling to a baking dish — like a deep dish pie pan or 8x8-inch pan. Then, dollop the potatoes on top and gently spread them with a spoon, avoiding mixing up the two layers.

Bake the pie

Bake the pie in a preheated oven to evaporate some of the moisture in the potatoes. We recommend putting the pie pan on a baking sheet before placing it in the oven for extra protection in case the filling bubbles over the sides. Lentil shepherd's pie is best served straight out of the oven, so if you're not planning to serve it right away, hold off on baking it until you're almost ready to eat.

Vegan Lentil Shepherd's Pie Recipe
4.9 from 11 ratings
Shepherd's pie is a classic, meaty comfort food recipe, but even vegans can enjoy this animal product-free version of vegan lentil shepherd's pie.
Prep Time
Cook Time
vegan lentil shepherd's pie
Total time: 1 hour, 55 minutes
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 large celery stalk, diced
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons fine sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ cup dried green lentils, rinsed
  • 1 ½ cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup canned tomato puree
  • 4 medium white or Yukon Gold potatoes (about 2 pounds), peeled and cut into small chunks
  • ½ cup unsweetened unflavored oat or cashew milk, warmed
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, onion, carrots, celery, ¼ teaspoon salt, and pepper. Cook until the vegetables are soft and lightly brown, 12-15 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic, thyme, and paprika, and cook for 1 minute more.
  3. Next, add the lentils, broth, and tomato puree. Cover tightly with a lid and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the lentils are tender, stirring occasionally, 30-40 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, place the potatoes in a medium pot with the remaining teaspoon of salt and add enough water to cover by about 2 inches. Cover with a lid and bring to a boil. Then simmer with the lid ajar until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes, add the milk, and remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and mash until smooth. Season with salt, if needed.
  5. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
  6. When the filling is ready, stir in the peas and turn the heat off. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if needed.
  7. To assemble, transfer the filling to a baking dish, dollop the potatoes on top, and spread gently into an even layer. Bake for 20 minutes.
Calories per Serving 428
Total Fat 14.8 g
Saturated Fat 2.2 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Total Carbohydrates 63.9 g
Dietary Fiber 11.3 g
Total Sugars 9.3 g
Sodium 855.8 mg
Protein 14.6 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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