This Lentil Shepherd's Pie is hearty and comforting. With the rich flavors of the lentils and the creaminess of the mashed potatoes, this veggie-filled dish is perfect for a Sunday family dinner or a cozy holiday meal.
This Lentil Shepherd's Pie is so rich and delicious, you'll hardly believe it's Meat-Free, Dairy-Free, and Oil-free. The mashed potatoes are crispy on top and creamy inside, while the lentils and veggies are perfectly seasoned and full of deep and comforting flavors.
- What's the difference between shepherd's pie and cottage pie?
- Is this dish kid-friendly?
- What kind of lentils should I use?
- Do I really need to rinse and sift through the lentils?
- Tips to save time
- How to serve
- Can I make it ahead?
- How to store
- More vegan dinner recipes
- 📖 Recipe
You'll love this Vegan Shepherd's Pie recipe because it's:
What's the difference between shepherd's pie and cottage pie?
Traditionally Shepherd's Pie is made with ground lamb and Cottage Pie with ground beef. Since this dish is meatless you could technically call it either a Vegan Shepherd's Pie or a Vegan Cottage Pie.
Is this dish kid-friendly?
True story: The first time I tested this recipe, my non-picky kid dove right in. Two thumbs up. But my picky kid had a major meltdown because he just wanted the mashed potatoes.
So we begin to eat. The three of us eating the shepherd's pie were oohing and ahhing over how delicious it was (but not putting any pressure on the picky kid to eat it). After a few minutes, picky kid screamed: "Stop talking about how good it is! You're making me want to try it!"
Long story short, after a few more minutes he caved, tried it, and then asked for seconds. Our meals don't always end so nicely, but this felt like a big win.
If you've got a picky eater at home, don't be afraid to try something new, especially if it has food components your kid already likes (in this case, mashed potatoes). This story would have ended differently if I had forced him to try it. But since I let him come to his own decision, all ended well (which is a good thing because I ended up making this lentil shepherd's pie recipe several weeks in a row as I was testing it!)
What kind of lentils should I use?
I have tried this Vegetable Shepherd's Pie with both dried French green lentils and canned brown lentils. The dried green lentils were my favorite. Since they cook with veggies and seasonings, this imparts more flavor. And leaving them ever so slightly al dente before assembling and baking the pie helps them hold up better. (Warning: Do not use red lentils for this dish--they will turn to absolute mush! If you need to use up red lentils try this Indian Dhal instead)
That said, this dish absolutely works with canned lentils, and using them will save you about 20 minutes of cooking time. One 15oz can of lentils has about 1 ¾ cups of lentils. This recipe calls for 1 cup of dried lentils which is about 2 ½ cups of cooked lentils. So if you're substituting, you'll need about 1 ½ cans of lentils.
Do I really need to rinse and sift through the lentils?
If you are using dried lentils then you absolutely need to rinse them and check for any stones, impurities, or other types of lentils. Many years ago, I skipped this step and found myself biting into a stone. It was not pleasant. Don't skip this step!
Lentil Pie Filling
- dried French green lentils
- yellow onion
- button mushrooms
- frozen green peas
- vegetable broth
- tomato paste
- dried oregano
- dried thyme
- dried parsley
- soy sauce
- cornstarch or arrowroot powder
- fresh thyme
*See recipe card for quantities.
- You can substitute canned lentils for the dried lentils. 1 cup of dried lentils converts to about 2 ½ cups of cooked lentils. So you'll need about 1 ½ 15oz cans of lentils.
- I really enjoy the French Green Lentils, but any kind of green or brown lentils will work.
- Any kind of plant milk can be used for the mashed potatoes.
- Frozen carrots or a frozen vegetable mix can be used. Just add in any frozen vegetables in the same step where you add the frozen peas.
Rinse and sift through the lentils to make sure there are no stones or other impurities. If you're using dried lentils don't skip this step! Set aside for later.
- Prep the vegetables. Wash, peel, and cut the carrots into quarter moons. Clean and chop the mushrooms. Peel and chop the onion.
- Wash, peel, and cube the potatoes. Place the potatoes in a medium pot covered with cold water, and set aside for later.
- Add the onions and carrots to a large heavy-bottom pot. Cook for about 3 minutes, or until the onions start to turn translucent, stirring occasionally.
Add the chopped mushrooms and dried herbs. Stir to combine and cook down for 2 to 3 minutes.
Add the tomato paste and garlic (use a Microplane, garlic press, or minced garlic). Stir to combine. Cook for about 1 minute (garlic burns easily).
Add the dried lentils and broth to the pot, bring to a boil, and then turn down the heat to medium. Simmer for about 25 minutes, or until the lentils are cooked (a little al dente is okay).
- As the lentils are cooking, make the mashed potatoes.
- Boil the cubed, peeled potatoes in a medium pot for about 10 minutes, or until they are fork-tender. Drain, rinse, and return to the pot.
Add the soy milk, nutritional yeast, and broth powder, and mash with a potato masher or hand mixer. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 400F or 200C.
- Add the peas and cornstarch to the lentils. Stir to combine. Taste the mixture to adjust the seasonings. Add salt & pepper to taste.
When both the mashed potatoes and lentil mixture are ready, spoon the lentils into the dish and press it flat with a spatula.
- Spoon dollops of mashed potatoes evenly across the top of the lentils. Then gently use a spoon or fork to push the mash to the edges, covering the lentil mixture and creating an even layer.
- Optional: Use a fork to create lines or a wavy pattern across the top of the potatoes. This will both make it look nice and also help the tips of the potatoes to crisp up.
- Place the Shepherd's Pie in the oven and cook for 15 minutes. (I recommend using a baking sheet below the dish to catch any possible overflow.) Then turn on the broiler and broil for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the potatoes are crispy on top. Let cool for 5 minutes. Then serve and enjoy!
Tips to save time
This dish takes close to an hour to make (though you won't be working the whole time), so if you want to save time, here are a few ideas.
- Use frozen pre-chopped carrots or frozen peas and carrots mix. Add the frozen carrots when you add the frozen peas.
- Use leftover mashed potatoes from a previous meal.
- Use canned green or brown lentils. I prefer the texture and flavor of using dried lentils for this dish, but you can shave off about 20 minutes by using canned. The ratios don't quite work out perfectly, so you will need about 1 ½ cans of lentils. You will also need to reduce the vegetable broth to about 1 cup.
For this recipe, you need a cutting board and knife for the prep work. A Microplane or garlic press is also helpful for mincing the garlic. For cooking, you'll need a large pot, a medium pot, and a baking dish. you'll also need a potato masher or some other tool for mashing the potatoes.
I used this Ikea 11x7--inch baking dish. I would recommend using something of a similar size (like this Pyrex dish--the lid would be great for storing leftovers!). It's okay if the mashed potatoes pop over the top a little, but the lentils can bubble over a bit, so no matter what sized dish you use, I suggest placing the dish on a baking sheet in the oven to catch any overflow.
All of my favorite products and kitchen tools can be found in my Amazon shop.
How to serve
- Vegan Shepherd's Pie is a perfect dish to serve on a Sunday or holiday.
- It can be a stand-alone meal or served with light sides like a simple Italian salad, air fryer green beans, or air fryer broccoli.
- This is an Irish-inspired dish, so it would be especially nice for St.Patrick's Day, but I think this makes a relatively simple vegan main dish for any holiday meal.
Can I make it ahead?
Definitely! Just follow the steps to make the lentil mixture and mashed potatoes. Layer everything in a baking dish and store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. When it comes time to eat, follow the baking instructions and enjoy!
How to store
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.
- You can also freeze the leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 months.
- Reheat in the microwave or oven.
More vegan dinner recipes
Lentil Shepherd's Pie (Vegan + Oil-Free)
Lentil Pie Filling
- 1 cup dried french green lentils
- 1 yellow onion
- 2 carrots
- 4 oz button mushrooms
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 cup frozen green peas
- 3 ½ cups vegetable broth
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon dried parsley
- 1 ½ teaspoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch or arrowroot powder
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- fresh thyme
- Rinse and sift through the lentils to make sure there are no stones or other impurities. If you're using dried lentils don't skip this step! Set aside for later.
- Peel and cube the potatoes. Place them in a medium pot with cold water and set aside for later.
- Prep the vegetables. Peel and dice the onion. Peel and chop the carrots into quarter moons. Clean and chop the mushrooms.
Cook the Lentil Mixture
- Start by adding the onions and carrots to a large pot over medium-high heat. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the onions are translucent.
- Add the chopped mushrooms and herbs. Cook down another 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add the tomato paste and minced or grated garlic. Cook for about 1 minute (be careful because the garlic can burn easily).
- Next, add the broth and lentils. Stir to combine. Bring the pot of water to a boil and then reduce heat to medium and simmer for about 25 minutes, or until the lentils are cooked (maybe just a tad al dente).
- While the lentil mixture is simmering, make the masked potatoes. Bring the medium pot of potatoes to a boil. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork-tender.
- Drain and rinse the potatoes. Return to the pot and add the soy milk, nutritional yeast, and broth powder. Mash with a potato masher or hand mixer. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F or 200°C.
- When the lentils are done cooking and the liquid is almost completely reduced, add the frozen peas and cornstarch to the lentil mixture. Stir to combine and thicken. Salt and pepper to taste.
- Add the lentil mixture to your baking dish. Spread in an even layer. Then dollop the mashed potatoes over the top. Spread to the edges of the dish in a even layer. Use a fork to make waves or lines (the ridges get crispier in the oven.)
- Cook for 15 minutes. Turn on the broiler and cook another 3 to 5 minutes, or until the mashed potatoes are crispy and browned on top.
- Let cool for a few minutes; then serve and enjoy!
- For instructions with photos or substitution ideas, scroll up to the blog post.
- I used an 11x7 inch baking dish.
- Placing a baking sheet below the shepherd's pie will help catch any overflow.
Did you try this recipe? Have a question? Just leave a comment below and I'll get back to you ASAP!