Warm, cozy, and comforting are the words that come to mind when I think of this vegan shepherd's pie. This dish is made with lentils, mushrooms, and a creamy mashed potato topping. It'll make you feel warm and cozy from the inside out, so it's perfect for chilly days. Even if you're not vegan, I promise this pie will be sure to win you over.
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💭 Why you'll love this recipe
This vegan shepherd's pie is just as flavorful and nutritious as the classic dish. It adds a flavorful, hearty touch to any meal, and can be eaten on its own or alongside a delicious salad. Make sure to include this dish on your next holiday.
- It's packed with nutrients. This recipe is hearty and nutritious. It has a mix of vegetables, lentils, and starches, ensuring that you're getting a well-rounded mix of vitamins, minerals, protein, and fiber! No one will even miss the meat!
- It's perfect for cold days. As the weather gets cooler, this warm and hearty shepherd's pie is sure to hit the spot. Not only is it the perfect comfort food, it's also a great vegan main course for any holiday dinner.
- Ready in an hour with limited active cook time. Most of the cook time is from the filling simmering, or the shepherd's pie baking in the oven. So it's a great main course to prepare without chaining yourself to the stove!
📋 Ingredients and Notes
To make the filling, you'll need olive oil, onion, celery, carrot, cumin, Italian seasoning, vegan brandy, tomato puree, vegan Worcestershire sauce, balsamic vinegar, white mushrooms, red lentils, diced tomatoes, vegetable broth, and salt.
For assembling the pie you'll either need prepared mashed potatoes and butter, or you can make mashed potatoes from scratch using Russet potatoes, almond milk (or soy milk), vegan butter, and salt.
Notes and Variations
I get a lot of questions on swaps and variations of ingredients used in this recipe, so I wanted to write a comprehensive section to help answer a bunch of those!
- Mashed potatoes. This recipe includes instructions for making simple mashed potatoes. But you can substitute this with premade mashed potatoes or Instant mashed potatoes. You can also make these cheesy parmesan mashed potatoes or super easy Instant Pot garlic mashed potatoes instead.
- Use of alcohol: Fun fact, most brandy is vegan (I use Hennessy brand). You can also use any red cooking wine instead. If using red wine, any full bodied varietal works well (I typically use a Syrah). Make sure to get a vegan varietal if that matters to you. The alcohol is completely cooked out, so you don't have to worry about it, or you can just leave this out.
- Condiments: I've seen vegan Worcestershire in most grocery stores. If you're in the UK, you can substitute with 1 tablespoon of vegan brown sauce. In a pinch, you can use dark or regular soy sauce or tamari (if you're gluten-free).
- Seasoning: I use Italian seasoning, which is available easily here. But you can also substitute this with Fines de Herbs, any Italian dried herbs, or just a mix of dried basil, oregano and thyme!
- Red vs. green lentils: French green lentils (Puy lentils) tend to hold their shape a lot better, but I usually have a lot more red lentils on hand, so I've used the latter. You can totally swap the red lentils with green lentils or use a lentil mixture, just make sure it's cooked!
- Tomato puree vs. tomato paste. I use tomato puree since that's more traditional, but you can substitute with tomato paste if that's easier to get. Just note that tomato paste is more concentrated.
- Cheese toppings. If you prefer a vegetarian shepherd's pie, you can add use regular butter in the mash, and top with some sharp cheddar cheese (or vegan cheese!) before baking the pie.
- Add more vegetables. You can also add more hearty vegetables to this vegan shepherd's pie. Fresh broccoli, cauliflower, and zucchini are good additions. You can also use frozen peas, frozen vegetables all work great.
- Lower-carb topping. Try mashed cauliflower or a combination of cauliflower and mashed potatoes, or even mashed sweet potatoes as a delicious and healthy alternative!
📖 Make easy vegan Shepherd's pie
If you're making mashed potatoes from scratch, peel and boil the potatoes until fork tender. Then, add almond milk, vegan butter and salt and mash the potatoes to a silky-smooth consistency. Allow the mashed potatoes to cool for a few minutes!
Heat a large pot or skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil, followed by chopped onions, celery, carrot, cumin, and Italian seasoning. Cook, stirring frequently for about 10 mins, until vegetables are softened.
Add brandy or red wine, and reduce for about 1 minute until the alcohol is cooked off. Then, add tomato puree, vegan Worcestershire sauce, and balsamic vinegar. Cook for another minute, then add chopped mushrooms, red lentils, diced tomatoes, and vegetable broth.
Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover the pot loosely and simmer for 20 minutes or more to cook the lentils and the sauce has thickened to your liking. Add a splash of water or stock if the sauce dries out too much.
Preheat the oven to 320ºF. Transfer the filling to an 8x8 baking dish and top with dollop spoonfuls of mashed potato, spread with a silicone spatula. Use a fork to create a wavy pattern.
Bake for 20 minutes until bubbly and browned. Remove from the oven and let it sit for 5 minutes before carving. Serve with peas, if desired.
👩🏽🍳Top Tips for Vegan Shepherd's Pie
Use these tips to make sure your vegan shepherd's pie turns out perfect every time.
- Make sure to cool the mashed potatoes. Making sure that the mashed potatoes have cooled down will ensure that they don't sink to the bottom of the filling.
- Bake until the top is golden brown. Be sure to keep an eye on it while it bakes so that it doesn't get too dark or burn.
- Experiment with seasoning. This recipe calls for Italian seasoning and cumin to keep it simple, but you can try adding garlic powder, thyme, rosemary, or sage for an added kick of flavor in your filling. You can also sprinkle sea salt on mashed potatoes before baking them in the oven for an extra tasty topping!
- Get creative with garnishes. A sprinkle of chopped chives gives it an unexpected pop of color; fresh parsley adds something special, and a drizzle of olive oil takes its presentation over the top.
👩🏽🍳 Troubleshooting and FAQs
You can prepare this vegan shepherd's pie up to three days in advance and store it in an airtight container in the fridge!
When making a shepherd's pie, let the mashed potatoes cool completely before adding them on top of the filling. When you let it cool, it forms a firmer barrier.
Traditional shepherd's pie usually has lamb, while cottage pie usually has beef. That said, this vegan Shepherd's Pie substitutes lentils, mushrooms, and vegetables for a robust plant-based meal!
Adding brandy or wine helps bring out the rich flavors in the filling, but it is totally optional. Most brandy is naturally vegan, and I use the Hennessy brand typically. If going for red wine, pick a full bodied varietal like Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, etc.
🍴 Serving and storage suggestions
You can store this vegan shepherd's pie in the fridge for up to 3 days, or freeze it for up to two months. When freezing, make sure that the pie has been cooled completely. Then, portion it before storing in a freezer-safe container. When reheating it, throw it in the oven at 350ºF / 180ºC for about 5 minutes.
You can also check out other vegan main courses below:
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Vegan Shepherd’s Pie
For the filling:
- 1½ tablespoon olive oil, extra virgin
- 1 onion , finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, large, grated
- ¼ cup vegan brandy, substitute with cooking red wine
- 1 tablespoon tomato puree
- 2 teaspoons vegan Worcestershire sauce, adjust to taste, see substitutions
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 cup white mushrooms, chopped
- 1 cup red lentils, dried
- 14 ounces diced tomatoes, 1 small can, fire roasted works great
- 1½ cups vegetable broth
Assembling the pie:
- 1 lb Russet potatoes, substitute 3 cups of prepared mashed potatoes
- 2 tablespoons vegan butter
- 2 tablepoons almond milk
- 1 teaspoon salt
- If making mashed potatoes from scratch: Peel and boil potatoes until fork tender (typically about 20-25 minutes, while you prepare the filling.
- Heat a large skillet or pot over medium heat. Add olive oil, and then when hot, add diced onions, diced celery and grated carrots, cumin, and Italian herb seasoning. Cook, stirring frequently, for 10 mins, until vegetables are softened.
- Pour in vegan brandy or red wine, and cook for about a minute until the alcohol is cooked off (optional).
- Then, add the tomato puree, vegan Worcestershire sauce and balsamic vinegar. Cook for a further minute, then add chopped mushrooms, lentils, diced tomatoes and vegetable broth.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover the pot or skillet loosely and simmer for 20 minutes or more to cook the lentils. Check to make sure the lentils are soft but not mushy and that the sauce has thickened to your liking. Add a splash of water or stock if the sauce dries out too much.
- Preheat the oven to 320ºF.
- Once potatoes are fork tender, add milk, butter and salt to the pot, and use a masher or richer to mash them well.
- Transfer the cooked filling to an 8x8 baking dish. Then, top with dollop spoonfuls of mashed potato, spread with a silicone spatula. Use a fork to create a wavy pattern.
- Bake for 20 minutes until bubbly and browned. Remove from the oven and let it sit for 5 minutes before serving!
- Mashed potatoes: The recipe includes instructions for making simple mashed potatoes on stovetop. You can make these Instant Pot garlic mashed potatoes (way more convenient, and one less thing on the stove!) or these cheesy parmesan mashed potatoes on the stovetop, if you want to take it up a notch. I use Russet potatoes for shepherd's pie, but you can also use a combination of Russet and Yukon Gold potatoes if you wish.
- Brandy and Wine: Fun fact, most brandy is actually vegan (I use the Hennessy brand). If you don't have brandy on hand, you can use any red cooking wine instead. The alcohol is completely cooked out, so you don't have to worry about it (or you can just leave this out). If using red wine, any full bodied varietal works well (I typically use a Syrah). Make sure to get a vegan varietal if that matters to you.
- Sauce & Seasoning: Vegan Worcestershire sauce is easily available in most supermarkets. If you'r e in the UK, you can substitute with 1 tablespoon of vegan brown sauce! I use Italian seasoning, which is available easily here. But you can also substitute this with Fines de Herbs, any Italian dried herbs, or just a mix of dried basil, oregano and thyme!