The best vegan Lentil Shepherd’s Pie has a savory and herby lentil filling with soft and cheesy mashed potatoes on top. Enjoy this hearty dish as a family-friendly dinner!
Grab the biggest spoon you can find and dig into this comforting Lentil Shepherd’s Pie. Made with a savory lentil filling and cheesy mashed potatoes on top, it’s no wonder why many of us consider this to be the ultimate comfort food.
The mix of hearty lentils, cooked veggies, tons of herbs and spices, and of course some help from a few sauces make each bite taste vibrant, balanced, and savory. The mashed potato topping is soft and fluffy, while the melted vegan cheese on top makes the pie extra delicious. Shepherd’s pie has never been so tasty.
You’re going to fall hard for this dinner because it’s:
- Hearty and comforting
- Healthy and full of protein!
What kind of lentils should I use?
Green and brown lentils are best used in lentil shepherd’s pie because they hold their shape and texture, won’t turn to mush, and have a meaty flavor. Red lentils just won’t do.
I used canned lentils to speed up the cooking process but you’re more than welcome to use dried. I’ve included directions on using both.
You also don’t need to use lentils at all if you don’t want to! Just swap them out for vegan ground beef instead. Impossible or Beyond Meat brands are my favorite.
How to make vegan lentil shepherd’s pie
Find the complete recipe with measurements below.
Begin by boiling the potatoes in some water until they’re tender. Drain and mash with the plant milk, salt, and pepper. Stir in some of the cheese for extra creamy flavors.
Next, prepare the lentil filling by sautéing the onion and garlic in a skillet. Add the cooked lentils, herbs and spices, Worcestershire sauce, and tomato paste to the skillet and stir. After a minute, stir in the flour.
Finish the filling by pouring in the broth, peas, carrots, and corn. Bring it up to a boil before reducing the heat and letting it simmer and thicken for a few minutes.
Transfer the lentil mixture to a baking dish (or bake it right in your cast iron pan) before spooning on dollops of potatoes. Spread everything into an even layer, add the rest of the cheese on top, then bake. The finished pie is best served hot and fresh!
If using dried lentils
Dried green or brown lentils can be used in this recipe if you don’t have canned lentils. Cook them before doing anything else, as this can take some time. To cook dried lentils:
- Combine 1 ½ cups of dry lentils and 4 cups of water in a medium saucepan and bring it to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to a simmer and cover with a lid.
- Let the lentils simmer for about 20 minutes until they’re tender but not mushy. Drain and set aside until you’re ready to put the filling together.
Helpful tips and substitutions
- For crispy bits of mashed potatoes and cheese, drag a fork through the potatoes on top of the pie before it goes in the oven. These will create small edges that will crisp up as it bakes.
- If you don’t have any vegan cheese, you’re welcome to leave it out of the recipe. Alternatively, go all out and make my shreddable vegan mozzarella to use in the pie!
- Do you have leftover mashed potatoes already in the fridge? Go ahead and use them as the topping instead of making a fresh batch.
- Feel free to add more vegetables into the filling, like mushrooms, sweet potato chunks, or zucchini.
- Gluten free? Use cornstarch or gluten free flour instead of the all purpose flour.
How to store and freeze shepherd’s pie
Keep the leftover vegan shepherd’s pie in an airtight container or covered in the baking dish and store in the fridge for up to 4 days. It can also be frozen before or after being cooked. Just cover it well and keep it in the freezer for up to 3 months.
To reheat, place the pie in an oven-safe dish and warm it in a 400ºF oven for about 30 minutes. If the top is looking a little too crispy, feel free to cover it with foil.
More hearty vegan dinner recipes
Lentil Shepherd’s Pie with Cheesy Mashed Potatoes
- 3 pounds russet potatoes
- 3 tablespoons vegan butter
- 3/4 cup unsweetened, unflavored cashew milk or other non-dairy milk
- 3/4 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
- few shakes black pepper
- 1 1/2 cups vegan cheese shreds, cheddar preferred
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 cups cooked lentils, drained and rinsed I used 2-15oz cans, see Notes for dried
- 2 teaspoons dried rosemary
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- few shakes black pepper
- 2 tablespoons vegan Worcestershire sauce
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
- 2 cups frozen pea and carrot mix
- 1 cup frozen corn
For the potatoes
- Peel your potatoes and chop them into large chunks. Place the potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and cook uncovered for about 15 minutes or until fork tender.
- Drain the potatoes in a colander, then return to the pot. Add the vegan butter, milk, salt and pepper to taste and mash until smooth and creamy. Stir in ¾ cup of the vegan cheese, saving the rest for sprinkling on top.
- Cover and set aside while you make the lentil filling.
For the lentil filling
- Preheat the oven to 400℉.
- In a large skillet, warm the oil over medium-high heat, then add the onion and sauté for 3-4 minutes, until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute.
- To the skillet, add the lentils, rosemary, thyme, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce and tomato paste. Stir to combine and cook for 1 minute.
- Now add the flour and stir well until incorporated and no clumps of flour or tomato paste remain.
- Stir in the broth, peas and carrot mix and corn. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Pour the lentil mixture into a 9×13 inch baking dish (or use your cast iron pan.) Spread it into an even layer, then spoon the mashed potatoes on top of the lentils. Spread them carefully and evenly.
- Sprinkle the rest of the vegan cheddar on top, then bake for 25-30 minutes until hot. Serve immediately and enjoy!
- Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. It can also be frozen once completely cooled.
- How to cook lentils from dry if you don’t have canned: In a medium saucepan, combine 1 ½ cups dry lentils and 4 cups water. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to simmer. Simmer for about 20 minutes, until tender but not mushy. Drain excess water.
- May leave out the vegan cheese if desired. Or make my shreddable vegan mozzarella.
- May substitute ground vegan beef, such as impossible or beyond brand instead of lentils, if desired. I would use about 3 cups of beef substitute, and cook it in the pan with the onions and garlic, then continue adding the rest of the ingredients.
- Gluten free? Use cornstarch or gluten free flour instead of all purpose to thicken the lentil mixture.