Today, I’m sharing a recipe from my childhood with a little twist. This meatless shepherd’s pie has all the warmth, spice and heartiness of the traditional recipe yet it’s a vegetarian Shepherd’s pie with lentils. It might just be the most delicious thing on your menu this week.
My version uses cashew milk mashed potatoes, vegetable stock and a variety of vegetables that are both filling and protein-packed. So no need to worry about not feeling full after a serving of this satisfying gluten-free dinner!
Table of Contents
Ingredients in Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie
This recipe contains several ingredients yet they make the perfect flavor profile. Homemade all the way with this incredible meat-free dish! Here’s what I’m using in my easy shepherd’s pie with lentils:
For the Filling:
- Olive oil: Since we aren’t frying or using high heat in this recipe, extra virgin olive oil works great to help sauté the vegetables.
- Yellow onion: I primarily use yellow onions in cooking as they aren’t too potent and are a bit buttery.
- Carrot: Such an easy way to add color and earthy flavor.
- Celery: If you love a crunch, wait a bit before adding the celery. That way it gets soft without losing its texture.
- Leek: Use leeks for their mild onion-like flavor. If this is a new to you vegetable then learn how to cut leeks like a pro.
- Garlic cloves: I’m not sure you can ever have too much garlic, yet three cloves should be plenty to spice up this dish.
- Mushrooms: Baby Bella mushrooms are the perfect texture and “meatiness” I’m going for in this meatless recipe.
- Fresh herbs: rosemary, sage, thyme, parsley and a bay leaf are the herbs that create the aromatic, traditional smell and taste in this vegetarian shepherd’s pie.
- Tomato paste: This great paste adds warmth to the filling as well as helps it all bind together.
- Tamari: This gluten-free sauce works like soy sauce without gluten.
- Dijon mustard: My fav way to add a deeper kick of flavor.
- Brown lentils: The mild, slightly earthy flavor of this type of lentil is perfect in a savory shepherd’s pie.
- Vegetable Stock: Look for a store-bought brand without any additives, or learn how to make your own vegetable stock for the best flavor!
- Frozen peas: Adding a pop of green to this dark dish.
- Sea salt and black pepper: Helps to bring out the flavor of all the vegetables.
For the Mashed Potatoes:
- Golden potatoes: These buttery beauties make the best mashed potatoes.
- Grass-fed butter: I use this for the rich flavor and creaminess.
- Cashew milk: This plant milk created the fluffiest result.
- Sea Salt: Brightens the flavor in this yummy topping.
Easy Ingredient Swaps
If soy is something you try to avoid then swap tamari with coconut aminos. Use the plant-based milk of your choice in the mashed potatoes. Vegan butter can replace grass-fed butter to make this recipe vegan.
If you aren’t able to find fresh herbs then feel free to use dried herbs anywhere you need to. The brown lentils can be swapped out for red lentils to keep a similar flavor.
How to Make Meatless Shepherd’s Pie
Before you dive into this recipe, read through the ingredients to determine what needs to be rinsed, chopped, etc. This “pre-prep” will help you move more quickly through the recipe itself since it does take a few steps.
For the Filling:
Step 1: Using a large skillet, heat the olive oil on medium-high heat for 30 seconds, or before it starts to smoke. Sauté the onion, carrot, celery and leek for 3-5 minutes or until the vegetables just begin to soften.
Step 2: Add the garlic and sauté 60 seconds, constantly stirring so it doesn’t burn. Add mushrooms and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring to keep the mushrooms from burning.
Step 3: Add all the herbs and tomato paste to the skillet and cook for 30 seconds, stirring continually. Stir in the tamari, mustard and broth.
Step 4: Add the rinsed lentils and bring just to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
For the mashed potatoes:
Step 1: While the skillet is simmering, start on the potatoes. Add them to a large pot then cover with just enough water to keep them submerged. Bring to a boil then lower heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 10 minutes or until potatoes are fork-tender.
Step 2: Drain the water from the potatoes and place them back in the pot. Add in the butter and mash well with a fork, potato masher or immersion blender until creamy. As you are mashing, slowly stir in just enough cashew milk to make the potatoes smooth without getting runny. I like the liquid a few tablespoons at a time so I don’t get too much.
Step 1: To Assemble: Preheat oven to 400°F. Remove the bay leaf from the skillet then stir in the peas, salt and pepper. Bay leaves just add flavor to a dish, they aren’t meant to be eaten.
Step 2: Transfer to a 4qt casserole dish and spread out evenly. Spoon the mashed potatoes over top and gently spread to the edges of the dish. I sometimes leave about a 1/4 inch of space around the edge of my dish so I can see the filling as it bakes to determine if it is heating properly, yet you can take the potatoes all the way to the edge if you want.
Step 3: Bake for 25 minutes or until the filling is bubbling around the edges and the mashed potatoes are golden on top. Check the topping to make sure the potatoes don’t burn.
Step 4: Remove from oven and allow the dish to cool for 15 minutes before serving. This allows the whole pie to stay warm yet not burn you when trying to serve. Feel free to add a few pats of butter over the top once you remove it from the oven, as well as fresh parsley.
Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie FAQs
This difference really has to do with the meat filling. shepherd’s pie traditionally contains lamb while cottage pie contains beef. Yet no need to worry about this with my vegetarian version!
My meatless shepherd’s pie recipe creates a complete meal in just one dish. Per serving there are 627 calories, 92 carbs, 24 grams of protein and 20 grams of fat. It also contains 25 grams of fiber and only 31 mg of cholesterol. Meat-free and still filling!
I find that simmering the filling in the skillet until the lentils are well cooked (softened) and making sure there isn’t too much liquid before transferring it to a casserole dish to bake helps hold the filling together. This way there are no gaps for the mashed potatoes to sink through. Likewise, make sure your mashed potatoes are not super liquidy or runny before adding them to the top of your baking dish so they don’t easily run through.
More Vegetarian Comfort Food Meals
If you’re ready for some warm and comforting meals this season then check out the delectable recipes below. I love seasonal cooking as it brings about a wide variety of produce and lets me play around with new flavor combinations. Winter doesn’t have to be bland, boring or fresh food free, just check out this list of healthy winter recipes!
- Potato Curry: This lovely curry recipe is great for a weeknight.
- Vegan Minestrone Soup: A little bit of everything without too much of anything goes into this yummy soup.
- Loaded Sweet Potato: Who knew savory sweet potatoes could taste so dreamy?!
- Vegan Potato Soup: A soup that’s incredibly savory + creamy yet without the dairy.
Don’t forget to leave a rating + review for my Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie with Lentils; I’d love to read about how yours turned out!
Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie
- large pot
- 4qt casserole dish
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 yellow onion finely chopped
- 1 carrot diced
- 1 celery diced
- 1 leek rinsed well to remove any dirt and thinly sliced
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1 pound baby bella mushrooms chopped
- 1 tbsp fresh rosemary minced
- 1 tbsp fresh sage minced
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme minced
- 1 tbsp fresh parsley minced
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tbsp tamari
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 cup brown lentils uncooked, rinsed well
- 3 cups vegetable stock
- 1 cup peas frozen
- 1 tsp black pepper ground
- 2 pounds golden potatoes quartered
- ¼ cup grass-fed butter
- ½ cup cashew milk unsweetened
- ⅛ tsp sea salt
- ⅛ tsp black pepper ground
- In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat for 30 seconds. Add onion, carrot, celery and leek. Sauté 3-5 minutes or until vegetables begin to soften. Add garlic and sauté for 60 seconds. Add mushrooms and continue to sauté for 5 minutes—watch so vegetables don't burn.
- Add herbs and tomato paste to skillet. Cook 30 seconds, stirring continually to prevent paste from burning. Stir in tamari, mustard and stock.
- Add rinsed lentils to skillet and bring just to a boil. Lower heat and simmer 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- While skillet is simmering, place potatoes in a large pot. Cover with just enough water to keep potatoes submerged. Bring to a boil then lower heat to a simmer. Cover and cook 10 minutes or until potatoes are fork-tender.
- Drain water from potatoes and place them back into the pot. Add butter and mash well. Slowly stir in just enough cashew milk to make potatoes creamy and smooth.
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Remove the bay leaf from skillet and stir in peas. Add salt and pepper.
- Transfer to a 4qt casserole dish and spread evenly. Spoon the mashed potatoes on top and gently spread to the edges of the casserole dish.
- Bake for 25 minutes or until filling is bubbling around the edges and the mashed potatoes are golden on top.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool 15 minutes before serving.
- Swap vegan butter for grass-fed butter to make this dish vegan.
- Use lentils of your choice, just note that different lentils cook differently, so adjust cooking time to ensure they are softened in the skillet.
- Use dairy-free milk of your choice in place of cashew milk.
- Swap mushrooms with another vegetable if desired.
- Bake time will vary depending on your casserole dish, so just watch that the potatoes don’t get burnt on top.