Lentil and Mushroom Shepherd’s Pie

Hearty lentil and mushroom shepherds pie

There are no words to describe this lentil and mushroom shepherd’s pie than as a deep dish of absolute comfort. It’s a bit of a project, but not at all difficult, and definitely worth it for a special occasion or holiday meal. It’s perfect for Thanksgiving or Christmas! Recipe from Vegan Holiday Kitchen. Photos by Susan Voisin. 

4.9 from 7 reviews
Lentil and Mushroom Shepherd’s Pie
Recipe type: Vegan main dish
Cuisine: Comfort / holiday
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8 or more
  • 8 large or 10 medium potatoes (Yukon gold works well)
  • 2 tablespoons Earth Balance or other vegan butter
  • ½ cup unsweetened rice milk or other nondairy milk
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 ounces cremini or baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • Two 15-ounce cans lentils with their liquid
  • 2 tablespoons dry red wine, optional
  • 1 to 2 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce or Bragg’s liquid aminos
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons all-purpose seasoning blend (such as Frontier or Mrs. Dash)
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot
  • 8 to 10 ounces baby spinach or arugula leaves
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 cup fresh bread crumbs
  1. Peel and dice the potatoes. Place in a large saucepan with enough water to cover. Bring to a simmer, then cover and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and transfer to a small mixing bowl.
  2. Stir the vegan butter into the potatoes until melted, then add the rice milk and mash until fluffy. Season with salt, cover, and set aside until needed.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400º F.
  4. While the potatoes are cooking, heat the oil in a medium skillet. Add the onion and sauté over medium heat until translucent. Add the garlic and mushrooms and continue to sauté until the onion is golden.
  5. Add the lentils and their liquid and bring to a gentle simmer. Stir in the optional wine, soy sauce, seasoning blend, thyme, and pepper. Cook gently for 5 minutes. Combine the cornstarch with just enough water to dissolve in a small container. Stir into the lentil mixture.
  6. Add the spinach, a little at a time, cooking just until it’s all wilted down. Remove from the heat; taste to adjust seasonings to your liking.
  7. Lightly oil a 2-quart (preferably round) casserole dish, or two deep-dish pie plates.
  8. Scatter the breadcrumbs evenly over the bottom. Pour in the lentil mixture, then spread the potatoes evenly over the top. If using two pie plates, divide each mixture evenly between them.
  9. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the potatoes begin to turn golden and slightly crusty. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes, then cut into wedges to serve.

Note: I call for canned lentils here to cut down on the amount of cooking and work, but if you want to cook lentils from scratch, by all means! You’ll need 3 to 3 1/2 cups cooked lentils (start with 1 1/2 cups uncooked to make sure you have enough. Different varieties of lentils cook swell to varying degrees).

vegan lentil and mushroom shepherd's pie


98 comments on “Lentil and Mushroom Shepherd’s Pie

  1. Elly

    This shepherd’s pie looks delicious! This Thanksgiving I am cooking for vegetarians that are also gluten and dairy free so this looks perfect except that two of my eaters will not eat mushrooms. I am sure the mushrooms add tons of flavor to this dish. Can you recommend a substitute that would still be delicious? Thanks!

  2. Nava Post author

    Hi Elly — thanks! This is a very popular Thanksgiving/Xmas dish among my readers. The mushrooms do add a lot of flavor, but if your eaters don’t enjoy them, no worries. I’d add a couple of diced celery stalks or carrots when when cooking the onion to add a bit of extra flavor and texture in place of them. I think that would work well! I hope you enjoy it. And do note, there are bread crumbs at the bottom, to soak up some of the juices that form as this bakes, so you can either use GF bread to make the crumbs, or use a cooked grain like quinoa.

  3. raina

    Just a tip–using bagged lentils is much more economical and fresher and besides that, they cook quickly and add a nice broth.

  4. Shanna

    I’m making this tonight! It has all our fav ingredients…. I like the variation above by Nik… I think my hubby will love the spicy flavour 🙂 Tnx!! I’m always looking for lentil dishes and this one looks like a keeper!! Can’t wait to try 🙂

  5. Noa

    Hi Nava – I’m going to make this for Thanksgiving! It sounds delicious. Can it be made the day before and reheated? Or, perhaps prepared the day before and then baked the next day? Just seeing what I can get done Wednesday. Thanks!

  6. Ruth

    Hi Nava – long-time fan of yours! What’s the conversion for using dried lentils? Does it matter what kind? Have you tried it with red or yellow, or are standard green the best for this dish (presentation-wise)?

    I hope you don’t mind, I’ve been promoting your site lately.. everyone should know about your awesome well-tested super-tasty easy recipes!! Thank you so much for offering so many on your website. I’ve destroyed my copies of Vegetarian Celebrations and have a hard time finding copies in local bookstores.. but loving that all your new stuff is vegan! You’re amazing & my family hopes you have a lovely holiday season. Peace.

  7. Nava Post author

    Hi Ruth — of course, I don’t mind your promoting VegKitchen! That’s what I’m here for, and it’s greatly appreciated. The conversion to cooked lentils is 3 to 3 1/2 cups cooked — I’m not 100% sure how much that would be raw, but to be safe, start with at least 1 1/2 cups. You can always save or freeze the rest. I think the standard green/brown lentils would be best, as red or yellow quickly cook to mush.

    Vegetarian Celebrations morphed into Vegan Holiday Kitchen in 2011. It has mostly new recipes, a few of the old favorites, and is beautifully designed and photographed. Thank you so much for sticking with me for so long, and for your kind thoughts. I wish you and yours a wonderful holiday season as well!

  8. Elizabeth

    I just made this and tasted it. It is DE-LICIOUS! Mine did not come out as pretty as the picture, but I don’t care because it tastes so good. I will definitely make this again for a crowd.

  9. Debbie

    This has become one of our favorite dishes. It really got me to explore lentils as a protein substitute. We reversed the meatless Monday to meaty Monday and so I need great ideas that appeal to my husband…not a fan of Tofu.


  10. Kelly Kline

    Very yummy! I doubled the recipe and my family loved it. Next time, I’m going to add carrots and maybe some green beans.

  11. Liz

    Hi. I’m going to cook dry lentils for the recipe and it says for the canned ones to add them with their liquid (and ingredient list at top says drain lightly) and I’m wondering how much of the cooked lentil water I should add to the recipe to make it about the same. Thank you! I’m making this to take to my daughter-in-law after she gets home from surgery.

  12. Nava Post author

    Hi Liz, I just clarified the recipe; what I meant to say was to drain the canned lentils but not to rinse them. For cooked-from-scratch lentils, then, you don’t really need any of the cooking water. If any remains once they’re done, drain them and just make sure they don’t dry out before you need to use them. How nice of you to make this for your daughter-in-law! It’s not a very summery dish, but it is hearty and hopefully will assist in her speedy recovery.

  13. Carolyn Donovan

    Wow, this was so, so good!

    Followed the recipe exactly. My only comment is that I probably don’t know what a “medium” potato is, because I ended up with a third too much.

    We both really, really enjoyed it last night–it was the first really chilly evening here in Boston and I wanted something warming and autumnal. Boyfriend couldn’t stop talking about how good it was. We both had two servings!

    It does take a while, but it’s not complicated.

  14. Nava Post author

    Hi Carolyn — so glad that you and your BF enjoyed this! I suppose it would be good, on my part, to define a “medium” potato, specifying the total weight. I’ll add that in next time I make this recipe. It also depends on the size of your baking dish, how much of the filling you can fit in.

  15. Lynda Birch

    Once you taste the results you don’t regret any extra effort that you might have put in to make this. I have served this a number of times to both vegetarians and meat-lovers and everybody loves it. I’m so happy the weather is cooler so that this dish can return to our menu rotation.

  16. Louise

    I made this for tennis yesterday and everyone loved it. I could not find canned lentils so I used french lentils which I boiled to the specs above (1 1/2 cups dried lentils).

  17. Debbie

    Can’t wait to try this. My daughter who is 16 years old wants to be totally vegan. Plan on making this for her holiday dinner. She is not a fan of mushrooms so I plan on substituting green and yellow zucchini. Maybe use vegetable broth for flavor and taco seasoning mix. Could even use a pico de gallo mixture in this. Not too much though.

  18. Valerie Bush

    Hi, looking for a Christmas meal, newly vegan teen in the house! Can this be frozen? Also, I ideally wanted to use my slow cooker on Christmas Day, any savory vegan celebration recipes that spring to mind?

  19. Nava Post author

    Valerie, I would be concerned about freezing it because both potatoes and lentils get mushy and watery when frozen and thawed. “Three Sisters” Stew might be a great one for your slow cooker. Not sure exactly how to convert it, but perhaps you could figure it out. And here’s a contributed recipe, a slow-cooker tagine, that might be nice: http://www.vegkitchen.com/recipes/tagine-of-squash-and-chickpeas-with-mushrooms/ Good luck to you and your newly minted vegan, and happy holiday season!

  20. Lauren

    I absolutely love this recipe! I made it last year for Thanksgiving and it was a big hit. I was thinking about making this recipe for a potluck Thanksgiving my work is having. Do you think I could make it the night before? Or does it need to be eaten the same day? Thanks a bunch!

  21. Nava Post author

    Lauren, I’m so glad you love this! You can definitely make it the night before; let it cool and refrigerate. Hopefully there will be an oven or microwave at your workplace where you can heat it; barring that you can heat it at home, cover with a lid or foil, then put the casserole in a sturdy box to transport.

  22. Mordechai

    Nava – Just tried this recipe two weeks ago. It was incredibly amazing and very simple to make. I made with dried lentils and it turned out perfect. I plan on making this and bringing to the family for thanksgiving. I am certain even the meat eaters in my family will love this. Thanks so much for sharing this amazing recipe.

  23. Linda van der Merwe

    I had the same question……I would want to make this the day before Thanksgiving…. and just reheat in the oven on the day, what temperature and for how long and would the mushrooms, lentils and potatoes still be delicious?

  24. Nava Post author

    Linda, you can definitely make this the day before. Err on the side of under-baking it a bit, maybe stop at 25 to 30 minutes. Then reheat it just before you’d like to serve it. You can do it at any oven temperature from 350 to 400 degrees F., depending on what else you have in the oven. You can cover it with foil and bake for 10 to 15 minutes covered (depending on temp), then uncover and bake until it begins to get crusty, just a few minutes longer. Enjoy!

  25. Hatsie

    This was so good, I took it to a potluck of non-vegan people and they all loved it. That’s the ultimate test! Also we, my family, love it too.

    I didn’t have any spinach, but kale worked great instead. Also the first time I made it I used half sweet potatoes- that was also good.

  26. Nava Post author

    Definitely, Pauline —it’s completely vegan, and in fact is a VegKitchen reader favorite for the holidays around the web, both for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

  27. Dana Lasswell

    This was wonderful!!! Rarely do I follow a recipe this closely, but I made very few of my customary “tweaks” and my husband and I loved it! I added fresh chopped rosemary, smoked paprika, some cream sherry with the wine, and a sprinkle of Daiya mozzarella, but that was about it. We are the only plant based eaters in the family, so this was a lovely dish for us to bring for our Christmas dinner. It was beautiful in one of my handmade pottery pie pans and went fabulously with the massaged kale salad! Thank you so much and Happy, Merry Everything!

  28. Nava Post author

    So glad you enjoyed this, Dana! I love your tweaks. I’ve never tried this with the Daiya but I can imagine it would be even more luscious. Thanks for your input!

  29. Marietta Baltz


    Confused. One place in The Lentil and Mushroom Shepherd’s Pie recipe, it says to keep the lentil liquid and in the other place it says drain the liquid. With 3 T of cornstarch there would have to be more than just a few tablespoons of liquid (wine and soy sauce. Hope to serve this for a book club. Thanks.

  30. Nava Post author

    Hi Marietta, wow, with all the people who have made this, you’re the only one who caught this error. The liquid from the canned lentils should indeed be included, that’s why there’s 3 tablespoons of arrowroot or cornstarch. If cooking the lentils from scratch, about 1 1/4 cups broth or water should be added. Thanks for your eagle eye!

  31. Sharon

    Just made this for the first time, delicious! I substituted panko breadcrumbs and peas instead of spinach and I whipped the potatoes with a blender so they were really light and airy. Also added some celery cut on the diagonal and seitan. Loved this recipe and will make this many more times to come, delicious, comforting and full of protein!

  32. Adam

    I was reading an article suggesting mixing lentils and barley together in order to get your daily value of amino acids. Apparently on their own you don’t get the amino acids you need, but combined form a “complete protein”. Just food for thought, LOL!

  33. Nava Post author

    Adam, the entire notion of “complete protein” has been discredited — these days it has been accepted that if one eats a good variety of plant-based foods throughout the day, the aminos find one another, and there’s no need to stress about protein combining. Hope that helps!

  34. Rachael

    Great recipe! I used half the amount of milk, and cashew cream for other half. I also used food processor for filling (I added a handful of walnuts) while adding a small amount of nutritional yeast/ olive oil/ brags liquid.

  35. Katie

    We made this tonight and everyone loved it. We halved the recipe and it still filled 2 pie plates! We’ll be making it on Thanksgiving as an entree for the vegetarians in the family. Thanks for a great recipe!

  36. Kim

    I was wondering if this could be all put together now and then frozen. I’d like to bring for Thanksgiving at my inlaws but I’ll be traveling and will need to make ahead and have time now!

    Sorry if someone already asked – I didn’t see.

  37. Nava Post author

    Hi Kim, the problem is that potatoes get watery when they’re frozen. You could make the filling, ahead, though, and make the potato topping the day before or when you get to your destination.

  38. Beth Hall

    I want to make this recipe for Christmas. Does it really come out of the pan in a wedge or does it need to be scooped out with a spoon?

  39. Nava Post author

    Beth, you can do either. If you let it sit for a few minutes after out of the oven, it’s easier to cut into wedges. But either way, it tastes great!

  40. Claire

    Thank you for sharing this delicious recipe Nava!
    I’ve made this meal several times for different non-vegan guests and everytime it’s a great success!

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