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 10 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

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103 comments on “Lentil and Mushroom Shepherd’s Pie

  1. Carolyn

    This is almost done cooking now. I added some carrots and celery and used Sherry (a good deal more too!) and a tsp. of miso instead of soy sauce. It smells great! This makes a huge amount though. I have enough for two dinners at least if not three. I hope it freezes well. Thanks!

  2. Nava Post author

    This recipe makes a heaping helping, since it’s meant as a holiday meal entree. I don’t know whether it would freeze well, though—potato dishes often don’t. If you try freezing it, let me know how it thaws and reheats!

  3. Holly Powers

    Hi, I would like to make this for my daughter for Christmas since she is vegan but can’t find the recipe for your all-purpose seasoning anywhere on the website. Can you please send it to me via email? Thanks, Holly

  4. Nava Post author

    Holly, I’m so sorry for this omission; that’s what happens when I quickly copies a recipe from one of my books, this time forthcoming one, with a reference to a page number. All that reference referred to, and which I corrected in the recipe above, is the mention of a couple of my favorite brands, Spike (from natural foods stores) and Mrs. Dash (from the supermarket). I will also contact you via e-mail as you requested.

  5. Lisa

    LOVE. I made this the other night without adding red wine and using soy sauce. I also added some more veggies from a frozen variety pack for more color and added Adobo seasoning. It was so delicious and I couldn’t stop eating it. I can’t wait to make it again!

  6. Nava Post author

    Lisa, so glad you enjoyed it. I like hearing how others tweak these recipes to suit their taste. I’m due to make it again myself and am interested to see what the Adobo seasoning does to it. Thanks for your comment!

  7. Susan

    I have made this 3 times now and I love it. I use far fewer potatoes – just a thin layer for the top. I can eat half of it in one sitting. It is now my comfort food. I make it a bit spicier than called for. I use fresh lentils, skip the oil and the salt and cornstarch, and this time I added baby bok choy instead of the spinach. Each time it is fabulous. Thank you!!!

  8. Nava Post author

    Susan, I’m glad this is a hit in your kitchen. I’m always please that readers take my basic recipes and make them their own. This is a recipe that can be varied so many ways, and I’m glad people are taking it upon themselves to do so!

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  10. Jessica

    This is absolutely delicious! My mom and I made it for dinner last night, and it is now my first vegan staple recipe! Vegan comfort food at its best. We do agree that when we make it again, we will increase the amount of filling, or decrease the amount of potato, in order to have a ratio that we prefer. We might try putting peas and carrots in it to make it look more like traditional shepherd’s pie, but the flavor is just perfect just the way it is. Thank you for this recipe!

  11. clorenson

    Just did a trial run with this recipe to see if I wanted to bring on Thanksgiving day. I loved it! I brought it to a luncheon with some girlfriends and they gave it a thumbs up. I made the recipe as written except I used soy milk instead of rice milk because it was what I had available. Definitely will be making for Thanksgiving day.

  12. Connie

    I just bought your Vegan Holiday Kitchen book and was thrilled this recipe is in it. I’m going to take it to a Thanksgiving dinner so I can be sure to have something to eat for myself and my son.

    I’d like to cook lentils vs. using canned ones. Any idea how many I need to cook to equal 2 cans?

    Thanks and I’m looking forward to trying more recipes in your book.


  13. Nava Post author

    Hi Connie — I’d say that two cans worth of lentils would be about 3 1/2 cups. Blanking a bit on how much that would be raw, but I think you’d be safe to cook 1 1/2 cups lentils. Make sure to reserve just a bit of the liquid you cooked them in to use in the dish, just enough to make them a bit moist, but not soupy. Enjoy and have a great holiday!

  14. Miri

    This recipe once made my then four-year old ask, “oh Eema (mommy). When is Abba (daddy) going to be a shepherd?” He is now seven and we still don’t know why! I’m allergic to soy and the Bragg’s. Any suggestions?

  15. Lori

    This dish is in our regular fall/winter dinner rotation. I also use fresh lentils and the amount is different every time. My whole family loves it. Thank you!

  16. Nava Post author

    Hi Miri — being Israeli-born, I got a kick out of Eema and Abba and the question asked! I apparently forgot to make a suggestion on subbing for the Bragg’s to make the recipe soy-free. I would say to simply salt to your taste and add a favorite seasoning for extra flavor. These recipes are eminently flexible and can be made to suit your palate. Enjoy the holiday!

  17. WholeFoodChomper

    This recipe is really quite delicious and a sure winner!

    I had to alter it a bit as well. I did not have red wine so I used what I had; hibiscus tea. Also, I halved the Earth Balance and oil, used lentils made from scratch (which means I needed to add water to the recipe to adjust it a bit), I left the skin on the potatoes, used soy milk instead of rice milk, add some fresh sage to the mix, and finally, I added fresh carrots and celery (not all in that order). Very very good!

    In the future, I may add tomato paste to the filling as I like my Shepard’s Pie tomatoey.

  18. Howard

    Suggestion- Your recipe should call for chopping up the mushrooms .
    I used Lacinato Kale and collards instead of spinach.
    Very good recipe

  19. Nava Post author

    Thanks for pointing that out, Howard. I fixed it. And I can see how lacinato would be very good in this — hard to go wrong with kale!

  20. Emma

    Hi there,
    What’s exactly is the All-Purpose Seasoning? Unfortunately we don’t have the stores you mentioned in Australia so I’m hoping there’s something similar here! So last minute, I’m making this for my part of the family Christmas dinner!

  21. Nava Post author

    Hi Emma — all-purpose seasoning is simply any seasoning blend that combines a number of herbs and spices in a non-spicy mix. You can just use whatever favorite individual seasonings you have on hand, to your taste. Hope you and enjoy this dish!

  22. susan fogel

    Thank you so much for this delicious recipe. My family absolutely loved it. I used the extra spicy version of Mrs Dash and less potatoes.

  23. Nava Post author

    You’re very welcome, Susan — glad you and your family enjoyed it, and I always like hearing about the variations readers come up with.

  24. Vibeke

    Hi. I made this recently for a party of ten and we had a lot leftover, but I think we made a double batch? I’m not entirely sure as I was working with another cook. Can you tell me how many servings this recipe makes?

  25. Nava Post author

    Vibeke, you’re the first person who noticed that this widely-used recipe didn’t have the serving amount listed, so I just added that in. This is meant to serve 8 or more. It does sound as if you made a double batch, since if this was for a party of 10, it would have been gone! Thanks for the eagle eye.

  26. Erin

    I’m wondering whether this reheats well? I am hoping to make this to bring to a “Friendsgiving” potluck party this weekend…

  27. Nava Post author

    Hi Erin, I would say that this dish reheats very well, in the oven. I’m assuming you’ll make it only a day or two ahead. Hope you enjoy it!

  28. Lula Petersen

    I was looking for a vegan main dish to serve at Thanksgiving and this is what I plan to make. The comments sound like it will be very good.

  29. Kimberly Angel

    I found this recipe from the Fat Free Vegan blog. I am a vegan in progress, and am always looking for recipes my non-vegan husband and I can enjoy together. This recipe is now in the “Hubby Approved” category. Delicious!

  30. Nava Post author

    Hi Kimberly — hooray for the Hubby Seal of Approval. Susan V of Fat Free Vegan Kitchen did the photos for my book, Vegan Holiday Kitchen, which is why it made its way to her site. Glad you both enjoyed it!

  31. Annie

    Hello Nava,
    This looks like a terrific recipe, and I am enjoying the modifications made by some of the other cooks. My question is this: is the bread base meant to be used largely for moisture absorption? I have several gluten- or wheat-sensitive family members and am really not fond of using “gluten-free” bread as it is often not vegan (& has some textural challenges). Could I just sprinkle some roasted buckwheat kernels on the bottom of the baking pan as a base instead? By this, I mean uncooked roasted buckwheat, so that it could absorb the liquid & provide that rib-sticking, comforting factor.
    Thanks for this.

  32. Nava Post author

    Annie, it’s a good idea to add a gluten-free grain to the bottom of the pan; the bread called for is both for moisture absorption but for giving the casserole a firmer foundation. I’m not sure you should add a grain that hasn’t been cooked, though, as it’s hard to say if it would cook through during the baking time. If you want to try the buckwheat, maybe use it in firmly cooked rather than just roasted form;cooked quinoa could do the trick as well. I hope it works out; please report back!

  33. Annie

    I’ve started using buckwheat more often — as it is a seed rather than a grain — and have found that it absorbs liquid really readily and gets quite mushy with the amount of liquid that’s usually recommended in cooking it. That’s why I thought I’d try just having it absorb the liquids in your recipe alone. Maybe I’ll play it safe: kind of par-cook the buckwheat (use a LOT less liquid) before using it as a base for the shepherd’s pie.
    It’ll be a Christmas dinner experiment, so I will report back after then. People who are trying to go grain-free might find it useful.

  34. Nava Post author

    Sounds good, Annie, and it’s a great idea. Maybe if you have time, you can kind of test-drive the recipe before the big event by doing just the bottom half — the buckwheat topped with the lentil-mushroom mixture; bake it covered as directed in the recipe, to see if the buckwheat cooks up sufficiently. In any case, have a happy holiday and if you think of it, come back and let me know how it works out.

  35. Janet

    My brother just went vegan so I’ve been searching for recipes that don’t make him feel like all the vegan stuff is a side-dish. I’m going to add nutritional yeast and tofu cream cheese to the mashed potatoes since that worked well on Tgiving! My dad (NOT a vegan) is from Ireland and can’t wait to try this dish. Thanks!

  36. Pat

    I, too, can have no soy. I have found Coconut Aminos and they do a pretty good substitute job. Whole Foods and Sprouts carry Coconut Aminos…

  37. Judith Bader

    Great recipe. I used mixed brazing greens and tons of them plus some frozen corn. I cooked my potatoes in homemade veggie broth and then added some of the broth and olive oil for the mashed potatoes. It worked out beautifully. The lentils make great “gravy” and are a wonderful part of the recipe. Thanks.

  38. Susanne Loutas

    Nava, thank you for a delicious recipe. I just happened to have all the ingredients in the right amounts for Sunday dinner. My mushrooms were a “chef’s variety pack” that really ramped up the flavour.
    Having lived in Peu briefly, I picked up the habit of sauteeing my onions and garlic with some aji amarillo paste for some subtle heat. It added an extra dash of oomph without masking any of the great flavour.
    This recipe is a keeper in my home!

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  40. Nik R.

    So I found myself in possession of way too many dried lentils and wanted to do something with it, and the only thing I could think of was shepherd’s pie. I googled and found this recipe. Since I didn’t own any tomato paste, tomatoes or tomato sauce, your recipe was perfect.

    I made it last Friday for a friend and me. I improvised the seasoning (don’t have all purpose seasoning) and added smoked paprika, cayenne pepper and salt instead. I didn’t add cornstarch since my mix was already very dry (no added liquid from the dried and cooked lentils was probably the reason for that).

    I also made it non-vegan and added cheese on top of the mashed potatoes (to which I added nutmeg b/c that’s how I like my mashed potatoes).

    It tasted AMAZING. Like really, I haven’t had such a deliciously complex tasting meal in a while. So thank you for that. I will definitely be making this again!!

  41. Nava Post author

    Thanks for your comment, Nik! Just goes to show how flexible these recipes are, and that it’s great when the cook adds their own personal touches. Glad you enjoyed it.

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