This vegan shepherd's pie recipe, richly flavored with lentils and mushrooms, can only be described as complete comfort food. Perfect for a Thanksgiving or Christmas main dish!
(Photos by Susan Voisin.)
This vegan shepherd's pie is a bit of a project but not at all difficult, and definitely worth the trouble for a special occasion or holiday meal. This is a perfect vegan main dish for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner!
Potatoes: Using Yukon Gold potatoes is a good choice as they produce a creamy texture when mashed. However, you can also use Russet potatoes for a fluffier result.
Cornstarch: This is used as a thickener for the lentil and spinach filling. To ensure it is properly incorporated, make sure to dissolve it completely into water before adding it to the skillet.
Breadcrumbs: Toasting the breadcrumbs before adding them to the casserole dish will give an added crunch to the Shepherd's pie.
Letting it Rest: This step is essential as it allows the flavors to meld together and the pie to firm up before serving, making it easier to slice into wedges.
Deluxe Shepherd's Pie: Add in some sautéed diced carrots and peas to the lentil and mushroom mixture for some added textures and flavors.
Sweet and Savory Twist: Instead of regular potatoes, use sweet potatoes for the mash. The sweetness will pair well with the savory lentil filling. Or check out this Sweet Potato and Edamame Shepherd's Pie.
Gluten-Free Shepherd's Pie: Substitute the bread crumbs with gluten-free alternative if necessary. You can easily make your own by toasting gluten-free bread and grinding it up.
Protein-packed Shepherd's Pie: You may want to add in some cooked and crumbled tempeh or tofu for extra protein.
Vegan Shepherd's Cottage Pie: Switch out the lentils for a vegan mince substitute. This variation will give you a result closer to a traditional Cottage Pie, but still 100% vegan.
Remember, the key to a great Vegan Shepherd’s Pie is to balance the flavors of the filling and the creaminess of the mash. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different herbs and spices to tailor the taste to your liking.
And while you're here, don't forget to grab a copy of my free vegan cheat sheet. It's packed with all my favorite substitutions to vegan-ize any recipe!
More Vegan Recipes
If you love this vegan shepherd's pie, be sure to check out these other delicious ideas:
Lentil and Mushroom Shepherd’s Pie
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- Preheat the oven to 400º F.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Lightly oil a 2-quart (preferably round) casserole dish, or two deep-dish pie plates.
- 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.
- 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 ½ cups cooked lentils (start with 1 ½ cups uncooked to make sure you have enough. Different varieties of lentils cook swell to varying degrees).