Lentils and mushrooms are cooked in a rich, savory wine sauce and topped with homemade mashed potatoes in this healthy, comforting vegan lentil shepherd's pie.
Whenever I'm looking for a comforting and hearty casserole, I go for this "shepherd's pie" or pot pie.
Traditional shepherd's pie is British comfort food made using lamb. This vegan version uses lentils, mushrooms, and walnuts to make a shepherd's pie that is plant-based, nutritious, and very delicious.
- The filling: This recipe has a "meaty" filling made using protein and fiber-rich lentils alongside mushrooms and walnuts.
- Flavors: Filled with rich, savory and hearty flavors from a few umami-rich pantry staples.
- Ingredients: Made with mostly pantry staples and a handful of fresh veggies.
- Versatile: Shepherd's pie is great for family dinners or meal prep because it reheats well.
- Dietary features: vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free optional and soy-free optional (just use tamari in place of soy sauce), nut-free optional (omit walnuts)
If you like my lentil loaf recipe you'll love this vegan shepherd's pie because it uses many of the same ingredients to make the meaty meatless texture.
🥘Ingredients and substitutions
Look like a lot of ingredients? Don't worry! A lot of these are pantry staples that can be reused in other recipes. It all leads to a super flavorful filling.
- Mushrooms: The mushrooms add a slightly chewy, meaty texture to this meatless recipe. I roughly chop them so that they are noticeable in the filling, but if you or someone you're serving doesn't like mushrooms you can chop them very finely or reduce them to just 8 ounces. I use baby bella mushrooms. White mushrooms also work.
- Green lentils or brown lentils work here. Red lentils will not work because they get too soft.
- Roughly chopped walnuts add a lot of texture. These can be omitted to make the recipe nut-free.
- Mashed potatoes: This is simply a mix of cubed and boiled Russet potatoes, salt, soy milk (or non-dairy milk of your choice) and vegan butter. Simple but really delicious.
- Umami pantry staples like soy sauce, wine, and tomato paste give a classic beef stew flavor, minus the beef.
- Corn starch slurry: This combination of equal parts corn starch and water helps to thicken the filling. Arrowroot starch can be used in place of corn starch if needed.
- Red wine: I use red wine, usually cabernet or pinot noir. This ingredient really intensifies the filling flavors and I don't recommend skipping it! The alcohol cooks off during the cooking process, so no need to worry about the casserole having any true alcohol content.
Before you begin: I use a 12-inch cast iron pan for this recipe. You can also cook the filling in a large non-stick skillet and transfer it to a 2-quart casserole dish if you don't have an oven-safe skillet.
Step one. Heat a cast-iron pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, drizzle in olive oil. Add the mushrooms, onion, celery, carrots, and chopped walnuts and sprinkle with salt. Sauté until softened, stirring occasionally for even cooking, about 10-12 minutes.
Step two: Add in the minced garlic, soy sauce, tomato paste, wine, nutritional yeast, rosemary, thyme. Cook for another 1-2 minutes, until the garlic is aromatic.
Step three: Add in the vegetable broth, corn starch slurry, and lentils. Stir and let sit over medium-low while you make the mashed potatoes.
The mashed potatoes
Step four: You'll first want to boil quartered and peeled potatoes for 10 minutes until softened. Drain off the water and return to the dish you boiled the potatoes in.
Add milk of choice (I use unsweetened/unflavored soy milk), salt and pepper, and melted (vegan) butter. Mash away! If you prefer a creamier mashed potato you can add additional liquid during the mashing process.
Step five: Layer the lentil mushroom filling into a lightly oiled casserole dish or keep in the cast iron pan. Top with a layer of mashed potatoes.
Step six: Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 15 minutes, until the potatoes are golden.
📖Tips and variations
- Why bake the pie? While the flavors deepen in the oven and help the pie hold its shape, you don't have to bake it if you're short on time. The dish won't hold its shape as well but it will still be delicious.
- Sweet potatoes: You can use sweet potatoes in place of white potatoes for a sweeter flavor. Just cube and boil the sweet potatoes until tender. Make the mashed potatoes per recipe instructions, adjusting seasonings to taste as needed.
- "Meat" options: I haven't tested this using meatless ground beef in place of lentils but it should work if you use something like Beyond meat or even TVP. I recommend starting with 8 ounces and you will need to cook it before adding it to the filling.
- Gluten-free option: You can make this shepherd's pie gluten-free by using tamari in place of soy sauce.
💭Leftovers and storage tips
- Leftovers: Cover and keep refrigerated for 3-4 days for best quality.
- Reheating: Reheat a single serving in a microwave. You can also cover the casserole with foil and reheat it in the oven at 325 degrees. It will take 15-20 minutes for the filling to warm through.
- Freezing: Vegan shepherd's pie does freeze well. To freeze the entire casserole, let it cool to room temperature before coving tightly with plastic wrap and foil. Freeze for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating. Freeze individual servings in air-tight freezer containers.
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Vegan Lentil Shepherd's Pie
- 2 and ½ pounds Russet potatoes cut into 1" pieces, see note #1
- 2 tablespoons melted vegan butter
- ¼ cup unsweetened soy milk
- ¼ teaspoon salt more to taste
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons corn starch
- 2 tablespoons cool water
- ¾ cup dry green lentils see note #2
- 2 and ½ cups water
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 8 ounces cremini mushrooms roughly chopped, see note #3
- 8 ounces baby bella mushrooms
- 1 cup diced yellow onion ~1 small onion, finely diced
- 1 cup diced carrots ~2 large carrots
- ½ cup diced celery ~2 stalks celery
- ½ cup walnuts roughly chopped
- ¼ teaspoon salt more to taste
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 3 tablespoons red wine see note #4
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon dry rosemary
- 1 teaspoon dry thyme
- ¼ cup vegetable broth
- Cover diced potatoes with water in a large pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil until softened, about 10-15 minutes depending on the size of your potato pieces.
- While the potatoes are boiling, start cooking the lentil filling. When potatoes are fork tender, drain the water and return them to the pot. Add melted butter, soy milk, salt and pepper. Mash until softened to mashed potato consistency.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Make the corn starch slurry by stirring together 2 tablespoons corn starch and 2 tablespoons water in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Combine the dry lentils and water in a medium sauce pot with a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer over medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes, or until lentils are tender. Once cooked, drain off excess liquid and set lentils aside.
- Heat a 12 inch skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, drizzle in olive oil. Add the mushrooms, onion, carrots, celery and chopped walnuts. Sprinkle with salt. Sauté until softened, stirring occasionally for even cooking, about 10-12 minutes.
- Add in the minced garlic, wine, tomato paste, soy sauce, nutritional yeast, rosemary, thyme. Cook for another 1-2 minutes, until the garlic is aromatic.
- Add in the vegetable broth, corn starch slurry and lentils. Stir and sit over medium-low. At this point the potatoes are usually ready to mash.
- Layer the lentil mushroom filling into a lightly oiled 2 quart casserole dish or keep in the cast iron pan. Top with a layer of mashed potatoes.
- Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees F. Remove the foil and bake another 15 minutes, until the potatoes are golden. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!
- Potatoes: Russet or Yukon gold potatoes work. I usually leave the skins on but you can peel them if you prefer.
- Lentils: Use green or brown lentils. ¾ cup dry lentils = 2 and ½ cups cooked. Or about two cans of lentils.
- Mushrooms: I roughly chop them so that they are noticeable in the filling, but if you or someone you're serving doesn't like mushrooms you can chop them very finely or reduce to just 8 ounces. I use a mix of cremini mushrooms and baby bella mushrooms. White mushrooms also work.
- Wine: I use red wine, usually cabernet or pinot noir. The alcohol cooks off during the cooking process and leaves a rich flavor.
- Storage and reheating: Cover and keep refrigerate for 3-4 days for best quality. Reheat single serving in a microwave. You can also cover the casserole with foil and reheat it in the oven at 325 degrees. It will take 15-20 minutes for the filling to warm through.