This vegetarian shepherd’s pie is one of my family’s favorite recipes! Made with hearty lentils and meaty mushrooms, it’s unbelievably savory and perfectly seasoned. A true one-pan meal, it’s filling and satisfying. You don’t have to tell anyone that it’s quite healthy!
This vegetarian shepherd’s pie is truly the best! Made with hearty ingredients, this recipe is filling and even committed carnivore-approved. (Both my husband and four-year-old love it!) Tender lentils, meaty mushrooms, and sauteed veggies seasoned with tart red wine, soy sauce, and variety of seasonings make this shepherd’s pie unbelievably savory and rich. This is real comfort food, vegetarian style.
Made primarily with pantry staples, this recipe is full of complex flavors and tastes like it took hours to make, but is surprisingly not that hard to throw together. Use a cast-iron skillet to go from the stove to the oven to the dinner table and make things even easier (with fewer dishes to clean, too)!
What You’ll Need To Make This Recipe
Red or Russet potatoes – See the top tips for how to prep Russet potatoes
Butter or vegan butter
Milk or plant-based half and half
Mushroom – Cremini, oyster, or baby bella
Lentils – You can either use canned or cooked ones
Dry red wine
Soy sauce or Bragg’s liquid aminos
Dried oregano, basil, parsley, and thyme
Freshly ground pepper
Cornstarch of arrowroot
Baby spinach or arugula leaves – Optional. I’ve used them in the past when making this recipe, but not every time if I don’t have them.
How To Make The Best Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie
The full recipe is below, but here you’ll find all the steps for making this recipe perfectly the first and 100th time, along with useful tips and info!
- Preheat the oven to 400º F. Wash the potatoes and place them in a medium saucepan filled with cold water. (Be sure to read the top tips for what to do if you use Russet potatoes!) Bring to a boil on the stove over high heat. Let the pot boil until the potatoes are soft enough to be easily pierced with a fork, usually about 12-20 minutes. While the potatoes are cooking, you can go ahead and start with the other steps.
- In a large skillet, melt some butter or vegan butter over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until they are a little translucent. Then add in the garlic and mushrooms and sauté, stirring constantly, until the garlic is fragrant, the mushrooms are soft and sautéed, and the onion is golden.
- Add the lentils and their liquid to the skillet and turn down the heat a little so everything gently simmers. Stir in the wine, soy sauce, rosemary and dried spices. Cook for 5 minutes. In a small bowl, add the cornstarch or arrowroot and just enough water to dissolve it and stir. Pour that into the skillet with the lentils and stir. If you’re adding spinach to your shepherd’s pie, add a little bit at a time cook until it’s just wilted. Remove the skillet from the heat. You can spoon out the rosemary sprig and just discard it.
- When the potatoes are ready, remove them from the hot water with a slotted spoon and pop them into a bath of ice water. After a minute or so, remove the skins. They should be easy to remove. Cut the potatoes into quarters.
5. In a glass or a microwave-safe bowl, microwave the rest of the butter or vegan butter and milk or plant-based half and half until the butter melts and the milk is hot. Pour that into the potatoes and use a masher or back of a spoon to mash them until they’re your desired consistency. If they look a bit lumpy, you can add more milk or half and half. Season with salt to taste.
6. Lightly oil or grease a 2-quart casserole dish (I like a round one), two deep-dish pie pans, or your skillet if you prefer. (Yes, you can use the skillet to bake and serve if it’s cast iron! I definitely prefer to so I have fewer dishes to clean.) If you’re using the casserole dish or pie pans, scatter the breadcrumbs over the bottom. Pour in the lentil mixture. If you’re cooking in your skillet, sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the lentils. Spread the potatoes on top.
7. Bake the pie for 35 minutes or until the top becomes slightly crusty and golden. If desired, melt a little butter or vegan butter and brush the top of the potatoes with it about 20 minutes into the baking process.
8. When done, remove from the oven and let stand 5-10 minutes, then cut into wedges and serve.
Top Tips For Making
- If you’re using Russet potatoes, peel and cut them into 1″ size squares before boiling them. You can then skip the entire ice bath step.
- For vegan or dairy free shepherd’s pie, make sure to use vegan butter and plant-based half and half instead of butter and milk.
More Vegetarian & Vegan Recipes
- Vegetarian Chickpea Tikka Masala
- Air Fryer Tofu
- Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes
- BBQ Jackfruit Bowls
- Chickpea Gyros
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Best Ever Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie
Made with hearty lentils and mushrooms, this vegetarian shepherd's pie is savory, seasoned, and a true one-pan meal.
- 2 pounds red or Russet potatoes whole or cut into uniform pieces if potatoes are unevenly sized. See Note if using Russet potatoes
- 1/4 cup butter or vegan butter
- 1/2 cup milk or plant-based half and half
- salt to taste
- 2 tablespoons butter or vegan butter
- 1 large onion finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 8 ounces cremini, oyster, or baby bella mushrooms chopped into 1/2" pieces
- 2 (15-ounce) cans lentils lightly drained but not rinsed (or about 3 1/2 cups cooked lentils with a little of their cooking liquid)
- 2 tablespoons dry red wine
- 2 tablespoon soy sauce or Bragg’s liquid aminos
- 1 long sprig fresh rosemary cut in half
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- pepper freshly ground, to taste
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot
- 8 pieces baby spinach or arugula leaves optional
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 400º F.
Start cooking the potatoes: Wash and add to medium saucepan filled with cold water. (See Notes for Russet potatoes.) Bring to boil over high heat on stove. Let boil until potatoes are soft enough to be easily pierced with a fork, about 12-20 minutes. Continue with next steps while potatoes cook.
Cook vegetables: Melt 2 tablespoons butter or vegan butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook until translucent. Add garlic and mushrooms. Sauté, stirring constantly, until garlic is fragrant, mushrooms are soft, and onion is golden.
Add lentils and their liquid to skillet. Turn down heat so liquid gently simmers. Stir in wine, soy sauce, rosemary, and dried spices. Cook 5 minutes. Add cornstarch or arrowroot to small bowl and mix with just enough water to dissolve. Pour into skillet and stir. If using spinach, add a little at a time and cook until just wilted. Remove skillet from heat and remove rosemary sprig and discard.
Make mashed potatoes: When done boiling, remove from hot water with slotted spoon and place in ice water bath. Remove skins after minute or so. Cut the potatoes into quarters.
Microwave 1/4 cup butter or vegan butter and milk or plant-based half and half in microwave-safe bowl or glass until butter melts and milk is hot. Pour into potatoes and use masher or back of spoon to mash to desired consistency. Add more milk or half in half if potatoes are lumpy. Season with salt to taste.
Prepare pie: Lightly oil or grease 2-quart casserole dish (preferably round), two deep-dish pie pans, or cast iron skillet. Casserole dish or pie pans: Scatter breadcrumbs over greased bottom. Pour in the lentil mixture. Cast iron skillet: Pour in lentil mixture, then sprinkle breadcrumbs over the lentils. After lentils and breadcrumbs have been added, spread mashed potatoes evenly on top.
Baked 35 minutes or until top becomes slightly crusty and golden. If desired, brush melted butter or vegan butter on top of potatoes 20 minutes into baking time.
When done, remove from oven and let stand 5-10 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve.
- Russet potatoes: Peel and cut potatoes into 1″ size squares before boiling. Skip entire ice water bath step.
- Vegan or dairy free: Use vegan butter and plant-based half and half instead of butter and milk.