Shepherd’s Pie Vegan Recipe

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An ancient Irish dish, Shepherd’s Pie is also known as “poor man’s pie”. Potatoes were said to be all the “poor man” could afford; and lamb, which made the base of the pie, was easily accessible to the shepherd.

My reasons for beginning to experiment with vegan shepherd’s pie were also rooted in money- or lack thereof. When I moved into my first college dorm, I was faced with paying for everyday expenses for the very first time. The price of ingredients suddenly mattered. A lot. I was working in an animal shelter at the time, making just over minimum wage. It was time to say goodbye to the mock meats and the fancy vegan cheeses. 

With the cheapest ingredients I could find, I began to build this dish. One pound of lentils should run you less than $2 at most California grocery stores. Onion, carrot, celery and spinach are some of the most affordable veggies out there. Nowadays, I treat myself and typically add Impossible vegan ground beef to the pie. With or without, the pie is delicious. Mashed potatoes have always been one of my greatest cooking joys! These buttery herb mashed potatoes are broiled to form a golden brown, flaky crust encasing the savory pie. 

Vegan shepherd’s pie is a modern adaptation of an old cooking practice. It’s still affordable- and it’s still mouthwatering. Vegan shepherd’s pie spares the life of the lamb without sparing an ounce of flavor. Try it. You won’t be able to stop making it!

Vegan Shepard's Pie

Course Main Course


  • 4 medium russet potatoes
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 cup brown lentils
  • 2 whole carrots cut into rings
  • 1 yellow or sweet onion diced
  • 2 stalks celery cut into crescents
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped spinch or kale
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 pound Impossible ground beef (if opting without, use two cups brown lentils)
  • 4 tbsp Vegan butter (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • Salt to taste


  • Start by bringing a large pot of water to a boil for your potatoes. Skin the potatoes and cut them in half for faster boiling time. The amount of potatoes you will prepare depends on your own preference. For a thicker, gooey “crust”, use more potatoes. For a thin “crust”, use less. The larger the surface area of the baking pan you use, the more potatoes you should consider adding.
  • Boil your halved potatoes on high for thirty minutes before checking them; you should be able to cut through each potato easily when they are done, like cutting through butter. Continue to boil until this is achieved.
  • Now is your time to preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
  • In the meantime, bring 2 cups of water with 1 tsp of olive oil to a boil. Add your cup of brown lentils. Add an optional pinch of garlic powder and salt to the water. Add an optional teaspoon of vegetable bouillon for increased flavor profile. Bring to a simmer and cook for ten minutes.
  • Next, dice your carrots, onions, and celery, lightly chop your kale/spinach and mince your garlic cloves.
  • Heat up olive oil in a pan and add your onions. Cook on high until onions caramelize (yellow or golden brown in color, translucent and soft). Add carrots, onions, celery, kale/spinach and minced garlic. Sautee on medium heat for about five minutes. 
  • By this time, your lentils should be done. You want the lentils to be cooked, but not completely soft. A bit of firmness should remain; remember, they’re going to cook more in the oven! Combine the lentils and sauteed veggies into your baking pan or cast iron skillet. Pour 1 cup of vegetable broth over the pan and mix.
  • Cook the Impossible beef on medium-high. Use your spatula to break your pound down into crumbles. Turn heat to “high” and cook for about five minutes. Take out a piece of your “beef” to test it: ideally, the outside should be crisp and browned, and the core inside should still be a little “rare” pink or red color. You don’t want to over-dry it, as it’s going to cook further once inside of the pie.
  • Mix crisp Impossible beef into the baking pan or skillet with the rest of the ingredients. Use a spoon or spatula to even the ingredients down to create a flat top. This is where your mashed potatoes will go!
  • Now it’s time to mash your potatoes. Add vegan milk and butter and begin to whisk. Add rosemary, basil, garlic and salt to taste. Give it a taste test; you want the mashed potatoes to be extra buttery and moist.
  • Spread mashed potatoes over the top of the pie, creating a thick “crust”. Your ingredients should be completely covered by the mashed potato. Place in the oven, after twenty minutes, turn on the oven light and give the pie a visual check. Is the top mostly golden-brown? If not, you might want to set your oven on “broil” for about five minutes. It’s better to quickly crisp up your pie than to cook for too long and dry out your ingredients. Keep a close eye on your broiling pie- it’s easy to burn! When the pie is done, the mashed potato topping should make a crispy, flaky sound when you run a fork over the top. You should hear a slight “crunch” when you insert a fork into the very top of the potato “crust”.
  • When this is accomplished, pat yourself on the back. Your vegan shepherd’s pie is all done! This dish is time consuming, but it’s well worth the wait. Allow the pie to cool for a few minutes and serve yourself a heaping “slice”. Remember, it’s hot!
Keyword filling, main course, pie

Your pie should now consist of a flaky, crispy golden crust encasing a layer of buttery, gooey, flavorful mashed potatoes. Beneath lies the most savory, succulent, moist “meat”, lentil and vegetable pie known to humankind. You might be tempted to inhale the food in front of you! But you’ve earned the right to savor it. If you’re cooking for one, you’ll likely have leftovers. Enjoy!

Chelsea Pinkham

Chelsea Pinkham is a long-time animal advocate, rescuer, and humane education writer. Chelsea studied Communications & Journalism with a minor in Environmental Science at Sonoma State University. She has been vegan for thirteen years, since she discovered the treatment of animals on farms in middle school. Outside of Vegan Unlocked, she works for a nonprofit farmed animal sanctuary, authors humane education children’s books, and has personally rescued, fostered and transported over 1,000 animals. She enjoys camping, hiking, learning about animal behavior, and traveling the world on a low budget!

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