This drool-worthy vegan lentil shepherd's pie is one of our all time favorite comfort food recipes! Made with hearty lentils, umami-packed mushrooms and a cheesy vegan mashed potato topping, this dish also features a creamy corn layer to make it even more decadent. Plus, it's nutritious, completely dairy-free, freezer-friendly and such a kid's favorite.
I grew up in Quebec, which comes with eating lots of classic French Canadian dishes like meat pies ('tourtière'), meatballs in gravy, boeuf bourguignon, meat loaf, chicken pot pies, etc.
But these traditional meals are also very meat focused. So, to help me feel like I'm home, I love to veganize them and turn them healthier too.
And this Quebec-style shepherd's pie is something I ate SO SO often growing up. We would call it 'pâté chinois', which is essentially a shepherd's pie with the addition of a creamy corn layer in the middle. One of the best winter comfort foods to treat yourself.
This version replaces the meat with hearty, crumbly and saucy lentils and the fluffy mashed potato layer is made completely dairy-free. There is no compromise on taste with the same depth in flavor you get from cooking with meat. And even though there are a few steps to this recipe, it is also super easy to make.
Healthier vegan shepherd's pie
Vegan-healthy-comfort-food? Can these words be matched together?
I know that comfort food often means to indulge and usually calls for a must-needed-post-meal-nap, but even vegan and healthy recipes can be extra tasty and super satisfying.
The 'meaty' lentils soak in a savory thick broth, then are garnished with sweet corn and then topped with fluffy and rich mashed potatoes. Finish up by baking until golden brown and bubbly, I promise you won't miss the meat at all!
This meatless shepherd's pie is rich-in fiber, packed with protein and filled with nutrient dense vegetables. Plus, you will get your comfort food fix. It's a win-win.
What's to love about this mushroom and lentil shepherd's pie
- Great for meal-prep and freezes well.
- High-in-protein and very filling.
- Popular with kids and even meat-eaters.
- Very flavorful
- Perfect for the holiday season, gatherings or make it ahead and have a tasty dinner during a busy week.
- Ultimate comfort food!
What you'll need
- Fresh produce: Onion, garlic, mushrooms, potatoes.
- From the freezer: Corn, mixed vegetables.
- Pantry: Lentils, cornstarch, dried oregano and thyme, tomato paste, vegetable broth and nutritional yeast.
- From the fridge: Vegan milk, soy sauce.
How to make it
Step 1- Get ready
Cook the lentils until just tender without overcooking them. I recommend to simmer together 1 cup of dried lentils with 3 cups of water (or follow the instructions on the packaging). They cook quickly and will be ready by the time you need them.
Also, combine the veggie broth with the soy sauce, tomato paste and cornstarch. Whisk well until there are no clumps anymore. Set aside.
And pre-heat the oven to 400º.
Step 2- Make the mashed potatoes
Peel and quarter the potatoes. Transfer to a medium pot and cover them with water. Bring to a boil and then, turn down the heat to low-medium and let the potatoes simmer until cooked through, about 20 minutes.
Drain the potatoes and return them into the pot. Transfer the pot back to the stove and let them dry out for a minute or two (the water will evaporate). Then, use a hand masher and mash the potatoes as smooth as you can. Add the vegan milk and nutritional yeast with some salt and keep mashing/add more milk to desired consistency. I love to also finish up by mixing using an electric beater for optimal fluffy potatoes. Set aside.
Step 3- Make the lentil base
While the potatoes are boiling, get started with the savory base.
In a large pan, brown the onions for about 5 minutes on medium heat stirring often. Use a small amount of oil or water.
Then, add the mushrooms, garlic and dried herbs and cook for another 5 minutes. Then add the frozen vegetables and stir. Cook until they are thawed, about another 5 minutes.
Once the veggies are done, transfer the cooked and drained lentils to the pan and the broth mixture. Stir constantly and bring back to a gentle simmer. It should thicken quickly once simmering. Remove from the heat. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Step 4- Make the creamy corn layer
Thaw the whole bag of frozen corn: either warm up for a few seconds using a microwave or soak in hot water for a few minutes. Drain well and then, transfer 1 ½ cup of the corn to a blender alongside the vegan milk and a good pinch of salt.
Blend until mostly smooth (no need to be perfect), then transfer back to the whole kernels remaining (should be about 1 - 1 ½ cup) and stir.
Step 5- Build the lentil shepherd's pie and bake
In a large square or rectangular baking dish, transfer the lentil mixture and even out using a large spoon. Then, scatter the creamy corn over and use the spoon to spread it evenly. Finish up by topping with the mashed potatoes (also scatter them first) and smooth the surface. Use a fork to create some texture over the potatoes, this will help brown and crisp the top layer.
Bake in the oven for about 25-30 minutes or until it is bubbly on the edges and golden brown on top. Finish up by broiling for a few minutes, watch carefully! Let the shepherd's pie rest for about 5-10 minutes before enjoying.
Watch how to make it
- Avoid using a blender when making the mashed potatoes to avoid a gummy texture.
- Feel free to add some red wine to the lentils for a deeper flavor. Add about ½ cup to the pan once the veggies are cooked. Then, let the wine cook down before adding the broth mixture.
- If you have them, use fresh herbs instead of the dried, it will add more flavor.
- Be sure to first brown the veggies before adding the broth to ensure you get the best flavor!
- When you transfer the potatoes, first distribute a few dollops all over the creamy corn, and then even out using the back of a spoon. Don't pour all the potatoes all at once in the middle as it will sink and it will be hard to make one nice top layer.
- If you are making this dish for the holiday and want to make it even more special, then add some vegan butter over the mashed potatoes, they will brown and crisp even more. Or, feel free to add some vegan cheese too!
- You can add more flavor to the lentil base by adding a dash or two of liquid smoke or Worcestershire sauce.
- Be sure to use a plain vegan milk without any flavoring!
Speed up the recipe
Using bagged frozen vegetables help make the recipe quicker and more convenient by limiting the chopping. But here are a few things you can do as well:
- Get store bought 'already-made' mashed potatoes
- You can skip on the corn layer, which would result in a more traditional shepherd's pie. Or use canned creamed corn!
- Use canned lentils instead of cooking them yourself.
This mushroom and lentil shepherd's pie is an amazing make-ahead dish. You can build it without baking it, cover and transfer to the fridge. Simply bake when ready to eat (if transferring from the fridge to oven, then cook for a few minutes extra).
The leftovers also keep very well. Simply cover them or even, you can store in individual portions before transferring to the fridge so you can easily reheat what you need.
Reheating lentil shepherd's pie
I often simply use the microwave to reheat leftovers. But, if you have multiple portions of shepherd's pie to reheat, then cover the dish tightly with foil and warm up in the oven at 350º for about 20 minutes or until heated through.
Yukon gold potatoes are the ones that will give you the best creamy -not grainy- and rich mashed potatoes texture. They also have more flavor than for example, Russet potatoes. You can also use sweet potatoes or a combo of sweet + yellow potatoes as well.
You will need green lentils or French/Du Puy lentils to make this shepherd's pie. Black or beluga would be an ok option too, if that's all you have. But, DO NOT use red/orange lentils!
Yes! This makes for an amazing recipe to freeze. You can freeze before OR after baking it. Simply thaw in the fridge overnight and bake as directed or rewarm only for a few minutes if you baked it before freezing. I'll also warm up leftovers shepherd's pie using the microwave.
Simply use a gluten-free tamari sauce instead of soy sauce (or simply omit/use more salt) and this dish will be completely gluten-free.
Other Vegan comfort food you might like
- Vegan meatballs in gravy
- Vegan onion gravy
- Squash mac and cheese
- Vegan tikka masala
- Jackfruit chili
- Vegan baked ziti
- Mushroom stroganoff
- Vegan American goulash
- Mashed purple sweet potatoes
- Vegan lentil meatloaf
- Creamy braised white beans
- Caramelized mushrooms and onions
I hope you will love this vegan shepherd's pie as much as we do! If you try it, please leave a comment below and rate the recipe to let me know how it was.
Mushroom and Lentil Shepherd's Pie (Vegan, Healthy)
For the mashed potatoes:
- 3 lb yukon gold potatoes - peeled and quartered
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- ½ cup vegan plain milk - or to taste
- salt and pepper - to taste
For the lentil base:
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 1 tbsp soy sauce - or tamari for gluten-free
- 1 tbsp corn starch
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 cup green lentils (or french du puy lentils) - uncooked
- 1 onion - diced
- 2 cloves of garlic - crushed
- 8 oz mushrooms - sliced
- 16 oz frozen mixed vegetables - I love carrot and pea combo, choose your favorite
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- salt and pepper - to taste
For the creamy corn:
- 16 oz frozen sweet yellow corn - thawed, about 3 cups
- ¼ cup vegan plain milk
Make the mashed potatoes
- Transfer the potatoes in a medium pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and keep simmering until they are tender, about 20 minutes.
- Drain and transfer the potatoes back to the pot. Dry out the potatoes by placing the pot over the heat until all the water has evaporated.
- Then, remove from the heat and using a hand masher, mash the potatoes until smooth. Add the nutritional yeast, milk and a good pinch of salt and keep mashing. Add more milk/salt as desired.
Make the lentil base
- In a small pot, combine the dry lentils with 3 cup of water, bring to a boil, then turn down the heat enough to keep it simmering for about 15-20 minutes. You want to cook the lentils through, but still keep them in their shape (avoid mushy texture). Drain the excess of water.
- In a small bowl, combine the broth, soy sauce, tomato paste and corn starch. Whisk until there are no clumps anymore. Set aside.
- In a large pan, cook the onion with a pinch of salt on medium-high heat until browned, about 5 minutes. Use a small amount of oil or water if necessary.
- Then, add the mushrooms, garlic and dried herbs. Cook for 5-7 minutes stirring often until browned.
- Add the frozen vegetables to the pan and stir well. Let the veggies thaw for about 5 minutes.
- Then, add the cooked lentils and the broth mixture. Stir well and bring to a simmer. The mixture should thicken quickly after simmering for a minute or two. Remove from the heat and taste to adjust the seasoning.
Make the creamy corn
- In a blender, combine about half of the corn (1 ½ cups) with the vegan milk plus a good pinch of salt. Blend until mostly smooth (no need to be perfect).
- Pour the creamed corn back with the whole kernels remaining (you should have another 1 ½ cup of kernels from the bag) and combine.
Build & Bake:
- Preheat the oven to 400°.
- In the bottom of an oven safe dish, distribute the lentil base mixture.
- Scatter the corn mixture over and then, spread it all the way up to the corners on an even layer.
- Finally, transfer the mashed potatoes by first scattering it all over the corn and then also spreading it to the edges. You can create some texture over the mashed potatoes using a fork (this can help crisp and brown the top layer). Sprinkle with some paprika, if desired.
- Bake uncovered in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until the dish is bubbly on the edges. You can broil for a few minutes to brown the potatoes, but watch carefully. Let the dish rest for 5-10 minutes before enjoying.
- Store leftovers covered in the fridge for up to 5 days. Reheat using the microwave or the oven. Can also be frozen.
- Feel free to add some red wine to the lentils for deeper flavor. Add about ½ cup to the veggies, then let the wine cook down and then, add the broth mixture.
- If you have it, use fresh herb instead of the dried, it will add more flavor.
- Be sure to first brown the veggies before adding the broth to ensure you get the best flavor!
- When you transfer the potatoes, first distribute a few dollops all over the creamy corn, and then even out using the back of a spoon or a spatula. Don't simply pour all the potatoes all at once in the middle as it will sink and hard to make one nice top layer.
- If you are making this dish for the holiday and want to make it even more special, then add some vegan butter over the mashed potatoes, they will brown and crisp even more. Or, feel free to add some vegan cheese too.
- You can add more flavor by adding a dash or two of liquid smoke or Worcestershire sauce.