Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie

A few days ago I was staring into the refrigerator, wondering what the heck to make for dinner. My husband and I prefer to eat meatless on weekdays to keep things light, but I hadn’t really planned ahead and I was kind of out of ideas. After taking a quick tally of ingredients, I started imagining a warm casserole– something hardy and filling, winter comfort food. Shepherd’s pie! That’s what I was craving. But how the heck do you make a shepherd’s pie without the meat? I don’t like using the ground soy meat substitutes because eating too much soy makes me break out. I thought back to my Vegetable Moussaka recipe, where I used lentils as a meat substitute. I thought it might work in this dish, so I decided to give it a go. With a little creativity and a lot of sriracha, I whipped up something that I’m sure many of you will enjoy! With Purim coming up (a Jewish holiday that is sometimes celebrated with a vegetarian meal), I thought it was the perfect time to share this tasty, comforting Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie recipe with you.

This dish can be enjoyed by people who have a variety of dietary restrictions. It’s vegetarian, and can be made vegan/pareve with a couple of simple substitutes. It’s gluten free if you use a GF tamari sauce. It’s much lighter and healthier than traditional shepherd’s pie, and it’s a great choice for those on a low cholesterol diet. If you use the vegan substitutions, you can serve this as a meatless option alongside a kosher meat meal.

I really like the flavor that Worchestershire sauce adds to this dish, but most brands contain anchovies, which means they can’t be enjoyed by vegetarians. It’s also tough to find gluten free Worchestershire sauce. Wan Ja Shan brand produces an organic, vegan, kosher, and gluten free Worcestershire- click here for information. If you can’t find a sauce that suits your particular dietary needs, use 2 tsp of tamari sauce– gluten free tamari is widely available, and it’s a vegetarian product.

Now, for those traditionalists out there, my topping of choice for this dish may sound strange. I like spice, and lately I find myself adding sriracha sauce to just about everything. Topping my shepherd’s pie with sriracha took this dish from yum to yumtastic. Those who crave sriracha will understand what I mean. Amazing.

If, however, you’re craving a simple, British-style shepherd’s pie without the meat, the sriracha is totally optional. Feel free to sprinkle some cheddar cheese on top, if you’re feeling cheesy. Enjoy!


Potato Masher

Baking Dish

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Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie


  • 2 lbs. Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled
  • 1 whole garlic clove
  • 1 cup (1/2 lb.) dry brown lentils
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 cup corn
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley, divided
  • 2 tsp vegan Worchestershire or tamari sauce
  • 3/4 tsp dried oregano
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup milk or milk substitute (soy, almond, or rice milk)
  • 3 tbsp butter or vegan butter substitute (ex. Earth Balance)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Nonstick cooking oil spray
  • Sriracha sauce for topping (optional)

You will also need

  • 2 quart baking dish, potato masher
Total Time: 1 Hour
Servings: 9 servings
Kosher Key: Dairy or Pareve
  • Note: If making pareve, substitute dairy-free products for dairy (suggestions above).
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place the peeled potatoes in a pot along with one whole peeled garlic clove. Cover the potatoes with plenty of water.
  • Bring to a boil on the stovetop, then reduce heat to medium to the potatoes continue to simmer. Let the potatoes cooks for 25-30 minutes till fork tender.
  • Meanwhile, rinse and sort the lentils. Pour the lentils into a pot along with a bay leaf. Cover with 2 cups of water and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat to a simmer and let the lentils cook for 15-20 minutes till just tender-- keep a close watch on them and don't overcook, or they'll become soft/mushy. Remove from heat as soon as they're cooked. If there is any excess water, drain it.
  • As potatoes and lentils are cooking, heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add diced onion to the skillet and saute for 5-6 minutes till softened.
  • Add the diced carrots and celery. Continue to saute for 5-6 more minutes till the vegetables are tender-crisp.
  • Add crushed garlic, peas, corn, 3 tbsp of the chopped parsley, vegan Worchestershire or tamari sauce, oregano, and cayenne pepper to the skillet. Stir and saute for 3-4 minutes more till the vegetables are tender and fragrant.
  • Stir the skillet vegetable mixture into the cooked, drained lentils. Season the mixture with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Drain the cooked potatoes; reserve the whole garlic clove that cooked with them. Mash the potatoes and softened garlic clove with milk and butter (or vegan milk and butter substitutes) till smooth and creamy. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Lightly grease a 2 quart baking dish with cooking spray. Spread the lentil and vegetable mixture in an even layer across the bottom of the dish.
  • Spread the mashed potatoes on top of the vegetable mixture, using a spoon or fork to add texture to the top of the potatoes for browning. Top with cheddar cheese (or vegan cheddar shreds), if desired.
  • Place the dish in the oven and let it bake for about 30 minutes till the tips of the potatoes turn golden brown. Increase heat at the end of cooking for more browning, if desired. Sprinkle the remaining 1 tbsp of chopped parsley on top of the pie to garnish. Serve hot.
  • I like to top each serving with a squirt of sriracha-- it's very spicy, but oh so delicious!
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Category: Entrees, Gluten Free, Healthy, In the Kitchen, Nut Free, Pareve, Recipes, Shavuot, Slide Show, Tomato Free, Vegan, Vegetarian

Comments (48)Post a Comment

  1. I love this vegetarian version. So yummy sounding!

  2. Bob Gailey says:

    Please forgive, it didn’t paste/copy very well. Sorry I prefer mine because I love lamb.

    Bob’s Shepherd’s Pie

    Meat Mixture
    1/4 cup Unsalted Butter
    2 teas Fresh Thyme, chopped
    2 lbs Ground Lamb
    1 Bay Leaf
    1 White Onion, chopped
    3 cups Bob’s Beef Stock (see note 1)
    2 cups Carrots, cut in 1/4″ cubes
    3 tbls All-Purpose Flour
    2 cups Turnips, (see note 2)
    2 tbls HP Brown Sauce
    1 teas Sea Salt
    1/2 lb White Mushrooms, chopped
    1 teas Black Pepper, coarsely ground
    10 oz Frozen Petite Peas (1 box)

    Mashed Potatoes
    4 lbs Potatoes, peeled and cubed
    3 tbls Unsalted Butter
    1/2 cup Cream
    2 tbls Sour Cream
    1 Egg Yolk
    1/8 teas Nutmeg
    1/2 cup Cheddar Cheese, grated (I prefer a white Irish Cheddar for this recipe)

    In a large non-stick preheated skillet and over medium heat, add a tablespoon or so of butter. When the butter is melted, add the ground lamb and brown. Using a potato masher, make sure the lamb is in very small pieces by gently breaking up any large pieces of meat. Add the chopped onions, carrots, turnips, and mushrooms to the meat and gently stir, using a wooden spoon, to incorporate vegetables into the meat. Add salt, pepper, bay leaf, and the thyme. Add 1 1/2 cups of beef stock to meat mixture and mix thoroughly, turn down heat a little and simmer covered until veggies are almost done and remove cover.
    Continue simmering until liquid is almost gone, about 10-15 minutes.

    While the meat and vegetable mixture is simmering, melt the remaining 1/4 cup of butter and add the flour. Mix the butter and flour together to form a roux. Cook for a few minutes and whisk in 1 1/2 cups of beef stock and the HP Brown Sauce. Let it cook until gravy is nice and thick. Add gravy to meat and vegetable mixture then gently stir in peas. Meanwhile, boil the potatoes in a little salted water about 12-14 minutes.

    As the potatoes are boiling, combine the butter, cream, sour cream, egg yolk and nutmeg. Place on low heat and whisk until butter is melted. Drain the cooked potatoes and add the cream mixture a little at a time as you mash until the potatoes are nice and smooth.

    Remove meat and vegetable mixture from the heat and discard the bay leaf. Place the mixture into a large casserole dish. Spoon the mashed potatoes onto the mixture and smooth the top. Sprinkle the cheese on top of the potatoes and bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for about 20-25 minutes or until top is bubbly and browned a little. Remove from oven and let set for 10-15 minutes before serving. Serves 10-12 very hungry folks.

    1. You can substitute 1 quart of Swanson’s Organic Beef Broth if you wish.
    2. Peel the turnips and slice in 1/4″ discs. Then stack and slice into 1/4″ cubes.

  3. Coco Galvez says:

    oh wow Tori, thank you for all this vegan recipes, I’m totally enjoy them. :-)

  4. WOW that looks great. I was needing some gluten free recipes for guests coming in town and this looks perfect!

  5. Natalie says:

    Thanks for all of the recipes and the step-by-step instructions. Please keep the vegetarian recipes coming!!

  6. I make a really similar shepherd’s pie but I like to add sweet potatoes to the top – gives nice flavor!

  7. Sarah says:

    This is the *perfect* pareve meal for Friday night Shabbos meal to include for veggie friends. You’re the bomb!

  8. djaz says:

    Great recipe! I sauteed 4 cups of eggplant in the onions and celery, because I didn’t have lentils. Added 1/4 C of shredded cheddar to the potatoes. Enjoy!

  9. Maureen says:

    I love this. Having a go-to vegetarian meal is something I don’t have. I have lots of salads but I needed this one!

  10. Lori Lynn says:

    Your pie in the casserole dish looks so homey, love the golden brown tips.
    I vote for the spicy version.

  11. Kristy says:

    I usually shy away from shepherd’s pie because of the meat, but this is a great variation. And I’ll definitely take some cheddar cheese with this. :)

  12. Victoria Narcisi says:

    I liked it. I always have the staples of this dish at hand. It fooled the carnivores in my home. It was tasty.

    • Tori Avey says:

      Really happy you enjoyed it Victoria! I think it’s a great way to lighten up the Shepherd’s Pie concept. My family enjoys it, too. :)

  13. Christi Young says:

    When you refer to Tamari, is it the same as tamarind paste?

    • Tori Avey says:

      Hi Christi– no, tamari is a soy-derived Asian sauce, similar to soy sauce but less salty and more flavorful. It can be found in the Asian section of most markets.

  14. Tina says:

    Ooooh, this looks fantastic, it is going to be dinner for TONIGHT and I cannot wait! Thanks for posting this! I have been looking for more meatless meals as our family is trying to cut back on meat a bit now too. Enjoying it for sabbath and such instead. Looking forward to dinner! :)

  15. Tina says:

    This WAS fantastic! My whole family enjoyed it and we have some yummy leftovers as I doubled the recipe for lunches this week. This is going on my list of faves. So warm, yummy and comforty food feeling! Thanks!

  16. Elle says:

    I was going to ask about using sweet rather than white potatoes for the topping, but it looks as though someone has done it successfully. What do you think?

    • Tori Avey says:

      Hi Elle, I’ve never tried it. If you give it a try let us know what you think!

    • Leta says:

      I use half white and half sweet potatoes for the mash with some grated parmigiano cheese and chive snippings stirred in. I love the idea of using lentils for the protein in shepherd’s pie.

  17. Karen says:

    I didn’t catch whether or not you mention soy sauce contains in the thread so if this is redundant I apologize. Please make sure to check the ingrendiants on the soy sauce, most soy sauce contain wheat or another form of gluten. There are gluten free varieties which taste just as good as, if not better, then regular soy sauce.

  18. Karen says:

    Oops, sorry. I reread the above thread, you were referring to tamari sauce which is soy derived but not soy sauce. Though as most of us that are gluten-free know, one must always read the ingredients on the lables.

  19. Dafna says:

    Made this recipe with 1 regular potato & 2 sweet potatoes. Didn’t use butter or butter substitute for the potatoes & I used almond milk. It came out absolutely delicious!!! LOVE your veggie & vegan recipes!!!! THANK YOU!

  20. Tamara S says:

    I thought this recipe very disappointing. There is no sauce in the vegetables. It lacks flavour and the correct texture.

  21. Joe G says:

    this just in…beef broth isn’t vegetarian. Therefore, this dish is not vegetarian.

    • Tori Avey says:

      Joe, there is no beef broth in this recipe– maybe you’re referring to the recipe shared by a reader in comments? His version is not vegetarian, but mine is.

  22. BEATRIZ says:

    Thank You for this recipe….I made the top with sweet potatoes,,,other than that the credits are all yours…because i follow your recipe by the “T”….

    Thanks again.!!…Bea

  23. Elle says:

    I finally made this tonight (with sweet potato topping). Everyone (all 3 of us) loved it. Now I have a huge amount of leftovers. My husband asked if we could freeze some, and I have no idea. What do you think? Next time, I think I’ll cut it in half.

  24. Charley says:

    I have never seen such a helpful way to cook. Every step was clearly identified with a photo. Thank you.

  25. Vineca Gray says:

    This is a great vegetarian version – I added ground soy (branded as alternative to ground beef) available at every grocery store in Toronto now, yay! I gently mashed it together with the lentils at the end and then proceeded with your recipe as described. I also topped it with yummy soy cheddar. A perfect dinner on a snow day! Thank you.

  26. Francisca says:

    It looks good, I wonder how it tastes! I always like trying new recipes.

  27. Ana says:

    I just made this dish tonight. I eat gluten free vegan and it is so hard to find yummy comfort food recipes. Thanks for posting it!
    My husband, mother in law, my 3 year old son and I LOVED IT!

  28. Mel Kurtz says:


  29. Marry says:

    Made this last night and it was really good. I forgot about the Sriracha sauce, oh well, next time. So simple and so tasty. Thank you for the recipe.

  30. Jackie says:

    I made this dish for my vegetarian niece and her boyfriend during the Thanksgiving weekend. They loved it! Thank you for sharing such a great recipe.

  31. Kate says:

    I am a reluctant semi-vegetarian who eats almost no meat anymore partly for my health and partly out of environmental guilt. Most of the time I’m happy enough with my diet, but I occasionally miss comfort-food staples like shepherd’s pie, meatloaf, and chicken with dumplings. This was a great substitute!

  32. Sarah says:

    Looks great! I also made a veggie shepherd’s pie this st. paddy’s day and was pleasantly surprised at how good it was! I used Smartground for the “meat” part, and honestly you would never know it was vegetarian.

  33. beca says:

    Thanks SO much for this recipe- it was DELICIOUS! To suit the other’s tastes, I had to leave out the spicy components, but even without, it was a great comfort-food meal. Served with onion gravy and have made it two weeks in a row due to popular demand! :-) Definitely a keeper.

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