Hearty and satisfying plant-based comfort food. This vegan lentil shepherd’s pie with mashed cauliflower is so deliciously savory and perfect to enjoy on a cold winter’s night.

vegan shepherd's pie made with mashed cauliflower and lentils

This winter in Boston has been bizarro so far. I mean two weekends ago it was 70 degrees and then a few days later it was in the teens and a couple days after that snow. Like WTAF. No wonder I came down with a cold last week!

But as soon as snow hits the ground, I’m ready for hearty comfort food, how about you? Which is why I decided to bring back this oldie but a goodie recipe – plant-based comfort food at its best.

ingredients for vegan shepherd's pie mixed in a large pot

Now there’s absolutely nothing wrong with an OG shepherd’s pie but if you’re vegan/vegetarian or maybe just experimenting with adding more plant-based meals to your week, you’re gonna want to add this one to your repertoire. Because this recipe is proof that vegetarian meals can be satisfying.

mashed potatoes scooped on top of ingredients for vegan shepherd's pie

How to make vegan lentil shepherd’s pie

The mushrooms and lentils make the filling hearty, savory, and satisfying (thank you shroom umami bomb!). The parsnips and carrots make you say hello, winter and all your root vegetable glory, and then thyme and sage take savory and cozy to a whole other level.

vegan shepherd's pie made with mashed cauliflower and lentils

And then there’s the mashed cauliflower topping. The creamy, buttery, salty, mashed cauliflower. Now I originally made this recipe when cauliflower was first having its moment and I like developing recipes based on fun new food trends sometimes. But let me be very clear. Cauliflower is not better than potato. And mashed potato would be equally delicious on this. So feel free to make this with mashed potato instead. You do you. But if you want to make this with mashed cauliflower, let me just say, it’s shockingly creamy and satisfying.

vegan shepherd's pie served on a dish

This dish is hearty and packed with nutrition – loaded with fiber, plant-based protein, B vitamins, vitamins A and C, and antioxidants. Plus, you’ll have leftovers for days as this makes at least eight servings. Cue hands in the air emojis.

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Vegan Lentil Shepherd’s Pie


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  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 65 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 8 1x
Scale

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small-medium onion, diced (approx 1 cup)
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced (approx 1 cup)
  • 2 small or 1 large parsnip, peeled and diced (approx 1 cup)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 ounces sliced cremini mushrooms
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup dry green lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 1 bunch sage (about 5 leaves), chopped
  • 1 bunch thyme (about 34 sprigs), chopped
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot powder
  • 3 lbs. cauliflower florets (approx 3 heads cauliflower)
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 3 tablespoons vegan buttery spread

Instructions

  1. In a dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, and parsnip and cook until onions are translucent and veggies are slightly tender, about 5-7 minutes.
  2. Stir in garlic and mushrooms and cook until mushrooms are tender and lightly browned, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add vegetable broth, lentils, thyme and sage. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer until lentils are tender, about 35-45 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  5. While lentils are cooking, steam cauliflower florets until fork tender and transfer to a food processor (you may need to do this in batches depending on size of food processor). Add almond milk, vegan buttery spread and pulse to a smooth and creamy puree. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  6. Once lentils are done cooking, thicken the mixture. Add cornstarch or arrowroot to a heaping spoonful of the lentil mixture in a separate bowl. Whisk together. Add thickened mixture back to the pot and whisk in. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  7. Transfer lentil mixture to a 9×13 baking dish or 2 qt baking dish. Carefully spread mashed cauliflower evenly over top.
  8. Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes and then transfer to under the broiler until mashed cauliflower begins to turn golden brown, about 5 minutes.
  9. Remove from oven and let cool briefly before serving.
  • Category: Dinner
  • Cuisine: Vegan

Keywords: vegan, lentil, shepherds pie, cauliflower, gluten free

This recipe was retested, reshot and revamped to bring you the most delicious (and most beautiful) dish! The original post was published in January 2016.

Tell me, are you a fan of shepherd’s pie? Have you ever tried mashed cauliflower?

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62 Comments

  1. Angela

    I have just made this! Such a easy recipe to follow which delighted me. The cauliflower mash is inspired and once I completed it I couldn’t stop eating the mash.
    Being a diabetic I’m always looking for ideas to take carbs out of my diet so well done!! xx

  2. This sounds really yummy and great comfort food for those cold days.

  3. Yum!! I want to try this!

  4. I love Shepard’s pie, and your twist on it sounds delicious!

  5. I love that you used cauli mash instead of potatoes. What a great idea to switch it up!

  6. This dish is the ultimate comfort food! yummy!

  7. Shannon Garcia

    This looks and sounds amazing! Will definitely have to try this the next time a cold front moves in!

  8. Such a good twist – looks delicious!

  9. If you know me, you know that I LOVE lentils. Definitely trying this :).

  10. Mmm so many savoury flavours in this dish!

  11. I was just talking to my neighbor last week about how I’ve never had shepherd’s pie before because I don’t really care for ground beef or mashed potatoes so this sounds like the perfect alternative!

  12. Fredda S.

    Made this for dinner tonight. I added some vegan crumbly cheese to the cauliflower and some sriracha to the lentil stew as we like things on the spicy side. So glad I made this! It’s delicious on every level. Thanks for the recipe and kudos to David K. who mentioned this recipe on FitBit.

  13. Lori

    Can you tell me the nutritional value, calories etc?

  14. This looks and sounds so good! Definitely giving it a try!

  15. Love your vegan twist on this Kara! Looks so warm and comforting!

  16. OMG this looks perfect for winter.So warm and cozy. I’m a big fan of lentils and mushrooms too. Thanks for sharing!

  17. Donna

    I am just into my third month of veganism. I have tried and tested many vegan recipes, some good and some not so good. This recipe is by far one of the best I have tried and I will definitely be making this again……and sharing with my vegan friends!!! I am having a vegan dinner night soon to impress my sceptical, non vegan family members and this dish will be the centrepiece!!! Thank you for sharing!!!

  18. Susan

    Just wondering how many calories in a serving? It is delicious.

  19. Merchon Hargrave

    This was so delicious! Non-vegan familk approved! The cauliflower was so creamy and rich. I will definitely be making this again.

  20. Judy

    To thicken the lentil mixture, add cornstarch or arrowroot to a heaping spoonful of the lentil mixture in a separate bowl. Whisk together. Add thickened mixture back to the pot and whisk in. Salt and pepper to taste
    Am I taking the lentil mixture out of the pot and adding the cornstarch or arrowroot and then putting it back into the pot?

    • Hi Judy – thanks for your question! Yes, exactly. Take a heaping spoonful of the lentil mixture out of the pot and transfer to a separate bowl to which you will mix in the cornstarch or arrowroot and then add that thickened mixture back to the pot to stir.

  21. Katherine

    Will this freeze well so I can make it ahead of time for the week?

  22. Nadie

    I changed the cauliflower for potatoes. The recipe is soo delicious. Every one loved it. I didn’t use thyme or sage.

  23. Kara,
    Your Shephard’s pie has become a go-to recipe when I want a comforting, satisfying, heart-healthy dish. I’ve made it quite a few times since discovering your recipe and have even enjoyed it as a lentil soup when I’m sans cauliflower.

  24. Insane! Love this and must, must, must try!

  25. It looks amazing, gonna have to try it one of these cold days x

  26. Best sheperds pie I’ve seen! Nothing cauli can’t do 😉

  27. Shepards pie has never appealed to me – until now! What an awesome recipe makeover! And I can totally relate to Steve not wanting lentils and then loving them. Same happened e my husband until he tried my veggie bolognese!

  28. Oh man! Healthy comfort food at its finest! Looks amazing, girl

  29. I’ve committed to being vegan for a week in solidarity with one of my daughters, so this is very well timed!

  30. Great minds think alike…I made the same thing last weekend for this month’s Recipe Redux- but I added parmesan to my cauli mash and filling is a little different too- love the idea of using parsnips though, I’ll have to try it next time!

  31. I never imagined that shepards pie could be both vegan and delicious! Im loving the mashed cauliflower in place of the potato, such an awesome idea!