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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Now I originally made this recipe when cauliflower was first having its moment and I like developing recipes based on fun new food trends sometimes.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.
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.Print
Vegan Lentil Shepherd’s Pie
- Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
- Yield: Serves 8
- 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 3–4 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
- 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.
- Stir in garlic and mushrooms and cook until mushrooms are tender and lightly browned, about 5 minutes.
- Add vegetable broth, lentils, thyme and sage. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer until lentils are tender, about 35-45 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- 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.
- 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.
- Transfer lentil mixture to a 9×13 baking dish or 2 qt baking dish. Carefully spread mashed cauliflower evenly over top.
- 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.
- Remove from oven and let cool briefly before serving.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 65 minutes
- Category: Dinner
- Cuisine: Vegan
Keywords: vegan, lentil, shepherds pie, cauliflower, gluten free
Tell me, are you a fan of shepherd’s pie? Have you ever tried mashed cauliflower?
How freezer-friendly do you think this is?
And what would be your thoughts for the reheat component?
Thanks- still loving the recipe;)
Hi Lainey – I haven’t tried it, but I think it should freeze well enough! It may be a little bit watery, but the flavor won’t diminish. I’d also suggest freezing it in separate portions if possible. You can reheat in the microwave or toaster oven, if you’d like to get a little bit of texture back. Let me know if you try it!
Could I use red or brown lentils instead? Only because that is what i have on hand
Definitely! Just make sure to double-check if the cook times are any different – it shouldn’t vary too much, though.
One of our go to favs! We have made this countless times- super yum, comforting and fantastic on a cold day like today!
Thanks for a fabulous yum recipe( that also satisfies my non plant beaded son)
Hi Laine, thank you for the kind words! I’m glad your whole family was able to enjoy this Shepherd’s pie.
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
That’s awesome, Angela! Thanks for trying it! 🙂
This sounds really yummy and great comfort food for those cold days.
Yum!! I want to try this!
Let me know how it turns out, Stacey!
I love Shepard’s pie, and your twist on it sounds delicious!
Thank you, Heidi! I hope you love it as much as I do. 🙂
I love that you used cauli mash instead of potatoes. What a great idea to switch it up!
Thanks, Amy! It’s SO good!
This dish is the ultimate comfort food! yummy!
So true! I’m really glad that you enjoyed this, Lindsey. 🙂
This looks and sounds amazing! Will definitely have to try this the next time a cold front moves in!
Let me know how it turns out, Shannon 🙂
Such a good twist – looks delicious!
Thank you, Kelly! 🙂 Let me know if you ever make it.
If you know me, you know that I LOVE lentils. Definitely trying this :).
Let me know how it turns out, Sarah! 🙂
Mmm so many savoury flavours in this dish!
That is what makes it sooo good!
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!
This version of Shepherd’s Pie is definitely a great alternative!
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.
Awesome, Fredda! So glad you enjoyed and those additions sound fab!
Can you tell me the nutritional value, calories etc?
I’m sorry I don’t provide the nutrition information for my recipes because it goes against my nutrition philosophy, which you can read more about here: https://karalydon.b.wpstage.net/about/. And why I don’t recommend counting calories here: https://karalydon.b.wpstage.net/intuitive-eating/why-counting-calories-doesnt-work-for-weight-loss/
This looks and sounds so good! Definitely giving it a try!
Yay! Thanks, Maria 🙂
Love your vegan twist on this Kara! Looks so warm and comforting!
OMG this looks perfect for winter.So warm and cozy. I’m a big fan of lentils and mushrooms too. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks, Becca! It’s definitely a hearty comforting winter meal 🙂
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!!!
Thank you for your kind words, Donna! I’m so glad you enjoyed it 🙂
Just wondering how many calories in a serving? It is delicious.
So glad you enjoyed it! I’m not sure! I’m not a big believer in calorie counts because it only tells one piece of the total nutrition package.
This was so delicious! Non-vegan familk approved! The cauliflower was so creamy and rich. I will definitely be making this again.
Awesome, Merchon!! So glad your non-vegan family approved :).
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.
Will this freeze well so I can make it ahead of time for the week?
It should freeze OK. Hope you enjoy, Katherine!
I changed the cauliflower for potatoes. The recipe is soo delicious. Every one loved it. I didn’t use thyme or sage.
Yay! So glad everyone loved the recipe, Nadie!
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.
Hey Lauren, Thanks for sharing this! I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed it. 🙂
Insane! Love this and must, must, must try!
Thanks, Liz! Hope you enjoy! Let me know how it turns out!
It looks amazing, gonna have to try it one of these cold days x
Thanks, Anne! Let me know how it turns out!
Best sheperds pie I’ve seen! Nothing cauli can’t do 😉
Thanks, Rebecca! Seriously. #cauliflowerpower
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!
Glad I could change your mind, Jessica! And what is it with men and lentils?! 🙂
Oh man! Healthy comfort food at its finest! Looks amazing, girl
I’ve committed to being vegan for a week in solidarity with one of my daughters, so this is very well timed!
What a good Mom you are! Hope you enjoyed the recipe!
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!
Great minds really do think alike! The flavors in your filling sound so good!!
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!
Thanks, Rachel! Seriously – it’s like a dream come true 🙂