Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie

$5.87 recipe / $0.98 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.85 from 93 votes
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After making (and devouring) my Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes last week, I was really craving some shepherd’s pie. But, because of the strict budget I’m working with, I decided to make a vegetarian shepherd’s Pie. This warm and comforting dish is still full of deep and rich flavor, even without the meat, and I love all the color and texture that the vegetable medley brings to the plate.

Full skillet of Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie with a spoonful of vegetable filling on top.

What’s In Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie?

To make up for the meat I made sure to use plenty of vegetables, including mushrooms, which give a nice “meaty” umami flavor. I also added in a cup of cooked lentils for bulk and extra protein. Lentils are great because they cook super fast, have a small shape, and a mild flavor that helps them blend really well into recipes. I often use them half and half with meat to stretch my dollar, but that same technique also works well with vegetables. If you’re not a fan of lentils, no worries. You can just leave them out and you’ll still have a delicious and hearty straight vegetable filling for your vegetarian shepherd’s pie.

What Kind of Mashed Potatoes Should I Use?

I made a second slightly smaller batch of my Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes to top the pie, but you can use any type of leftover mashed potatoes you have (make sure to use vegetable broth in your mashed potatoes to keep this recipe vegetarian). Another great option is to use my Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes, which are dairy-free, and will make this whole Shepherd’s Pie vegan!

You can make your mashed potatoes fresh, or use leftovers. Just be sure to warm them up before trying to spread them onto the pie because cold mashed potatoes don’t exactly “spread.” LOL

Side shot of fluffy mashed potatoes on top of Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie.
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Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie

4.85 from 93 votes
A colorful medley of vegetables, protein filled lentils, and a rich brown gravy make this Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie filling and flavorful without meat. 
Servings 6
Prep 10 minutes
Cook 45 minutes
Total 55 minutes


  • 1 cup cooked lentils (optional)* ($0.21)
  • 2 cloves garlic ($0.16)
  • 1 yellow onion ($0.31)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil ($0.16)
  • 3 carrots ($0.37)
  • 2 ribs celery ($0.38)
  • 8 oz. button mushrooms ($1.99)
  • 3/4 tsp salt ($0.03)
  • 1 tsp dried thyme ($0.10)
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika ($0.05)
  • Freshly cracked pepper ($0.05)
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste ($0.11)
  • 1 Tbsp flour ($0.01)
  • 1 cup vegetable broth ($0.13)
  • 1 cup frozen peas ($0.45)
  • 4 cups mashed potatoes ($1.36)
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  • Mince the garlic and dice the onion. Sauté the onion and garlic with olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until the onions are soft and transparent (3-5 minutes).
  • While the onions and garlic are cooking, peel and dice the carrots, dice the celery, and slice the mushrooms. Once the onions are soft, add the carrots and celery to the skillet and continue to sauté until the celery begins to soften slightly (5 minutes).
  • Finally, add the mushrooms, salt, thyme, smoked paprika, and freshly cracked pepper to the skillet. Continue to sauté until the mushrooms have fully softened (3-5 minutes). Add the tomato paste and flour to the skillet. Stir and cook the vegetables with the flour and tomato paste until the vegetables are coated and the pasty mixture begins to coat the bottom of the skillet (about 2 minutes).
  • Add the vegetable broth to the skillet, stirring to dissolve the flour and tomato paste from the bottom of the skillet. Allow the broth to come up to a simmer, at which point it will become slightly thicker. Stir in the cooked lentils and frozen peas, and allow to mixture to heat through.
  • Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Pour the vegetable mixture into a casserole dish, or use your skillet if it is oven safe. Spread the mashed potatoes out over the surface of the vegetables and gravy. Use your spoon to make a decorative pattern in the mashed potatoes, if desired.
  • Bake the shepherd’s pie in the fully preheated oven for 15 minutes, or until everything is heated through. To achieve a browned surface on the mashed potatoes (optional), turn on the oven’s broiler (and place the pie under it, if not already), and watch closely until the top has browned to your liking.

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Using cooked lentils is optional, but the number of servings will be closer to four without them. It should take approximately 1/3 cup dry lentils to make 1 cup cooked.


Serving: 1ServingCalories: 395kcalCarbohydrates: 55gProtein: 9gFat: 16gSodium: 861mgFiber: 9g
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Scroll down for the step by step photos!

Close up view of the vegetable, lentil, and brown gravy filling in the Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie.

How to Make Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie – Step by Step Photos

Cooked Lentils draining in a colander

Using lentils in your Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie is entirely optional, but I find that it provides more bulk, texture, and protein. You’ll want one cup of cooked lentils for this recipe, which is about 1/3 dry. Cooking lentils is simple, just boil a pot of water, add the lentils, then continue boiling until they’re tender (brown lentils take about 20 minutes). After cooking, drain in a colander. Note: without the lentils you’ll get about four servings out of this recipe.

Whole Vegetables - celery, carrots, onion, mushrooms, garlic, and frozen peas

For the vegetable mix I used 2 stalks celery, 3 carrots, 8oz. button mushrooms, 1 cup frozen peas, 1 yellow onion, and two cloves garlic. Both my celery and peas were on their last leg, but this is a great recipe to use up older vegetables in because they get cooked down and slathered with tasty gravy. :)

Sautéed Onion and Garlic in a deep skillet

Begin by mincing the garlic and dicing the onion. Sauté the onion and garlic with 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until the onions are soft.

Sautéed Carrots and Celery in the skillet

While the onions and garlic are cooking, peel and dice the carrots, and dice the celery. Add them to the skillet and continue to sauté for a few more minutes, or until the celery begins to soften just a tad.

Sautéed Mushrooms and Seasonings in the skillet

While the celery and carrots are cooking, slice the mushrooms. Add the mushrooms to the skillet along with 3/4 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp smoked paprika, 1 tsp thyme, and some freshly cracked pepper. Sauté the mushrooms and seasonings until the mushrooms are soft. My mushrooms came pre-sliced and they were in HUGE pieces, so I broke them up into smaller pieces with my spatula as they cooked.

Flour and tomato paste added to the vegetables in the skillet

When the mushrooms are soft, add 1 Tbsp flour and 1 Tbsp tomato paste. Stir the flour and tomato paste into the vegetables until everything is coated in a paste-like mixture. Continue to stir and cook until the paste begins to coat the bottom of the skillet. 

Broth added to the skillet, dissolved flour into gravy

When the flour and tomato paste coat the bottom of the skillet (be careful to not let it burn), add 1 cup vegetable broth. Stir the broth and vegetables to dissolve the paste off the bottom of the skillet. Allow the mixture to heat through and come to a simmer, at which point the broth will thicken slightly.

Lentils and peas added to vegetables and gravy in the skillet

Finally, add the frozen peas and cooked lentils (if using), and allow the mixture to heat through. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Pour the vegetable mixture into a casserole dish, or just use your skillet if it is oven safe (this is a deep skillet).

Mashed potatoes topped skillet, design pressed into potatoes with a spoon

Cover the vegetable and gravy mixture with about 4 cups of mashed potatoes. Spread the mashed potatoes to evenly cover the surface (mashed potatoes spread easier if they are warm). Use the side and back of a spoon to create a decorative pattern in the mashed potatoes, if desired.

Baked Skillet full of Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie, wooden spoon on the side

Bake the vegetarian shepherd’s pie for about 15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until it’s heated through. To get the nice browned top, turn on the boiler and watch the pie closely until it’s browned on top (if your broiler is under your oven, you’ll have to transfer the pie to the bottom drawer).

Close up of Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie in the skillet, a wooden spoon scooping out a serving

Ohhhhh that gravy, though! 😍

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  1. Can I make some and freeze the rest for other meals? Any recommendations on freezing method?

    1. I think it would freeze well! Sometimes people don’t like the texture of mashed potatoes after they are frozen and thawed, but I think it would be fine. I would just make sure everything is cool and assemble it in an aluminum baking pan or a vessel you don’t mind freezing and can bake in. :)

  2. Our family loves this recipe! A slight variation that we use is bbq sauce instead of tomato paste, and veggie ground round instead of lentils, based on what is in the fridge. Merci!

  3. Made this for the vegetarian main dish for Thanksgiving this year. So delicious! I’m adding the ingredients to my grocery list so I can make it again this week.

  4. This is probably my favorite recipe in existence. My husband and I make this super regularly and love it every time. We just had a baby and I made this to stick in the freezer to have postpartum. Best. Idea. Ever.
    2 weeks postpartum now and hubby is making two more batches to hold us over for dinners for a bit. Thanks for this awesome recipe!

  5. This is one of my favourite winter dishes. It takes me a long time to make, but it is worth the effort. I have made it with both green lentils and TVP. I prefer the lentils, but both are delicious. I cook the carrots separately as I found they were rather crunchy for my taste. Thanks for a family favourite.

  6. Is it a cup of lentils cooked, or 1 cup of lentils measured after they are cooked. I’m just not sure! Thanks.

  7. Followed recipe exactly and it came out great. Hearty dish nice for the cold weather. Will be making this regularly.

  8. Would this be okay to make in a frozen pie tin? We have some leftover from Thanksgiving. Thanks!

    1. I’ve not heard of a frozen pie tin. Do you mean a regular pie tin? Or are you talking about a frozen pie crust? XOXO -Monti

  9. Great recipe – as good or better than any shephard’s pie I have made in the past with meat.

    Made as directed with the only deviation being replaced the celery and salt with celery salt as I did not have celery. Used cremini buttons mushrooms and cooked dried lentils in broth with a bay leaf.

    Recipe is a keeper!

  10. This was really good! I didn’t have any mushrooms, so I left those out. I ended up cooking a cup of dry lentils and using all of them. I put a little shredded cheddar on top of the potatoes. A very satisfying meal! Lots of leftovers, too!

  11. GREAT.

    I used frozen peas & carrots and forgot to get celery. For vegetable broth I used Better Than Boullion Seasoned Vegetable base. Sometimes other broths are too subtle. I am always worried about underseasoning so I added salt and pepper to the mushrooms and then after adding the frozen vegetables. The only other thing I did was add Worcestershire after the vegetable broth. The dish didn’t lack flavor before, I just really like how Worcestershire pairs with mushrooms!

    I do recommend adding lentils. My dried lentils (from Walmart) said to simmer for 45-50 min but other internet research said like 15-20 min. I ended up simmering for 15 min and tossing them with the mixture about a minute before adding to the bakeware. It definitely bulks it out and makes it more satisfying. I think my lentils kept their shape. It is probably good to cook them more to dissolve in to the dish too. Plus, protein!!!

    I will definitely be making this again.

  12. My family loves this recipe!!! I don’t enjoy eating much meat but my husband is a big meat eater. When meal planning I make sure to have a good mix. This is one that we have been having once a month since I found it on your site a few months ago. I love lentils and he isn’t crazy about them. This is one recipe he enjoys them in and our kids love it too! My mom is vegan and she flipped over it when she tried it! Its absolutely delicious!!!! All your recipes I have tried are! Its my favorite site to find a new recipe and many of yours are in our regular meal rotation! Delicious!! 

  13. So yummy! Used red lentils because they cook faster and sweet potatoes on top! Will be making it again!