This Vegan Shepherd's Pie is a hearty comfort meal perfect for the holidays, featuring lentils, quinoa and tons of vegetables topped with smooth and creamy sweet potato puree. Serve this up for Thanksgiving as a delicious plant-based side dish or entree!
I'll admit it, traditional Shepherd's pie isn't really my thing. I was never a big fan of meals that had ground beef in them, so when I removed red meat from my diet about 5 years ago, Shepherd's pie wasn't something I missed or craved.
But as I was thinking about plant-powered meals you can serve for the holidays, Shepherd's pie popped into my head. It's definitely not a standard Thanksgiving (or even Christmas) meal, but it totally works this time of year. It's comfort food at its finest, can serve a crowd and is simple to make ahead.
Since I know a lot of you are also following a primarily plant-powered diet, the beef had to go. Instead, we're making a lentil + quinoa vegan Shepherd's pie!
How to Make Vegan Shepherd's Pie
This healthier version gets some other changes from the traditional recipe. Instead of mashed potatoes, this version is topped with light and fluffy sweet potatoes. The filling is full of vegetables and plant-based protein.
This casserole takes less than 1 hour to make, and it's mostly hands-off. I recommend making the whipped sweet potatoes first, followed by the lentils. Then finish the filling in a skillet, assemble the pie in a baking dish, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes.
Here's what you need to build a beautiful and healthy layered shepherd's pie:
- Sweet potatoes. Peel your potatoes before you cook them for the smoothest and lightest mash.
- Milk. Use any non-dairy milk you like.
- Vegan butter. I like Earth Balance brand.
- Lentils. You can use green or brown for this recipe
- Quinoa. I like rainbow quinoa for the nutty flavor. This mimics the texture of ground beef or lamb.
- Thyme. Use fresh if you can find it!
- Vegetable broth. make your own or use store-bought low-sodium broth.
- Mushrooms. I use button mushrooms, but you can use any kind you like.
- Onion. White or yellow onions both work.
- Celery. For crunch. You'll sauté celery with the other veggies for the filling.
- Carrot. for sweetness to complement the savory flavors from the other ingredients.
- Garlic powder. You can also use fresh minced garlic cloves.
- Balsamic vinegar. This adds a touch of sweetness and acidity to cut through some of the richness in the dish.
- Arrowroot powder. This is a gluten-free thickener that's optional. If you're not gluten-free, regular flour will also work.
- Sea salt and black pepper to taste.
Can I Use Regular Mashed Potatoes?
Certainly! If you prefer a more traditional shepherd's pie, feel free to use an old-fashioned mashed potato topping. Use russet potatoes and cook them on the stove until they're fully fork-tender.
I still recommend whipping the potatoes with an electric mixer, rather than using a potato masher. this gives them a light and airy texture I love.
What To Serve With Vegan Shepherd's Pie
Planning a vegetarian holiday menu? Here are some must-have side dishes to serve family and friends:
If you have leftovers, you can store the cottage pie in the fridge in an airtight container for up to four days.
You can also freeze the pie for up to three months. Defrost the dish in the fridge overnight, then reheat in a 350°F oven until warmed through when you're ready to serve.
More Thanksgiving Recipes to Try:
- Creamy Chili Roasted Pumpkin Soup
- Easy Quinoa Stuffing
- Roasted Veggie Quinoa Salad with Toasted Spice Vinaigrette
- Maple Roasted Butternut Squash with Pecans
- Roasted Brussels Sprout Quinoa Salad
When you end up making the recipe, let me know in the comments or by sharing a photo with me on Instagram by tagging @simplyquinoa or #simplyquinoa. Can't wait to see!
Vegan Shepherd's Pie
for the sweet potatoes
- 2 lbs sweet potatoes peeled and cut into 1
- 1/2 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk
- 2 tablespoons vegan butter
for the filling
- 3/4 cup green/brown lentils
- 1/4 cup quinoa I used rainbow
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 1/2 cups vegetable broth divided
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cups chopped button mushrooms about 1 container
- 1 cup diced white onion about 1/2 a medium
- 1 cup diced celery about 3 stalks
- 1/2 cup chopped carrot about 1 medium
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder optional
- Add the sweet potatoes to a pot and top with water. Bring to a rolling boil then cover and let cook for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, add the lentils and quinoa to a small saucepan. Cover with 2 cups of broth, the fresh thyme and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce to simmer. Cook for about 30 minutes until the water has been absorbed.
- When the potatoes are done cooking, drain the water and add in non-dairy milk, butter, salt and pepper. With an electric mixer, whip potatoes until smooth and creamy. Cover and set aside.
- When the lentils are done, preheat the oven to 425ºF and heat the olive oil in a large skillet (or dutch oven) over medium heat.
- Add the mushrooms, onion, celery, carrot and garlic powder to the hot skillet and season with salt and pepper. Cook until veggies are tender, about 10 minutes. Add lentil-quinoa mixture and stir to combine. Stir in balsamic vinegar and 1 cup of broth.
- Whisk the remaining 1/2 cup broth together with the arrowroot powder and in a separate dish. Once smooth, stir into the filling mixture.
- Transfer the lentil mixture to a baking dish (I used a 2 qt, but 9x13 will also work). Smooth with a spatula and top with whipped potatoes. Spread the potatoes out in an even layer and smooth over with a spatula. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake for 15 - 20 minutes until potatoes have browned slightly.
- Remove and let cool for 5 minutes then serve!
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