Vegan Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherd’s Pie was one of my husband’s favorite foods growing up, and we both associate it with winter comfort.  I remember one day when Portland got a surprise snow storm when Nick and I were both already home from work.  We went for a walk in the falling snow, then made Shepherd’s Pie and sipped hot chocolate.  It’s one of my favorite memories.

Tonight, we had Shepherd’s Pie in front of a blazing fire.  I felt so warm.

Practically speaking, Shepherd’s Pie is also a great way to use up extra ingredients.  I decided to make it tonight because I had some leftover mashed potatoes from Thanksgiving.  While you can find tons of recipes for Shepherd’s Pie, you really don’t have to follow a strict formula for it.  I tend to make it when I have a little bit of lots of ingredients that I don’t want to go bad.  They all become the filling of the pie.

A General Formula for Vegan Shepherd’s Pie:

Use this as a starting point, and create your own masterpiece!  You’ll notice mine has very few flavorings – I find it super comforting that way – but feel free to add some savory herbs, such as rosemary and thyme.

The Ingredients:

– 2 Tablespoons of oil or Earth Balance Vegan Butter

– 1 onion, chopped

– 12 – 16 oz of vegan crumble (I use a 12 oz package of Lightlife Smart Ground, but you may choose another meat substitute)

– At least 2 russet potatoes, cooked and mashed (I usually use 3 – 4; I like mashed potatoes!).  You may certainly use another kind of potato, such as Yukon Gold.  If you’d like to know how to mash potatoes, please see my tips below.

– At least one other vegetable, but more is always better.  Use up your leftovers.  (I almost always use 2 thinly sliced carrots.  Tonight I also added 1-1/2 cups of sliced mushrooms, 2 chopped celery stalks, and about a cup of frozen peas – they’re what I had on hand).

– 2 Tablespoons of Soy Sauce or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos

– 1/2 – 3/4 cups of vegetable stock or broth

– Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

– Paprika, to taste

The Method: 

1.  If you don’t have leftover mashed potatoes, make some now!  (See below if you’d like some ideas).

2.  Saute the onion and any longer cooking vegetables (such as carrots, celery and mushrooms) in the oil or Earth Balance for five minutes.

3.  Add the ground “meat” and saute for a few more minutes to brown the crumble.

4.  You’ll notice the mixture seems rather dry.  Add the soy sauce or Bragg’s and vegetable broth.  Start with a 1/2 cup of broth.  If it still seems dry, add a little more broth.  If it now seems too liquidy, don’t panic!  You can add a little flour or cornstarch.  If you have a quick cooking vegetable, like peas, add them now.  Also add freshly ground black pepper to taste.  Heat through for a few more minutes.

5.  Put the mixture at the bottom of a casserole dish.  You can use a 9 by 13 inch pan.  I like how it looks in a Pyrex bowl.  Spread the mashed potatoes on top of the crumble/vegetable mixture.  Sprinkle the potatoes with paprika.

6.  Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, or until the top is slightly brown and crispy.  You’ll want to bake it on a fairly high shelf to assist with the browning top.

7.  I serve my pie in bowls – that way I don’t worry about it coming out of the pan perfectly.  Serves 4 – 6.

How to Mash Potatoes:

It seems that most people already have a favorite mashed potato recipe, but in case you don’t, I’ll share how I make mine.

– Scrub your potatoes.  Quarter them (I don’t peel them – it saves time, and I like the skin), and put them in a large pot.  Cover with water, and bring to a boil.  Add salt and a bay leaf for extra flavor if you like.  Keep them at a low boil for 15 – 20 minutes.  Poke them with a fork to see if they’re nice and soft.

– When they’re done, drain them and put them in a bowl.  Mash using a potato masher.  Add some liquid and oil to give them a nice consistency.  You’ll probably only need a few tablespoons of oil or Earth Balance, and not too much liquid (about a 1/4 cup).  Add it slowly so you can get the right consistency for you.  I use vegetable stock or some of the reserved potato cooking water for the liquid.  You might also want to try non-dairy milk.  Add salt, pepper, and any other seasonings you like.  Last time my husband Nick made mashed potatoes, he added a Tablespoon of nutritional yeast!  Yum!

Feeling Inspired?

These unique Shepherd’s Pie recipes from Vegetarian Times look amazing to me:

Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie

Moroccan Shepherd’s Pie

Enjoy your winter memories!


  1. wildjuggling · · Reply

    I’m definitely making this soon.

  2. I haven’t made a vegan one yet, but for my turkey shepherd’s pie I use mashed cauliflower instead of potatoes–great if you are looking to fill up with fewer calories.

  3. Wow we finally tried this dish and it is OUTSTANDING!!!!!!!!!! I like Nick’s addition of the nutritional yeast soooo yummy! Thank you for this recipe it was great for comfort in March. 🙂

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