Vegan Shepherd’s Pie

Imagine a Shepherd's Pie with the flavors of an Indian samosa - that's what's going on here. Vegan, make-ahead, one-dish meal with a split pea (or lentil) base, mashed potato crust, and spices.

Vegan Shepherd’s Pie

This recipe uses a number of my favorite techniques: mashing, slathering, and drizzling. Imagine a Shepherd's pie meeting the flavors of an Indian samosa. That's where we're headed. Shepherd's pies are typically lamb or meat based, but this is a veg-friendly version.
Make Ahead Vegan Samosa Shepherd's Pie

Vegan Shepherd's Pie: The Process

Here's how this shepherd's pie comes together. It's pretty straight-forward. You make a hearty, flavor-packed, vegan base using split peas (or lentils), chopped mushrooms, spices, and crushed tomatoes. Layer this under a thick slather of mashed potatoes and baked until the top is golden and a bit crusted. If I know the week ahead is going to be a crusher, I'll assemble everything over the weekend, and all I have to do is pop it in the oven a bit later in the week. Give it a go, this has been on repeat all winter.

Individual Pies!

You can certainly create smaller, individual pies - they're cute, and people love getting their own individual pie.

Sweet Potato Variation

You can absolutely swap in sweet potatoes here, just give them a quick peel first.

More Pie Recipes


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Vegan Shepherd's Pie

4.2 from 36 votes

Cold-weather comfort food, without a lot of the trappings. You can make the "crust" with sweet potatoes, potatoes, or a blend of the two. You can prepare ahead of time, and bake just before serving. If you use sweet potatoes, peel them.

  • 1 1/2 pounds potatoes or sweet potatoes
  • 2/3 cup full-fat coconut milk
  • fine grain sea salt, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 2 cups cooked yellow or green split peas
  • 1 cup peas (fresh or frozen)
  • To serve: a drizzle of melted coconut oil with chopped serrano chiles, micro greens, scallions
  1. Preheat oven to 375F with a rack in the center.
  2. Place the potatoes/sweet potatoes in a medium saucepan, cover with water, salt as you would pasta water, and bring to a boil for about ten minutes, or until tender. Drain, and return to saucepan over heat for a minute or so to dry out a bit. Add the coconut milk, and the salt, and mash together. Set aside.
  3. In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the coconut oil with the onion and garlic, and a generous pinch of salt. Sauté for a few minutes, until onions are translucent, and then turn the heat up and add the mushrooms. Cook, stirring every couple of minutes, until the mushrooms release their water, and start to brown. Add the tomatoes and spices. Stir well, then add the cooked split peas and peas. Cook for another minute or two, taste, and adjust with more garam masala or salt if needed.
  4. Transfer the mushroom mixture to a 8-inch baking dish (or equivalent), spreading it across in a somewhat even layer. Dollop the potatoes across the top, and gently push them around until they cover the entire top of the casserole, run the tines of a fork across the top if you like a bit of texture.
  5. Bake for 25 minutes, and finish under a broiler to add a bit of extra color and texture to the top. Serve as-is, or sprinkled with any (or all) of the suggested toppings.

Serves 6.

Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
45 mins
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Recipe Rating


I thought I had posted yesterday partway through making this, not sure if I pushed submit. Once I boosted all the flavours to suit our "Madhur Jaffrey" Indian foods palate, I can say it was a resounding success. This is what I did. Made the lentils with mostly split green peas and some toor dal. Being non-vegan, I added some bone broth to the water to boost nutrition and umami. Made the veggies as listed added to lentils and then added tamarind to taste, dried hot chile, more salt, some bone broth, kashmiri chili, a sizzling tarka of ghee mustard seed, cumin hing, and finally some of the chopped fresh Serrano. Cooked it for another 20 minutes and then let it sit to get itself together. The topping was half potato and half sweet (light yellow kind) potato, salt and the GAME CHANGING coconut milk. Just wow! I was freaked it it would be all watery but no, it came together beautifully with just a potato masher. Will be using this gain for sure. Anticipating the leftovers tonight with copped green beans and fennel sauteed in ghee and garlic!


Soo... just finished the filling. This is good basic template for a vegan shepherd's pit filling. We are used to highly seasoned Indian food so when first I tasted this, I found it chalky and bland. No worries. I added tamarind paste to balance the sweetness of the peas, a dried red chile to give it some heat, made a tarka of hing, cumin and mustard seeds in ghee (I am not vegan) and threw that on. Still it needed salt. More heat in went a quarter minced Serrano pepper. I am leaving it to simmer and develop to see what else it needs. I am using half spuds and half sweet potato (not yam) so I worry with the coconut milk and the peas the whole thing might be a bit sweet for our taste. Time will tell.


Thank you so much for sharing this incredible recipe! It's such a creative and mouthwatering fusion that I can't wait to try. Your recipes always inspire me to get into the kitchen and experiment. Keep up the fantastic work!

SpiceyChef Stratford

Easy to make, really you can't mess it up :) Liked by all and enjoyed on Christmas Eve with the "favorite cinnamon rolls" for dessert!


Delicious! My whole family- including a toddler!- loved it. I'm out of pomegranate molasses, but I think that, or a tamarind chutney, would be good to drizzle on (I used a bit of balsamic).


Woul you say its ok to freeze this recipe? Thanks!


    Should be fine! Will take longer to bake though, or reheat...

    Heidi Swanson

This recipe also works well with cauliflower mash on the top. Eggplant, mushrooms, lentils, split peas—-all work well with onions or leeks or shallots as the “filling.” It is really good.

Lee R

    Thanks Lee!

    Heidi Swanson

Hey Heidi! I was wondering -- would using a homemade paneer in this mess up the flavors at all? When would you add it in? Thank you. :)


    I don't think it would. And I would add as just before placing in the oven, as a topping? I can imagine it being delicious. :)

    Heidi Swanson

I’ve made this several times, it is fabulous.! Comfort food!


Made this last night, really cool idea. The idea of shepherd's pie always appeals to me but this is the first vegetarian recipe I've seen that actually looked good. I made a couple of modifications that I would recommend: 1. I made split peas and they were wayyy to broken down for me (i cooked them for too long probably but thats really the only way I've ever seen them). I put them aside and cooked some regular brown lentils instead- much better for that "meaty" kind of texture we're replicating here 2. Added chili powder and carrots for personal preference. I also added a couple more mushrooms bc I


Hi! Lovely recipe. I'm used to eating samosas that are hot and spicy. Thus I decided to add a little bit of cayenne pepper.


May I ask what could be a substitute for the mushrooms? I'm allergic. Thanks!


I scrolled through the comments-- maybe this is not the first--- but this sounds as if I could put it on a waffle maker . A Belgian Waffle maker, the 3-buck-belgian waffle maker I bought at a yard sale. Maybe it would take a potato crust layer and then the other layer waffle-ized separately the possibilities are endless......


This is a fantastic recipe! My husband is telling everyone about it and asked me to make it at least once a week. High praise from a man who loves his meat! I used lentils the fist time, but today I'll be using a mix of split peas and lentils. The sweet potato topping is so good!

Angelika Alberts

I had a bag of potatoes and some dried split peas that I wanted to use, and I love Indian cooking, so I knew this would be great. Unfortunately, I overcooked my peas so they became completely mushy. It turned out pretty tasty after I added some thick rolled oats and diced carrots to give it some texture. Inspiring, as usual. :)

Britt Cetnarowski

Thanks for this Heidi! Had green lentils on hand so I used those. Super YUMMY, and a whole family pleaser. My 6 year old loved it. xo


Here in Québec there is a variation of shepherd's or cottage pie called pâté chinois that incorporates a layer of corn (maize); it was traditionally meat-based but vegetarian versions are common. At the other end of the Americas, the Chilean dish pastel de choclo uses puréed corn (ideally fresh) as the top layer. Aubergines/eggplant are another alternative that goes with Indian flavours, for those allergic to mushrooms.

lagatta à Montréal

I loved this casserole even though it contained one of my (only two) food aversions, peas. I added 1 T. tumeric and a 1/2" chunk of grated ginger along with an extra tablespoon of garam masala and found it was the right spice taste for us. I couldn't decide between sweet and regular potatoes so I combined them and found that with the coconut milk it made a wonderful mash!


I am not an accomplished cook but for some reason I totally thought, "I can do this!" I didn't have enough split peas, so I added mung beans. Neither were cooked, so I threw them in the Instant Pot while I prepped and cooked the potatoes (I didn't chop them up first so they took longer to cook - total rookie mistake). I had diced tomatoes rather than crushed, and my coconut milk had already been thinned with water, but I forged ahead anyway. Disaster struck when I dropped my beautiful maitake mushroom bunch on the kitchen floor - in a perfectly positioned pile of dog hair. Noooo! I managed to get most of it before the dog did, and patiently picked off every last hair. Naturally, the beans overcooked because I left them in the cooker too long while I was mucking about with the mushrooms. I thought for sure this whole ordeal was going to be another chalk-mark in my DMA (Disastrous Meal Attempts) column. But it wasn't! I somehow wound up with extra filling and topping so I was able to make a full 9" glass pie pan and a single serving corning-ware dish (which I saved for the next day) and it. was. delicious. My boyfriend (who at the time had no idea about the tears I'd shed in the kitchen so I know he wasn't just being supportive) said, "Whose recipe is this? You need to send her a thank you note." So here it is. :) Thank you for a lovely and totally-worth-it recipe, that I will definitely make again. I popped the smaller serving in the oven last night as my boyfriend had a late gig (he's a drummer in a local band) and as he was devouring it for the second night in a row he announced that this is his new favorite. I love it because I'm not only vegan but I can't have gluten or eggs, so I can eat it without having to make any substitutions, and it tastes amazing to boot!

HS: Way to go Robin! Love this note. So happy you forged on :) All you need is a handful of recipes you feel good about to slide you right over into the accomplished cook camp. Try that last sriracha noodle salad I posted last week when you have a bit of time (you can use rice noodles)'s another good one. xx!


Lovely recipe. I started spicing up shepherd's pie when I had extra dhal left over and added it into a my usual vegan shepherd's pie base. I also like it with a mixture of sweet potato and ordinary potato on top.


This was wonderful--I used lentils because I didn't have split peas, and made individual servings. Baked one and put the others in the freezer. It's been soul-warming to have this for dinner during this last bout of wintry weather!


Brilliant! I had a half can of coconut milk open so I used the fat to cook the veggies and the liquid for the mashed potatoes and added a T. of vegan coconut-nut butter (Miyoko's Creamery) for the mashed potatoes. I also subbed out some of the garam masala with curry powder. I had the split peas already cooked so it came together really quickly. It was delicious and a great new item for our meal rotation.


I love it when you post recipes for main dishes. I try them no matter what else I have planned that week. This was a big hit with the hubby who loves mashed potatoes and samosas both. So... a good marriage of flavors. YUM!


I was tickled to see you post this dish. I began making keema mattar shepherd's pie about 10 years ago. I had the idea the first time I prepared keema mattar, an Indian dish of lamb or beef with heavenly spices and peas and lemon. It seemed like a dish that would be elevated by a crown of mashed potatoes. I've been making it that way ever since. It's a favorite.


This was amazing. I used dried shitakes that I had around, and accidentally made WAY too many green split peas (I was assuming that, like lentils, they wouldn't expand - whoops!), but it was still great. I had a jar of homemade tamarind chutney kicking around the fridge that a friend gave me a while back, and wow did that elevate this into the stratosphere. Any other suggestions for toppings?


I made this last night and my fiancee and I both loved it! Really tasted like a samosa! I used French Lentils (cooked 2/3 of a cup to yield about 2 cups) and put a bit of turmeric in the potatoes and a dash of cayenne in the lentil / pea mix. I topped with scallion, cilantro, and some purple radish microgreens. Great dish I'll definitely make again!


I made this with red lentils because I had them in the pantry, but toasted them in olive oil first so that they retained texture. Turned out really well!


@Deb - I think it could probably freeze well. When I was in college, my mom would make shepherd's pie for me (to take back to my apartment) in single serve baking dishes and freeze them (without first baking them). They were great and I don't remember the potatoes suffering any ill effect, I would have probably added a little butter to them. I have not made this recipe yet, but I had already considered the possibility of freezing this in the future. :)


Hi Heidi, It looks so delicious, mine is also being prepared as we speak! Thanks for the video, though I have to say my rabbits jump in fright and start thumping when they hear the music :-) I absolutely love your dress (shirt?) and was wondering if you wouldn't mine telling the brand and where you got it. Thanks so much and also for years of inspiring recipes. HS: Hi Tal! Thanks for the note, and say hi to the bunnie for me ;) - I bought the dress at last year. I remember it being a bit spendy, but I love the colors, and it has totally held up (I'm hard on clothes because I'm always in the kitchen, or moving stuff around w/ the shop and all)....


Heidi, I made this dish today and it is absolutely delicious! I went with sweet potatoes and the little French green lentils. Sweet potatoes and coconut milk is heavenly! I will be making this again very soon. Thank you so much!


You hit it out of the park with this one: quick, easy, delicious and healthy. Thanks!

HS: Thanks Terry!


I readied this dish yesterday and plan to make it tomorrow night. How I had any potatoes left for the topping is a miracle--because Coconut Milk mashed potatoes are a revelation!!! Don't think I'll ever eat them with dairy again! Thank you, Heidi, for your endless inspiration. And now, fun videos!


What is the best method for cooking the lentils or split peas?

HS: Hi Maria - cover them in and inch or two of water and simmer until they are nice and tender. Season with salt towards the end, and again after draining (to taste)...

Maria Blackburn

Can you suggest a replacement for mushrooms?

HS: Hi Erin - Another reader suggested eggplant - In summer you could try zucchini...or a medley of favorite vegetables.


Looks fabulous, thank you! For those avoiding heavy doses of saturated fat, can you recommend a replacement for the coconut milk? Thank you! HS: Hi Jillian - You can experiment with all kinds of liquids - milk, buttermilk, nut milks, etc. Have fun!


I love this idea! I've just made it with amped up spices. I felt it needed more. I added 1tsp each cumin seed, coriander, 1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne, seeds from 4 cardamom pods & a thumb sized piece of ginger & a red chili. It tastes great! I also did mashed cauliflower as the topping instead of potatoes to keep it lighter. Simply mashed cauliflower with a bit of salt & coconut oil. Yum!


Made this for dinner tonight and it was amazing! The only small change I made was to add 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric to the potatoes. Delicious. Thank you.

Nicole Pearce

Amazing recipe!!

Mahee Ferlini

This is so good - and it got even better when I remembered I had a jar of homemade tamarind chutney from a friend in the fridge!


Is this also gluten free? It sounds interesting and I'd like to share the recipe with a friend who is vegan, but is also gluten-free due to allergies.

HS: Hi Stephanie - it is! :)


Made this last night, and it was incredible. For a girl raised on Indian food, this is exactly how I love to cook and eat!


Do you think you could freeze this? Or would the potatoes get weird?

HS: Hi Deb - I haven't tried freezing. Report back if you give it a try!


having lived a decade in london, i've been long dreamt of working out a veg version of shephard's pie - with the potato topping and vegetables cooked in, it was just waiting to happen. now that you've done it, with your usual panache, i am delighted to sit back and enjoy. thank you!

Laura Plumb

I stirred some raw cashews into the split pea mixture in the last step. The coconut milk in the topping is fantastic.


I love, love these videos Heidi!

HS: Thanks Kate :)! Hope all is well with you. xo!


Excited to try this, but have a mushroom allergy! Can definitely just leave them out, but do you have any suggestions for a potential substitute that might work well?


Hi Heidi, Thank you for posting this. In the oven now...cannot wait. I used 2 cups of the smaller French lentils and wondered if I should have used less than 2 cups? Seemed like a lot of lentils. We'll see. Thanks for any help!


This looks amazingly delicious! So, is it split peas that measure 2 cups when cooked? Or cook 2 cups dry?

HS: Hi Elizabeth - measure out 2 cups of cooked. :)

Elizabeth Schmidt

I happened to have all the ingredients on hand so I made this for dinner last night. Loved it - will keep as part of our regular rotation. Followed the recipe except used a bit of almond milk & "Melt" (vegan butter) with the potatoes for a more authentic mashed potato taste. Loved the heat of the serranos w/ microgreens! Wondering what other ideas you might suggest to take this in a different direction besides Indian? Thank you!


Aaah, this is such a good idea! I love samosas, but I can't be bothered to make the dough. This is perfect.


Perfect comfort food for a swedish winter. Love the indian twist, definitely trying this one. Thanks!


This looks amazing but I am allergic to tomatoes. With the Indian flavors, do you think crushed roasted red peppers would be a workable substitution in this? Thanks so much.

HS: Hi Valerie - You could certainly try it - the base is infinitely adaptable.


Shepherds pie is an absolute favorite from my childhood that I've wanted to veganize for years. I am going to try this with herbs like rosemary, thyme and oregano in place of the Indian spices, and then finish it with a healthy slather of Magic Sauce. Thanks for this!

HS: Thanks Brit - love this idea!


This is just what I was looking for! It's in the oven and my family will be very excited to dig in for tonight's supper. Thanks a million for making it vegan, too....we are vegetarians who are trying to eat vegan more often, so I'm always on the lookout for creative recipes like this.


Looks great -- how should one cook the split peas and how much uncooked yields two cups cooked?

Maria Blackburn

Thanks for all of the recent vegan recipes! I've been missing your lovely recipes since I stopped eating dairy and eggs!

Elana Sifry

This looks great! And i love the idea of doing it ahead. But, did i read correctly that you don't cook the split peas first? I've found that they take a while on the stove, so i'm a bit surprised they'd be done in the oven in 25 min...

HS: Hi Liz! You're definitely going to want to use cooked split peas (or lentils.


Wow! Such a clever but simple idea, Heidi! I'll definitely be giving this one a whirl

Liberty Browne

Hi Heidi, this looks delicious! I look forward to making it soon.


This is EXACTLY what I was looking for! Do you think I can replace the split peas with red lentils?

HS: Hi Melanie - red lentils have a tendency to go to mush on me. You can totally use them, but given the choice, I'd opt for any pulse or lentil that holds its shape a bit better...Enjoy!


Well this is just genius--the flavor of samosas without frying!


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