This easy vegan shepherd’s pie recipe is the perfect main course for fancy holiday dinners and weeknight meals alike. You can also make it ahead, or in an Instant Pot for maximum convenience. It’s rich and savory, healthy and full of wonderful winter flavors. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself making this easy vegetarian shepherd’s pie multiple times per week!
Today I’m going to show you how to make a vegan shepherd’s pie, which is one of my favorite adaptations of a pub classic.
Shepherd’s pie is a classic British dish, dating back to around the late 1700’s, and has become a staple of home cooks all over Western Europe and North America.
With its most basic form being a baked casserole of ground meat and veggies, topped with fluffy mashed potatoes, it’s no wonder this dish is so beloved.
Don’t you just love it when classics like the homemade shepherd’s pie stand the test of time?!
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Another thing that’s so great about it is its versatility, allowing it to be customized according to special dietary needs, and ingredients easily available.
In my easy homemade shepherd’s pie recipe, I used an all vegan ingredient list to make it something that’s not only the ultimate comfort food but a healthy plant-based mainstay as well.
Think of it as a modern vegetarian shepherd’s pie recipe that can be easily made on a weeknight, using ingredients you likely already have in your pantry.
Isn’t it great when your fave foods come with tons of bonus perks like that?
And if that’s not enough, I made a list of super useful tips and tricks for this easy vegetarian shepherd’s pie recipe, which will help you make it perfect.
How To Make This Easy Vegan Shepherd’s Pie Recipe (Best Tips and Tricks)
1. What are the best herbs and spices for vegan shepherd’s pie?
The key to making vegan cooking feel hearty and rich is enhancing the earthy flavor of plant-based foods with deeply flavored herbs and spices such as rosemary, thyme, and oregano.
These herbs are hearty and woody, so the best way to extract the flavor is by simmering in liquid to infuse a sauce or stew.
As opposed to things like parsley or cilantro, which are finishing herbs, these heartier herbs are meant to give your dishes a depth of flavor.
They really shine in this easy shepherd’s pie recipe, making the naturally meaty mushrooms even heartier.
Spices like smoked paprika, chili powder, and cumin are some other great additions to this vegan shepherd’s pie, making it mimic the flavor of real meat.
The seasonings you use all depend on the flavor profile you are going for.
Cumin and chili powder give dishes a savory, hearty vibe and work well in Latin inspired dishes, while smoked paprika adds a sweet smokiness, for an Eastern European feel.
The key is adding the spices early on so that the raw flavor cooks out, and they infuse the gravy with toasty, warm flavor.
2. What are the best mushrooms for vegan shepherd’s pie?
While you can use any mushroom in this easy shepherd’s pie recipe, it’s best to use big, meaty varieties such as portobello, cremini, button, porcini, or king oyster mushrooms.
These guys have a steak-like texture and flavor compared to more delicate varieties, which tend to fall apart easily.
To give your healthy shepherd’s pie the best texture, chop some of the mushrooms more finely, while leaving the others in larger pieces. This will allow the smaller pieces to soften more, infusing the gravy with their flavor, while the larger ones provide texture.
3. Best Way To Make A Healthy Shepherd’s Pie
As mentioned earlier, you can achieve an easy vegan shepherd’s pie in a variety of ways.
In the traditional method, the stew and mashed potatoes are made on the stovetop, before assembling the casserole and transferring it to the oven.
This method is best if you are making no more than 4-6 servings because everything readily fits into a pot, and you can babysit the stew with ease.
One of the key components to this easy homemade shepherd’s pie recipe is the vegan mashed potatoes. I bet you didn’t know you could make mashed potatoes just as delish without any dairy, did you?
Well, there are a couple of tricks to make mashed potatoes taste wonderful without all of that fattening milk and butter.
First of all, I like to use Yukon gold potatoes to make a healthy shepherd’s pie because they have a naturally creamy texture compared to russet potatoes, which are starchier and drier. This allows you to use less butter, keeping the dish nice and light.
Secondly, swap out traditional cow’s milk and butter with coconut or almond milk and use vegan butter. You honestly will never know the difference.
4. How to flavor it
Another key to making a vegetarian shepherd’s pie taste meaty and hearty is infusing the gravy with aromatic veggies like onions, carrots, and celery, as well as adding a bit of red wine and a tablespoon of vegan Worcestershire sauce. This will give the gravy more depth, and a bit of gluten-free flour will thicken up the juices.
When assembling the mashed potatoes over the stew, feel free to have some fun with it! If you have some peaks and jagged edges, rather than a completely smooth top, your easy homemade shepherd’s pie will get some extra brown and crispy bits. Yummm!
The time and temperature to cook this vegan shepherd’s pie is 350°F (180°C) in a preheated oven, for about 10 minutes, or until everything is bubbly. Broiling for another 2-3 minutes helps the topping form the golden-brown crust.
5. How to Make Vegan Shepherd’s Pie in an Instant Pot
Another popular way to make a healthy shepherd’s pie is in an Instant Pot. If you are unfamiliar with the Instant Pot*, it is a pressure cooker with a multitude of functions, including slow cooker, pressure cooker, rice cooker, yogurt maker, steamer, sauté pan, and a few other abilities.
The great thing about it is that you can cook things that traditionally take hours, in a fraction of the time. It’s also very easy to clean and it’s great for many one-pot meals.
To make this easy vegan shepherd’s pie recipe in an Instant Pot, follow these steps:
- Using the Sauté function of your Instant Pot, sauté the carrots, onions, celery, and mushrooms.
- Add the flour, red wine, tomato paste, herbs, spices, vegetable broth, salt, and pepper.
- For the potato portion, settle a steamer basket inside the pot, and place the chopped potatoes on top.
- Secure the lid and pressure cook on HIGH for 3 minutes.
- Transfer the filling to a casserole dish.
- Mash the potatoes with vegan butter, coconut milk*, salt and pepper, and spread over the stew.
- Bake the casserole as directed in the recipe.
Super easy, right?! You only have to dirty a couple of dishes, saving counter space, and your healthy shepherd’s pie will be on the table in a very short amount of time.
6. How to Make This Healthy Shepherd’s Pie for Meal Prep
Another great thing about this easy shepherd’s pie recipe is that it’s meal prep friendly.
To make it ahead, prepare the stew and mashed potatoes separately, then ladle the stew into individual oven-safe dishes*. Top with mashed potatoes, fit the lid on and refrigerate until ready to use.
This way, you can cook as much as you need at any given time, and save the rest for later.
Before reheating in the oven, it’s best to cover the dish with parchment paper* to retain moisture, so the sauce and potatoes won’t dry out.
You can also freeze the containers for extended life but you will need to cook twice as long as the original bake time, to cook throughout.
Usually, about 20-25 minutes is enough to bake from frozen, but the rule of thumb is to remove the casseroles when they are hot and bubbly.
I just love that this vegan shepherds pie is weeknight-friendly and that it can be made ahead and easily reheated at your hunger’s convenience.
7. What are the best side dishes for vegan shepherd’s pie?
Since the vegan shepherd’s pie is so hearty with the mushroom base and starchy potato topping, it doesn’t need much to go along with it.
A nice green salad is the perfect complement to the rich flavors of the casserole, and I like having it with a glass of red wine to go along with the mushroom gravy.
For big eaters, grain salads such as quinoa tabbouleh, or a side of hummus with crunchy veggies are great for some extra protein and fiber.
This easy shepherd’s pie recipe is absolutely amazing. The mushroom base is full of rich flavors from the browned mushrooms, hearty herbs, and red wine, and the potato topping is creamy and perfectly crisp.
It’s great for feeding a crowd, so it’s an ideal candidate for Christmas (or any other holiday) if you are still scrambling to think of what to make for dinner.
Remember that you can make it ahead and reheat it, so it’s great if you’re having guests but don’t want to be a slave in the kitchen.
Fancy enough for special occasions, but inexpensive and easy enough to make weeknight after weeknight, this healthy shepherd’s pie is sure to become a go-to at your house.
That concludes my tips and tricks for easy vegan shepherd’s pie. Now that you know how to make it, the hard part’s over!
Please let me know how you like it.
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Easy Vegan Shepherd’s Pie Recipe
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large sweet onion - diced
- 3 stalks celery - chopped
- 2 medium carrots - peeled and chopped
- 16 oz (450g) fresh mixed mushrooms - chopped
- fresh chopped herbs to taste (I used 1 sprig of rosemary, thyme, and sage)
- 2 tbsp gluten-free flour
- 1 tbsp smoked paprika
- 3 tbsp tomato paste
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 2 cups veggie broth
- sea salt and pepper - to taste
- 2 cups frozen peas
- 1 Tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce - (I used Annie's naturals)
- 6 (about 2 Lb / 900 g) Yukon gold potatoes - peeled and chopped
- 3.5 fl oz (100ml) non-dairy milk
- 1/4 cup vegan butter
- Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C.
- Place the chopped potatoes in a large pot* and fill it with water enough to cover them. Place the pot on the stovetop over medium heat and bring to a boil. Cook until fork-tender, then drain.
- Add in the vegan butter and using a potato masher*, mash until fluffy. Season with sea salt and pepper, to your taste. Put the lid back on to keep the mashed potatoes warm until ready to use.
- Heat oil in a large oven-safe pot* over medium heat. Add onions, celery, carrots, and sauté until softened, about 5-6 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 more minutes.
- Stir in the flour, paprika, Worcestershire sauce, and tomato paste.
- Pour in the wine and using a silicone spatula*, scrape any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring to a boil and cook until the wine is reduced by half.
- Add in broth and mix well to dissolve the flour and to start forming the gravy.
- Add in herbs and lower the heat to a simmer. Continue to simmer until the sauce thickens.
- Add in frozen peas and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Turn the heat off and spread the mashed potatoes evenly on top of the stew.
- Transfer the pot to the oven and bake for about 10 minutes, until bubbly, then broil for 2-3 minutes until nice and golden on top.
- Let it cool a bit, then garnish with more fresh herbs, serve and enjoy!
- Check out Tip #1 to see what are the best herbs and spices for vegan shephard's pie.
- You can make this healthy shepherd's pie with any mushrooms but I recommend you to use big meaty varieties such as portobello, cremini, button, porcini, or king oyster mushrooms. See more at Tip #2.
- See how to make the vegan mashed potatoes taste incredibly delish at Tip #3.
- For best flavor, infuse the gravy with aromatic veggies like onions, carrots, and celery, and add a bit of red wine. More on this at Tip #4.
- See how to make this homemade shepherd's pie in an Instant Pot at Tip #5.
- If you want to make it for meal prep, check out Tip #6.
- If you're looking for sides to go with vegetarian shepherd's pie check out Tip #7.
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