Vegan Shepherd’s Pie

Today was one of those perfect winter days – fairytale-like snow, warm herbal tea, and a cozy feeling. And there’s nothing more wintry than a warming dish, so I crowned this beautiful day with a comforting recipe full of flavors – the shepherd’s pie, in its delicious vegan version, with sweet potatoes and lentils. It made the day!


Traditional shepherd’s pie is made with ground beef and mashed potatoes, and I pretty much associate it with the Greek dish, moussaka. My mother used to make moussaka for Sunday lunches, when all of our family gathered around the table, when our darling nanna was still with us – it’s all about lovely memories. It’s been more than twenty years since I’ve had a shepherd’s a pie casserole, so it was just about time to think of a healthy version of this comforting dish to include in my winter diet.

There are lots of ways to reinterpret shepherd’s pie in a healthy, vegetarian version, and while I searched for inspiration, I fell in love with Laura’s Garden Keeper’s Pie. I had a batch of sweet potatoes, so I decided to replace the mashed potatoes with the sweet ones, while the meaty texture was to come from my favorite legume – lentils.


There are many reasons why we should add lentils to our diet, and I already wrote about the main ones over here. Lentils are a real blessing for vegetarians because they are packed with proteins, they easily absorb flavors, which makes them versatile when it comes to combining them in dishes, and they’re packed with fibers that support good digestion. Lentils, like all legumes, cereals, and nuts, do not provide all the amino acids necessary for protein synthesis, but these are complemented by the ones in vegetables for creating the whole protein building blocks, so the mashed sweet potatoes were a great choice for my shepherd’s pie.



They also load it with high amounts of beta-carotene, which our bodies converts to vitamin A, a key nutrient for good eyesight, cell growth, and a healthy immune system. The beta-carotene is a powerful antioxidant, but if you find purple-fleshed sweet potatoes, then you hit the jackpot, because these are abundant in antocyanins, with anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and cancer-fighting properties. There is better absorption of beta-carotene in our bodies if the sweet potatoes (and any other beta-carotene-rich vegetable) are paired with a healthy fat (like avocado, coconut oil, or nuts).

ALSO YUMMY:  Thai Cauliflower Rice Salad with Peanut Butter Sauce

Print Recipe
4 from 1 vote

Vegan Shepherds Pie

A simple and comforting reinterpretation of shepherd's pie – a nutritious and filling vegan version of the classic casserole recipe.
Cook Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Vegan
Servings: 3
Author: The Awesome Green


  • 2 cups sweet potatoes peeled and cut in cubes
  • 1 tbsp virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves crushed
  • 1 cup green lentils
  • 1 carrot cut in small cubes
  • 1 celery stick finely diced
  • 1 onion finely diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Fresh juice from one lemon
  • 1 small bunch of thyme
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 cup filtered water
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small bunch of parsley roughly chopped


  • Boil the sweet potato cubes in salty water until tender (about 15 minutes).
  • Drain well, transfer to a bowl, mash with a fork, add the olive oil, crushed garlic and a pinch of sea salt, and mix to obtain a chunky puree. Set aside.
  • Heat the oven at 175°C/347°F .
  • Heat the coconut oil in a pan and add the onion, celery and carrot. Cook for five minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Add the lentils, the bay leaf, thyme, tomato sauce, water and lemon juice, bring to boil, cover with a lid and simmer for 15 minutes, until the lentils are almost cooked and the liquid thickened.
  • Season with salt and pepper, remove the bay leaf and thyme, and transfer to a baking dish.
  • Spread the sweet potato mash on top, drizzle with olive oil and cook in the oven for 15 minutes.
  • Serve garnished with chopped parsley leaves.


  • Natalia
    December 9, 2014

    Mmm, delicious!

    • Ana
      December 9, 2014

      🙂 it was comfort food at its best!

      • Jo
        December 9, 2016

        Hi! Just wondering, when you say tomato sauce what do you mean? Tomato puree? Passata? Tomato ketchup? Or something else? 🙂

        • Ana
          December 10, 2016

          I’m usually using passata or canned diced tomatoes.

          • Jo
            December 10, 2016

            Thank you 🙂 Looking forward to trying it out. And thanks for coming back to me so quickly.

  • Angie@Angie's Recipes
    December 10, 2014

    I wish I could dig in! Sweet potato and lentils are both my favourites..this is perfect for my lunch.

    • Ana
      December 10, 2014

      I’m really sure you would love the taste – the combination was perfect, they are both my favorites too! XO

  • Nik@ABrownTable
    December 10, 2014

    That is one beautiful and delicious take on shepherd’s pie! A stunner 🙂

    • Ana
      December 10, 2014

      Thanks, Nik! 🙂

  • kristie {birch and wild}
    December 12, 2014

    I love this Shepard’s pie! Such beautiful colors.

  • Ana
    December 12, 2014

    Thank you, Kristie, I’m happy that you like it!

  • Our Food Stories
    December 12, 2014

    this looks SO delish!! we love sweet potatoes <3

    laura & nora

    • Ana
      December 14, 2014

      Thank you very much, dear Laura & Nora! <3

  • janet @ the taste space
    December 16, 2014

    Simply gorgeous, Ana! I made something similar but your photos put mine to shame. At least we both had delicious food. Looking forward to following you now. 🙂

    • Ana
      December 16, 2014

      Thanks so much, Janet! I like your idea of adding sun-dried tomatoes to lentils – they give the umami-like taste that we don’t have in our veggie world 😉

  • Joann
    December 17, 2014

    How do you add in the thyme if it needs to be removed?

    • Ana
      December 17, 2014

      I added the whole bunch without chopping it so the flavor was milder, then I removed the bunch. If you can’t find thyme in bunches, add a pinch only of dry thyme – this one will mix with lentils and give a stronger flavor. I hope this helps!

  • Angie
    December 24, 2014

    4 stars
    Hi Ana! I made this last night and the flavors were spot on. We’re not vegan… or vegetarians for that matter, but I like to sneak in healthy meals without my husband catching on. At first he said it felt like a side dish (which made me grin), then he helped himself to another serving, telling me this morning that it was delicious and I should make it again.
    I did have a problem with the liquid to lentil ratio and ended up putting more tomato sauce and more water as it progressed…. maybe around 6 to 8 cups of liquid total, if that helps someone making this. I would double the potato topping, because it was a little thin for the amount of lentils, but that’s just my take and I love sweet potatoes. Thanks for the great recipe… again, wonderful flavors and I will be making this again.

    • Ana
      December 24, 2014

      Hi Angie! Thank you so much for sharing your feedback, I’m really happy that you sneaked this healthy dish and that your family actually liked it! I prefer drier lentils, as it can be seen from the photos, that’s why I didn’t add too much liquid, but I’ll make the changes in the recipe so people can choose how to cook theirs 🙂

  • Amanda
    December 25, 2014

    I’m in the process of making this for Christmas, I wil let you know how it turns out! So far, I chose to roast the cut sweet potatoes with about 4 cloves of chopped garlic, s/p and evoo. They mashed fine for the most part, I just like the flavor of roasting vs boiled, plus keeps in nutrients. This is a great recipe idea, thanks for sharing!

    • Ana
      December 29, 2014

      Amanda, roasting sounds like a great idea – I’m pretty sure the taste and flavors will enhance. I’m happy that you liked the recipe!

  • Veggie Sutra
    January 14, 2015

    Wow. Wonderful recipe. I have always wanted to make Shepherd’s pie but it always seems so bland and white. This one actually sounds flavorful and colorful. Will let you know how it turns out.

    • Ana
      January 15, 2015

      I am sure you’ll love it! Looking forward for your feedback…

  • Jenn
    March 13, 2015

    Absolutely lived the flavor and recipe! I don’t like the lentils hard so I would double the liquid and double the mashed potatoes too

    • Ana
      March 16, 2015

      Happy to hear that you liked my recipe! Doubling the quantities is just fine because the recipe is quite flexible – important is that you could fix it according to your preferences!

  • Paul
    April 29, 2015

    Cough, cough, Shepherd’s Pie is NOT made with beef… it is made with LAMB! Come on, get your facts straight.

    Now if you’d had said Cottage Pie was made with beef you’d have been more accurate, but even that can be made with lamb too.

    • Ana
      April 29, 2015

      It very much depends on the region/country – over here it’s actually made with pork, beef or a combination of these. Anyway, this blog is a strict vegetarian one, where the focus is on nutrition and health, so it doesn’t really matter what kind of meat goes into different recipes, but the way you can replace it to nourish your body right.

  • Rebecca
    February 20, 2016

    This would have been a great recipe, but I didn’t realize that the lentils were supposed to be cooked/canned. I used dry lentils, and it was a complete fail. Maybe you should specify that in the recipe, as we just had to throw it all out, completely inedible.

    • Ana
      February 21, 2016

      Definitely, thank you so much for letting me know! The mistake is actually regarding the amount of water – but I’ll correct it. So sorry you had to waste yours!

  • Alison
    August 4, 2016

    My lentils also came out very undercooked so also inedible. Shame as looks like a lovely combination. So it seems like i will need treble the quantities of liquid anyway and about 25 minutes cooking the lentils before putting it in the oven. It doesn’t seem like they continue to cook in the oven. I will give it another go though.

    • Ana
      August 4, 2016

      Sorry to hear it didn’t turn out good for you! They should definitely continue to cook in the oven, so hopefully next time this dish will turn out just fine, because it’s really a delicious one!

  • Maureen
    October 13, 2016

    Made this today..only change was I added red pepper flakes to the lentil mixture. This one is a keeper!

    • Ana
      October 17, 2016

      A little more spiciness never harmed anyone 🙂 Thanks so much for your feedback, I’m delighted you liked the recipe!

  • Paul
    May 27, 2020

    Sorry, you are incorrect. Shepherds pie is traditionally made with lamb or mutton. The word Shepherd comes from Sheep Herder.

    If beef is used it is typically called Cottage Pie.

    • Ana
      June 15, 2020

      Thanks for pointing that out!

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