Vegetarian Shepherds Pie

by Sally on March 26, 2012 · 16 comments

in Gluten-free, Side Dishes, The Daniel Plan, Vegan Dishes, Vegetables, Vegetarian Dishes

Packed with vegetables and beans, then topped with creamy mashed potatoes, don’t tell the carnivores in your family this is meatless. They won’t miss the meat. Serve it as a comforting, casserole-style main dish for dinner or as a side dish to roast chicken.

Traditional Versus Vegetarian or Vegan

Traditionally, Shepherd’s Pie is made with a filling of lamb. This vegetarian version replaces the lamb with colorful, healthy vegetables – onion, carrots, celery, tomatoes, green beans, corn, peas, and both red and white kidney beans. The vegetable filling is then topped with creamy mashed potatoes.

Of Potatoes, Dairy and Prep Work

For mashed potatoes I use Yukon Gold’s, not russets. And for fluffy textured potatoes, I use a tool called a ricer. For the creamy part, stir in sour cream or plain Greek yogurt (more tang), then add a little butter.

Another option for topping your Shepherds Pies, use whipped sweet potatoes instead of gold potatoes. They are a healthier option and beautiful color, not to mention more nutritious. Basic recipe is here.

For a vegan version, use vegan sour cream by Follow Your Heart products and Earth Balance buttery vegan sticks in the mashed potatoes. I started using these products while cooking for dairy-free clients and loved the results.  The taste is wonderful with a nice tang from the sour cream. You’ll never know its not regular dairy.

Of course regular dairy works fine. Do what works for you, but if you have not tried going dairy free occasionally, you might be surprised how good it can be.

Knife Skills and Organization

There’s a bit of prep work for the vegetables which gives you a chance to practice your knife skills. Assemble all of your prepped vegetables and ingredients in little bowls. I like to put mine on a half-sheet tray before I start cooking the filling. Try it. You”ll be more organized.

Cook the Filling

Sauté the vegetables together, stir in the beans, then spoon the filling into individual or one large casserole dish.  Spoon on or pipe the potatoes over the top. I pipe my potatoes for nice presentation, but you can simply spoon the potatoes on a swirl for a nice look

Bake and Serve

To serve, bake the dishes in the oven until the filling is hot. A few minutes under the broiler will brown the tops but be careful not to burn the potatoes. If you’d like, gently brush with a little olive oil, melted Earth Balance or butter mixed with a little granulated garlic for extra flavor before browning.

A note on dishes – I like to make individual Shepherd’s Pies. For a main dish serving size, use 10 ounce ramekins. For a side dish try the 6 ounce size. You can also use a variety of mini casseroles. It’s fun for everyone to get their own little dish. 

Vegetarian Shepherds Pie

This vegetarian or vegan recipe for Shepherds Pie skips the lamb in favor of a basketful of vegetables and beans for a hearty main dish or as a side dish. Top with creamy mashed potatoes, browning them under the broiler for nice presentation. If serving as a main dish, add a tossed green salad. This also works well as a side dish to roast chicken. For serving two, the recipe halves nicely. Just choose one kind of bean.

Servings: 4 as a main dish, 6-8 as a side dish (this halves easily for two main servings)


  • 1 1/2 pounds (680 grams)Yukon gold potatoes
  • 3/4 cup (170 grams) or more, vegan sour cream (note below) or regular light sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons (28 grams) Earth Balance (or butter)
  • 1 1/2 (20 grams) tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 of a large onion, chopped fine
  • 2 large ribs of celery, chopped fine
  • 3 small carrots, chopped fine, about 3/4 cup (100 grams)
  • 3 large garlic cloves, chopped fine
  • 2 tablespoons (30 grams) tomato paste
  • 1 cup (240 ml) of water
  • 1 teaspoon each (1/2 gram) dried basil, oregano and thyme
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1- 14.5 ounce (411 grams) canned diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup corn kernels (135 grams), thawed if frozen
  • 1 cup of peas (135 grams), thawed if frozen
  • 1 cup (130 grams) finely chopped raw baby green beans
  • 1-15 ounce can (425 grams) red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1-15 ounce can (425 grams) Cannelini beans, rinsed and drained


Heat oven to 350 degrees

  1. Make the mashed potatoes. Peel potatoes and cut into quarters or eights. Aim for the same size so they cook evenly. Place in a medium saucepan, cover with cold water and add 2 teaspoons of kosher or sea salt. Bring the potatoes to a simmer over medium heat and cook until very tender when a paring knife easily pierces the potatoes.
  2. Drain potatoes well and place back in the hot pan (heat off). Cover and allow to steam dry for a few minutes. Next, push the potatoes through a ricer. Alternatively use a hand masher or hand mixer. Add sour cream and butter and stir. Season with salt and pepper. The texture should be creamy and firm, not runny. Set aside.
  3. Next, assemble all of your prepped vegetables and ingredients in little bowls. I like to put mine on a tray. You”ll be more organized.
  4. In a medium saute or fry pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, celery and carrot and cook until soft, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. Add tomato paste, water, dried herbs, paprika, tomatoes, corn, peas and green beans. Cover and cook until the green beans are tender and some of the moisture has cooked down, a few minutes.
  5. Season with salt and pepper and taste. Gently stir in the kidney and Cannellini beans. Distribute mixture between 4 – 10 ounce ramekins or a medium casserole dish. Swirl mashed potatoes over the top with a spoon or pipe mashed potatoes to cover the vegetable-bean mixture.
  6. Place the casserole (s) on a rimmed baking sheet and bake in the oven until hot or when a digital thermometer reads 160-165 degrees.  It should take about 3o minutes.  If the potatoes are not brown, bake under a to broiler just until browned. Serve  immediately.

Note – You can prepare this a day or two ahead. They hold well in the refrigerator. Allow to stand at room temperature for an hour before baking. They are done when the internal temperature read 160-165 degrees with a digital thermometer.

Seasoning – to give this a Southwestern taste, used smoked paprika, smoked pepper and add some chili powder.

Helpful Links:

Earth Balance vegan buttery sticks information here

Follow Your Heart vegan sour cream (and I love the Vegenaise), information here

Nutrition information on kidney and Cannellini beans (white Italian kidney beans)

10 ounce white ramekins on Amazon

Thermoworks Thermapen, the best digital thermometer.

Half sheet rimmed baking pan, great to organize prep work on and for a thousand other uses

OXO Potato Ricer, on Amazon

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This post contains links to Affiliate Programs, where I may receive a small commission for any purchases.

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Madonna March 27, 2012 at 10:20 am

This looks delicious. I don’t mean to gush, but I love the prep/organization. Your recipes are great to scale up or down, simple yet complex in flavor. Just yum. I am liking the measures also. I saw a recipe yesterday on another site that called for two and half eggs – how funny is that?


2 Sally March 27, 2012 at 10:43 am

Two and a half eggs? How funny is that. I can’t imagine listing that in a recipe! When you find those half eggs, let me know.If you make this please report back on how it came out.


3 Ambika March 27, 2012 at 8:21 pm

WOW! Love this recipe and the potatoes on the top look so perfect!!


4 katie March 28, 2012 at 5:58 am

Oh I love this fun twist on a traditional shepherd’s pie. I think I need to try this soon!


5 Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious April 6, 2012 at 12:01 am

Shepherd’s pie is one of my favorite dishes in the world. I usually use ground beef but I love your vegetarian option. And I also love that you piped on the mashed potatoes – it makes it so much prettier!


6 Janice October 2, 2012 at 4:47 pm

It’s nice to see a Shepherd’s Pie recipe without the meat while using tasty vegetables. I’ll be making this very soon!


7 Sue October 18, 2012 at 12:06 pm

Beautiful pictures..seems like a great recipe! I am making it this minute!
I printed out the recipe and there is not a reference as when to add the peas and corn…do they go in when the green beans go in, or after that, along with the tinned beans?


8 Sally October 18, 2012 at 5:56 pm

Sue, you can add them after you cook the onions and garlic. Take a look at the refreshed recipe. It should be more clear now. Thank you for commenting. Please let me know how you enjoy them and how the recipe worked for you.


9 Rebecca Braun May 15, 2013 at 9:47 pm

I can’t wait to try this!


10 Kari October 10, 2013 at 6:10 pm

is “sweet paprika” the same as regular paprika?


11 Sally October 10, 2013 at 9:09 pm

Yes Kari, it is regular paprika. Sometimes you will see regular or “sweet” paprika versus hot or spicy paprika. Sorry for the confusion. My favorite is smoked paprika! Great flavor.


12 daisy November 17, 2013 at 9:15 am

Can the left overs be frozen? If so, would I need to defrost fully before putting it in the microwave?
This looks so yummy


13 Sally November 17, 2013 at 9:27 am

Hi Daisy. Yes, I have frozen them before, and yes, they should be fully thawed for best heating. The safest way to thaw is overnight in the refrigerator. It may take 18-24 hours for a full thaw, then heat in the oven, covered with foil, at 350 until hot in the center. Use a digital thermometer and heat to 165 degrees. You will get better results in the oven than in a microwave. Hope that helps!


14 daisy November 17, 2013 at 9:27 am

or how long will it keep in the fridge?


15 Sally November 17, 2013 at 12:12 pm

4 days!


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