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Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie

A simple recipe for vegetarian shepherd's pie. This traditional Scottish favourite is also vegan if you use vegan butter in the mashed potato topping.

vegetarian shepherd's pie.

 Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie

This vegetarian shepherd's pie is a real favourite in our house.

It's a popular dish here in Scotland, although the original shepherd's pie isn't meat-free like this one.

This veggie shepherd's pie is super easy to make and can be made vegan by using vegan butter in the mashed potato.

Utter comfort food.

What is Shepherds Pie?

Shepherd's pie and the very similar cottage pie are traditional Scottish dishes.

Cottage pie was originally made with beef and shepherd's pie, as you might guess from the name, was made with mutton or lamb.

Both were frugal peasant dishes using scraps of meat and onions and carrots and topped with mashed potato, all of which are staple Scottish crops.

Before the first potatoes arrived on the bonnie banks of Scotland, these pies were topped with pastry.

As you can imagine, when times were tight, then it would be made without any meat and be totally vegetarian as this pie is.

Sometimes the vegetarian version is called shepherdess pie.

Winter comfort food

Shepherd's pie is the perfect comfort food to fill you up and warm you in the winter.

It's like a hub in a bowl (or on a plate).

Cheap to make and full of vegetables too.

Want to make it with even more veg? Try my extra veg shepherd's pie.

Does vegetarian shepherd's pie include protein?

Vegetarian shepherd's pie is packed with protein.

This recipe is made with soya mince, which is high in protein.

You can buy it dry (which needs a bit more stock) from health food shops or buy it chilled or frozen in supermarkets where it is usually labelled meat-free mince.

red lentils.

Can you use lentils instead of soya mince in shepherd's pie?

You can use lentils instead of soya mince in shepherd's but you need to consider what kind of texture you are looking for.

For a similar texture to soya mince, use green or brown lentils which hold there shape when cooking. 

I used green lentils in this lentil shepherd's pie.

If you use red lentils, they will melt into the pie base and you will have a thicker consistency with less texture, although there will be texture from the veg.

Red lentils were used in this veg box red lentil shepherd's pie.


Be generous with the mashed potato

A thick layer of mashed potato spread over the mince base is essential.

You want a good proportion of mash to mince for the most comforting pie.

It helps balance all the gravy at the bottom of the pie and makes it even more delicious.

Take my word for it.

Should you top shepherd's pie with cheese?

It's not the classic way to serve it, but heck if it's your thing add it.

The cheese will melt and start to brown, giving a good colour to the top of the pie and more flavour.

You could grate a good strong cheddar to add to the top of the pie or a vegan cheddar.

However, I don't like adding cheese.

I think there is enough flavour without it.

What you need to make a vegetarian shepherd's pie

Here are the simple ingredients you need to make this gorgeous veggie pie.

  • olive oil - or rapeseed oil
  • onion - white or brown
  • garlic - add more if you like
  • carrot
  • mushrooms
  • meat-free mince - dried, chilled or frozen
  • vegetable stock
  • vegetarian Worcestershire sauce - or you could use brown sauce or BBQ sauce for a flavour boost
  • tomato puree
  • potatoes - for the mash topping
  • butter - or vegan butter
  • salt and pepper

No need to put the oven on

This pie saves money as it's not cooked in the oven, which can be an expensive option while gas and electric prices are so high.

The savoury mince base of this pie is cooked in a pot, as is the potato before it is mashed.

Once assembled, the pie is browned until a grill (broiler).

Can you freeze vegetarian shepherd's pie?

Vegetarian shepherd's pie is the perfect make-ahead and freeze meal.

Make up your shepherd's pie, top it with mashed potato, then instead of cooking it, pop it in the freezer.

Either use a freezer-friendly oven-proof dish with a lid or slide it into a large freezer bag and freeze it for 3-4 months.

You can then cook in the oven from frozen.

More popular traditional Scottish recipes

Here are a few more Scottish recipes with a veggie twist. 

Which will you try next?

  1. Mushroom, Tatties & Neeps Pie is another comforting pie topped with mashed potato.
  2. Scotch Broth with Barley & Kale for a filling lunch or dinner.
  3. Slow Cooker Scottish Stovies are a classic that everyone loves.
  4. Yellow Split Pea Soup is a thick, protein-packed soup.
  5. Vegan Haggis - serve it with neeps, tatties and a creamy whisky sauce or with roast potatoes, veg and gravy.

For more inspiration, check out my Scottish recipe page.
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Yield: 4-6
Author: Jacqueline Meldrum
Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie

Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie

A simple recipe for vegetarian shepherd's pie. This traditional Scottish favourite is also vegan if you use vegan butter in the mashed potato topping.
Prep time: 10 MinCook time: 45 MinTotal time: 55 Min


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped (more if you like)
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 500g (18 oz) mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 500g (18 oz) vegetarian mince
  • 1 pint (2 ½ cups or 568 ml) vegetable stock (3 vegetable stock cubes)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetarian Worcestershire sauce (see notes for alternatives)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato puree
  • 850g (30 oz) potatoes, steamed or boiled until soft
  • 2 tablespoons butter (or vegan butter)
  • salt and pepper


  1. In a large pot saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil for a few minutes until soft, then add the carrots and cook until they are tender.
  2. Add the mushrooms and cook for another few minutes.
  3. Add the soya mince, give it a good mix in and then add the vegetable stock.
  4. Cook down for 20 minutes and then add the worcestershire sauce and tomato puree. Cook for a further 10 minutes and season with salt and pepper. Go easy on the salt as the stock can be quite salty.
  5. While the savoury mince is cooking you can boil or steam and then mash the potatoes with some butter or dairy-free spread and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Spoon into an ovenproof dish and top with mashed potato. Brown under the grill (broiler).
  7. Enjoy!


  1. Lentils - You can use brown or green lentils instead of meat-free mince, but you won't need as much stock.
  2. No Worcestershire sauce? - If you don't have Worcestershire sauce, you can add brown sauce or BBQ sauce to give the base savoury mince mixture a boost of flavour.
  3. Make it vegan - Just add dairy-free butter or spread to the mash instead of butter.
  4. Freeze it -You can freeze this pie. Make up your shepherd's pie, top it with mashed potato, then instead of cooking it, pop it in the freezer with a lid or in a freezer bag for 3-4 months.
  5. Cook from frozen - Preheat the oven, cover the dish with foil and cook until hot. You can remove the foil part way though to brown the top.


4 portions = 480 calories per portion

5 portions = 384 calories per portion

6 portions = 320 calories per portion

Nutrition Facts



Fat (grams)


Sat. Fat (grams)


Carbs (grams)


Fiber (grams)


Net carbs


Sugar (grams)


Protein (grams)


Sodium (milligrams)


Cholesterol (grams)


This information is approximated using a nutrition and calorie calculator.


  1. One of the first vegetarian meals I was able to get my husband to eat was a vetetarian shepherd's pie. It is similar to your recipe only our's uses kidney beans instead of the soy crumbles. It is still one of his favorites.

    Neither of us have actually had the "real" recipe of shepherd's pie!


  2. I think men all really love comfort food. It is so easy to win them over(well mine anyway!)!

  3. This looks really tasty! I've been wanting to make a proper veggie Shepard's pie and this looks like it would be perfect.

    with my own vegetarian blog at

  4. I have to ask, is that your baking dish in the picture? If so, where did you get it? I absolutely love it!
    I love all your recipes and have tried a few, with much success. Keep up the wonderful blog!

  5. i make your veggie shepherds pie at least twice a month during the winter - its the closest to my grandmothers that i have come across. my boyfriend and i are crazy about it and even my dad, who eats meat, has asked me to make it for his visits. i always use kidney beans instead of the soy crumbles. yum! thank you!

  6. I do hope you try it Sea :)

    Hi Anon, I think I got the dish from Tesco at some point.

    Hey M, I am so, so very glad, you enjoy the shepherds pie. What better compliment is there :)

  7. This looks delicious. I don't think there is any soy mince where I live (not even sure what it is). Would crumbled tofu work?


  8. Looks good!
    I made a veggie shepherd's pie as well recently, completely forgoing the mince and instead just working from lots of chopped veggies (I think it was mainly mushrooms, carrot, cauliflower and onions).

    Your blog is very inspiring! I foresee that I'll be trying a few of those recipes.


  9. Tried this for our big Saint Patrick's day family dinner. It was a huge hit even with the non-vegitarians. We added extra garlic and some paprika which really brought out the flavor of the mushrooms. Can't wait to make it again, thank you for sharing.

    1. I am so glad you enjoyed it. It was one of the first recipes on my blog 17 years ago. One of my husband's favourite recipes


I love reading comments, so thank you for taking the time to leave one. Unfortunately, I'm bombarded with spam, so I've turned on comment moderation. I'll publish your comments as soon as I can and respond to them. Don't panic, they will disappear when you hit publish. Jac x