Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie – Gluten Free and Vegan

I’ve been trying to cook a more plant based diet in our house which isn’t easy to do with 3 children and a meat loving husband. I don’t know of many kids that get excited at the thought of lentils or mushrooms. And remember, it also needs to be gluten, dairy and egg free. Growing up vegetarian, I am trying to instill a love for meatless entrees with my own family. Given that my husband grew up eating meat every single night, I also need to get him to approve of any meatless entree, otherwise, I don’t stand a chance with my kids if “daddy’s not eating it”.

This vegetarian shepherd’s pie combines both my husband’s desire for meat, and my kids desire for delicious food that doesn’t taste “too healthy” (but is!). If you are vegan or trying to go vegan, this is a great dinner choice. Lentils are a great choice for a meat substitute as they provide a good source of protein. We use them in everything from tacos to meatloaf to soup. And the vegetables in this recipe can be switched out to whatever you have on hand. I have used parsnips, sweet potatoes, and even a handful of spinach and kale in this recipe, although the kids didn’t really go for that;)

You can’t beat Shepherd’s Pie for comfort food, especially on cold nights. It is a great one pot meal that is both hearty and satisfying. In this vegetarian version, meat is replaced with the earthy flavors of the mushrooms and lentils. Simmering the vegetables and lentils in a rich broth, spiked with just a splash of worcestershire sauce, creates layers of flavor. Top this off with a layer of creamy mashed potatoes and you’ve just won over any doubters about a vegetarian dinner! Now much to the kids dismay, I like chunky mashed potatoes with some of the skin left on. The small random chunks of potatoes mixed in with creamy potatoes just appeals to my sense of texture. My daughter said this violates some law out there. But until they make dinner, we get it my way:). Because our son can’t have dairy in his mashed potatoes, I like to use buttery Yukon Gold potatoes, but any mashed potatoes will work.

Don’t skip out on the smoked paprika in this recipe. I have even increased it on occasion! It is one of my favorite go to spices that I think is highly underrated. It adds a great smoky depth to meats and vegetables.  We love it on sweet potatoes! As for the vegetables in this “pie”, you can really use anything you want. I have added parsnips, taken out the peas, substituted sweet potatoes for carrots when that is all I had, it’s really a great versatile mixture that works with anything. As for the mushrooms, I like them chopped rather than sliced as it makes them a bit more chunky, mimicking meat. And portabella mushrooms are my preference since they are a sturdier, deeper flavored mushroom. But button mushrooms are just fine.

This is on our winter meal rotation so I hope your family enjoys it as much as ours!

  • This recipe is adapted from which has fabulous recipes!