A plant-based version of the ultimate comfort food, this cozy vegan cottage pie is made with lentils, mushrooms, and plenty of vegetables. This recipe is made with canned lentils for an easy option. Lots of herbs, tomato paste, and (vegan) Worcestershire sauce add richness, for a special dinner that's ready in a surprisingly short time.

Try serving with miso gravy, the ultimate kale caesar salad, and a cranberry mocktail for a fantastic vegan special occasion meal.

Cottage pie with a serving taken from the baking dish.
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Ingredients

Vegan cottage pie ingredients with labels.

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

  • Lentils: if you don't have canned lentils, you can use cooked and drained. They have to be brown, black, or green lentils, not red.
  • Mushrooms: a mix of mushrooms will make a more flavourful pie (see below).
  • Potatoes: use starchy potatoes, rather than waxy, for the best mashed potato topping.
  • Herbs: if you don't have fresh herbs, use half the amount of dried instead.
  • Cheese: this is for the potato topping, and is completely optional. I like a parmesan-style but a cream cheese will work too.

How to Make Vegan Cottage Pie

Pie steps 1 to 4, potatoes in water, onions frying, filling before and after cooking.

Step 1: place the potatoes in salted water and cook while you prepare the base.

Step 2: cook the onions and leek until tender, 8-10 minutes.

Step 3: add the mushrooms and cook for about 6 minutes, then cook the remaining vegetables with the spices.

Step 4: once tender, cook the tomato paste for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the flour.

Pie steps 5 to 7, finished filling, mashed potatoes, pie before and after baking.

Step 5: add the broth and lentils, and simmer until thickened. Stir in the peas.

Step 6: mash the potatoes with the remaining ingredients.

Step 7: transfer the lentil base to a baking dish and top with the potatoes.

Step 8: bake until bubbling and browned, about half an hour.

Top Tips

  • Season to taste: every vegan butter is different and will have varying levels of salt, so you should taste the mashed potatoes and adjust based on that. It's good to taste the lentil base, too, before assembling, because all the lentils and broth will have different amounts of salt added.
  • Use mixed mushrooms: this isn't mandatory - it's still good with all button mushrooms - but a mix does add an extra flavour boost.
  • Multitask: if you boil the potatoes while making the base, everything will be ready to go in the oven at about the same time.

How to Store

Storage: keep the pie in a sealed container in the fridge for 2-3 days. I prefer reheating in the oven to crisp up the potatoes a little bit. The pie elements can also be made ahead, then assembled and cooled in the baking dish. Refrigerate for up to 24 hours before baking as usual (it might need an extra 5 minutes if cold).

Freezing: transfer any leftovers to an airtight container and freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating as usual.

Top down view of potato-topped pie with a serving spoon in the dish.

FAQ

What's the difference between cottage pie and shepherd's pie?

For a vegan shepherd's pie or cottage pie, there isn't really a difference. The names refer to the type of meat traditionally used, and since we're using lentils, it doesn't apply anyway!

Do I need to rinse canned lentils?

Just like beans, it's best to drain and rinse canned lentils before using. This makes them taste better, removing excess salt, and rinses off the liquid that can be a little gloopy.

Why isn't my topping browned?

If you don't add the butter or cheese to the topping, it might not brown because there's not enough fat in the potatoes. You can pop it under the broiler just for a minute to brown more if you'd like.

If you make this Vegan Cottage Pie recipe or any other vegan dinner recipes on Wholehearted Eats, please take a moment to rate the recipe and leave a comment below. It’s such a help to others who want to try the recipe. For more WHE, follow along on Instagram or subscribe for new posts via email.

Recipe

Cottage pie with a serving taken from the baking dish.
Print Recipe
5 from 3 votes

Vegan Cottage Pie

A plant-based version of the ultimate comfort food, this cozy vegan cottage pie is made with lentils, mushrooms, and plenty of vegetables.
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time1 hour
Total Time1 hour 15 minutes
Servings: 6

Equipment

  • 2 cooking pots
  • 1 large baking dish
  • Measuring cups and spoons

Ingredients

Mashed Potato Topping

  • 1 ½ pounds russet potatoes peeled and roughly chopped
  • 3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons vegan butter
  • ¼ cup unsweetened non-dairy milk
  • ¼ cup vegan parmesan optional
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Lentil Filling

  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 cup onion about half a large onion
  • 1 large leek white part only, thinly sliced (about ½ cup)
  • 8 ounces sliced mixed mushrooms such as button, cremini, and shiitake
  • 1 ½ cups carrots about 2 large
  • ½ cup celery
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt plus more for seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 ½ tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 ½ cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups canned lentils drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup frozen peas

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Set aside a large baking dish, about 8 inches in diameter.
  • Prepare the potatoes, then add to a pot and cover with cold water and a generous pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for about 10 minutes or until tender. Drain, then add back to the pot to steam uncovered to release excess water.
    1 ½ pounds russet potatoes
  • While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the filling. Add the oil to a large frying pan and heat over medium low. Add the onions and leek and cook for 8-10 minutes, until tender but not too browned. Dice the mushrooms, carrots, and celery into fine pieces about ¼ inch in size.
    2 tablespoons oil, 1 cup onion, 1 large leek, 8 ounces sliced mixed mushrooms, 1 ½ cups carrots, ½ cup celery
  • Add the mushrooms the pan and cook for another 6 minutes. Add the carrots, celery, garlic, herbs, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper. Cook for another 6 minutes, until the carrots are tender. Scrape the bottom of the pan if needed.
    3 cloves garlic, 2 teaspoons finely chopped rosemary, 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, 1 ½ teaspoons vegan Worcestershire sauce, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • Add the tomato paste and stir, cooking until it is well combined, another 2 to 3 minutes. Sprinkle flour over the mixture, stir, and cook for 1 minute.
    2 ½ tablespoons tomato paste, 2 tablespoons flour
  • Add the broth, lentils, and peas. Simmer until thickened, 2-3 minutes. Taste at this point and adjust the salt as needed.
    1 ½ cups vegetable broth, 2 cups canned lentils, 1 cup frozen peas
  • Mash the potatoes with a potato masher. Add the butter, salt, milk, and cheese (if using). Mix well to combine.
    3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons vegan butter, ¼ cup unsweetened non-dairy milk, ¼ cup vegan parmesan, ½ teaspoon salt
  • Add the lentil base to the baking dish, then top with an even layer of mashed potatoes. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the topping has started to brown and the filling is bubbling. If your baking dish is very full, place it onto a baking sheet to avoid any bubbling over into the oven.
  • If you want to add a little extra, dot the top of the pie with an extra 2 tablespoons of butter and sprinkle it with extra fresh herbs when it has 10 minutes left to cook.
  • Let the pie stand at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving. Leftovers will keep well for a couple of days in the fridge, and can be frozen.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 357kcal

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