Vegan Shepherds Pie Recipe – Hackfleischauflauf mit Kartoffelhaube

Oma Gerhild

by: Gerhild Fulson  /  Cookbook Author, Blogger, German Oma!

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A vegan Shepherd's Pie recipe by Oma Gerhild? Yep! I had vegan family members coming for Christmas Dinner and I wanted something special and delicious that was easy to make.

Shepherd's Pie may not be German food, but it is oh-so-good and very much pleases my German taste buds! This vegan version of what we would call Hackfleischauflauf mit Kartoffelhaube in Germany is so easy to make and so delicious. It got rave reviews from everyone, including hubby.

Vegan Shepherds Pie recipe ready to serve for Christmas Dinner!

Not only is this the ultimate comfort food... it's vegan comfort food. Perfect for the whole family!

What is traditional Shepherd's Pie made of?

Traditionally, Shepherds Pie is a casserole dish with a bottom layer of ground lamb and onions mixed with a gravy or sauce topped with creamy mashed potatoes. Adding different vegetables to the ground meat filling and topping the potatoes with cheese are common variants.

What we typically call Shepherd's Pie in Canada and the United States should really be called Cottage Pie. Both Cottage Pie and Shepherd's Pie originate from the UK. The only difference is that Cottage Pie is made with ground beef and Shepherd's Pie is made with ground lamb.

I suppose this vegan Shepherd's Pie recipe could also be called vegan Cottage Pie since the lentils used in this recipe make a wonderfully nutritious replacement for any type of ground meat.

Speaking of lentils...

They are so very healthy to eat! Lentils are high in fiber and complex carbohydrates, while low in fat and calories. Their high protein content makes lentils a perfect option for replacing ground beef in recipes. They are also high in vitamins and minerals, such as potassium, folate, iron, and manganese. Wunderbar!

Brown or green lentils make the best substitute for ground beef. They have a wonderful texture that is both firm yet soft, and have a deliciously mild earthy flavor that can take on a vast array of seasonings. Red lentils do not work in this case, as they turn mushy when cooked and do not hold their shape.

The best thing about lentils is that you don't have to be vegan or vegetarian to enjoy them. Plus, they are very easy on the budget!

We Germans love our lentils, especially in soups! While you're here, check out some of my German lentil soup recipes:

What type of potatoes are best for mashed potatoes?

First, let's start with the worst type of potatoes. The worst potatoes are waxy potatoes like white potatoes and red potatoes since these are more prone to becoming gummy when mashed. Not good!

The best type of potatoes to use for mashed potatoes are starchy potatoes like Yukon Gold potatoes or Russet potatoes. These yield the fluffiest texture and best flavor.

But for vegan mashed potatoes, Yukon Gold is the potato of choice since they have a natural buttery flavor and a creamy dense consistency.

Need that “all’s good with the world” feeling? Comfort food will do that. Get your copy of Oma's German favorites in her Comfort Foods e-Cookbook.

Take a look at Oma’s Comfort Foods eCookbook and enjoy the traditional taste of German cuisine!

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How to make vegan Shepherd's Pie

This recipe is worthy of serving for special occasions, yet is easy and simple enough for weekday family dinners. Here's a quick overview of how to make it. See the recipe card below for the full recipe.

Start by cooking the potatoes and gathering all the ingredients needed to make the yummy lentil filling.

Vegan Shepherds Pie ingredients

Next, while the potatoes are cooking, prepare the veggies: dice the mushrooms and carrots into bite-sized chunks and slice the onions.

Slice Mushrooms
Dice carrots
Slice Onions

Heat oil in a large saucepan and sauté the mushrooms for about 5 minutes. Add a little more oil along with the carrots and onions and cook until the onions are tender.

Sautéing the vegetables

You'll see lovely browned bits forming on the bottom of the pan. This will add yummy flavor!

Lovely browned bits at the bottom of the pan

Stir in some flour, fennel seeds, smoked paprika, garlic powder, and dried sage. Cook for one minute.

Add flour and spices to pan

Add some vegetable broth and stir, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook a little longer until thickened.

Add broth to pan

Stir in peas, parsley, canned lentils, and soy sauce. Bring to a simmer and heat through. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Cook until shepherds pie base is thickened

When potatoes are done cooking, drain, mash, and season (see Oma Says below).

Mash potatoes with a potato masher

Pour the lentil mixture into the bottom of a baking dish.

Spread mashed potatoes over 'meat' base

Spread the mashed potatoes over the top.

Vegan Shepherds Pie ready for the oven

Bake in a preheated oven for about 20 to 25 minutes, then let it sit under the broiler until potatoes are nice and golden. Garnish with fresh parsley. Serve warm and enjoy!

Vegan Shepherds Pie ready to serve

Oma Says,

This recipe was inspired by and adapted from A Couple Cooks' Vegan Shepherd's Pie recipe. I tweaked it to suit our family's preferences. The end result was so yummy!

Also, this was my first time making vegan mashed potatoes. The recipe called for an awful lot of oil, about half a cup, but, to me, that seemed like too much. I decided to use 3 lbs of potatoes (instead of 2), only 2 tablespoons olive oil, and season with salt and pepper (no garlic - for hubby's sake!).

It worked and tasted really good, although it was difficult to spread because it was a fairly dry mixture. (I would have added some soy milk or other non-dairy milk, but didn't have any.)

BUT, the potatoes baked up nice and crispy on the top and the texture and taste was amazing mixed with the delicious lentil and vegetable filling. Everyone loved it!

My daughter-in-law, Sylvie, later shared with me her delicious recipe for creamy vegan mashed potatoes. I've decided to include her recipe instead in the recipe card below.

What to serve with Shepherd's Pie?

This vegan / vegetarian Shepherd's Pie is delicious and satisfying all on its own. But there are so many delicious side dishes that pair well with it. For Christmas Dinner, I paired it with my delicious German Carrot Salad found in my Oma's Summer Salads eCookbook for a light and refreshing contrast to the warm and hearty Shepherd's Pie. Yummy!

Here are some more ideas on what to serve with this vegetarian Shepherd's Pie. These recipes are naturally vegan or can easily be made vegan by substituting or omitting non-key ingredients:

Ready to make the best vegan Shepherd's pie?

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Vegan Shepherds Pie Recipe – Hackfleischauflauf mit Kartoffelhaube

Shepherd's Pie may not be German food, but it is oh-so-good and very much pleases my German taste buds! This vegan version of what we would call Hackfleischauflauf mit Kartoffelhaube in Germany is so easy to make and so delicious. It got rave reviews from everyone, including hubby.

Prep Time

50 minutes

Cook Time

20 minutes

Total Time

70 minutes


Makes 6 servings


For the mashed potatoes:

  • 3lbs Yukon gold potatoes
  • reserved potato water
  • ¼ to ½ cup cashew cream, to taste (see NOTES/HINTS)
  • salt and black pepper, to taste

For the lentil filling:

  • 12 ounces cremini mushrooms
  • 2 large carrots
  • 1½ medium onions
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon whole fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • 2 cups vegetable broth or vegetable stock
  • 1 cup frozen peas (can use frozen or thawed)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 14-ounce can lentils, drained
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce (or tamari
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • chopped fresh parsley, for garnish


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Peel and chop potatoes. Place in a large pot and add enough cold water to cover potatoes by one inch. Salt and bring to a boil.
  3. Cook potatoes for 10 to 15 minutes, until fork tender.
  4. While potatoes are cooking, dice mushrooms and carrots into bite-sized pieces and slice onions.
  5. In a large saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and cook for about 5 minutes until golden brown.
  6. Reduce to medium heat and add remaining olive oil along with carrots, onion slices, and salt. Cook until onions are tender.
  7. Reduce heat to medium-low. Stir in flour, fennel seeds, smoked paprika, garlic powder, and dried sage. Cook for one minute.
  8. Add veggie broth and stir, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook for two minutes until thickened.
  9. Stir in peas, parsley, lentils, and soy sauce. Bring to a simmer and heat through. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  10. When potatoes are done cooking, drain, reserving cooking liquid, and return them to the pot.
  11. Add a little bit of the reserved potato water and ¼ cup of the cashew cream to the potatoes and mash with a potato masher, being careful to add only a little bit of the potato water at a time (and extra cashew cream, if desired) until desired consistency is achieved. Season with salt and pepper.
  12. Pour the lentil filling into an 8x11-inch baking dish. Spread the mashed potatoes evenly over the top. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, then let it sit under the broiler for 2 to 3 minutes until the potatoes are nice and golden.
  13. Garnish with parsley and serve.


  • If you don't have cashew cream available, you can use olive oil or vegan butter instead. Start with a small amount, about 2 tablespoons, and work your way up, to taste. You can also add come nutritional yeast for a cheesy flavor.
  • You can use 1¾ cups cooked brown or green lentils instead of canned lentils.
  • Give it a German touch by using Maggi (Maggi Würze) instead of soy sauce. You can also substitute vegan Worcestershire sauce for the soy sauce.
  • You can make this lentil Shepherd's Pie in an air fryer oven. Same instructions, but instead of under the broiler, put it on Air Fry mode at 425°F for 2 to 3 minutes, until browned.
  • Try adding 2 to 4 tablespoons of tomato paste to the lentil filling.
  • If you like sweet and savory combinations, you can always replace the mashed potatoes with sweet potato mash: bake 3 pounds whole sweet potatoes in 450°F for 40 to 60 mintues depending on size. When fork tender, remove from oven and slice sweet potatoes in half lengthwise to cool. When cool enough to handle, scoop out flesh and mash until creamy. Season with salt and pepper and a little olive oil or vegan butter, if desired.

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04.04.2022 revision update

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A vegan Shepherd's Pie recipe by Oma Gerhild? Yep! I had vegan family members coming for dinner and I wanted something special, delicious and easy to make. This is it!

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