Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie

Overhead view of vegetarian shepherd's pie in a cast-iron skillet with a wooden spoon.

It’s the day after Thanksgiving, and you’ve got leftover mashed potatoes.

Or maybe you don’t (thanks Uncle Joe), but they’re worth making for this Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie recipe.

A warm bowl of saucy vegetables tucked under a mound of golden-peaked mashed potatoes is one of the best foods you will ever eat.

Overhead view of a Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie in a cast iron skillet.

This recipe is not for the real-deal, beef-laden Shepherd’s Pie that blew my mind the first time I ordered it at a dive-y Irish pub.

It’s even more shocking: there’s no meat and it still boasts incredible flavor and undeniable comfort. I nixed the beef because I happened to be cooking for my vegetarian sister, but I was surprised at how delicious the finished product turned out.

The thing about the greatest foods of all time (GFOAT) is that, even if you make substitutions, they’re still unbeatable.

Let’s make Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie

I adapted this recipe from the Shepherd’s Pie on Budget Bytes, an excellent food blog about frugal cooking.

Peas, corn, carrots, mushrooms, and onions on a sheet pan.

To cook everything in one skillet, I reduced the quantities of some items in the Budget Bytes recipe but kept it as vegetable-heavy as possible.

I added corn because I had some leftover, but it’s worth picking up a bag of frozen corn just for this recipe. You can use fresh if it’s in season, but I suspect you’ll be making this in the colder months.

The vegetables will mound into the skillet and threaten to spill over, but be patient, they will eventually shrink and fit perfectly.

Overhead shot of the filling inside vegetarian shepherd's pie in a black skillet.

I also added a couple hits of soy sauce because that’s what Nigella would do, and it’s my favorite trick to amplify the umami of any dish. It’s particularly helpful for vegetarian meals- soy sauce can make a vegetable as addictive as a potato chip.

This recipe calls for 3 cups of mashed potatoes to crown the top of the vegetable filling, but use as much as you’d like (and then some). The skillet should be difficult to lift by the time it’s ready for the oven.

Up-close view of the mashed potatoes on top of a Vegetarian Shepherd's pie.

To finish it off, you can add a couple dashes of hot sauce on each portion. I think the hint of spice compliments the creamy mashed potatoes, but it’s not necessary.

It is necessary to eat this from a bowl, maybe even with a spoon, so that you can retreat to the couch for dinner. This meal is best enjoyed while wearing a bathrobe and slipper-socks.

Now, what to do with leftover Shepherd’s Pie?

Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (6 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
Serves: 3-4
Prep Time: 20 minutes Cooking Time: 15 minutes Total Time: 35 minutes

A warm bowl of saucy vegetables tucked under a mound of golden-peaked mashed potatoes is one of the best foods you will ever eat.


  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 8 ounces sliced mushrooms
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme (or ½ tsp dried)
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 1-1 1/2 cups vegetable broth or water
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • 3 cups leftover mashed potatoes
  • Hot sauce (optional, for serving)



Preheat the oven to 400ºF.


Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a 9-inch oven-proof skillet (such as cast iron). Sauté the onion, garlic, carrots, and mushrooms over medium heat until the onions are soft and the mushrooms are lightly browned. Don't stir the vegetables too often or the mushrooms will not brown. Cook about 8-10 minutes.


Season the vegetables with 1 tsp salt, thyme, smoked paprika, and freshly cracked pepper. Add the tomato paste and flour to the skillet. Stir and cook until the vegetables are coated and the tomato paste mixture begins to darken (about 2 minutes).


Add the vegetable broth (starting with 1 cup) to the skillet, stirring to dissolve the flour and tomato paste from the bottom of the skillet. Add another ½ cup of broth if the mixture seems dry. Allow the broth to come up to a simmer, at which point it will become thicker. Stir in the peas and corn and allow mixture to heat through for a couple of minutes. Stir in soy sauce and taste. Adjust seasoning to your liking. You can make the mixture thicker by cooking it longer, or thinner by adding more vegetable broth. Whatever you prefer!


Spread the mashed potatoes over the surface of the filling. Use your spoon to make a decorative pattern in the mashed potatoes, if desired. Extra peaks and valleys in the potatoes means more opportunities for those burnt bits at the top (the best part). Drizzle with a bit of olive oil (this will help with browning) and finish with a few more grinds of black pepper.


Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, then heat the broiler to high. Transfer the pie to the top rack of the oven and broil 3-5 minutes, or until the top has browned to your liking. Serve with hot sauce if desired.


  • 464 Calories


This will seem like way too many vegetables for a 9-inch skillet, but don't worry. Onions and mushrooms reduce dramatically in size once heated, be sure to cook them all the way through. This recipe calls for 3 cups of mashed potatoes to crown the top of the vegetable filling, but use as much as you'd like (and then some). The skillet should be difficult to lift by the time it's ready for the oven. Try Sangiovese with this dinner. Its lively acidity, moderate tannins, and savory notes will balance the richness of the meal. A peppery Northern Rhone Syrah would punch up the buttery potatoes.

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  • Reply
    November 29, 2018 at 11:21 am

    GFOAT! Love it! Also love this Shepard’s Pie, thanks Sam!

  • Reply
    November 29, 2018 at 3:32 pm

    I’m not a real veggie person but this was amazing.

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