Skip to Content

Shepherdess Pie or Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherdess pie is a vegetarian shepherd’s pie, mine has a glorious lentil & fennel ragu under a crispy mashed potato lid topped with cheese.

Cooking this dish takes a while, but both the lentil ragu and the mashed potatoes can be prepared in advance and thrown in the oven later.

Spoon taking a piece of vegetarian lentil shepherd's pie or shepherdess pie.

Vegetarian Lentil Shepherds Pie

I often mock our need to assert control over what dishes are called and what they contain. It is amusing and often quite daft. However, I am equally susceptible to these urges on occasion.

That occasion is shepherd’s pie, cottage pie, Cumberland pie, and this vegetarian lentil pie.

I feel myself getting all sorts of peeved and occasionally even tut out loud when these names are inappropriately used. Raging I tell ya, raging lol!

Shepherds pie contains lamb, cottage pie contains beef, Cumberland pie contains either meat but has a cheese and breadcrumb topping on the mash.

The latter used to be a game pie but the name seems to have been hijacked sometime during the 20th century.

I also have a beef sausage and mash pie, haggis shepherds pie and a fish finger pie which are all delicious and great fun.

Then we have this barnstormer of an offering that is occasionally named shepherdless pie which makes me giggle.

It is a relative newbie to the stable of ultimate British comfort food recipes. But it is essentially a meatless version of the shepherd’s pie.

Close-up of mashed potato topping on a vegetarian shepherd's pie or shepherdess pie.

Frequently Asked Questions

What sort of potatoes should I use?

This vegetarian shepherdess pie needs a stonkingly good mashed potato topping.

That means you have to choose the right potatoes, something floury or mealy like King Edwards, Maris Piper, Russet or Idaho.

Do I have to pipe on the potatoes?

No not at all. I like to do this because it increases the surface area.

That means more ridges, more ridges mean more crispy bits and the crispy bits are the best bits!

Do I have to use red lentils?

No not at all, you could easily swap them out for green or brown lentils in much the same way as you can in my lentil bolognese.

Can I make this in a single baking dish?

You can cook this in a single baking dish if you like, although I would try not to increase the depth too much.

You could use a 25cm by 15cm dish (8″ x 10″) of the same depth to get the same ratio of filling to mash.

If you wanted to use a round dish you could use either a 20cm (8″) diameter dish that is 3cm (just under 1.25″) deep or a 15cm (6″) dish that is 4cm (just over 1.5″) deep.

Overhead cheesy mash topped individual vegetarian shepherd's pie or shepherdess pie.

Serving suggestions

The only thing that usually I serve with my shepherdess pie are some greens of some description.

If I am baking something in the oven as I am with this vegetarian shepherd’s pie, I usually opt for some roasted tenderstem broccoli.

But other great options include my air fryer asparagus or my garlic green beans amandine.

You could even serve these with some buttered cabbage or braised cavolo nero.

Cheesy mash topped individual vegetarian shepherd's pie or shepherdess pie.

Equipment Used

I only mention specific brands of equipment if I think they make a material difference to a recipe. If you have any questions feel free to ask them in the comments section below the recipe.

  • Stovetop.
  • Oven.
  • 20cm or 8″ saucepan.
  • 24cm or 10″ saucepan.
  • 2 of 15x10cm (6 x 4″) gratin dishes
  • Chopping board.
  • Kitchen knife.
  • Weighing scales and or measuring cups and spoons.
  • Vegetable peeler.
  • Vegetable masher or potato ricer.
  • Colander.
  • Stirring spoons.
  • Piping bak and star nozzle (optional).
Vegetarian Shepherd's pie aka shepherdess pie with parmesan mash and lentils.
Yield: 2 Servings

Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie Recipe aka Shepherdess Pie

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes

A shepherdess pie is a vegetarian shepherd's pie, mine uses red lentils and sweet anise-flavoured fennel under the perfect mashed potato topping and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.


  • 175g (1 Cup) Red Lentils
  • 75g (½ Cup) Onion
  • 75g (½ Cup) Celery
  • 75g (½ Cup) Carrot
  • 150g (1 Cup) Fennel
  • 4 Garlic Cloves
  • 50g (¼ Cup) Sun-Dried Tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp Oil the stuff form the Sun-Dried Tomato jar is best
  • 250ml (1 Cup) Red Wine
  • 1 Tbsp Tomato Paste
  • 250ml (1 Cup) Vegetable Stock
  • 150g (1 Cup) Frozen Peas
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 400g Potatoes
  • 75g (¼ Cup + 1 Tbsp) Butter
  • 25g (¼ Cup) Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 Tsp Salt
  • ½ Tsp Black Pepper


  1. Cut the onion in half and then cut it into a 2-3mm (⅛") dice.
  2. Cu the onion and celery into a dice the same size as the onion.
  3. Heat the oil in a 20cm or 8" saucepan over a medium heat.
  4. When hot add the diced vegetables and cook for 10 minutes stirring occasionally.
  5. Peel and mas the garlic cloves.
  6. Slice the sun-dried tomatoes into ribbons as finely as you can.
  7. Cut the fennel into 1cm (½") cubes.
  8. Add the fennel, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, and tomato puree to the pan and then stir well.
  9. Turn the heat up as high as it will go and pour in the red wine and add half of the salt and the black pepper before cooking for 5 minutes.
  10. Reduce the heat to low, add the bay leaf, vegetable stock, and lentils then simmer for 45 minutes stirring occasionally.
  11. Whilst the ragu is cooking bring a large 24cm or 10" saucepan of water to a rapid boil.
  12. Peel and cut the potatoes into a 5cm-7.5cm (2-3") cubes
  13. Season with the remaining salt and then throw in the potatoes and boil until tender to the tip of a knife.
  14. Defrost the peas by running them under cold water.
  15. Drain the potatoes and allow them to steam dry for a couple of minutes, then mash them or pass them through a potato ricer and then mix through the butter and set aside.
  16. When the ragu is cooked stir through the defrosted peas, then separate into two 15 x 10cm (6 x 4") gratin dishes.
  17. Pipe over or spoon over the mashed potato and sprinkle with the parmesan cheese.
  18. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes at 200°C or 400°F.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 926Total Fat: 43gSaturated Fat: 22gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 17gCholesterol: 91mgSodium: 1468mgCarbohydrates: 98gFiber: 20gSugar: 23gProtein: 24g

Calorific details are provided by a third-party application and are to be used as indicative figures only.

Did you make this recipe?

If you made this recipe, I'd love to see what you did and what I can do better, share a picture with me on Instagram and tag me @krumplibrian and tell me how it went!


Tuesday 28th of June 2022

Good to see someone else who understands that the names of these pies is important.

If I go into a restaurant and order a Shepherd's Pie, I damn well expect it to have lamb in it.

Brian Jones

Monday 11th of July 2022

It is definitely a bit irrational and daft but it is the food hill that I am prepared to die on... well maybe not die, but certainly whinge endlessly on ;)

Sue R

Monday 21st of December 2020

I'll give this a try after a week of doing close to zero at the beach in our caravan so I can recover from Christmas. I do like lentils. Not sure the meat eating guys here will complain or not but eh I'm cooking!

Brian Jones

Wednesday 30th of December 2020

lol, chefs choices, if they want someone to cook owt else they should do it themselves, enjoy :D

Skip to Recipe