Lentil & Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie

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White ceramic baking dish filled with Lentil Shepherd's Pie with a Sweet Potato Crust

Friends, I present Thanksgiving in a baking dish. Let’s do this!

Beautiful unpeeled sweet potatoes for making Sweet Potato Lentil Shepherd's Pie

Origin of Shepherd’s Pie

The exact origin of Shepherd’s pie is a bit of a mystery! But both the Irish and British claim the origination of this hearty, mashed potato crust dish. It’s thought that it may have developed in the mid-19th century from cottage pie, which is a similar dish made with a different type of meat in the filling (source).

Our plant-based version is inspired by the concept of a “meaty” filling (in this case, mushrooms) topped with potatoes and baked to perfection.

How to Make Vegan Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie

This easy recipe requires just 10 ingredients (2 more if adding these dreamy balsamic mushrooms!) and simple methods to make.

The base is a simple mixture of vegetables and lentils simmered with fresh thyme in vegetable broth until tender and flavorful. Next up? If you dare, these balsamic-glazed portobello mushrooms, which add another layer of hearty goodness to this pie.

Beautifully roasted eggplant spears with fresh thyme on a baking sheet

For topping, in place of traditional white potatoes (like in my 1-Hour Vegan Shepherd’s Pie), I went for sweet potatoes (the best potatoes, in my opinion).

Simply boil then mash with a little salt and coconut oil. Then it’s time to layer up all of this goodness.

Using a potato masher to lightly mash bright orange sweet potatoes

First, lay down the lentils and vegetables. Then add the balsamic portobellos (optional but dreamy!). And then top with fluffy mashed sweet potatoes. Swoon! Just 20 minutes in the oven and you’re good to go!

Ceramic baking dish containing Sweet Potato Lentil Shepherd's Pie with the bottom layer partially exposed to reveal it's hearty nature

I hope you all LOVE this shepherd’s pie! It’s:

Hearty
Comforting
Healthy
Satisfying
Flavorful
Versatile
& Delicious!

This would make the perfect entrée for holiday gatherings or hosting a crowd of mixed eaters – plant-based folks and meat-eaters alike will love this one! It’s also ideal for making in advance and reheating throughout the week for quick meals on the go (hello, best leftover lunch ever).

While delicious on its own, it would also pair well with my Creamy Kale Salad with Shallot and Chickpeas, Fluffy Spelt Rolls, Vegan Gluten-Free Biscuits, and pretty much everything in this Vegan Thanksgiving Round-Up!

If you try this recipe, let us know what you think! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo #minimalistbaker on Instagram so we can see your holiday spread. Cheers, friends!

Grabbing a hearty serving of Sweet Potato Lentil Shepherd's Pie for the Thanksgiving festivities

Lentil & Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie

A colorful take on classic shepherd’s pie with lentils, vegetables, and a fluffy sweet potato topping. You’ll love this 10-ingredient plant-based meal!
Author Minimalist Baker
Print
Pan of Vegan Sweet Potato Shepherd's Pie with a spoonful removed
4.60 from 84 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 35 minutes
Servings 9
Course Entree
Cuisine British-Inspired, Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Irish-Inspired, Vegan
Freezer Friendly 1 month
Does it keep? 4-5 Days

Ingredients

SWEET POTATOES

  • 3 large organic sweet potatoes* (thoroughly washed + peeled and roughly chopped into big chunks)
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil (or vegan butter // if avoiding oil, omit or sub vegetable broth)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1-2 Tbsp maple syrup (optional // depending on sweetness of potatoes)

FILLING

  • 1 Tbsp coconut or avocado oil (if avoiding oil, sub water or vegetable broth)
  • 1 medium onion (diced)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked brown or green lentils (rinsed and drained)
  • 4 cups vegetable stock (DIY or store-bought)
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme
  • 1 10-ounce bag frozen mixed veggies: peas, carrots, green beans, and corn

MUSHROOMS optional

  • 2 whole portobello mushrooms (stems removed and sliced in 1/4-inch slices)
  • 4 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp melted coconut oil or avocado oil (sub water if avoiding oil)
  • Pinch each sea salt and black pepper
  • 1 clove garlic minced

Instructions

  • Place sweet potatoes in a large pot and fill with water until they’re just covered. Bring to a boil over high heat. Then reduce to medium-high heat and cook for 15-20 minutes or until they slide off a knife very easily.
  • Once cooked, drain and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Use a masher or fork to mash until smooth (see photo). Add coconut oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Depending on the sweetness of sweet potatoes, add a bit of maple syrup to taste (optional). Loosely cover and set aside.
  • While potatoes are cooking, preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 C) and lightly grease a 9×13-inch (or similar size) baking dish (or more baking dishes, as needed, if altering batch size).
  • If adding (optional), add portobello mushrooms to a shallow dish or large Ziploc bag. Top with balsamic vinegar, oil (optional), salt, pepper, and garlic. Toss to combine and let marinate for 5 minutes.
  • Next heat a large pot over medium heat. Once hot, add oil, onions, and garlic and sauté until lightly browned and caramelized – about 4-5 minutes.
  • Add a pinch each salt and pepper. Then add lentils, vegetable broth, and thyme and stir. Bring to a low boil. Then reduce heat to simmer. Continue cooking until lentils are tender (20-30 minutes).
  • (If adding mushrooms) while lentils cook, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add a dash of oil and the mushrooms with their marinade. Spread into an even layer and cook on one side for 2-3 minutes. Then carefully flip and cook on other side for 2-3 minutes. Then remove from heat and set aside.
  • In the last 10 minutes of cooking the lentils, add the frozen veggies, stir, and cover to meld the flavors together. Drain off any extra vegetable stock (there shouldn’t be much). Taste and adjust flavor as needed, adding more salt and pepper for overall flavor.
  • Transfer the lentil mixture to your oven-safe baking dish and top with portobello mushrooms (optional) then mashed sweet potatoes. Smooth down with a spoon or fork and season with another crack of pepper and a little sea salt (and more thyme if desired).
  • Set on a baking sheet to catch any overflow and bake for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are lightly browned on top and the edges are bubbling.
  • Let cool briefly before serving. The longer it sits, the more it will thicken. Let cool completely before covering, and then store in the fridge up to 4-5 days or in the freezer up to 1 month. Reheats well in the microwave or in the oven.

Video

Notes

*3 large sweet potatoes is equal to ~5 small sweet potatoes.
*You can sub 1 tsp dried thyme per 2 tsp fresh thyme.
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated with 3 Tbsp of oil total, and without the baked mushrooms or optional maple syrup.
*Recipe adapted from my 1-Hour Vegan Shepherd’s Pie.

Nutrition (1 of 9 servings)

Serving: 1 serving Calories: 273 Carbohydrates: 43.6 g Protein: 12.6 g Fat: 5.7 g Saturated Fat: 0.8 g Trans Fat: 0 g Cholesterol: 0 mg Sodium: 409 mg Fiber: 13.8 g Sugar: 13.8 g

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  1. Domenick says

    I made this for dinner today. Me and my partner are raving about it. We make many of your recipes and love them all. Thanks for such delicious creations.

  2. Susan H says

    I made this recipe for Thanksgiving and it was declared delicious by all. (Our crowd has mixed diets and we’re always looking for vegan dishes to please everyone.) BTW, the effort involved in making the portobello layer outweighs time saved by using frozen vegetables, and I would have preferred the mushroom flavor mixed with the lentils. Next time I’ll slice cremini mushrooms and brown them with the onions.

  3. Shannon Davis says

    Hi! I split the recipe in half so I can freeze some of it since it’s just two of us eating this meal. Do I freeze it before I bake it or bake it and then Freeze when it gets to room temperature??

  4. Leonie says

    Yum Yum
    I added a layer of caramelised onions between the mushrooms and sweet potatoes. Thank you so much for all of your beautiful plant based recipes.

  5. Kelly says

    This dish is soooo good! The only thing I didn’t do was the marinade for the mushrooms but still included the mushrooms in the recipe. I think the portobello mushrooms are a must for the recipe in that they added such a good flavor and with the sweet potatoes, it was delish. I would say I ended up baking it for an additional ten/fifteen minutes and I also put it on a quick broil at the end. A hundred percent will make again!

  6. Nancy Jones says

    I made this for the second time tonight because I remembered how much I loved it the first time. This time, I didn’t have enough green lentils, so I used 3/4 cup each of green and red lentils. It turned out fantastic. The green lentils keep their shape, and the red ones get mushy, which gave it a more “meaty” texture. Also, for me the portabella mushrooms aren’t optional. They make this recipe one that I’ll make over and over.

  7. Nicole says

    I was not expecting to like this recipe as much as I did! Savory and flavorful but so simple! I made it without the mushroom and was super good! Also easy to double the recipe and make a large batch for leftovers

  8. Chris says

    I just made this for the first time yesterday. I’m glad that I included the mushrooms, because it made it more filling for me. I’m transitioning to a semi-vegetarian diet, so the mushrooms helped. I did make some minor adjustments. Instead of using onions, I sauteed celery and added a bit of onion powder since I really don’t like onions, used coconut aminos to marinate the mushrooms instead of balsamic vinegar, vegan butter instead of coconut oil for the sweet potatoes, and dried thyme instead of fresh thyme. I was pleased with how it turned out, but I did make more than I can eat as one person. I’m going to try freezing some portions and see how well this dish freezes.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Thank you for sharing your experience and such a lovely review, Chris! Glad you enjoyed. xo

  9. Crista says

    I cant tell you how much I loved this. I am a horrible cook and make a big batch of food before my work week. This was so tasty and the balsamic mushrooms were the added touch. I did not add sugar or mapke syrup and I used olive oul.

  10. Karen C says

    I just finished eating (well probably getting seconds….) It was VERY good. Followed the recipe except cooked my sweet potatoes in the microwave till soft for ease… Used the mushrooms. Might add another mushroom next time . Delish and thanks!

  11. Samantha says

    Delicious! I made this with fresh veg. rather than frozen and used carrots, celery and a tin of peas. I also used tinned lentils. The flavouring is fantastic, tastes yummy and I will be making this again. Thanks!

  12. Jaclynne says

    Wow!! This was delicious !! Made it tonight with the mushrooms and stuck very closely to the recipe. I used a lentil trio and it was great. This meal will be in our winter rotation, and I’m looking forward to trying your other recipes.

  13. Sabrina says

    This meal definitely had a WOW factor: easy to make and absolutely delicious. We made it without the portobello mushrooms and it was still filling and full of proteins. We also made it with cooked, canned lentils to accelerate the process, so we used half the amount of vegetable broth and let the lentils simmer with the frozen veggies for about 15 minutes.

  14. Kai Barr says

    Made this last night for my family, and they loved it! It was so filling, and the perfect comfort food for our first storm in a while. Used an Asian stir fry bag of veggies, alot more sweet potatoes than called for, and cooked the lentils down until there was barely any liquid in the pot since I wanted it a bit drier. Mushrooms were essential to this dish! Made it with the gravy from your meatballs recipe too! Heartiest meal I’ve had in a long time!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      We’re so glad it hit the spot, Kai! Thanks so much for the lovely review and for sharing your modifications!

  15. Nicol says

    I couldn’t get through this dish. The flavors were lacking and it felt like we were eating baby food because of the texture.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Sorry to hear that Nicol! Did you make the optional mushrooms? They add a lot of flavor/texture.

  16. Geoff says

    Hi
    Love this recipe and have made it a couple of times. I’v made a few changes though.
    For the sweet potato I used about 2.5 times so it’s closer to the amount for the 1hr Sheperds Pie recipe. Macadamia oil tastes better I think than coconut oil.
    As the mushrooms reduce in volume from cooking I used about 500gr
    Just finished making another one tonight and as I’d run out of mushrooms I used Zucchini and marinated them and cooked the same as the mushrooms and it tasted great. Really love how your recipes may be varied for quantity and metric

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Thanks so much for sharing, Geoff! We’re so glad you find those features helpful and enjoy this recipe =)

  17. Dani says

    Delicious despite my substitutions! Will definitely make this again.
    Substitutions:
    – I only had 3/4 cup of green lentils left so I used red for the other 3/4 cup
    – No portobellos so I just quartered baby bellas
    – My coconut oil was too solid so I used extra virgin olive oil for everything.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Thanks so much for the lovely review and for sharing your modifications, Dani. We are so glad you enjoyed it! Next time, would you mind leaving a rating with your review? It’s super helpful for us and other readers. Thanks so much! Xo

  18. Brooke says

    Forgot to add that I used vegan plant based ground beef instead of lentils. It was so delicious! It is a time consuming recipe so make sure you give yourself plenty of time to prep and cook. I’m ready for dinner just so I can eat more!

  19. Brooke says

    I made this for lunch today and it was really good! Hubby loved it and kept going back for more. There are plenty leftovers as well if only cooking for two. I added the balsamic mushrooms and I’m glad I did. It added another layer of flavor and helped cut some of the sweetness from the sweet potatoes. The only change I made to the recipe was I used a bit of honey instead of maple syrup since I didn’t have any on hand. Other than that, this recipe is a hit. It’s going in my cookbook; can’t wait to make it again! Thanks.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Thanks so much for the lovely review, Brooke. We are so glad you enjoyed it! Next time, would you mind leaving a rating with your review? It’s super helpful for us and other readers. Thanks so much! Xo

  20. Catherine Grove says

    How could I make this recipe with canned lentils instead of uncooked dry ones? Trying to make do with what I have :)

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Catherine, use less vegetable broth and reduce cooking time in step 6. Hope that helps!

  21. Andrea says

    I LOVED this recipe. It took me about 2 hours, but it was so worth it. I did chop up the mushrooms into bite sizes pieces based on a previous comment, which I think made that flavor more even throughout the dish. I also added ghee instead of olive oil to the sweet potatoes. I unexpectedly ran out of thyme, so I added oregano, basil and parsley. Although it was time consuming, it was so well balanced and delicious. I made it for Easter, but would make again in a heartbeat. It made lots of leftovers for a couple of 2, which I enjoy. Another great recipe!

  22. Lily says

    Always wanted to try it and very happy about the result!
    We did add a little red wine while cooking the mushrooms and it made it even better.
    I also recommend to add a little (either vegan or not) grated cheese on top. Absolutely delicious!

  23. Belle says

    Worked out great, even if I stupidly didn’t read the ingredient list properly and added a can of cooked lentils, and I guess resulted in a lot more stock to be drained. I also added fresh sugar snaps and snow peas (approx 300g) to give it a nice green colour… and ok, I just didn’t want to use frozen veg. I was also a bit naughty and added a table spoon of organic butter to the mash. Wish there was an upload photo option because I don’t use social media but did take a few to tease a friend in the UK, who said ‘that looks delicious but more a wintry comfort?’ (It’s hot down under). Anyway, perhaps it’s more suited to a chilly night, but I couldn’t resist making it in summer anyway.

    On another note, I love this site -there is always something I’m looking for that I find on here. And the videos/tutorials are just hypnotising. But sometimes the video ends before I can track down what the recipe was!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      We’re so glad you enjoyed it, Belle! Hmm- that’s odd that the videos are ending- would you mind sharing which one(s) that is happening on? And is it in the post or on the sidebar?

  24. Lisa says

    I made this for dinner tonight and everybody loved it. Even my 2 year old shoveled several bites into his mouth. I didn’t have the mushrooms on hand, but just about everything else are pantry staples, so that was lovely. I improvised a little and added a splash of balsamic, red wine, and a squeeze of ketchup to the filling. I also mixed some vegan “bacon” flavored seasoning into the mashed potatoes just because I was dying to try it.
    Definitely making this one again :)

  25. Julie says

    I made this for supper tonight and the whole family really enjoyed. I increased the amount of sweet potatoes because we like a thicker potato layer. It’s so nutritious and filling too. Looking forward to the leftovers tomorrow!

  26. Marina says

    Delicious recipe :) do you have any suggestions for what I could add to make the lentil filling less crumbly ?
    Thanks!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerDana @ Minimalist Baker says

      You can mash it all together a bit. And you can stir in some of the mashed potatoes to act as a binder!

  27. Christine says

    Love this recipe! I made it for Christmas Eve and my entire family (both plant and meat eaters) loved this more than the meat and pasta dishes others made ?. I do use 5 sweet potatoes because I love a thick layer on top. Thank you Dana!

  28. Vanessa says

    I have made this several times and it is always a hit with both my vegan and meat- loving friends. The only thing I modify is the sweet potatoes. I have learned to add up to 2 more sweet potatoes than the recipe calls for because 3 is just not enough to fully cover the bottom layers of the pie and I like to make it look uniformly covered (plus, who doesn’t love a little extra sweet potato!). Otherwise, this is perfect and so satisfying!

  29. Allison says

    Delicious. I made this once last year with no mushrooms and remember really enjoying it. This time, I used 3 regular sweet potatoes + one gigantic one and a 10×14 pan. Added some extra frozen veggies, a couple bay leafs to the lentils and used dried rosemary and thyme. Also prepared the mushrooms as directed. It was a bit time consuming but well worth it, as it came out perfect and plenty to feed my fiancé and I for three dinners this week! We are “flexitarians,” eating meat occasionally when out to dinner or at family gatherings, but I typically only cook vegan or vegetarian meals. Thank you so much for what you do, love everything I’ve made from your site.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerDana @ Minimalist Baker says

      I’d recommend studying this recipe for tips on cooking mung beans! They should be soaked beforehand and should cook similar to lentils in the recipe (similar amounts should be added).

  30. Julia says

    Sitting on the couch with the roommate while eating this now. Two thumbs up! All our favorite foods in one! And super filling

  31. Monica says

    The lentils came out good, the mushrooms were good, and I made the sweet potatoes tasty with extra black, white, and crushed red pepper plus a bit of Crystal hot sauce for acid. However, there were way too many lentils in this recipe, and I used three huge sweet potatoes.

    And, I liked each element but honestly it didn’t go together. I liked the veggie lentils and balsamic combo but the mushrooms themselves didn’t add much. The lentils needed the balsamic acid though. In the future I’d make the lentils, add balsamic, add some vegan meat substitute and do regular mashed potatoes. I love mashed sweet potatoes but it just didn’t go together.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerDana @ Minimalist Baker says

      Thanks for sharing your feedback, Monica! We appreciate it and will look for improvements in the recipe!

  32. Merry says

    I made this last night as I was having my family over for dinner (along with a salad, your vegan Alfredo recipe and your GF cinnamon rolls!!) and we have two vegans, two coeliacs, and two carnivores in our family!
    OH MY GOODNESS! YUM!
    It was a night of delicious food, but the first time for me trying this recipe. I definitely recommend the mushrooms added.
    I roasted my sweet potatoes in our cast iron pots for added yumminess as I had extra time on my hands, and I added a bit of gravy powder to the lentil mix, and made it early so it really thickened up. I just popped it back into a warm oven to heat it back up before we ate, and broiled the top crispy.
    Great reviews from everyone from the family. Thankyou!!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Thanks so much for the lovely review, Merry. We are so glad everyone enjoyed these recipes! Next time, would you mind leaving a rating with your review? It’s super helpful for us and other readers. Thanks so much! xo

  33. Christine says

    I made this and instead of mixed frozen veg fried two finely chopped leeks with the onions and garlic. Then added frozen peas to the lentil veg mix.

    It was very tasty!

  34. Jill Sweet says

    Love this recipe and all MB recipes I have made. I’ve made this one several times but I noticed today that the celcius temperature conversion is wrong. We are living in Europe and I so appreciate having the C temps in the recipe so I have one less step converting.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Jill, thanks so much for bringing this to our attention! It has now been updated. Thanks again!

  35. Olivia says

    hi. i like the idea of it. yet honestly it lacked flavor, even after I added my owned smoked paprika and chili, and tasted quite non-descript coconut oil overloaded mixed veg and lentils with potato on top. I will definitely try other recipes though cause your site is cool and beautiful comes on recommendation from healthy friends

  36. Pumpkin says

    Just tried this recipe today! I had to use 8 small potatoes for a good amount of mash, and added a little adobo & sofrito. ;)

  37. Liz M. says

    I made this exactly as instructed –With Mushrooms–and it’s delicious. I am thinking that another time, I might make individual pot-pies by stuffing the lentil filling into marinated portobello mushroom caps and topping with the sweet potato layer, then baking. As my mom would say, “for company.”

  38. Sheila A Wilson says

    Loved this! So colorful, delicious with the balsamic-glazed mushrooms, and satisfying. Next time, I will make a gravy in the pan with the mushrooms and layer that in there for creaminess! Yumm. Loved the sweet potatoes and ease of preparation, too

  39. Dawn says

    Your recipes are amazing and this one is no exception! I added the balsamic-glazed mushrooms and they added such a wonderful, almost meaty element to the dish. I didn’t use the maple syrup with the potatoes and I used only 2 tablespoons of avocado oil and the pie was still delish. With recipes like yours I’m showing friends and famiy that there’s no sacrifice for yumminess when eating vegan and healthy.

  40. Katie says

    Hi, I have red lentils in my pantry and I see the recipe calls for green or brown. Would red be ok?

    I really love your recipes, thank you!

  41. Ariel says

    So delicious! I’m a huge sweet potato fan (I could eat them with every meal!) but my bf is not, so I did half sweet potato and half regular potatoes. Neither of us care for mushrooms, so I just left those out. We both LOVED this recipe. Can’t wait to make it again!!

  42. Erica says

    This was easy to make and smells amazing! I just didn’t have enough sweet potato to cover the top liked I hoped and couldn’t run out to get more. I was able to put a thin layer over the lentils. Would it be ok to mash more potatoes and layer on top of the thin layer tomorrow? I’m planning to serve for Thanksgiving.