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Vegan Shepherdless Pie (Air Fryer & Oven Baked)

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Vegan Shepherdless Pie or Vegetable Shepherd’s pie is a medley of flavors, with vegetables, and lentils cooked in tomato sauce and topped and baked with creamy potato. It is a hearty, comforting vegan and gluten-free meal for those cold nights. 

Air Fryer Shepherdless Pie in individual ramekin molds in front on a brown cheese board and seen behind in a rectangular dish.

This Air Fryer Vegan Shepherdless pie can be served as one of the main meals for your thanksgiving vegetarian meal or perfect for your parties and get-together.

One of the best meat-free dinners, this Vegetarian Shepherd’s pie comes together in less than 1 hour and can also be assembled, and pre-cooked before. One can create and bake it when required. Or make the complete dish and warm it before serving.

And if you are baking in an air fryer, the baking time is reduced to less than half. Secondly, it would be convenient to bake and serve individual portions in just 8-10 minutes.

Clouse up look of Vegetarian Shepherds pie in a red rectangular baking tray. Seen in the background is a brown kitchen towel.

What is Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherd’s Pie is a Savory casserole dish that traditionally has lamb or mutton as the filling and is topped with mashed potato and then baked.

Vegetarian Shepherds pie in a rectangular baking tray and individual ramekin molds.

Difference between cottage pie and shepherd’s pie

At times Cottage pie is used interchangeably with Shepherd’s Pie, but the main difference is in the meat. While Shepherd’s pie as the name suggests would have meat which is from lamb or mutton, Cottage pie would have meat from beef. 

There are many variations to this recipe and the main ingredients are meat cooked in gravy or sauce with onions, sometimes vegetables and topped with a mashed potato before it is baked. One can add a layer of cheese too, to give that extra cheesy taste. 

Shepherd’s Pie is a very common dish here in Ireland. As said it is made using lamb and being a vegetarian I do not eat it. But the baked crust on the top always intimated me to try it.

Vegetarian Shepherds pie seved in a blue dotted dish with a spoon. Seen behind is individual ramekin molds with baked pie inside it.
Shepherdless pie served on a blue plate.

Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie or Vegan Shepherdess Pie

So I thought to give a vegetarian version of this shepherd’s pie or a shepherdless pie a try. In Shepherdless pie, the meat is generally replaced with lentils for the protein portion. Green or brown lentils can be used and these lentils can be cooked from scratch or one can buy a tin.

Many skip the lentils and only add vegetables, But I love to add the lentils as it gives the dish a meaty texture as well as increase the nutrition content. 

I have not added any butter or flour to my dish and hence it is vegan and gluten-free. However, non-vegans can add butter and cheese to the potato if required. Vegans can add vegan butter too 🙂

How much time does it take?

The whole dish can be assembled in 45 minutes or less if you are using canned lentils. If lentils are cooked from scratch it would take a little longer, as we need to soak and cook the lentils. 

Vegan Shepherds pie in a rectangular baking tray and individual ramekin molds. Also served in a blue dotted plate.

Baking Vegan Shepherdless Pie in an air fryer

The baking time reduces to half or less when you are baking in an air-fryer. It hardly takes 8-10 minutes in total when you are baking in an air fryer. It is economical as the preheating takes less time. An air fryer is best when you are baking in a medium size casserole or you are baking individual portions in ramekin molds.

Baking Vegan Shepherdless Pie in an Oven

If you have to make a big casserole or you are baking multiples, your air fryer would not be able to fit the dish, in that case, it is best to bake it in an oven.

What goes in this dish?

So coming to the recipe, for Shepherdless Pie or Vegetable Shepherd’s Pie one can add any combination of vegetables. Carrots, green peas, Broccoli, cauliflower, beans, etc go well. Mushrooms give a nice umami flavor to the dish. I would say this recipe is a delicious way to use the leftover vegetables from your fridge.

Vegetarian Shepherds pie in a red rectangular baking tray. Seen in the background is a brown kitchen towel.
Vegetarian Shepherds pie

Recipe process of Air Fryer Vegan Shepherdless Pie

There are 3 steps to this recipe. First is the cooking of vegetables and gravy. The second is cooking of the mashed potatoes and the third is baking in the air fryer or the oven. All can be done ahead of time, or one can do the first 2 steps and assemble the dish and bake when required.

Cooking of Vegetables and Lentil Gravy for Vegetarian Shepherds Pie

The first step is cooking the lentils if using dry lentils. For this, I generally soak and pressure cook in an instant pot for 15 minutes or stove top pressure cooker for 3-4 whistles. If using tinned lentils, this step is skipped.

Next in a pot, we saute the onion, garlic, and bay leaf in a bit of oil. Then vegetables, along with tomato puree, lentils, and spices are added and allowed to cook. This helps the vegetables to absorb the flavors and cook evenly. The gravy is cooked until the vegetables are cooked and desired consistency is achieved. The gravy generally thickens if kept for some time or when cooled.

Cooking Mashed Potatoes for Vegan Shepherdless Pie

We cook the potatoes simultaneously in another pot. For this, we need to have boiled and mashed potatoes. Potatoes can be cooked along the brown lentils in the Instant pot or pressure cooker to save time.

Once the potatoes are cooked and cooled a bit we make the mash. In a heavy bottom pot, we warm the milk. To this, we add mashed potatoes, salt, and pepper. One can add some butter and cheese to make it more creamy. (Vegans can use vegan cheese and butter, if using normal it won’t be vegan). Mix everything until all the milk is absorbed and the mash archives the desired consistency. For details on how to create a potato mash from scratch refer to this post of mine.

Assembling Vegan Shepherdess Pie

The next step is to assemble everything. In a baking dish of your choice or ramekin mold, add the lentils and vegetable mix. Try to fill the dish all the way to half. Evenly spread out the mix. Top this with mashed potatoes and spread it evenly with the help of a fork or a back of a spoon.

Garnish with chopped chives or parsley on top. One can add cheese too on top. Once you add cheese it would not be vegan.

Baking in an Air fryer

Preheat the air fryer to 180 Deg C / 356 F. Keep the baking dish in the air fryer basket. Bake in a preheated air fryer for 8-10 minutes.

Baking in the oven

Preheat the oven to 180 Deg C / 356 F. Bake in a preheated oven for 20-25 minutes. Broil for the last 5 minutes to get a nice golden brown color on top.

Top view of Vegetarian Shepherds pie in a rectangular baking tray and individual ramekin molds.

Can this be Freezed and made ahead of time?

Vegetable Shepherd’s Pie freezes well. You can make individual portions and freeze them. Just defrost and use as needed.

Shelf life of Vegan Shepherdless Pie

If stored in the fridge it will stay good for 3-4 days. Just reheat when required or pop it in the oven for that crunch on the potatoes. 

How to reheat

  • If using a microwave, simply pop it and warm it on high for 1-2 minutes.
  • If using an air fryer, just bake it for 4-5 minutes at180 Deg C / 356 F (If the air fryer is not preheated)
  • If using an air fryer, just bake it for 1-2 minutes at 180 Deg C / 356 F(If the air fryer is preheated)
  • If using an oven, bake in a preheated oven at 180 Deg C / 356 F for 4-5 minutes.

Few more Thanksgiving or Vegetarian Party Ideas

I tried these Dairy Free Green Bean Casserole a few days before for my family and they loved it. So it is going in our thanksgiving party this year for my vegan friends.

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Air Fryer Shepherdless Pie in individual ramekin molds in front on a brown cheese board and seen behind in a rectangular dish.
Air Fryer Shepherdless Pie

Recipe Card

Air Fryer Shepherdless Pie in individual ramekin molds in front on a brown cheese board and seen behind in a rectangular dish.

Air Fryer Vegan Shepherdless Pie or Vegetable Shepherd’s Pie (Oven Method Included)

Vegan Shepherdless Pie or Vegetable Shepherd's pie is a hearty gluten-free meal with vegetables, and lentils cooked in tomato sauce and topped and baked with creamy potato.
5 from 5 votes
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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: European
Keyword: Casserole, Gluten Free, Legumes / Beans / Pulses, MakeAheadPartyIdeas, Vegan, Vegetables
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Soaking Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 2 hours
Servings: 2 6 * 3
Author: Renu Agrawal-Dongre

Ingredients

For Lentils Gravy

  • 1/2 Cup Brown Lentils Masoor Dal
  • 2 Cans Finely chopped Tomatoes / 5-6 plum and ripe Finely chopped Tomatoes
  • 2 Cups Chopped Vegetables of your choice (I used Mushrooms, Carrot, Broccoli, Cauliflower)
  • 2 Medium Onion Chopped
  • 3-4 Cloves Garlic (Grated or chopped)
  • 2 Bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp Black pepper as per taste
  • 1 tbsp Smoked Paprika as per taste, can be swapped with Red chilly powder
  • 2-3 tbsp Soya / Tamari Sauce – Gluten Intolerance use Tamari Sauce
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil or Vegetable Oil
  • Chives or Parsley for Garnish – Optional
  • Salt to taste

For Mashed Potatoes

  • 6 Medium size Boiled and mashed Potatoes
  • 1 Cup Vegan Milk (Soy Milk) Around 100 -125 ml, Vegans can use almond or soy milk
  • 1 tsp Black pepper
  • Salt to taste

Instructions

Cooking of lentils – If using dry lentils

  • Clean the lentils for any dirt or impurities.
    Brown Lentils ready to be rinsed, soaked and cooked.
  • Rinse it well and Soak the Brown Lentils in enough water for at least 2 hours.
    Soaked Brown Lentils
  • If using an Instant pot, pressure cook the lentils for 15 mins on high.
    Brown lentils ready to be cooked in Instant Pot.
  • If using an stove top, pressure cooer pressure cook for 3-4 whistles or depending on your cooker settings.
    Cooked Brown lentils in a steel vessel.
  • If using an open pot, fill a medium size pot with water and add salt.
  • Let the water come to a boil.
  • Add the brown lentils and let them cook for 20-25 minutes or until done.

If using tinned lentils

  • If using tinned brown lentils, just give a nice rinse and use.

Making the lentils Gravy or the base for Shepherdless Pie

  • In a large pan add the oil. Once it is a bit hot, add in the chopped onion and garlic.
    Adding of onion and garlic in oil.
  • Saute for 1-2 mins until translucent.
  • Add the bay leaf and saute for a few seconds.
  • Add the Tomato puree and mix.
    Adding of Tomato Puree in the pot.
  • Add in the chopped vegetables,smoked paprika, black pepper, brown lentils.
    Vegetables used for Shepherdless Pie, seen are cauliflower, broccoli, mushrooms and peppers
  • Adding of Vegetables in the onion and tomato mixture in the pot.
  • Adding of pepper for Vegetarian Shepherds Pie.
  • Adding of black pepper for Vegetarian Shepherds Pie.
  • Adding of brown lentils for Curry for Vegetarian Shepherds Pie.
  • Mix everything and let them cook on slow to medium for 7-8 minutes until the vegetables are done.
    Curry in making for Vegetarian Shepherds Pie in a pot.
  • Add soya sauce and salt.
    Curry in making for Vegetarian Shepherds Pie in a pot.
  • Mix everything and let it fruther cook for 4-5 mins on slow sstirring in between until the sauce thickens.
  • You should be able to get a nice thick lentil and vegetable mix.
    The curry or the base for Vegetarian Shepherds pie is ready and in a pot.

For Mashed Potatoes

  • In the meantime, in a heavy bottom pan, add in the milk.
    Milk and Butter to a pot.
  • Once the milk is warm, add in the pepper, salt and mashed potatoes.
    Salt and pepper added to the mix
  • Mash the potatoes well and let the mixture cook well until it slightly thickens.
    Everything Mixed and mash in the making.
  • The mix will get more thick once cooled a bit.

Assembling

  • In a wide pie dish or ramekin mold of your choice, Add in the Lentils Gravy and spread it uniformly.
    Layering of the curry in the baking tins.
  • Fill the pie dish or baking mold upto half with lentils and vegetable gravy.
  • Top it with the Mashed potato and spread it evenly.
    Baking Tins ready to be baked in oven and air fryer.
  • You can use a fork to make some design or just leave it.

Baking in an Air Fryer

  • Preheat the air fryer at 180 Deg C / 356 F
  • Keep the ramekin molds or baking dish in the air fryer.
    Mini Shepherdless Pie read to be baked in air fryer baked in air fryer in ramekin moulds and seen in an air fryer basket.
  • Vegan Shepherdless Pie in a rectangular tray ready to be baked in an air fryer.
  • Bake for 8 mins.
  • Check if the top is golden brown, if not bake for an additiona 1-2 mins
    Mini Shepherdless Pie baked in air fryer baked in air fryer in ramekin moulds and seen in an air fryer basket.
  • Meatless Shepherds pie baked in air fryer and seen in an air fryer basket.

Baking in an oven

  • Bake in a pre heated oven at 180 Deg C / 356 F for 25-30 mins. Broil it for the last 5 mins to give it a nice golden colour on the top.

Notes

  • Standard US Size cups and spoons are used. 1 cup = 237 ml, 1 teaspoon = 5 ml
  • Baking time will vary depending on the dish used and the quantity
 
Tried this recipe?Share your feedback @cookwithrenu_ad or tag #cookwithrenu_ad
Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist. The nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate only. It varies depending upon the product types or brands.

Updates

This was first posted on 18th December 2018. Today I am updating this recipe with respect to baking in an air-fryer. Added more detail in the recipe instructions and step-by-step pics.

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Recipe Rating




Archana

Saturday 10th of December 2022

Wow! This meatless Shepard's pie is definitely getting yum. I tried it out and guess what my father-in-law loved it. It looks like I will be making this recipe more often. Thanks, Renu.

Renu Agrawal Dongre

Saturday 10th of December 2022

Ah, nice to know. Thank you for your feedback. So glad he liked it.

Lin

Friday 2nd of December 2022

I love everything about this recipe. Can't wait to make it for my vegetarian kids, thank you!

Mayuri Patel

Tuesday 21st of May 2019

I remember when during the approaching annual Christmas party that my cousin hosts for the family, she asked to create a veggie version of the Shepherd's Pie, so that she could make it for the vegetarians. I love the creamy potato mash on top. I hear some Pubs in London now serve veggie version of this famous dish.

CookwithRenu

Tuesday 21st of May 2019

I have yet to find it. whenever I ask for veggie version of shepherd's pie or lasagne here in Ireland they do not have it. But with the vegan revolution, it might soon. Thank You

Priya Satheesh

Monday 20th of May 2019

I have never tried using veggies and this looks very delicious.. bookmarking this recipe to try sometime. Thanks for sharing !

CookwithRenu

Monday 20th of May 2019

Thank you

Mina Joshi

Friday 17th of May 2019

Veggie Shepherds Pie looks delicious. I often make it with a mixture of lentils and vegetables.

CookwithRenu

Friday 17th of May 2019

Thank you