How To Make A Vegan Shepherd's Pie That Tastes Just As Beefy As The Classic

Lauren Toyota shows us how to whip up a savoury and indulgent vegan shepherd's pie recipe.

Just because she eats plant-based, that doesn’t mean hot for food blog’s Lauren Toyota eschews comfort food. In fact, she couldn’t live without it.

For Chatelaine’s new video series, Vegan It! with Lauren Toyota, the former MuchMusic VJ and current YouTube star demonstrates how to create vegan versions of everyone’s favourite comfort classics — like BLTs and caesar salad — without elaborate recipes or compromising on taste. Find more of Lauren’s awesome recipes on her blog, her YouTube channel and her upcoming cookbook, Vegan Comfort Classics.

In this episode: Lauren makes creamy, savory and beefy shepherd’s pie.

lauren toyota vegan it
Watch the entire Vegan It! series here

Making it creamy: Silky smooth mashed potatoes make shepherd’s pie the perfect winter comfort food. Instead of relying on butter, Lauren makes her mash with vegan butter (margarine also works as a substitute) and unsweetened, non-dairy milk (like soy or almond milk). She keeps her potatoes simple for this dish and adds fresh chives and a pinch of salt and pepper for flavour.

Making it beefy: Lauren relies on plant-based proteins to replace ground beef — an essential shepherd’s pie ingredient. She uses Gardein’s gluten-free beef-less ground, which is made of soy and pea protein. (There are a variety of brands available if you can’t find Gardein in your local grocery store, just check the vegetarian or vegan section.) Veggie ground comes fully cooked (you can use it straight out of the bag), but to give it extra meaty flavour, Lauren browns it in a cast iron skillet.

Making it savoury: Lauren treats her fake meat just like the real stuff. Along with browning, she seasons it just like you would beef — with onions, garlic, sage and thyme. She also makes an umami-rich sauce to keep the pie moist. It includes veggie stock, tomato paste and vegan Worcestershire sauce.

Extras: Worcestershire is not usually vegan because it contains anchovies. American company Annie’s makes a vegan version without any fishy ingredients.

Glass dish filled with vegan shepherd's pie

Classic Shepherd’s Pie Recipe

Makes: 4 servings

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 35 minutes


Mashed Potatoes

  • 2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • ¼ cup vegan butter, like Earth Balance
  • ¼ cup unsweetened nondairy milk
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped chives
  • ½ to 1 tsp sea salt (to taste)
  • ¼ to ½ tsp ground pepper (to taste)
  • 1⁄8 tsp smoked paprika


  • 1 cup finely chopped onion (about 1 onion)
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1⁄2 tsp ground sage
  • 1⁄2 tsp sea salt
  • 1⁄2 tsp ground pepper
  • 2 cups frozen mixed veg (mostly thawed)
  • 3 cups veggie ground, like Gardein Beefless Ground (thawed overnight in the fridge)
  • 2 tbsp vegan Worcestershire
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 cup low-sodium vegetable stock


  1. To make the mashed potatoes, bring a large pot of cold water with the potatoes to a boil. Cook until tender and falling apart easily, 10 to 12 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400°F. You’ll need an 8 x 8 square baking dish.
  3. To make the filling, sauté the onion in a skillet with the vegetable oil over medium heat for 3 minutes until just softened.
  4. Stir in the garlic, thyme, sage, salt, and pepper and heat through for about 1 minute.
  5. Add beefless ground and veggies and continue to cook for 5 minutes.
  6. Mix together the veg stock, Worcestershire, tomato paste, and cornstarch. Mixing cornstarch with a bit of the liquid to make a slurry before adding to the all of the liquid to prevent lumps. Stir well. Then add to the pan and stir for 1 minute as the liquid thickens. Then turn off the heat.
  7. Drain the mashed potatoes from water and add back to the pot you cooked them in. Mash with vegan butter, milk, sea salt, ground pepper, and chives until smooth.
  8. Add the filling to the casserole dish and spread out in an even layer. Then add all the mashed potatoes on top and use a spatula to spread it out evenly to the edges. Sprinkle with smoked paprika evenly on top.
  9. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 20 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the filling is bubbling. If the top is not getting golden, move to the top rack for another 5 to 8 minutes.
  10. Let the shepherd’s pie rest for about 10 to 15 minutes before slicing and serving.