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Trying to save money and eat less meat? You need this Vegetarian Cottage Pie recipe (with an unexpected secret ingredient!)

Simple store cupboard ingredients and a quick and easy method, this meat-free pie recipe is full of flavour and packed with goodness.

A vegetarian cottage pie straight out of the oven with a golden brown top and a portion already dished out with a spoon.

I always try to make sure my vegetarian recipes are perfect for the whole family to enjoy, so that meat eaters, vegetarians, or those who simply want to cut back on eating meat can come together around the table. 

That means plenty of texture, flavour and satisfaction, and this Vegetarian Cottage Pie (or Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie if you prefer!) dishes that up by the bucketload.

Quite simply, it’s hearty, comforting and utterly delicious. It’s also packed with vegetables and goodness, and a secret ingredient of Marmite. Yes, that’s right… MARMITE!

Even if you’re usually a Marmite hater, here it adds a rich savoury depth of flavour that usually comes from meat. Please do try it!

Why you’ll love this easy Cottage Pie recipe

⭐️ Hearty, rich and comforting

⭐️ Simple, inexpensive ingredients

⭐️ Easy and full of goodness

Hearty and comforting Vegetarian Cottage Pie in a dish with a spoon stuck in, ready to serve.

About this Vegetarian Cottage Pie with Lentils

We all know by now that traditionally Cottage Pie is made with beef mince and Shepherd’s Pie is made with lamb mince (and if you didn’t, now you do!) So while this is a vegetarian version of our favourite pie recipe, it’s technical neither. 

So why are we calling this one Vegetarian Cottage Pie rather than a Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie? I’m really not quite sure – maybe it’s more cottagey than shepherdy?! Either way, the veggies and lentil filling really are a wonderful meat alternative for this dish. 

Other meat-free similar dishes to this you could try are my Easy Fish Pie, my Cheesy Vegetarian Pie or my Vegetarian Moussaka.

Vegetarian Cottage Pie/Shepherd’s Pie Ingredients

Ingredients for vegetarian cottage pie laid out on a counter top, including tins and dishes.
  • Onion – You can use fresh or frozen, pre-chopped for this
  • Garlic – Same again, you can use fresh or jar/paste/frozen. Your choice.
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Chestnut mushrooms – I find Chestnut have more flavour than white mushrooms.
  • Flour
  • Dried thyme
  • Dried rosemary
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Tinned green lentils
  • Tomato purée
  • Vegetable stock
  • Marmite
  • Henderson’s Relish – Or Worcestershire sauce

For the topping:

  • White potatoes
  • Butter
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

How to make Vegetarian Cottage Pie

Step 1 in the recipe for Vegetarian Cottage Pie. Add lentils and vegetables and to a pan and fry.

1. Fry the vegetable mix, add the herbs and seasoning, lentils, stock, tomato puree Marmite and Henderson’s. Cook as per the recipe below.

Boiled potatoes in a pan with knobs of butter, ready to be mashed for step 2 in the recipe for Vegetarian Cottage Pie.

2. Meanwhile, boil the potatoes until soft and mash with butter and salt and pepper.

Step 3 in the recipe for Vegetarian Cottage Pie. Mashed potato being added on top of the filling in a dish.

3. Put the sauce filling in a pie dish, allow to cool a little and add the mash topping evenly.

The finishing touches to the recipe Vegetarian Cottage Pie. Make grooves in the mash potato with a fork to crunch the topping up.

4. Smooth the mash over the Shepherd’s Pie with the back of a fork to allow the topping to get a golden brown crisp. Bake as per the recipe below.

Lentil Cottage Pie Substitutions

  • Vegetables – Feel free to change up your ingredients here according to what you have in or prefer. For example, frozen peas, swede, leeks or sweetcorn would work well.
  • Mash potato – You can swap the white potatoes for a sweet potato topping if you prefer.

How to Reheat Vegetarian Cottage Pie

This is a fantastic batch cook recipe and freezes well for a hands-off dinner another day.

Make ahead for the fridge Cook up to step 5 in the recipe below and you can keep this recipe in the fridge for 2 days. Then bake as normal.

Make ahead for the freezer Once your pie is assembled (step 5 in the recipe below) you can chill and then freeze for up to one month. When you are ready to use the pie, defrost in the fridge overnight, then bake as normal (step 6). It may take a little longer than normal to bake, as always, check it is piping hot inside before serving.

Technically, it can also be cooked from frozen – cook at 160C/fan 140C/gas 3 for 1 hr-1 hr 20 mins until piping hot in the centre. I have to say I prefer to defrost overnight first as the pie won’t dry out as much.

Cooked leftovers You can keep this recipe in the fridge for 3 days. Reheat fully in the microwave or oven before serving. You can also freeze cooked leftovers. Defrost thoroughly before reheating.

Top tips for Veggie Cottage Pie/Shepherd’s Pie

HACK: Frozen mixed vegetable base

You can replace the individual carrots, celery and onion ingredients for a frozen bag of ‘soffritto’, which comes already pre-chopped and all together in one bag. (I love this cheat for lots of recipes!) It might be called ‘vegetable base mix’ or something similar in some supermarkets.

Baking dishes

If you’re batch cooking this and you don’t want a pie dish out of action in the freezer, or you’re cooking a few batches, you can use foil trays with lids, like these ones from Amazon.

This lovely enamelware baking dish is what I use to cook the pies in. I swear by these!

Easy Creamy Mashed Potato

To make life easier, use a ricer-style potato masher to get your mash just right. I think this one is brilliant and makes it so much easier.


How do you keep mash from sinking into the Cottage Pie?

The trick here is to make sure your sauce is a little firm and not too watery, and let it cool for a while before you add your potatoes on top.

Is Lentil Cottage Pie healthy?

Yes! It’s full of goodness from plenty of vegetables hidden in the sauce, plus protein and fibre from the lentils.

Can I make this a gluten free Veggie Cottage Pie?

Yes. To make this recipe gluten free, substitute the plain flour for cornflour (check your packaging to ensure it is gluten free) or any gluten free flour. Check all other ingredients too of course.

What should I serve with Veggie Cottage Pie Pie?

You can have this on its own as a whole meal, or you could add some extras like onion gravy (with vegetable stock), steamed cabbage or braised red cabbage.

Let me know how you got on and what you thought of these recipes. Please rate the recipe using the ⭐️ below.

Also I’d LOVE to see your cooking creations. If you’d like to share yours with me, you can tag me on Instagram (@tamingtwins).

5 from 20 votes

Vegetarian Cottage Pie

This easy Vegetarian Cottage Pie recipe is filled with goodness, is wonderfully hearty and totally delicious. Comfort food that’s so good and full of flavour and texture, even meat eaters will love this dish.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings: 4


  • 2 tsp Olive oil
  • 1 Onion, Finely chopped
  • 3 Cloves garlic, Peeled and crushed
  • 3 Carrots, Finely chopped
  • 3 Celery sticks, Finely chopped
  • 250 g Chestnut mushrooms, Finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp Flour
  • 1 tsp Dried thyme
  • 1 tsp Dried rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp Freshly ground black pepper
  • 800 g Green lentils , 2 x 400g tins, drained and rinsed
  • 4 tbsp Tomato purée
  • 750 ml Vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp Marmite
  • 2 tbsp Henderson's Relish

For the topping:

  • 1 kg White potatoes
  • 2 tbsp Butter
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • Heat the oil in a saute pan, oven a medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, carrots and celery and fry for 5 minutes.
  • Add the mushrooms in for another 5 minutes.
  • Add the flour, thyme, rosemary, pepper and fry for 3-5 minutes until everything is well coated.
  • Add in the lentils, tomato purée, stock, Marmite and Henderson's Relish. Cook for 30 minutes until the sauce is rich and thick.
  • Meanwhile, boil up the potatoes until soft enough to mash. Mash with butter and salt and pepper.
  • Top the base with the mash potato, then smooth over with the back of a fork to create grooves. Bake at 200C for 20-25 minutes until golden and crispy.


Gluten-free: Use cornflour rather than plain or any other gluten-free flour.


Calories: 572kcalCarbohydrates: 105gProtein: 28gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0.2gCholesterol: 15mgSodium: 1185mgPotassium: 2513mgFiber: 25gSugar: 13gVitamin A: 8354IUVitamin C: 60mgCalcium: 121mgIron: 10mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Family Food
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  1. 5 stars
    Absolutely delicious. Definitely a keeper
    I didn’t add mushrooms as my husband not a fan
    Always make my stock with Marmite, so it was very tasty

  2. 5 stars
    Oh my goodness. This is absolutely delicious. It involves some time preparing all the diced vegetables but is worth it. Good portions and enough left to freeze for another day. Thank you Sarah!

  3. 5 stars
    This recipe is just wow wow wow! Full of great flavours. The whole tray gone in one. My 4 year old absolutely loved it!
    Thank you Sarah!

  4. 5 stars
    Just to confirm this was absolutely delicious. Another banger from Sarah, thank you – wish you’d been around when my kids were growing up but hubby & I are enjoying your amazing recipes now instead!
    Not sure if lentils should have been rinsed but I didn’t & added a tablespoon of oil for frying veg at start of recipe 😊

  5. Making this tonight – smells delish!
    Couple of things – do you drain & rinse the lentils?
    (I didn’t)
    No oil mentioned so I used a tablespoon for frying off veg