Skillet Gardener’s Pie (Vegan Shepherd’s Pie)

by on May 22, 2008
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“If everyone lived on mashed potatoes, the world would be a happy place.”
–EV, Food Philosopher and Potato Lover

Skillet Gardener's PieI have a confession to make, the kind of deep dark secret that I would tell only a very close friend, preferably a non-judgmental one who doesn’t cook or care about food. Here goes: For the first several years of her life, the only mashed potatoes I regularly cooked for my daughter were the kind that come powdered in a box. Shocking, I know. Even more shocking: She loved them, or thought she did. She often ate them as a snack when she was hungry for something substantial, and as she got older, she learned to make them for herself. I’m not proud of this, and in my defense, I tried to buy the “good” kind, the ones without extra, non-potato ingredients. But the fact remains that for years, E thought that mashed potatoes came out of a box.

It’s not that I never made real mashed potatoes, but apparently until recently they didn’t make much of an impression. But then a couple of things happened. First, “Seaside Cakes Nights” became a family tradition. Our local natural food store and restaurant, Rainbow Grocery, started serving these delicious tofu-based, seaweed flavored croquettes (similar to my “crab cakes”) as their special every Thursday. Along with the seaside cakes come coleslaw and real mashed potatoes drizzled with a light gravy. The restaurant is open for lunch only, but leftovers go to the deli counter in the store where we pick up a complete meal every Thursday night. We’re all addicted, and hardly a Thursday goes by that we don’t splurge on this meal. (It’s Thursday as I write this, so you know what’s on the menu tonight!)

Sometime after this Thursday tradition started, E went into the kitchen to make herself a snack of instant mashed potatoes. It didn’t take more than one mouthful before she noticed that, “Hey Mom, these things don’t have any flavor!” She never finished that plate of potatoes and hasn’t wanted instant potatoes since.

So these days, I mash a lot of potatoes. I buy the Yukon golds and mash them with the skins on, to keep all the fiber and vitamins. I don’t add any any margarine, just a little soymilk and some of the potato cooking water, and you know what–we all like them better than the ones from Rainbow. My time-saving trick is to use my KitchenAid stand mixer to do the mashing–it’s quick, and they come out lump-free. (My other confession is that this is about the only thing I use my KitchenAid for, despite the promise I made to my husband when he gave it to me for my birthday last year to use it to make bread. It’s become the world’s most expensive potato masher.)

Skillet Gardener's Pie

Anyway, that was a long digression, the only point of which is this: My daughter loves mashed potatoes. So, when she saw me making them last night, she got all excited and started dancing around. But then she took a look in the skillet simmering on the stove and said, with a disgusted intonation that only a child can muster, “What is that?!” I ignored the tone and explained to her the concept of shepherd’s pie, a traditional English dish of meat (generally lamb) and vegetables baked with a topping of mashed potatoes. But, I went on, since I was making a vegan version, I was calling it a Gardener’s Pie. And I wasn’t going to bake it but make it much more quickly on top of the stove. “Well, whatever,” she snorted. “It looks yucky, and I’m just going to eat the mashed potatoes off the top.”

Somewhere along the line, her plans changed. I think it was when I was taking the photo at the top, of the pie in the spoon. She asked if she could have what was on the spoon after I finished shooting it, I agreed, and she got herself a plate. Pretty soon, she was back with her plate, asking for more. By the third time she helped herself, she was exclaiming that this was her New Favorite Dish, fourth in line behind lasagna, mac and cheese, and sushi. Now that’s rare praise! But the kid has good taste. We all loved it so much that it’s going on the regular dinner rotation, and it may even supplant Seaside Cakes.
Skillet Gardener's Pie

Skillet Gardener's Pie (Vegan Shepherd's Pie)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
I used kidney beans here because I like their flavor and texture in this dish. But feel free to substitute about 1- 1/2 cups of any cooked beans or lentils. Or, if faux meats are your thing, rehydrate some TVP, crumble up a couple of Boca burgers, or chop up some seitan and use it instead.
Serves: 6
  • 2 pounds Yukon gold or red potatoes
  • 1/2 cup soy milk (or other non-dairy milk)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 2 ribs celery, diced, leaves minced and reserved
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, diced
  • 2 cups fat-free vegetable broth
  • 16 ounces (1 can) or 1 1/2 cups cooked kidney beans, drained
  • 2 cups green beans, cut in 1″ pieces (may use frozen)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, minced (or 1 tsp. dried)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried sage
  • 2 cups baby spinach leaves, packed
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • extra rosemary for garnish
  1. Scrub the potatoes and cut them into cubes. (I leave mine unpeeled, but if you want you can peel them before dicing.) Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer until potatoes are tender. Reserve a cup of their cooking water, if possible, and drain. Place in a large bowl, add the non-dairy milk, and mash until smooth, adding a little of the potato-cooking water if they seem too dry. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste and set aside in a warm place.
  2. While the potatoes are cooking, make the “pie” filling. Heat a large non-stick or cast iron skillet on a medium-high burner and add the onions. Sauté until onions are translucent. Add the garlic, carrots, celery, and mushrooms, and sauté for 3 more minutes.
  3. Add the vegetable broth, kidney beans, green beans, reserved celery leaves, and herbs. Simmer on medium heat for 20 minutes and all vegetables are tender. Add salt and pepper to taste (I added a little hickory smoke salt). There should still be some liquid in the pan, but if it has become too dry, add a little of the potato-cooking water. Add the spinach and stir until it’s completely wilted. Mix the corn starch with the 2 tablespoons water until smooth, and add it to the pan. Cook, stirring, until mixture has thickened.
  4. Spoon the potatoes evenly over the top of the filling and sprinkle with chopped rosemary. If potatoes have cooled, put the skillet under the broiler for a minute or two. Serve immediately while hot.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1/6 of recipe Calories: 272 Fat: 1g Carbohydrates: 56g Sodium: 46mg Fiber: 11g Protein: 13g

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Make this vegan shepherd's pie right on the stove rather than heating up your oven. It's filled with vegetables and beans and topped with fat-free potatoes.

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{ 49 comments… read them below or add one }

1 moonwatcher September 3, 2009 at 11:34 pm

It really is true you can make this with any combination of veggies–and any size, too! Sometimes when you live by yourself you end up with small amounts of disparate stuff. Tonight I found myself with about six green beans (you know the last six from the first batch, and the next ones are still very tiny . . ), half a yellow zucchini, and about a third of a full batch of mashed potatoes. . I decided to make a "single" skillet gardener's pie–since I didn't want to end up with leftover beans, I reconstituted a small amount of TVP with a little liquid smoke and vegan worcestershire sauce and broth, I also used shallot from my garden, tomatoes from my friend's garden, and a fistful of brocolli rabe greens picked on the spot–it was really good–and comforting and fun to have a little one I could eat all myself right out of the pan!

Thanks, Susan 🙂



2 Kym L September 4, 2009 at 8:03 pm

I made this tonight but threw 4 Roasted Garlic Cloves into the mashed potatoes. It was excellent! Even my meat eating roommate loved it.


3 ~M September 11, 2009 at 7:24 am

Hey Susan!

What are your thoughts on omitting the cornstarch here and subbing sweet potatoes? Would that work? I usually bake/roast them in the crockpot and scoop out the insides. My husband greatly prefers sweet potatoes to white potatoes, which is fine by me since I don't do well with so much starch/carbs.


4 Tash February 11, 2012 at 3:16 am

i always add sweet potatoes to my normal potatoes when i do mash, although I’m also a fan of mash sweet potato and do that swell, i like to add in a bit of minced garlic, paprika and salt and pepper 🙂


5 SusanV September 11, 2009 at 7:32 am

~M, you mean mashed sweet potatoes instead of white? I think that would work great. Omitting the corn starch may mean that the filling is more runny, but if you don't mind that, you could leave it out.


6 ~M September 11, 2009 at 7:57 am

Yes, I meant subbing the insides of sweet potatoes for the white potatoes and omitting the starch in the vegetables.

Also, are the thyme and sage measurements for spices or the fresh versions? Also, would the dish suffer to use frozen green beans (possibly thawed) over fresh? Thanks for this perfect fall dish!


7 SusanV September 11, 2009 at 8:03 am

I used dried thyme and sage, so if you want to use fresh, you should double those amounts. Frozen green beans are fine–I probably wouldn't even thaw them, just add them and let them thaw as they cook.

Hope you enjoy it!


8 Frances September 17, 2009 at 12:52 pm

I made this last night and it was really good. I used leeks instead of celery because that's what I had and I did throw in frozen green beans without thawing which worked great. I also added cubed tempeh as well as aduki beans though I might try crumbling the tempeh next time.

Since it was so super veggie and nutrient packed, I promised myself I could have as many servings as I wanted but actually it was surprisingly filling which means I have loads of leftovers. Yay!


9 Michelle October 1, 2009 at 11:35 pm

This is a great recipe! I just made it tonight and am so excited to have leftovers! It was really yummy, super healthy, and oh so filling! I can't wait to experiment with different veggies… A sweet potato top with a mexi-themed filling? YUM!


10 crzyquilter October 6, 2009 at 10:13 am

I have fixed this 2 times, and LOVE it. Such great mix of textures and flavors. This will be a regular on my rotation….along with many of your other recipes. Thanks so much for helping us along our road to healthier living with plant-based recipes.


11 Anonymous October 6, 2009 at 12:55 pm

YUMMY! I made this dish last night and I just finished enjoying another helping for my lunch today at work! Even my meat eating boyfriend loved it and even helped himself to THREE servings! We're not mushroom fans, so I omitted those but we did add some organic green peppers in their place! I love your website and I am always pulling tasty dishes to share with friends and family!! Thanks so much! -Plaga


12 TY October 15, 2009 at 4:56 am

Made this tonight, with a my own touch of course… and my roommates went CRAZY over it. He told me it was the best thing he's had since he can remember… AND so cheap on a students budget 🙂 THANKS SOO MUCH! I've made three things from your blog in the past 5 days and each one was AMAZINGGGG!


13 Kristie October 21, 2009 at 7:02 pm

So tasty! I added some frozen peas along with my frozen green beans and it was excellent. I can see this dish being a staple recipe on my house. Thank you!


14 Mirabilis October 21, 2009 at 8:01 pm

I tried making a lentil-based Shepherdess Pie in my early vegetarian days and it was not a hit, so I never tried it again. But this looks so good, I might have to give it another chance.

And I'm quite intrigued by the idea mentioned above of a sweet potato/black bean version. Sweet potato and black bean chili is popular, why not Gardener's Pie?


15 Anonymous October 23, 2009 at 1:19 pm

I made this last week – delicious! Even my vegetable hating fiance went back for seconds. I think next time I'll pop it under the broiler just to get a bit of crust on the top.


16 Kristina Provinsal October 29, 2009 at 7:33 pm

This was SOOO yumm!
My whole family ate every bite!


17 themarkfamily November 3, 2009 at 3:28 pm

I just made this for dinner. YUM!! Perfect meal for a fall day. thank you!


18 Shari November 10, 2009 at 12:04 pm

I made this for dinner last night and everyone loved it. Out of the 5 of us 2 are vegan and even the carnivores loved it. I'm even thinking of making this for Thanksgiving. Thanks!


19 Anonymous January 26, 2010 at 4:57 pm

I made this last night for my boyfriend, a non-vegan, and we both loved it. Really, every recipe I've made of yours turns out wonderfully. I've followed your blog for over a year now and have probably learned more about cooking from you than from anywhere else. So thank you, from both me and my boyfriend!

Keep up the delicious work!


20 Mers January 29, 2010 at 1:36 pm

This was the perfect dinner after the cold, blustery, snowy day yesterday. Yum, yum. Both hubby and I really enjoyed it.


21 Gwen March 9, 2010 at 12:40 am

Just made this tonight… arizona is usually sunny, but the last few months have been record-breaking rainy… and I've needed some good, warm comfort food without the extra calories.

Soooo good, made exactly as suggested, really filling…. i'm looking forward to leftovers all week!


22 Kendel March 21, 2010 at 1:39 pm

I just stumbled upon your blog tonight and put this recipe to good use! Even though I was lacking some ingredients and needed to make a few substitutions, it turned out delicious! I can't wait for leftovers at lunch!


23 Anonymous March 27, 2010 at 10:24 am

The Skillet Gardner's Pie is absolutely fantastic. We made it a few days ago. This recipe is a real keeper. I highly recommend it.


24 ms.min April 3, 2010 at 9:19 pm

I've tried a bunch of your terrific recipes over the past year and this, which I made tonight, takes the cake (so to speak). It was SOOOO good. It's going into our regular rotation. Heck, maybe it will become our regular rotation! Yum.


25 Gina April 5, 2010 at 6:45 pm

This recipe was great! I didn't have all of the ingredients so I replaced some things. I used black beans instead of Kidney beans and I used frozen carrot, green bean, pea mix instead of fresh. I also added the prepared TVP taco "meat" the Fantastic brand. I don't know how fat free it was after all the changes but it was so good. 🙂 Thanks


26 Jess April 7, 2010 at 11:45 pm

YUM! I love how versatile this recipe is. I was able to use what I had on hand, and it tastes divine. I'm eating it right now.

I subbed broccoli stalks for green beans, because I HATE green beans, and my CSA gives me 90% stalk, 10% florets 😉 I just cooked them with the onions, to ensure they got nice and tender. I used chard instead of spinach, and could have used their stalks instead of the celery, but I actually had celery on hand. Finally, I used 3 spring onions instead one large onion.

For the mashed potatoes, I added about 1-2 Tbs of this Chick'n seasoning (, so they taste really buttery, without any added fat.

Susan, you are my hero, and have really changed my life; I'm healthier, thinner, and enjoy cooking now. You rock:)


27 Theresa Newton April 16, 2010 at 2:51 pm

A big hit in our house. 🙂 We used some soy crumbles instead of the kidney beans, but other than that, no changes!


28 MisssColleen April 17, 2010 at 9:09 am

I am just starting to try vegan recipes, in an effort to eat healthier and cleaner. I try to do one vegan recipe for each trip to the grocery store which is only a small change, but it’s a start.

I have to say, as a lifelong omnivore, heavy on animal products, this is my favorite vegan recipe so far–it was hearty and didn’t feel like it needed anything. I loved it! My boyfriend picked out all the green beans and carrots–he’s like a 7 year old when it comes to his vegetables ~lol. My goal is to eventually eat all (or mostly) vegan. I love how these pure foods make me feel.

Thank you for your website, it has really been a great resource for a reforming omnivore. You are making a convert of me.


29 Jessica January 25, 2011 at 12:16 pm

Hi Susan,
I have just found your blog and I have two kids 7 and 4 and we are new vegetarians almost vegan. I know that sounds weird. We use almond milk and rice milk I am working on no more cows milk in my coffee and eggs for tuna yes, that is the only meat but, trying to eliminate that too and we are having a hard time with enjoying the rice mozerella cheese on pizza. And is there rice parmesan? I see soy but, I have a son and I don’t want to use any soy. We do not use any tempeh or tvp? No, substitutes. Just went cold turkey. (Ha!) So, I am here looking at the recipes that your daughter likes because that is another problem I am having recipes for all of us to enjoy –It’s a little hard to just feed the kids veg. chili, spaghtti, pizza etc. My husband and I like variety and before the kids could just eat the meat and potato or whatever they would eat. We are also going atleast 90% organic. That is where my question comes in—Do you use organic potatoes? How does Rainbow sell them? In 5lb bags? Or do you grow them. We live in Duncan MS and so we are much more limited in the organic area but, what I don’t get at our local Kroger or Walmart I have gone the last two months to Whole Foods in Memphis but, I have do have family that live in Jackson and if the prices at Rainbow are better then I may use them when I do come visit. Also, do you order bulk or just visit Rainbow when you need something in that area. I do make my own bread and we did lose our co-op about 4years ago so I am no longer able to order bulk wheat berries, beans and and so on. I hope you can help me. Thanks Jessica


30 SusanV January 25, 2011 at 12:37 pm

Hi Jessica, I think it’s great that you’re making such a big change in your diet. I’ll try to answer all your questions in order, but if I leave something out, just let me know. Rice parmesan–I’m not sure of. But one thing that tastes good instead is a combination of ground almonds and nutritional yeast. Just put them together in a food processor or blender and grind them up. For organic potatoes, I usually buy them either in our Kroger or at The Fresh Market. The Kroger in Jackson on I-55 has a large natural foods section and a good selection of organic produce. The Fresh Market in Ridgeland has bags of organic potatoes, so I often buy them there. For some reason, I’ve never noticed potatoes at Rainbow, so I can’t say how expensive they are. With 3 good stores in my area, there’s almost nothing that I have to order in bulk except some supplements (vegan DHA) or spices (smoked paprika) that I can’t always find here. So if you’re able to make a trip into Jackson, I’ll bet you could find everything you need at Rainbow or at one of the other stores I mentioned. Good luck! Let me know if you have any more questions.


31 Kaitlyn January 28, 2011 at 7:34 am

This was soo yummy! It got even better after a day when I had it for leftovers! I also added nutritional yeast and olive oil to the mashed potatoes (I know it’s not fatfree, but I love mashed potatoes with olive oil!). Very tasty recipe! Oh, I also left out the mushrooms and used french style green beans!


32 Shay February 6, 2011 at 12:31 am

I’d like to start by thanking Susan for such a wonderful blog. We’ve been vegan for a while now but loathe any sort of cooking or food preparation. With such yummy results from your recipes, it’s been a real encouragement for us to get into the kitchen.

That being said, we’re pretty low on kitchen equipment. We don’t currently own a skillet large enough to make satisfactory servings of this, though I think we can handle preparing just the filling on the stove top. Does anyone have any recommendations for how long/what temperature this might bake at in a casserole dish?

Thank you so much in advance for your help.


33 Alicia Jackson February 23, 2011 at 1:05 pm

Thank you again Susan! I made this Monday night and it was unbelievable. I used black beans just because that’s what I had on hand, and it was still great. The seasoning in the sauce really made it for me….the sage, rosemary and thyme give it a subtle rich sweetness. My mouth is already watering thinking about eating my leftovers for lunch in 2 hours. Thank you again!


34 Amy May 25, 2011 at 9:26 am

Thank you for posting this. This is going in my meal plan for the next week. We are trying to eat more vegan and I and the kids are the ones struggling with following through even though I was the one who wanted to start eating this way first. Any tips on how to get little ones to eat more veggies? My kids are 2 and 3 and they are already meat and pasta lovers!


35 Pat B June 1, 2011 at 10:41 am

I have always made mashed potatoes with oat milk, a suggestion from an old copy of Veg Times. I am unable to use soy (as well as dairy)


36 Lois Gowen June 12, 2011 at 9:30 pm

Made this for dinner tonight and we now have another favorite from Fat-Free Vegan. What a good cook Susan is making me!


37 Jena December 20, 2011 at 6:41 pm

I made this tonight for my non-vegan hubby who has been asking for shepherd’s pie. He LOVED it and so did I. I used boca crumbles instead of beans, peas instead of green beans and omitted the spinach because I didn’t have any and it turned out great. I’ll definitely be making this again.


38 Tash February 11, 2012 at 3:15 am

i made something similar to this tonight, its still cooking, before going vegan i used to love making vegetarian potato pie but with a tomato based sauce that i would make out of fresh basil and tomatoes, even though i used to eat meat (up until a week ago) i used to regualry make vegetarian dishes and this was always a favourite of mine. One thing i always like to add is either sweet potato or pumpkin (or both considering on my mood) to the potatoes for mashing on the top, i always sprinkle the top with dried rosemary and parsley and then add what i call my “secret spices” which basically consists of fresh grinded sea salt, fresh grounded black peppercorns and some sweet or smoked paprika 🙂


39 Becky Medley September 17, 2012 at 6:57 pm

This was a delicious, stick to your bones kind of meal. I think it’s one “new plant strong” eaters would find filling and tasty. I also think my carnivore friends would love it. This is going to definitely be a winter comfort food!

I omitted the rosemary and used bourbon salt & bourbon pepper to season. I also used unsweetened almond milk in the potatoes which gave a hint of sweetness that we really liked paired with the savory vegetables. I found I didn’t need as much liquid as the recipe recommended. Overall, a wonderful addition to my recipe collection! Thanks!


40 k September 21, 2012 at 2:50 am

Do you have any thoughts about raising children on this low fate vegan diet
Thanks for your thoughts and references
You website is so beautiful and is my go-to place for recipes



41 Linda September 30, 2012 at 8:28 pm


I’ve been exploring going vegan after seeing Forks Over Knives, and Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. In doing so, I landed on your website on Friday and I cannot tell you how thrilled I am with all the vegan recipes you have posted on it! I am beginning transitioning ever-so-slowly to a vegan lifestyle, and this dish was absolutely wonderful! This will definitely be one of my “go to” comfort foods. Warm, hearty and oh-so-filling! YUM! My husband loved it too – he said it went great with his meatloaf and salad.

I look forward to trying more of your recipes in the future!

Thanks for all you do on this site and all the information you provide!



42 Frances December 8, 2013 at 6:37 pm

When I originally commented Iclucked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each time
a comment is added I get several emails with the same
comment. Is there any way you can remove me from that service?


43 Susan Voisin December 8, 2013 at 6:43 pm

Sorry about that! Sometimes the software goes crazy. You should be unsubscribed now.


44 Marian Gleason February 2, 2014 at 9:47 pm

We had this for dinner tonight (Super Bowl Sunday, 2/2/2014) and Bill told me to put this on the “Hit Parade” – he wants it more often!! Thanks, Susan!!


45 trish March 12, 2014 at 6:12 pm

i made this several times with lentils. oh. so. good. it’s my husband’s favorite!


46 LATOYA FELTON November 1, 2014 at 6:19 pm

This was DELICIOUS! I cannot wait to bring this to my Thanksgiving Dinner this year! I’ll be serving these in individual ramekins some w/ cheddar cheese some without! I think my vegan/ vegetarian option may peak a few taste buds this year!


47 Rachel May 14, 2015 at 11:13 am

I’ve tried this and it is amazing. I love a lot of your recipes. Although we are not vegans I try and make more and more veggie based dishes. Trying to wean off of meat. I do have a question about serving size. I’m trying to really focus on my food calories. What exactly is your serving sizes? A cup? So many ounces? Thank you!


48 Chen September 5, 2015 at 8:55 am

Of all the vegan shep’s pie recipes I’ve tried, this one is by far the best. My husband agreed too! Your recipes never disappoint Susan. Thank you <3.


49 Sandra May 23, 2016 at 5:58 pm

I guess I can substitute the soy milk (since my boobs are big enough as they are and don’t like the taste) for plain milk (not my favorite thing either but when cooking, to me it’s the best option. Hardly use it except for like Dutch pancakes and some other recipes)?
Ps. Don’t like stuff like almond milk either and not a vegan. 😉


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