Our Vegan Cottage Pie is prepared with green lentils and haricot beans and topped with a delicious mashed potato. It is inspired from old-fashioned British recipes that were popular during the 1940s and 50s where making do with limited ingredients was crucial. New to plant-based and vegan diets? Our tasty and easy veggie cottage pie is the ideal introduction. Looking for vegan recipes that are tomato-free and celery-free? Our cottage pie is both free from tomato and celery, as well as being easy to prepare as gluten-free.
Our Vegan Cottage Pie recipe features tasty green lentils and haricot beans [navy beans] cooked within a savoury paprika flavoured gravy, and topped with a creamy mashed potato, before being baked to crispy golden perfection.
History of cottage pie
Cottage pie is a popular traditional British meal that can be traced back to the late 18th to early 19th century. The term "cottage pie" was first used at a time when the potato was being introduced as an affordable crop readily available for the poor ("cottage" was a term for a modest dwelling for rural workers).
The dish was initially created as a way to use up leftover meat. The cooked meat was placed in a dish, and then it was covered with a layer of mashed potatoes. The pie was then baked until the potato crust became crispy. This was similar to that of a shepherd's pie, which uses lamb or mutton instead of beef.
Over time, variations of cottage pie have evolved, including recipes that add vegetables like carrots, peas, and onions in the filling. There are also many variations of cottage pie around the world, including vegan, plant-based and vegetarian versions that often use lentils, beans, or meat-free mince or crumbles, instead of meat.
Origin of potato, bean & lentil pies
During World War II (1939-1945), potato pies made with lentils and beans were popular as frugal meals in Britain. Given that lentils and beans were more readily available compared to other sources of protein, they were promoted as nutritious alternatives to ensure that dietary needs were met. Out of necessity and the ethic of making do, people got creative and developed delicious meat-free sausages, patties, and burgers using lentils, beans, and vegetables.
Marguerite Patten, a celebrity chef of the era, played a significant role in popularizing these dishes. She shared numerous meat-free recipes with the public through her wartime radio show, where lentil and bean pies became particularly popular choices.
Our vegan cottage pie recipe
It is really simple and easy to prepare our cottage pie, and its a great option for tasty midweek family meals, as younger family members in particular will enjoy this fun pie.
Its also a great recipe for those new to plant-based, vegan or vegetarian diets as it uses easy to find every-day pantry staples yet is packed with tasty flavours.
Batch prep veggie pies
Our vegan cottage pie is baked in individual pie dishes, so batch prepping a few batches is a great idea as the pies can be frozen for quick future meals as you can simply pull out a few pies, defrost, and reheat.
Require a celery or tomato free cottage pie?
Unlike most cottage pies, our recipe is a tomatoes & celery free recipe. Although if you are allergic to these ingredients you will also have to check your vegetable stock and seasonings for these ingredients.
How to prepare vegan cottage pie
There are three steps to our cottage pie - prepare the mashed potatoes, prepare the filling, and then bake the assembled pie.
However, the mashed potatoes can be prepped in advance and stored within the refrigerator for 1-2 days, likewise the filling, and also the complete pies if prepped all at once can be stored until the next day or frozen.
For a change, sweet potatoes or a mix of mashed root vegetables can replace the white potatoes.
First prepare the mashed potatoes.
Next cook the onions and garlic.
Add the grated carrot and dried green lentils.
Season with sweet paprika, bay leaf, salt and pepper.
Pour in the vegetable stock and simmer for 25 minutes.
Add the haricot beans and a little extra vegetable stock.
Gently boil for 5-10 minutes.
Divide the lentil and bean filling between your chosen pie or casserole dishes.
Top with the mashed potatoes.
Bake for 25 minutes until the sauce is bubbling and the mash is crispy and has tasty browned bits.
Recipe notes and FAQ's
Store leftovers within the pie or casserole dish and place a cover over. Keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Or scoop the pie out of the dishes and store within a covered container.
Once baked, cool the pie as quickly as possible and wrap the dishes in freezer-proof wrap. The pie can be frozen within the pie dish or scooped out and placed in an airtight freezer-safe container. Freeze for 3-4 months.
It's important not to put a very cold pie or baking dish straight into a hot oven, as the sudden temperature change may cause the dish to crack. For this reason, allow the pie to come to room temperature before reheating. Preheat your oven to the temperature stated in the original recipe, or slightly lower if you prefer. Place the pie on the middle or lower-middle rack and reheat for around 20 minutes, or as long as it takes to get piping hot. Before serving, ensure that both the mashed potato topping and lentil filling are piping hot.
Yes with a few considerations lentil and bean pie is suitable for gluten-free diets.
First ensure that the vegetable stock used is gluten-free and check that the other packaged ingredients such as plant-based milk and vegan butter are also safe for gluten-free diets.
Yes. You can prepare and bake the lentil and bean-based cottage pie either as individual servings or in one large casserole dish. Once it's completely cool, wrap it securely in freezer-safe wrap. Store it in the freezer for up to 3-4 months.
To defrost, remove the pie from the freezer and take off any wrappings. Allow the pie to come to room temperature by placing it on your countertop, or you can defrost it in the fridge. However, make sure to let it reach room temperature before reheating.
Once the pie is at room temperature, you have the option to either reheat it or store it in the fridge for later use. It's advisable to reheat the pie soon after it has defrosted to maintain optimal flavours and textures, so try not to defrost it too far in advance.
Yes if your short on time and would like to prepare this recipe quicker there are a few things you can do in advance:
1. Opt for potato flakes to make instant mashed potatoes. Just ensure the ingredients are vegan-friendly.
2. Utilize leftover mashed potatoes, which can be frozen for a few months and then thawed when needed.
3. Make the mashed potatoes ahead of time and store them in a covered container in the fridge for 1-2 days.
4. Prepare the lentil mixture in advance and either keep it in the fridge for 1-2 days, or freeze it for later use.
5. Substitute dried lentils with two 400g[14oz] cans of drained green lentils. If you go this route, add the lentils at the same point in the recipe as you would the dried ones, but reduce the vegetable stock to 1-2 cups, depending on your preference for sauce consistency. Also, decrease the cooking time to 10 minutes before adding the haricot beans and continuing with the rest of the recipe."
Vegan cottage pie garnished with paprika flakes and served with steamed cabbage. So tasty. A dollop of tomato ketchup or perhaps brown sauce is all that's required!
More vegan potato topped pies
Potatoes are the ideal topping for lots of delicious veggie pies, not only are they budget-friendly they taste pretty good as well. We love the crispy mashed potato toppings on this family favourite Vegetable Hotpot which is packed full of vegetables in a creamy sauce, and the mashed potato cheesy topping on this Vegan Cowboy Pie which features cheesy BBQ flavoured baked beans and veggie sausages, and is always a hit with younger family members.
For a traditional comfort food favourite our Vegan Traditional Lancashire Hotpot is also very popular with our lovely visitors to our family recipe blog and it has thin slices of crispy scalloped potatoes. And for a British retro favourite our take on the old-school dinners Vegan Cheese, Onion and Potato Pie is a just too delicious, especially chilled for pack lunches & picnics.
For more veggie pie recipes do have a look at our collection of Vegan Pies & Hotpots recipes.
***please note: for US measurements click the 'US customary button' within the recipe and the measurements will switch to tablespoons, cups, and ounces.***
Vegan Cottage Pie
- potato masher
- non-stick skillet or deep fry pan
- 6 small individual pie dishes or 1 larger casserole or pie dish [each small pie dish about - 6 inch by 4 ½ inch and 2 inch deep (15cm x 11cm x 6cm) (or use a larger dish big enough to serve 6)
Mashed potato topping:
- 900 grams potatoes [chopped into even sized chunks]
- 6 tablespoons plant-based milk [or replace with veggie stock prepared with potato cooking liquid, use more or less liquid as required]
- 2 tablespoons vegan butter [or replace with hummus or nutritional yeast flakes]
- 1 tablespoon olive oil [or your regular oil, can replace with ½ cup veggie stock or potato cooking water]
- 200 grams green lentils [dried]
- 2 medium carrots [grated]
- 1 medium onion [diced]
- 4 cloves garlic [diced, use more if liked]
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 teaspoons sweet paprika powder [or ordinary paprika, can use an extra teaspoon if liked]
- 1 can haricot beans [navy beans] [400g/14oz can drained, or 240g (1 ½ cups) cooked beans (can replace with any type of bean)
- 1 litre vegetable stock [plus about ½-1 cup [120-240ml] extra, can use the potato cooking liquid to make up the stock with added vegetable stock powder/cubes/bouillon paste]
- 3 teaspoons paprika flakes [or red pepper flakes, chilli flakes, use more as liked, or replace with your favourite seasoning mix or nutritional yeast flakes]
Prepare the mashed potato pie topping:
- Cook the potato chunks in a saucepan of boiling water, with a few pinches of salt, until soft.900 grams potatoes
- Drain the water but reserve it in a jug as it can be used to make up the vegetable stock. Add the milk and butter to the potatoes, along with some salt and pepper. Mash until smooth adding extra liquid either milk, veggie stock or potato water as required to achieve the desired consistency.6 tablespoons plant-based milk, 2 tablespoons vegan butter
- Once mashed it can be set aside until required for the pie. If preparing in advance and will be keeping for a few hours or until the next day, store the mashed potatoes in the refrigerator once cooled.
Prepare the pie filling:
- Heat the oil or about ½ cup of vegetable stock in a non-stick pan. Add the onion and cook over a medium heat for 5-8 minutes, stirring frequently. Add an extra few tablespoons of vegetable stock if necessary to prevent sticking even if you added the oil, as using a little stock or water to prevent sticking is better than adding more oil.1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 medium onion
- Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.4 cloves garlic
- Mix through the carrot and cook for 1-2 minutes2 medium carrots
- Next, add in the green lentils, sweet paprika, and bay leaf. Season with a little salt and pepper.200 grams green lentils, 2 teaspoons sweet paprika powder, 1 bay leaf
- Pour in the vegetable stock and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 25-30 minutes.1 litre vegetable stock
- Add the haricot beans along with ½-1 [120-240ml] cups of extra vegetable stock depending on how saucy you prefer the filling.1 can haricot beans [navy beans]
- Simmer for 5-10 minutes or until the lentils are soft. Taste the seasoning and adjust with extra salt and pepper if liked, although I usually find no extra salt is required. Remove the bay leaf.
Preheat the oven to 190 Fan, 210 C, 410 Fahrenheit, Gas 6.
- Divide the lentil mix between your pie dishes or add to one larger casserole or pie dish.
- Top with the mashed potatoes. Use a cutlery fork to create a wavy pattern if liked.
- Bake near the top of the oven for 25 minutes until the filling is bubbling and the topping has crispy golden bits.
- Sprinkle the top with paprika flakes before serving.3 teaspoons paprika flakes
- Nutritional information is provided for guidance only and is not a strict calculation as ingredients vary.
- Store leftover pies within the cooking dishes, once cool, cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- Or freeze for 3-4 months, well wrapped.
- It's important to not place a chilled pie or casserole dish directly into a hot oven as there is a risk the dish could crack with the sudden change in temperature.
- To reheat: Bake at the cooking temperature (or slightly lower) stated within the recipe card, on the bottom-middle shelf for about 20-25 minutes. The mashed potato topping and lentil filling should both be piping hot before serving.
- Serve with steamed greens such as cabbage or kale, or your favourite green veggies.
- This is a tomato & celery free recipe but if you have an allergy to these ingredients do use a tomato or celery free vegetable stock and check all your other packaged ingredients.
- For a gluten-free pie use a gluten-free vegetable stock, and check the other packaged ingredients for gluten ingredients.
- The potato mash can be replaced with sweet potato mash or any root vegetable mash or a combination of root veggies such as - parsnip, celeriac, carrot, or swede [rutabaga, turnip]. Cauliflower is also quite nice mashed.