Vegan Cowboy Pie is adapted from the classic cowboy pie and featured barbeque flavoured baked beans mixed with meat-free sausages and topped with a cheesy mashed potato topping. Vegan Cowboy Pie is super quick and easy to whip up for a fuss-free easy meat-free midweek meal.
Other names for this Cowboy Pie, which is kind of like a pie crossed with a hotpot, are Cheesy Baked Bean Pie, Sausage and Bean Pie, Veggie Sausage and Bean Pie, Cowboy Casserole, Cowboy Hotpot, and Cowboy Bean Pie!
Origins of cowboy pie
Cowboy pie, is a hearty family meal that usually consists of sausages, baked beans in barbecue sauce, and a mashed potato topping. While there isn't an exact origin for cowboy pie, it can be traced back to traditional Western and Southwestern cuisine in the United States.
Cowboy Pie was inspired from cowboy or chuckwagon cooking, which originated in the late 19th century during the era of cattle drives in the American West. Cowboys on long journeys would often cook meals over an open fire using readily available ingredients. The combination of sausages, beans, and potatoes in cowboy pie reflects the ingredients commonly found in the chuckwagon pantries of that time.
The chuckwagon was a vital part of cowboy culture in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in the American West. It was a mobile kitchen on wheels that accompanied cattle drives and provided meals for the cowboys. The chuckwagon got its name from the term "chuck," which was a slang word used to refer to food.
Chuckwagons were typically wooden wagons that were equipped with various compartments and storage areas for food, cooking utensils, and other supplies.
The food prepared on chuckwagons was typically simple and hearty, reflecting the practicality and limited resources available during cattle drives. Common ingredients included beans, salted or cured meats (such as bacon or salt pork), flour, cornmeal, coffee, and dried fruits. Fresh ingredients were scarce and often not feasible to carry for long distances.
The cook, often referred to as the "cookie," would be responsible for preparing meals for the cowboys. They would wake up early to start the fire and get breakfast going. Dutch ovens, cast-iron pots with a flat bottom and a lid, were commonly used for cooking on the chuckwagon. They could be placed directly over the fire and were versatile enough to prepare a variety of dishes.
Meals prepared on the chuckwagon would typically include dishes like beans (such as baked beans or frijoles), stews, biscuits, cornbread, and coffee.
The chuckwagon has become an iconic symbol of cowboy culture and is often associated with the romanticized image of the American West. Today, chuckwagon-style cooking and chuckwagon competitions are still celebrated at events and festivals as a means of preserving this historical tradition. Also, many vegan adaptations of chuckwagon style meals are becoming increasingly popular.
Modern Cowboy Pie
Cowboy pie has since evolved into a popular comfort food dish enjoyed by many, particularly in the US and the UK.
It's a simple and filling meal that incorporates flavors associated with Western-style barbecue and classic comfort foods like creamy mashed potatoes.
Although the exact ingredients can vary depending on who is preparing the pie with some recipes including bell peppers, different types of beans and different seasonings such as curry powder instead of BBQ flavours.
Old school pies and wartime pies
Cowboy Pie is similar to the British old-school classic Cheesy Baked Bean Pie that had its hey day during the 70s and 80s, as well as this Lentil and Bean Mashed Potato Pie which was a popular British wartime meal during the 1940s.
Vegan Cowboy Pie
Preparing this vegan cowboy pie, or another name that was provided by my daughter is Jazzy Bean Pie!, couldn't be easier. There are a few steps to carry out before assembling the pie but these are pretty simple.
The ingredients required for the mashed potatoes are: potatoes, plant-based milk, vegan margarine [or replace with hummus or white miso paste], vegan cheese or nutritional yeast flakes, and for the filling: vegan sausages, cans of baked beans, onions, garlic, BBQ seasoning, paprika, red wine vinegar, vegetable broth or oil, and a little sugar.
First the vegan sausages are put on to cook according to the package instructions, and at the same time the potatoes are simmered in preparation for mashing.
Meanwhile the onions and garlic are cooked in some veggie broth or oil before the BBQ seasoning, paprika, red wine vinegar, and a little bit of sugar is mixed through. Next comes the cans of baked beans which are scooped into the onion-BBQ mix.
This mix is poured into your casserole dish along with the cooked vegan sausages, which are sliced into two pieces.
Once the potatoes are mashed they are spread out over the BBQ beans and sausages, and the casserole is baked for 30 minutes until crispy, golden and the baked bean sauce juices bubbling through the topping.
Finally, the pie is removed from the oven and sprinkled with vegan cheese or nutritional yeast flakes before the pie is baked for a further 10-15 minutes just until the cheese is melted and gone a little crispy.
How to prepare vegan cowboy pie
Cook the vegan sausages according to the packet instructions.
Meanwhile cook the onions and garlic in either vegetable broth or a little oil. Stir the BBQ seasoning through the onions and cook for a further few minutes.
Add the canned baked beans to the onions and give it all a good mix.
Pour the bean mixture into a casserole dish.
Slice the cooked sausages in half and stir these through the beans.
Prepare the mashed potatoes by boiling until soft, draining, and then adding vegan margarine or butter and plant-based milk, and mashing until creamy.
Alternatively the margarine can be replaced with hummus or a tablespoon of white miso paste.
Spread the mashed potatoes over the sausages and beans.
Bake for 30 minutes, before removing from the oven and adding a sprinkle of grated vegan cheese, and then bake for a further 10-15 minutes until the cheese has melted and the pie is crispy and tinged with brown bits.
Alternatively replace the cheese with nutritional yeast flakes.
The cowboy pie is now ready to enjoy on its own as a complete dish or with your favourite veggie sides.
Recipe Notes And FAQS
Leftover cowboy pie can be kept, covered, in the fridge for 3 days.
Or freeze for 2-3 months.
Leftover pie can be reheated at the cooking temperature. Add a layer of kitchen foil over the pie to prevent the pie over browning and heat for 20-25 minutes or until the pie is piping hot throughout.
Tip: Allow the pie to come to room temperature before reheating. This is especially important if the pie and casserole dish has been frozen, as if the dish is too cold it may crack during the reheating process.
This cowboy pie can be easily prepared as gluten-free. The main considerations are to ensure that your vegan sausages, baked beans, vegan margarine, vegetable broth, and any seasoning blends are free from gluten ingredients.
A few suggestions:
* Instead of mashed white potato prepare a sweet potato or turnip (swede/rutabaga), parsnip, carrot or celeriac mash. A mix of mashed veggies is tasty especially with some white potato also included. Try this classic British Champ which is a mashed potato, mashed turnip, and cabbage mix.
* Any variety of beans in a sauce can be used such as mixed beans in tomato sauce and canned beans in a chilli or curry sauce.
* Instead of BBQ powdered seasoning use BBQ sauce or paste
* Replace the BBQ flavour altogether with different spices such as chilli powder, cumin, paprika, taco seasoning, curry powder, etc.
* Or simply omit the seasoning and just have the beans in the tomato sauce for a cheesy bean pie.
* Grated vegan cheese can be replaced with nutritional yeast flakes or omitted.
* Instead of a grated vegan cheese or nutritional yeast topping, your favourite seasoning can be sprinkled over the potato's before baking. Such as a garlic and onion mix or a lemon pepper seasoning mix.
* The fresh onion and garlic can be replaced with fried onion powder and dried garlic powder or granules, go for 1-2 teaspoons of each.
* For the mashed potatoes the plant-based milk can be replaced with the potato cooking liquid, or use half cooking liquid and half plant-based milk.
* Instead of using vegan margarine or butter use a few tablespoons of hummus or a tablespoon of white miso paste, or a few tablespoons of nutritional yeast flakes.
Cowboy pie is a filling complete meal on its own but for extra hungry eaters offer one or a few of the following ideas:
* vegan garlic bread or crusty bread
* 3 ingredient quick dinner rolls
* Slow cooker cornbread
* Boston brown bread
* crispy green salad
* peas and sweetcorn
* corn-on-the-cobs, baby corn
* home-made Traditional British Mushy Peas
* mangetout, green beans, field beans, yard beans, asparagus
* steamed or roast veggies
* vegan coleslaw
* pickled onions, beetroot, cabbage, etc
Here are a few ideas:
* Cheesy bean sausage pasties: Use the cowboy pie as a pastry filling, simply chop the sausages into smaller pieces, mix everything together including the mashed potato, and use puff pastry to create. Bake until the pastry is puffed up, crisp and golden.
* Use the mixed together filling to stuff tortilla wraps, fold the tortilla wrap up, and pan fry or heat each side on a panini hot-plate until the outside is tinged with golden and crisp. Enjoy with some salsa, of ketchup.
* Cheesy bean toasted sandwich: mix the cowboy pie together, chop the sausages smaller, and use the filling along with extra vegan cheese, and perhaps spread the bread with tomato ketchup, and toast the sandwich until brown and crisp.
Yes, cowboy pie can be easily prepped in advance for an even quicker meal. Here are a few ideas:
* Prepare the mashed potato in advance, and store in the fridge for up to 1-2 days.
* Use a couple of packets of vegan-friendly instant mashed potatoes.
* Cook the meat-free sausages in advance and store in the refrigerator for 1-2 days.
* Prepare the bean and BBQ mix in advance and store in the fridge for up to 1-2 days.
Do keep in mind that if any ingredients are prepped a few days in advance that any leftovers will have a shorter shelf-life so if leftovers are not consumed within a day, consider freezing them.
Delicious Vegan American Recipes
Also if you can't find canned baked beans in tomato sauce then you can easily prepare a batch a home with this simple recipe for classic British Baked Beans or go for these Quick Boston Baked Beans which would give your pie a different flavour but it will still be very tasty.
Finally, for another another traditional American family meal idea try this One-Pot American Goulash which is budget-friendly, really easy and a crowd pleaser! For more vegan dinner ideas check out our collection of Vegan Dinner 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 Cowboy Pie (Cheesy Baked Bean Pie)
- large baking dish/casserole pan, for baking pie
- skillet/ sauté pan/ deep frying pan, for preparing filling
- medium saucepan, for preparing mashed potatoes
- potato masher
- 250 ml vegan stock
For the filling:
- 8 meat-free sausages optional, about 2 sausages per person precooked. Alternatively simply add the sausages uncooked directly into the pie.
- 4 cans baked beans 4 x 400 gram/15 oz cans, I used 2 cans or regular baked beans and 2 cans of mixed beans in tomato sauce
- 2 medium onions rough chopped
- 4 cloves garlic thin sliced or minced, use more if liked
- 2 tablespoons BBQ seasoning mix add more to taste, or use BBQ sauce. Or simply omit.
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon sugar or maple syrup/similar
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Mashed potato topping:
- 900 grams potatoes sliced into chunks
- 2 tablespoons vegan margarine alternatively use 2 tablespoon of hummus or 1 tablespoon white miso paste if your diet omits margarine.
- 6 tablespoons plant-based milk potato cooking liquid or vegan stock can be used instead. Use more milk or stock to achieve desired texture.
- 90 grams vegan cheese grated. Alternatively replace with 6 tablespoons of nutritional yeast flakes.
Pre cook your sausages according to the packet instructions. Alternatively add your sausages without precooking directly to the pie.
- Preheat oven to 180 Fan/200 Celsius/ 392 Fahrenheit/ Gas 6.
Prepare the mashed potatoes at the same time as preparing the filling.
- Prepare your mashed potatoes.Boil the chopped potatoes until soft, about 10-15 minutes depending on size.Drain but reserve some of the cooking liquid.Mash the potatoes with plant-based margarine and plant milk, Add extra tablespoons of potato liquid until the mash is the preferred texture.Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Sauté the onion and garlic:
- Over a medium heat, cook your onions and garlic in the vegetable stock for about 6 minutes. If using oil cook the onions for 4 minutes and then add the garlic for 2 minutes, stir frequently.
Prepare the filling:
- Mix through the BBQ seasoning, paprika, sugar and red wine vinegar. Cook and stir for 2 minutes.
- Mix through the 4 cans of beans in tomato sauce. Taste and add a little salt and pepper if necessary.
- Scoop the mix into a casserole dish.
- Pop the halved cooked meat-free sausages evenly over the mix.
Add mashed potato topping:
- Top with the mashed potato.
- Place on middle shelf in oven for 30 minutes until tinged with golden, crispy and the bean sauce bubbling.
Add vegan grated cheese to topping, optional
- Remove from oven and sprinkle the grated cheese or nutritional yeast flakes over.
- Pop back into the oven for 10-15 minutes until melted.
If your not using vegan cheese or nutritional yeast, the pie can be baked for longer if you'd prefer a crispier and golden topping.
- Instead of adding cheese don't remove the pie from the oven, and cook for a total of 30-45 minutes or until the topping is at your desired crispness and colour.
- Nutritional information is provided for guidance only and is not a strict calculation as ingredients vary. Data is run through nutritional computerized apps.
- Data includes the veggie sausages and vegan cheese, so if these are omitted the calories, fat, protein, carbohydrate, etc quantities will decrease.
- Meat-free sausages are optional. This cowboy pie is still delicious without the sausages as the beans are more than enough.
- The vegan cheese topping is also optional and can be simply omitted, or nutritional yeast flakes added instead. Or just sprinkle some of your favourite seasoning over the mashed potatoes before baking.
- Sliced tomatoes are delicious added to the mashed potato topping.
- Not keen on BBQ flavours? The BBQ seasoning can be switched for chilli powder, taco type seasoning, your favourite seasoning blend, or even curry powder.
- You can use 4 cans of baked beans, or replace some of the plain baked beans for mixed beans in tomato sauce, or cans of beans in a chilli sauce.
- Leftover cowboy pie can be stored in the fridge, covered, for up to 3 days.
- Or frozen within the casserole dish, well wrapped, for 4-6 months.
- Allow chilled or frozen cowboy pie to come up to room temperature before reheating.
- Reheat at the cooking temperature, with a cover over the pie, until piping hot.
- Serve this pie on its own or with your favourite veggies or a crisp green salad.
Thank you for trying out our Vegan Cowboy Pie !
If you tried this recipe, please let us know in the comments below how it turned out for you, or if you made any modifications.
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As always, Thank you, and happy cooking!
Love, Jacq x