Sustainable Shepard’s Instant Pot® Pie

A cruelty-free twist on a fall comfort classic, this Instant Pot® Shepherd’s Pie (also known as a cottage pie) is filled with nutritious lentils, mushrooms, tomatoes and vegetables, then topped with a creamy layer of mashed potatoes rather than traditional lamb or beef.

Whip up this hearty recipe for a quick mid-week meal or easy-to-prepare holiday feast. Using an Instant Pot® or pressure cooker is a great way to reduce energy use in the kitchen, while reducing your consumption of animal products minimizes your carbon footprint. Join our “Sustainability Challenge” to discover more ways you can create a sustainable home and lifestyle.

Before you start cooking

Please note, you will need a large (deep) round or rectangular casserole dish or baking tray.

To create a flakey crust on your potato top-layer you will need an oven in addition to your Instant Pot or Pressure Cooker. However, if you do not want to take this extra step you can simply opt to top your lentil layer with the mashed potatoes without any further baking.

For this recipe we used dried green lentils, but you can also use canned lentils if desired. Please see timing adjustments in the instructions below for pre-cooked lentils.


For the lentil filling:

  • 1 + 2/3 cups of green dried lentils (soaked for 15 minutes) *or 2-3 cans of pre-cooked lentils, rinsed and drained.
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (you can used some oil from the sun-dried tomatoes)
  • 1/2 large brown onion, finely diced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced into small cubes
  • 2 celery sticks, diced into small cubes
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 3.5 oz / 100 g of cremini mushrooms (Swiss brown)
  • 1/3 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes (about 7 tomato halves)
  • 1 + 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup diced canned tomatoes (with juice)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 can (400 g) tinned chopped tomatoes with juice
  • 1 + 1/4 cup (310 ml) vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce or wheat-free Tamari
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) red wine
  • 1–2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon paprika powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder or flakes (caynne is fine)

For the potato crust:

  • 2.5 lb / 1kg white potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Pinch of black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (ghee or butter for non-vegan version)
  • Extra 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste


  • Soak the lentils in a pot/bowl of cold water for 15 minutes, while you’re preparing all the ingredients. If using canned lentils, skip this process. Then strain the lentils before using.
  • Turn the Instant Pot on and press the Sauté function key. Add the olive oil, onions, carrots and celery and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring a few times.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients and mix together. Press Cancel to stop the Sauté function, then press the Manual setting and adjust to HIGH pressure and set to 8 minutes. After 3 beeps, the Instant Pot will start building up the pressure and the cooking process will begin. *If using canned lentils set the to 3 minutes instead of 8 minutes.
  • In the meantime, peel and dice the potatoes. You can either cook the potatoes on the stove while the lentils are cooking in the pressure cooker or you can cook the potatoes in the Instant Pot in the second stage. See both methods below.s
  • Now preheat the oven to 200 C / 400 F if you are opting to bake your pie.
  • Once the timer goes off on the lentils, allow 10 minutes for natural pressure release and then use the quick release method (turn the sealing lever to ‘Venting’ to let off the rest of the steam/pressure.)
  • Open the lid, mix throughly and transfer the lentil mixture to a large casserole dish or a baking tray.
  • Cook potatoes on the stove. Cover potatoes in a pot with cold water and add a teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes, until soft. Leave 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid in the pot with the potatoes and strain the rest. Add the almond milk (or other milk of choice), onion and garlic powders, pepper, and olive oil (or butter, if using that) to the potatoes. Mash the potatoes really well into a puree and taste for salt. Add extra, if needed.
  • Cook potatoes in the Instant Pot. Rinse the inner pot with water after cooking the lentils. Add the potatoes with 2 cups of water and salt. Set to Manual, HIGH pressure for 5 minutes. Once the timer goes off, use the quick release to let off the pressure/steam. Leave 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid in the pot and strain the rest. Add the almond milk, onion and garlic powders, pepper and olive oil to the potatoes. Mash well until a puree forms and taste for salt. Add extra salt if needed.
  • Finish the pie. Spread the mashed potato puree evenly over the lentil mixture in the casserole dish. Using a spoon or spatula, flatten the puree and form peaks of or waves in the crust. To achieve a flakey crust, pop your completed pie in the oven on the highest rack and bake for 10-15 minutes. Enjoy!