Easy Vegetarian Mexican Shepherd's Pie

Today I’m sharing a recipe for a low cost shepherd’s pie that’s vegetarian.

Saying the title of this post is harder than putting together the easy vegetarian Mexican shepherd’s pie!

The ingredients are low cost and many of them should be items you already have in the house. Especially if you’ve been looking to cut costs on your groceries. I kind of waver with keeping potatoes in the house. When I decided that fear of getting diabetes was forcing me to eat healthier and lose weight, I stopped eating potatoes. See my post about how fear is a great motivator for weight loss and how I was inspired by a service tech at a car dealership who stopped eating potatoes, pasta, and bread.

I love potatoes. There’s nothing easier than putting a Russet potato into the microwave for five minutes and lunch, or dinner, is ready. I really love French fries. Luckily, I’ve never owned a deep fryer, so I have to buy them at a restaurant or make oven baked fries. I’ve been maintaining my weight for over half a year, and part of that is introducing some of the items I decided were “forbidden” back into my diet. Therefore, I bought a ten pound bag of potatoes for $2.99 at the produce store in December. They’re pretty much finished. The last few potatoes in the bag were starting to go soft, so I had to do something with them fast!

Easy Vegetarian Mexican Shepherd's Pie

I have to tell you about a new product I found in the freezer section of Walmart. Frozen diced onions for $2.27. Really! Someone else has peeled and chopped the onions. How perfect is that? Talk about making my life easier! I’m not a huge onion fan. I’ll buy an onion for a recipe, and probably use only half the amount the recipe calls for, and then the rest of the onion goes bad before I find another use for it. Not to mention stinks up my fridge! From time to time I’ll remember to chop up the unused onion and put it in the freezer and use it my super easy Instant Pot vegetable barley soup or chopstick tuna casserole. I can’t tell you how happy I am with this frozen onion that Walmart is selling. My days of buying fresh onions are coming to an end!

I’m happy using these frozen onions, but if you want to use fresh, and peel and dice and cry, you go for it.

This recipe calls for salsa. Gives it that Mexican flair. I used to always keep salsa on hand because I like tortilla chips. I’m sure you’ve guessed. Tortilla chips have pretty much gone the way of potatoes around my house. Oh well. Every now and then I buy a bag when it’s on sale. It’s nice to have salsa in the house just in case.

I always have frozen corn on hand. I buy the largest size I can find at the grocery store so it lasts me awhile and gives me the best bang for my buck.

OK. So here we go. Let’s assemble what we need for the easy vegetarian Mexican shepherd’s pie.

Easy Vegetarian Mexican Shepherd's Pie

We need black beans. You can do this the easy way and open a can of black beans. Cans of beans are relatively inexpensive. However, it is even cheaper to buy dry beans and cook them. Bonus – they freeze really well. In my cupboard, I have several types of dry beans. I buy big bags and store them in plastic Tupperware-type containers.

I almost thought for a minute that I didn’t have black beans in my cupboard and was going to substitute red kidney beans. Then I saw the black bean container just got pushed around a bit. Kidney beans and pinto beans are good substitutes if you don’t have black beans in the house. Or can’t find them…

If you’re using dry beans, follow the directions on the bag. Seeing as how I chucked out the bag my black beans came in, I can’t help you. Many people soak the beans overnight and then cook them over low heat for half an hour to an hour, depending on the bean. You can also put them in a crock pot on a low setting for a few hours.

As for me …. Instant Pot to the rescue! I use the 7 in 1 Instant Pot. If you’re interested, check out the Amazon link below. (Disclosure: I’m an Amazon affiliate. If you click and make a purchase, I’ll receive a small commission for the referral.)

So this is the most time consuming part of this recipe, though it’s not labor intensive at all. I dump one cup of black beans into a colander and sift through them, looking for small rocks and ugly beans to remove.

Easy Vegetarian Mexican Shepherd's Pie

Just for the record, I’ve never found a rock in my beans but one time I did find a small clump of dirt. Once I’ve finished searching, I rinse the beans. Now that they’re wet I can take another look if there are any more beans I need to remove. All good. Now I put them into the Instant Pot and fill the pot with water, about two or three inches over the beans.

I put the lid on and make sure the vent is in the sealing position.

Then I press the manual button and adjust the time for 25 minutes.

Easy Vegetarian Mexican Shepherd's Pie

Then I go do something else for awhile.

It takes the Instant Pot about an hour to pressurize, cook the beans, and depressurize. You can now remove the black beans from the Instant Pot and drain them in the colander.

Or you can be like me and let them sit in the Instant Pot for a couple of hours after the timer went off and switched to warming mode. I was in no hurry. I started cooking the beans just after lunch and didn’t need them until closer to dinner time.

When you’re thinking you’d like to eat in an hour or so, it’s time to make the mashed potatoes

Or if you don’t like to boil and mash potatoes, you can buy them in a container at Walmart. They cost at least $5. Three or four small potatoes from that $2.99 ten pound bag cost 50¢.

Being frugal wins!

Here’s the most labor intensive part of making the easy vegetarian Mexican shepherd’s pie and that’s peeling the potatoes. I used four smallish potatoes. One might have barely squeaked into the medium size category. One potato was kind of ugly so I chopped it in half, leaving me with less than four potatoes and it worked out fine. There just has to be enough mashed potatoes to cover the rest of the ingredients.

I’m thinking of buying one of these gizmos that peels potatoes. Specifically, I’ve been looking at this one on Amazon.

Does anyone have a potato peeler recommendation? And I’m not talking the potato knife thing. I’ve got that.

Quarter the potatoes, put them in a large pot filled with water, and toss in a small amount of salt. I eyeball about half a teaspoon because I’m not a big salt person. Turn the burner on high. Once the water comes to a boil, let it boil for another eight to ten minutes until they’re fork tender.

Oh, I threw in five mini carrots to boil with the potatoes. That’s optional whether or not you like carrots or have any on hand. I always have mini carrots in the fridge and eat them with spinach. Easy salad!

When the potatoes are boiling, turn the oven to 350 F.

When tender enough, drain the potatoes (and carrots if using), and put them back inside the pot, but don’t put it back on the heat. Put in a tablespoon of margarine, or butter if you prefer, and two tablespoons of milk (I used cashew milk). You can also season it with pepper or however you like your mashed potatoes. Use a potato masher and smash away. You might need to add a little more milk for a creamier texture.

While the potatoes are boiling, you can get to work on the onions/salsa/beans part of the easy vegetarian Mexican shepherd’s pie.

Chop up a small onion, or if you’re like me and bought the diced, frozen onion, use about half a cup. Heat up a frying pan with a small amount of water, just enough to coat the bottom of the pan. Cook the onions until tender and turning translucent, about three or four minutes. If you used too much water, spoon it out now. This is the base of the Mexican shepherd’s pie so you don’t want it to be too runny. Add in the black beans and half a cup of salsa, and let it simmer for a few minutes. You can also season it however you like to give it a little Mexican flair. I used a Caribbean pepper, garlic and herbs seasoning.

Get a casserole dish and spray with non-stick spray. Pour the onion/beans/salsa mix into it.

Pour one cup of frozen corn over the base.

Easy Vegetarian Mexican Shepherd's Pie

Then spoon the mashed potatoes on top and even it out.

Put in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes.

Then it’s dinnertime!

Easy Vegetarian Mexican Shepherd's Pie

The easy vegetarian Mexican shepherd’s pie freezes well. Cut out your portion sizes and put on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper or parchment sheet. This is important because you don’t want the shepherd’s pie to freeze to your metal pan. Put it in the freezer overnight and then transfer to individual freezer bags.

My microwave has a frozen dinner setting that defrosts and reheats, so I use that. You might have to experiment at bit with your microwave. You can defrost for two minutes and then reheat for two to three minutes until it’s heated to how you like.



  • 1 can black beans (or 3 cups cooked)
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • ½ cup salsa
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 3 to 4 small to medium potatoes, quartered
  • 5 mini carrots (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon margarine or butter
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • Salt
  • Pepper


  1. Heat oven to 350 F.
  2. Put a small amount of water in a frying pan and cook onions for three to four minutes.
  3. Add beans and salsa and let simmer for a few minutes.
  4. For the mashed potatoes:
  5. Quarter three or four small to medium sized potatoes and put in pot of water with a small amount of salt. Add carrots, if using.
  6. Put on high heat, and when water boils, let it boil for another eight to ten minutes until tender.
  7. Drain potatoes and put back into pot, but not back on the heat. Add milk and margarine (or butter) and pepper or Mexican flavor seasonings and mash.
  8. Spray a medium sized casserole dish with non-stick spray.
  9. Put the onions/beans/salsa mix into the casserole dish as the base.
  10. Sprinkle one cup corn over the base.
  11. Spoon the mashed potatoes on top and smooth evenly.
  12. Bake for 15 minutes.

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