Adzuki Bean Shepherd’s Pie (with low-carb Topping)

This post may contain affiliate links from which I will earn a commission. Learn more in our disclosure.

This Vegan Shepherd’s Pie is a fun twist on the traditional comfort food entree. Instead of meat, seasoned beans make up the filling for a budget-friendly, delicious meal.

Shepherd's Pie

Putting Shepherd’s Pie together with adzuki beans seems like…well…quite an odd combination, doesn’t it?  In fact, it is, but the result is actually quite nice.

Nice also is a recipe and history lesson combination. 🙂

So before the recipe, here is a bit of “lore” about the pie and the beans involved.

The English tradition of meat pies dates back to the Middle ages. Game pie, pot pie and mutton pie were popular and served in pastry “coffyns.” These pies were cooked for hours in a slow oven, and topped with rich aspic jelly and other sweet spices. The eating of “hote [meat] pies” is mentioned in Piers Plowman, and English poem written in the 14th Century. (Cooking of the British Isles, Adrian Bailey, pages 156-7) The Elizabethans favored minced pies. “A typical Elizabethan recipe ran: Shred your meat (mutton or beef) and suet together fine. Season it with cloves, mace, pepper and some saffron, great raisins and prunes…” (Food and Drink in Britain: From the Stone Age to the 19th Century, C. Anne Wilson, page 273)

The key to dating Shepherd’s pie is the introduction (and acceptance) of potatoes in England. Potatoes are a new world food. They were first introduced to Europe in 1520 by the Spanish. Potatoes did not appeal to the British palate until the 18th Century. (Foods America Gave the World, A. Hyatt Verrill, page 28). Shepherd’s Pie, a dish of minced meat (usually lamb, when made with beef it is called “Cottage Pie”) topped with mashed potatoes was probably invented sometime in the 18th Century by frugal peasant housewives looking for creative ways to serve leftover meat to their families. It is generally agreed that it originated in the north of England and Scotland where there are large numbers of sheep–hence the name. The actual phrase “Shepherd’s Pie” dates back to the 1870s, when mincing machines made the shredding of meat easy and popular.” (The Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson, page 717). (From

The word, “adzuki” is actually a transliteration of the Japanese word for the same bean and in Japanese, the word means “small bean.”  And they are small, which also means that they cook quickly.  They still need to be soaked before cooking, but in my pressure cooker, they cook in as little as 5 minutes.

In Japan, the beans are most typically mashed and mixed with a bit of sweetener and made into a soup base or thick paste that is the base of many traditional Japanese desserts.

And I’m an Irish/Japanese combination as well.  My father immigrated from Ireland in his 20’s and I lived in Japan for a year following college graduation.

Now, I don’t ever recall actually eating Shepherd’s Pie either at home or when I actually visited family in Ireland, but I did consume my fair share of adzuki beans both while I was in Japan and after returning to the States.

Want to Save This Post?

Enter your email & I'll send it straight to your inbox. Plus, you'll get healthy living updates too.

Save Recipe

Adzuki Bean Shepherd’s Pie

This recipe is my remake of one from the forum of a candida site that is now off the internet.  Since our family has been trying to reduce carbohydrates, the cauliflower-based topping is helpful in that respect, while still being delicious!

If you’d like to reduce carbs, even more, this Paleo Shepherd’s Pie is closer to the traditional recipe and has meat and roasted veggies instead of the bean mixture.

Back to this Pie, however–my kids always ask for lots of “the white stuff.”  You can, of course, also adapt this by substituting the same volume of beans with beef.  For now, enjoy this high-on-vegetables-low-on-cost option.

We love this recipe served with Moroccan Carrots, which are in the (not so great, and that’s putting it lightly) photo.

Recipe Notes

Adzuki Bean Shepherd’s Pie (with low-carb topping)

This Vegan Shepherd's Pie is a great way to have
Print Rate
Course: Entree
Cuisine: Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Vegan
Servings: 3
Calories: 773kcal



  • 2 cups dried adzuki beans
  • coconut oil (or other healthy option)
  • 1 onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 stalk celery (or 1 cup leafy greens; chopped)
  • 1 cup stock (of your choice)


  • 1 cup cooked millet
  • 1/2 cooked cauliflower
  • 1-2 tablespoons coconut oil (or olive oil)
  • 1 tablespoon dried chives (or 1/4 cup fresh, chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  • Soak beans overnight and cook until soft (approximately 45 minutes if using stovetop). Chop and fry onion, garlic and herbs in oil until soft. Add celery or greens and stock. Simmer.
  • Preheat oven. Combine millet and cauliflower and mash with oil, chives, salt and as much water as needed to make a smooth mixture.
  • Stir the greens mixture into the beans and spoon all into a casserole or baking dish. Top with the cauliflower and millet topping. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 20 minutes or until nicely browned.


Broth Options: Here is a great place to buy bone broth. My vegetable broth mix recipe works well too.


Calories: 773kcal | Carbohydrates: 142g | Protein: 36g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Sodium: 1140mg | Potassium: 2171mg | Fiber: 26g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 339IU | Vitamin C: 51mg | Calcium: 143mg | Iron: 9mg | Net Carbs: 116g

Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and is merely an approximation. Optional ingredients are not included and when there is an alternative, the primary ingredient is typically used. We cannot guarantee the accuracy of the nutritional information given for any recipe on this site. Erythritol carbs are not included in carb counts since they have been shown not to impact blood sugar. Net carbs are the total carbs minus fiber.

Leave a comment and let me know how this turned out for you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating



  1. I made this tonight…First, thanks for introducing me to millet! It’s very tasty; I’ve never had it before. I substituted ground turkey for the adzuki beans. As I was spreading the bottom part in the casserole dish, it was barely covering the bottom so I basically ended up doubling the meat. As a result, I doubled the topping as well. I used a 9×13 dish, so just a warning to anyone making this in a dish that size, this recipe won’t be enough.
    I actually didn’t really like it so I covered the top in sharp cheddar to make it more palatable. I found the seasonings to be very strong, which is funny considering I only doubled the meat, not the spices…Reminded me of Thanksgiving type flavors. Some sort of gravy mixed in with the bottom mixture instead of stock would be better, in my opinion.
    Overall, we were able to finish everything on our plates but no one went back for seconds even though we were still a little hungry. =\
    I do think the topping would be a great substitution for other similar recipes, and it was easy to make as I cooked the millet in my rice cooker with the cauliflower steaming on top.

    1. Thanks for sharing! I agree – we LOVE the topping. I’ll have to try it again to see about the spices but we do like our food flavorful. Take care!

  2. Hi There Adrienne,

    Just a note to let you know I shared your awesome dinner/main dish inspired recipe on my monthly recipe round-up. If you get a chance, come on over and check out the other dinner ideas ranging from meat-based to vegan.

    Dinner is served ya’ll!


  3. This SOS challenge may have me change my opinion about adzuki beans. 😮 Sounds like a very interesting twist on shepherd’s pie (even as far as vegan versions go). I do wonder why you included the millet in the topping – it’s probably tasty, but I don’t think millet is that much lower-carb than other grains?

    1. The millet gives body to the topping and makes it more like “mashed potatoes.” The original recipe actually had twice the millet — I cut it in half by mistake the first time that I made it — and found that the resulting product was great with fewer carbs.

  4. I bet the adzukis in this impart just the right amount of meatiness–they have that lovely, earthy, meaty flavor to them! And the cauliflower on top is a great idea–love that it’s low carb. Thanks so much for this great submission to the SOS Challenge this month! 🙂

    1. You are welcome! And you are right about the adzukis and their “meaty” taste…..I like that about them, and that is the same reason that we love mung beans as well.