If you're on the hunt for a meatless main to serve this holiday season (or for a special dinner), stop your scrolling! My Individual Puff Pastry Lentil Pies are the show-stopping savory centerpiece you've been looking for. Flaky pastry shells are stuffed with lentils, mirepoix, and fresh herbs and wrapped into a pretty package for a hearty and unforgettable cold weather entrée.
No matter what holiday you celebrate, it seems that November and December are always packed with parties, potlucks, dinners, and other festivities. I love all the celebrating, but finding tasty, crowd pleasing plant-based recipes for the holidays was something I had to learn along the way.
While my Pumpkin Vegetable Bake and my easy Vegan Pumpkin Pasta are oh so delicious, I also wanted to create a tasty, rib-sticking main course that would impress vegans & omnivores alike. Enter my Vegan Puff Pastry Lentil Pies!
These flaky pockets of goodness are stuffed with a cozy and comforting mix of French-inspired lentils with carrots, celery, onions, and fresh herbs that'll have everyone going back for more.
All the flavors are right at home next to other holiday favorites like cranberries, sweet potatoes, gravy and green beans. Need more holiday inspo? Check out my Vegan Thanksgiving recipe roundup!
Gluten-free? You can also turn the lentil pie filling into vegan shepherd's pies if you're gluten free - simply top individual ramekins of the lentils with my cauliflower mashed potatoes instead of using puff pastry, then give them a quick trip under the broiler!
Best of all, these eye-catching savory hand pies take just 10 minutes to prep, meaning you can actually enjoy the holidays with your guests instead of being chained to your kitchen. That, my friends, is a holiday miracle!
What's In This Savory Puff Pastry Recipe?
This stunning vegan main is much simpler than you might think. Here's everything you'll need:
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil (optional) - This is my heart healthy fat of choice, but feel free to swap in what you generally use. Grapeseed or avocado oil are both good alternatives. If you don't use oil, feel free to use water to saute.
- Onion - Red, white or yellow onions (or even shallots!) will all work for this recipe. To save time and tears, opt for frozen chopped onions.
- Garlic - You know I love me some garlic powder, but we're pulling out the big guns for this vegan holiday centerpiece by using fresh cloves. If you get in a pickle, swap in ¼ teaspoon of garlic powder for each clove of fresh.
- Celery - Even if you're not a fan of raw celery, I highly suggest you try using it in this recipe. When cooked, it becomes vegetal and almost sweet, lending a big flavor boost to these savory hand pies.
- Carrot - I love grating my carrots for this recipe so their sweetness almost dissolves into the lentil mixture. Any color of carrot will work here, as will parsnips. Oh, and there's no need to peel them first - simply scrape the veg along the wide grates of your cheese grater.
- Fresh Rosemary - Fresh rosemary is a lovely, aromatic herb to keep on hand, and it does well as a potted plant. Remember to strip the leaves from the tough stems prior to use. If you don't have any fresh rosemary on hand, you can substitute a ½ teaspoon of dried rosemary instead.
- Fresh Thyme - If you're into plants, this is another charming addition to your windowsill. If you don't have any fresh thyme on hand, swap in ½ teaspoon of dried instead.
- Cooked Lentils - Depending on the type of lentil you choose, cook times will vary. Whole lentils usually cook in 15-20 minutes while split varieties may only take 6-8 minutes. You can also save time by using drained and rinsed canned lentils or vacu-sealed lentils from the refrigerator case of the store.
- Tomato Paste - You may need to thin the tomato paste out with some water for it to fully incorporate into the mix. If you have leftovers, you can freeze them into ice cubes for a quick hit of savory, umami flavor boosts whenever the need hits you!
- Puff Pastry - If you are using store-bought, be sure to opt for a brand that is vegan. You can also get fancy and try making this vegan puff pastry recipe from scratch.
- Flour - When you're working with pastry, having some flour for your rolling surface is a must to prevent sticking. If you're gluten free, make sure you choose a gluten free pastry brand/recipe and opt for a GF flour mix for dusting.
How to Make Lentil Hand Pies
You may have noticed I'm not a fancy cook; I mostly make dishes that are healthy without a lot of fuss. My Savory Lentil Puff Pastry Pockets may look difficult, but trust me: if I can do it, you can.
Step 1: Prep. Defrost puff pastry according to package directions. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Step 2: Sauté Aromatics. Add olive oil, onion, garlic and celery to pan and cook for about 5 minutes. Add carrots, rosemary and thyme and cook for another few minutes.
Step 3: Add Lentils. Turn off the heat and add lentils and tomato paste. Let mixture cool a bit (about 10 minutes).
Step 4: Roll Puff Pastry. Sprinkle some flour on your work surface and roll out dough and cut to make 4 even squares about 9" each (2 from each sheet).
Step 5: Assemble. Place ¼ of mixture in each square. Fold up each side into the middle of the square and and pinch closed like little presents.
Step 6: Brush & Bake. With a brush or napkin "paint" olive oil on the outside of the puff pastry. Bake for 25 minutes or until pastry is browned. Serve hot and enjoy!
How to Serve
Now that you have your vegan holiday main course under control, all that's left to do is fill out the rest of the menu! Here are some of my favorite pairings for these lentil hand pies:
- When it comes to sides, I don't feel like you need much for this savory lentil pie. A simple green salad will do, but if you're into having a full-on holiday feast, try my Maple Dijon Roasted Brussels Sprouts or Garam Masala Roasted Squash.
- Some of my favorite holiday appetizers are my Vegan Port Wine Cheese Ball and my Christmas Pinwheels.
- Since it's the holidays, dessert is a must. Try my Vegan Apple Crumble or my Gingerbread Hot Chocolate.
Tips & Tricks
This savory puff pastry recipe is actually very easy to execute. That said, I've learned some things along the way:
- When it comes to holiday cooking, work in stages! To save time, make the lentil filling up to three days in advance. Feel free to swap in canned or packaged cooked lentils to save a step.
- Remember to defrost your puff pastry! I usually leave it overnight in the fridge. Once thawed and rolled, it's not hard to work with. I'll be honest, I had never worked with puff pastry before doing these, but I was surprised how easy it was.
- Don't forget about your other dishes! If you're going to need your oven to cook other parts of your meal, make an oven schedule. This article has been indispensable for my holiday cooking.
- Use frozen or bagged veggies for faster prep. If you hate chopping onions and grating carrots, there's no shame in reaching for pre-prepped items from the grocery store. I recommend searching both the frozen veggie aisle and the produce department to price compare.
- Brush your pastry for a pretty appearance. In the world of pastry, egg washes are king when it comes to a shiny, glossy looking exterior on crispy items like croissants. To mimic that in a plant-friendly way, I use olive oil.
Are They Healthy?
I'm not about to shout the health virtues of puff pastry, BUT I am a firm believer that a healthy diet is all about moderation and enjoying food. Making these vegan puff pastry pockets for special occasions is well within those bounds.
Also, don't forget about all the other ingredients and the nutrients they bring to the table. For example:
- Lentils are nutrition powerhouses. They're a good source of fiber, protein, iron, potassium, magnesium, and vitamin B-6.
- Carrots contain beta carotene (for eye health) as well fiber and vitamin C.
- Garlic and onions are part of the allium family, which has been linked to lower blood pressure and bad cholesterol.
Finally, don't forget that in contrast to other menu items that find their way onto the holiday dinner table, this plant based savory puff pastry hand pie recipe is a serious step up in terms of nutrition!
Up to a point, yes. The lentil filling can be made up to three days in advance. For best results, though, I recommend that you assemble the puff pastry pockets no sooner than the morning of, and that you bake the hand pies right before serving.
Any leftovers will last in the fridge for up to 5 days.
I don't recommend freezing baked puff pastry, as it may become chewy and dense. For best results, eat within a few days of making it.
For any kind of pastry, I generally recommend using your oven or toaster oven for reheating to re-crisp the exterior. Preheat and bake at 300F for 10-15 minutes, or until warmed through. You could also reheat for a few minutes in the microwave but the puff pastry might get a little chewy.
Here are some more tasty recipes for cooler weather:
If you make this recipe and LOVE IT, please give it 5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐!
Individual Vegan Puff Pastry Lentil Pies
- 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 onion chopped
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 stalk of celery chopped
- 1 cup carrot grated
- 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
- 1 cup cooked lentils
- 4 Tablespoon tomato paste*
- 1 teaspoon vegan worcestershire sauce optional (can sub coconut aminos)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 sheets of puff pastry (make sure it's vegan)
- Flour for dusting work surface
- Olive oil for outside of puff pastry
- Defrost puff pastry to package directions.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Add olive oil, onion, garlic and celery to pan and cook for about 5 minutes.
- Add carrots, rosemary and thyme and cook for another few minutes.
- Turn off the heat and add lentils and tomato paste.
- Let mixture cool a bit (about 10 minutes).
- Sprinkle some flour on your work surface and roll out dough and cut to make 4 even squares about 9" each (2 from each sheet).
- Place ¼ of mixture in each square.
- Fold up each side into the middle of the square and and pinch closed like little presents.
- With a brush or napkin "paint" olive oil on the outside of the puff pastry.
- Bake for 25 minutes or until pastry is browned.
PLEASE NOTE: Nutritional information data is computer generated and only an estimate so it should be used only as a guide.
Mary Ellen Valverde MS, CNS, LDN is a Licensed Nutritionist and Certified Nutrition Specialist who empowers vegans to feel clear and confident about what is uniquely nourishing to them. Mary Ellen's recipes and nutrition information have been featured on Yahoo News, Parade, VegNews, LIVESTRONG, Dr. Axe, Greatist, LIVEKINDLY, Brit+Co, Well+Good, and more.
I made this recipe for Christmas and it was great! I added 1.5 tbs tamari (instead of worcestershire sauce) and extra fresh rosemary and thyme. Served it with cranberry sauce.
Mary Ellen says
So glad you enjoyed it, Megan!! <3
Mary Ellen Valverde | VNutrition says
Thanks so much, Larry!
I made this as my Thanksgiving main dish, and it was super good. Because of all the sides I made, the flavors of the lentil packets were a bit overshadowed on the day, but I ate them for breakfast on their own the past 4 days, and they're wonderful. In retrospect, I might add a splash of vegan worcestershire sauce, and I think if I make this again, I will curry the lentils and try it that way.
Thanks for a great, easy recipe!
Mary Ellen says
I'm glad you liked them, Jenni! I bet a little Worcestershire or curry would be delicious!
Thanks so much for coming back to leave a review!
What kind of lentils do you use, please? 🙂
Mary Ellen says
Great question, Jaycie! I usually use brown lentils. I'll update the recipe to reflect that.
Can I use phyllo dough instead?
Mary Ellen says
Hi Mary. I haven't tried it with phyllo dough before. It's a heavy filling so I used puff pastry so it wouldn't fall apart. I think it would probably taste good but I'm not sure about it holding. If you try it, please let me know how it goes.
Victoria De Angelis says
How do I get the slits in the "presents"?at what point do I cut the dough?
Mary Ellen says
Hi Victoria, I don't cut the dough. When you bring all the sides into the middle, there will be little openings between them. When they bake, they should open a little more. If you want to ensure there's an opening, just make sure the dough isn't fully touching except at the very top of the little package.
I love this recipe so much!
(i usually do not comment - this is actually the first one every - but those lentil pockets do taste so awesome that i just had to let you know)
thank you 🙂
Mary Ellen says
Thank you so much for commenting Nadine! I hear you, I don't usually comment on things either so I really appreciate that you did! So happy you enjoyed the lentil pockets! 🙂
Margaret Carroll says
So happy with this recipe - looks amazing but tasted even better!
So good! Is there any way to make variations on this one with ingredients?
Matthew Klarmann says
Do you think making these ahead of time and freezing them is OK? I would like to get them ready on Thursday and bake them on Sunday for dinner. They look amazing! A great substitution for my vegan siblings and I.
Mary Ellen says
Hi Michelle! Thanks so much for stopping by! My puff pastry came frozen and on the package it said to not re-freeze the pastries so I'm not sure I'd try it. What I did for Thanksgiving and probably will do again for Christmas is I made the lentil mixture a few days ahead and then all I had to do that day was defrost the pastry, roll it and add the filling before baking. It didn't take long at all to roll and fill the pastry dough. I hope you and your siblings like the pockets and have a wonderful holiday!