Shepherd’s Pie, a rich, savory casserole of ground meat and vegetables baked with mashed potatoes on top, was one of my favorite dinners as a kid (mostly for the potatoes). Today I love it even more for the hearty filling, especially today’s succulent recipe!
Technically speaking, what my mom cooked for us was cottage pie, since the difference between shepherd’s pie and cottage pie is the kind of meat used.
Shepherd’s pie uses ground lamb, while cottage pie uses ground beef.Most of the time in the U.S., we say “shepherd’s pie” for both.While lamb might be the most traditional shepherd’s pie, I’ve made it both ways, and both are delish! Feel free to use whichever meat you or your family prefer.
History of Shepherd’s Pie
The origin of shepherd’s pie can’t be traced to any specific person or place, but we know it got its start somewhere in the United Kingdom. It was created as a way to repurpose leftovers and reduce waste.
Shepherd’s pie is called shepherd’s pie because it is typically made with lamb meat.
How to Make Shepherd’s Pie
Don’t let the stodgy sound of ground meat and potatoes fool you—this shepherd’s pie with gravy is scrumptious.
I’d proudly serve it to a group of friends and know everyone would be pleased.
Plus, as recipes like Ground Beef and Potatoes and Instant Pot Pot Roast demonstrate, meat and potatoes can be pretty darn fantastic!
To make this an easy shepherd’s pie, I used a bag of frozen peas and carrots, instead of chopping the veggies myself, which cuts down on prep time.If you make the mashed potatoes ahead, you can have it in the oven even faster.The shepherd’s pie seasoning includes garlic, Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, and thyme. They are simple and yet make all the difference in creating a rich shepherd’s pie filling.
Mashed Potato Topping. Luscious mashed potatoes are mixed with butter, Parmesan, salt and pepper, milk (or half-and-half), and an egg yolk for a topping that’s rich, creamy, and absolutely delicious! (Potato lovers, check out my Crockpot Mashed Potatoes too.)Ground Beef. Packed with iron, protein, and vitamins, ground beef helps make this shepherd’s pie hearty.
Onion + Garlic. Powerful flavor builders. Tomato Paste. Adds rich, concentrated tomato flavor to the meat mixture. All-Purpose Flour. Helps thicken the meat mixture, creating a gravy-like consistency. Beef Broth. Savory, and deeply flavorful, the beef broth adds liquid to the base of the dish.
Worcestershire Sauce. Adds wonderful umami flavor. Fresh Thyme + Bay Leaf. Earthy, herby additions that cut through the richness. Frozen Vegetables. I used a bag of frozen peas and carrots to easily sneak in extra veggies.
Cut, boil, and drain the potatoes.
Mash with the butter, Parmesan, salt, and pepper.
Stir until the butter is mostly melted. YUM.
Whisk the milk and egg yolk together.
Stir the milk mixture into the potatoes.
For the filling, sauté the onion.
Add the garlic and tomato paste.
Stir in the meat.
Sprinkle the flour over the meat.
Add the broth, Worcestershire, thyme, and bay leaf. Bring the mixture to a boil, then let simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the thyme and bay leaf.
Stir in the frozen vegetables.
Spread the meat mixture into the bottom of a baking dish coated with nonstick spray.
Add the topping, spreading it into an even layer. Bake shepherd’s pie at 400 degrees F for 25 minutes. Let cool for at least 10 minutes, then DIG IN!
To Store. Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days. To Reheat. Rewarm shepherd’s pie in a baking dish in the oven at 350 degrees F or in the microwave. To Freeze. Freeze leftovers in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
Meal Prep Tip
Up to 1 day in advance, prepare the mashed potato topping as directed. Refrigerate it in an airtight storage container until you’re ready to finish the recipe.
Turn leftovers into meal prep paradise. Carefully remove portion-sized pieces from the baking dish, and transfer them to the wells of a muffin tin (keep the mashed potatoes on top). Once you’ve transferred all your leftovers, freeze until solid. Transfer the frozen shepherd’s pie “muffins” to an airtight, freezer-safe ziptop storage bag for up to 3 months. Remove and thaw the “muffins” as needed for a comfort food fix.
What to Serve with Shepherd’s Pie
Roasted Green Beans
Sautéed Brussels Sprouts
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
Baking Dish. Perfect for making this recipe.Potato Masher. An easy way to mash the potatoes. Large Skillet. Great for browning meat and sautéing veggies.
Did you grow up eating shepherd’s pie or cottage pie?
Once you try this version of traditional shepherd’s pie recipe, I’d love to hear what you think in the comments below!
Frequently Asked Questions
Adding beer to your dish is a delicious and fun twist. For an Irish shepherd’s pie, swap the beef broth for Guinness.
If you don’t have russet potatoes on hand, swapping Yukon gold potatoes is the best substitute. If you’d prefer to make a sweet potato shepherd’s pie, you could experiment with swapping sweet potatoes instead.
To make this recipe gluten free, swap the all-purpose flour for a 1:1 gluten free flour like this one.
For the Mashed Potato Topping:
1 ½ pounds russet potatoes3 tablespoons unsalted butter diced1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese1/2 teaspoon kosher salt1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper1/4 cup milk or half-and-half1 large egg yolk
For the Meat Filling:
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil1 yellow onion chopped2 garlic cloves minced1 tablespoon tomato paste1 pound lean ground beef or ground lamb1/2 teaspoon kosher salt1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper2 tablespoons all-purpose flour1 cup less sodium beef broth or chicken broth1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce2 sprigs fresh thyme1 dried bay leaf1 (10- to 12-ounce) bag frozen peas and carrots no need to thaw
TO REHEAT: Rewarm shepherd’s pie in a baking dish in the oven at 350 degrees F or in the microwave.
TO FREEZE: Freeze leftovers in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
More Hearty Casserole Recipes
Stuffed Pepper Casserole
Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole
READ: Shepherd’s Pie