Shepherd’s Pie

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This easy Shepherd’s Pie is a comfort food classic not to be missed. It’s made up of perfectly seasoned ground beef, peas and carrots, and topped with creamy mashed potatoes, sprinkled with cheddar cheese, and baked to golden and bubbly perfection.

Easy Shepherd’s Pie Recipe

There’s nothing quite like a good shepherd’s pie. It is comfort food to the max. It really will warm you up right to your soul. I love this version because it is so quick and easy. It only takes about 35 minutes and has everything you need for a well-rounded meal – protein, carbs, and veggies. It’s a go-to for me (my whole family loves it!) and I hope it will become one for you too.

So what makes this shepherd’s pie so special? It starts with perfectly caramelized ground beef that has been cooked with onions and the perfect combination of herbs. The beef is mixed together with garlic, Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, and beef broth to add some extra flavor and moisture. The whole thing is then poured into a baking pan, topped with creamy mashed potatoes, and sprinkled with cheddar cheese. All that’s left is to pop it in the oven to get all nice and golden brown. Delicious!

A slice of shepherd's pie on a plate.

What Is Shepherd’s Pie?

Shepherd’s pie is a traditional Irish comfort food. It is made up of minced meat (usually lamb or beef) mixed with veggies, topped with mashed potatoes, and baked. Although it originated in Ireland, it is also very popular in the UK and in other parts of Europe. In the US you can often find it in Irish and British-style pubs.

Shepherd’s pie gets its name from the fact that it is most traditionally made with lamb from a shepherd’s flock.

Why You’ll Love This Cottage Pie

Quick, easy, filling, and an all-in-one meal. What’s not to love? Here are some of my favorite things about this cottage pie.

  • Quick and easy. Just a little slicing, dicing, sauteeing, assembling, and baking. In just over 30 minutes you will have yourself a wonderful piece of Irish tradition. It’s perfect for busy weeknights.
  • Hearty and heartwarming. You won’t be left hungry here. This hearty main dish is chock-full of filling carbs and protein. It is deeply savory and sure to leave you satisfied.
  • All-in-one meal. Get your protein, veggies, and carbs all in one slice of this delicious shepherd’s pie. Feel free to whip up a side or two to go along with it but there is no need.
Ingredients for shepherd's pie separated into bowls and labeled.

Recipe Ingredients

Here is a list of ingredients needed to make the best heartwarming cottage pie yet. Be sure to scroll to the recipe card below for exact measurements.

  • Mashed potatoes – Make half a batch of my mashed potatoes or buy a package of ready-made mashed potatoes. Just note that you might need to make more than 1 package to achieve the proper amount. You need 3 1/2 cups total.
  • Olive oil – To keep the beef from sticking to the pan.
  • Ground beef – I prefer 80/20 beef but feel free to use a leaner product if you would like. You could also use ground turkey or chicken instead.
  • Yellow onion
  • Herbs and flavor – Dried parsley, rosemary, thyme are used along with salt and pepper for the perfect flavor.
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Garlic cloves
  • All-purpose flour – Gluten intolerant? Use your favorite 1:1 gluten-free flour instead.
  • Tomato paste – Just a touch really adds nice flavor.
  • Beef broth – I really recommend beef broth for the best flavor, but chicken broth would also work.
  • Frozen peas and carrots
  • Shredded cheddar cheese – This is optional but I think it adds a lot. Feel free to use another kind of cheese if you would like. Parmesan would also be yummy.

How to Make Shepherd’s Pie

Here’s a quick overview of how to make this delicious homemade cottage pie. Be sure to scroll to the recipe card below for more detailed instructions.

Potatoes

  • Make the mashed potatoes. Make half a batch of my creamy mashed potatoes. Alternatively, used leftover mashed potatoes or make a package or two of pre-made mashed potatoes. Just make sure that you have 3 1/2 cups worth.

Meat filling

  • Prep. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Cook the beef. Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the ground beef and break it apart. Add the onions, parsley, rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper. Stir well and cook for 6-8 minutes. Drain the grease.
  • Finish the filling. Add the Worcestershire sauce and garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the flour and tomato paste and stir to combine. Add the beef broth and frozen peas and carrots. Bring everything to a boil and cook for 3-5 minutes.
  • Assemble. Pour the meat mixture into a 9×9 or 11×7 baking dish and spread the mashed potatoes over the filling. “Rake” lines into the mashed potatoes with a fork and
  • Add cheese (optional). Sprinkle with cheddar cheese over the top of the mashed potatoes.
  • Bake for 15 minutes. Broil on high for 5 minutes.
  • Serve warm.

Can This Be Prepared In Advance?

Yes! Feel free to make the mashed potatoes and the beef filling up to 3 days in advance. Allow the two components to cool completely before sealing them in separate airtight containers and storing them in the refrigerator. When you are ready to put dinner on the table, simply spread the potatoes over the filling, rake them with a fork, sprinkle them with cheese, bake, broil, and serve.

Easy Variations

This recipe is a great starting point for shepherd’s pie but don’t be afraid to play around with it and make it your own. Here are some fun suggestions for you.

  • Use a different protein. Ground beef is my favorite for this dish but you are more than welcome to use ground chicken or turkey instead. You could probably even use roasted, shredded chicken or beef.
  • Try a different cheese. The cheddar cheese sprinkled on top of this shepherd’s pie is optional but it does make it extra tasty. Not a cheddar fan? Try shredded pepper jack or parmesan. You could even experiment with goat cheese.
  • Cheesy mashed potatoes. Add some cheese to the mashed potatoes themselves. Just stir shredded cheddar, parmesan, or pecorino into the potatoes as you mash them. It should melt right in.
  • Incorporate different or additional veggies. I used frozen peas and carrots here but you could easily use other veggies. Sliced zucchini, corn, diced bell peppers, sliced mushrooms, and/or chopped broccoli would be some of my top picks.
  • Try mashed sweet potatoes instead. Try mashed yams or sweet potatoes in place of the potatoes here.
  • Make it low-carb. Looking to cut out some carbs? Try a cauliflower mash instead of mashed potatoes.
A slice of shepherd's pie on a plate with a bite taken out of it.

Tips for Success

Wondering how to make this the best shepherd’s pie you’ve ever tasted? Follow these tips and tricks and you’ll be well on your way.

  • Choose a large pan. When browning the beef, make sure your pan is big enough. If there is not enough surface area for the beef to spread out and make plenty of contact with the pan, it will not brown properly. The caramelization that happens during the browning process adds a lot to the flavor of the filling.
  • Drain the grease. After cooking the beef, onion, and herbs, be sure to drain the grease out of the pan. Otherwise, you will find yourself with a greasy shepherd’s pie.
  • Stir well. Especially when adding the flour and tomato paste. No one wants lumps of either in their shepherd’s pie.
  • Keep an eye. When broiling the cottage pie, keep an eye on it as broilers work fast. It should take about 5 minutes for the potatoes to turn golden and the cheese to bubble but it depends on the broiled. Don’t let it burn.
Shepherd's pie in a baking dish with a slice taken out of it.

How to Store and Reheat Leftovers

Allow the dish to cool completely before covering the baking dish with a double layer of plastic wrap. Store it in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. When you are ready to reheat, allow the entree to come to room temperature. If you choose to freeze it, allow it to thaw in the refrigerator overnight first. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, cover the baking dish with aluminum foil, and cook for 30 minutes or until heated through.

More Comfort Food Recipes:

In a comfort food mood? Try one (or all!) of these delicious recipes that are sure to hit the spot.

See How It’s Made

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Read Transcript

Recipe updated 5/16/23. For previous version, download this PDF.

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Shepherd's pie in a baking dish with a serving spoon taking a piece out of it.
Recipe

Shepherd’s Pie

  • Author: Lindsay Conchar
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Comfort food anyone? The shepherd’s pie is made of perfectly seasoned ground beef, peas, and carrots topped with creamy mashed potatoes, sprinkled with cheddar cheese, and baked to golden and bubbly.


Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 cups of my mashed potatoes (Make the whole recipe and use half – about 3 1/2 cups)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion (about half a medium-sized onion)
  • 2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 cup frozen peas and carrots
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese, optional

Instructions

Potatoes

  1. Make half a batch of my homemade mashed potatoes to get 3 1/2 cups. Set potatoes aside.

Meat filling

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Add the oil to a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef to the pan and break it apart. Add the onions, parsley, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper and stir well. Cook for 6-8 minutes, or until the meat is browned. Drain the grease.
  3. Add the Worcestershire sauce and garlic and cook for about 1 minute, or until fragrant.
  4. Add the flour and tomato paste and stir until well combined and no clumps of tomato paste remain.
  5. Add the beef broth and frozen peas and carrots. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer. Simmer for 3-5 minutes, or until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally.
  6. Pour the meat mixture into a 9×9 or 11×7 baking dish and spread evenly. Add the mashed potatoes to the top of the meat and spread evenly. Use a fork to “rake” lines into the mashed potatoes. Sprinkle the top of the casserole with the cheddar cheese, if using.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes, then turn the broiler to high. Broil for about 5 minutes or until the potatoes and cheese are lightly browned on top. Keep a close eye on it, it can burn quickly.
  8. Remove from heat and serve warm.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 slice
  • Calories: 360
  • Sugar: 5.3 g
  • Sodium: 836 mg
  • Fat: 17.5 g
  • Carbohydrates: 27.1 g
  • Protein: 23.5 g
  • Cholesterol: 73.5 mg

Keywords: shepherd’s pie, shepard’s pie, cottage pie, homemade cottage pie

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Lindsay
About Lindsay

I'm a wife and a mom to twin boys and a baby girl! And I've got a serious sweets addiction! Bring on the treats!

Scripture I’m Loving

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29