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Best Shepherd’s Pie Recipe

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close up shot of a slice of Shepherd's Pie on a plate
This shepherd’s pie is a hearty baked dish, complete with layers of flavorful ground beef, vegetables, and home-style mashed potatoes.
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Table of Contents
  1. What Is Shepherd’s Pie?
  2. Ingredients In Shepherd’s Pie
  3. Shepherd’s Pie Substitutions And Additions
  4. How To Make This Shepherd’s Pie Recipe
  5. How To Serve This Recipe For Shepherd’s Pie
  6. How To Store This Cottage Pie Recipe
  7. Why We Love This Recipe
  8. Frequently Asked Questions
  9. More Favorites You’ll Love
  10. JUMP TO RECIPE
  11. Even More Recipes You’ll Love

This classic shepherd’s pie recipe is the ultimate savory comfort food! Perfectly seasoned ground beef and veggies are topped with creamy, homemade mashed potatoes before being baked in a casserole dish.

close up shot of a slice of Shepherd's Pie on a plate

What Is Shepherd’s Pie?

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Shepherd’s pie is a dish that features ground meat such as lamb or ground beef cooked in a gravy with vegetables and spices that is then topped with mashed potatoes and baked.

Why Is It Called Shepherd’s Pie?

Since traditional shepherd’s pie was made with lamb and originated in sheep country in the United Kingdom, it was named for the people that look after the sheep.

Is Shepherd’s Pie English Or Irish?

Shepherd’s pie originated in Ireland, but it can be found as a popular dish across the United Kingdom, especially in Northern England and Scotland as well.

Ingredients In Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherd's Pie raw ingredients that are labeled

This shepherd’s pie is a comforting dish with creamy mashed potato topping featuring butter and sour cream.

The savory filling combines ground beef, onions, garlic, and a medley of peas, carrots, and corn, all enriched with a flavorful gravy.

Aromatic herbs like rosemary, thyme, and a bay leaf add depth to the dish, resulting in a satisfying and delicious classic meal.

You’ll need: 

For The Mashed Potato Topping:

  • 2 pounds of potatoes, peeled and cut into big chunks
  • 4 tablespoons of butter
  • ¼ cup of sour cream
  • ¼ to ½ cup of milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For The Filling:

  • 1 pound of ground beef
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 cups of frozen peas, carrot, and corn medley
  • 2 tablespoons of flour
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
  • ½ cup of beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of rosemary
  • ½ teaspoon of thyme
  • 1 bay leaf

Shepherd’s Pie Substitutions And Additions

POTATOES: I usually use Russet potatoes to make my mashed potatoes for this recipe. You could also use red potatoes or Yukon Gold potatoes.

If you are in a hurry, you can also use instant mashed potatoes or pick up pre-made mashed potatoes from the store.

If you enjoy sweet potatoes, you could even try making this with mashed sweet potatoes.

MEAT: You can also use ground lamb as your ground meat in this hearty dish. Another option is leftover pot roast. This is a great recipe to use it up!

VEGGIES: You can add mushrooms to the list of veggies if you’d like. You can also switch up the frozen veggie mix that you use or use fresh veggies if you prefer.

CHEESE: If you are a cheese lover, try adding shredded sharp cheddar cheese to the top of the mashed potatoes.

You could even just try adding this to half of the dish.

TOPPINGS: Crispy bacon bits sprinkled on top of the mashed potatoes are one of my favorite additions to this easy shepherd’s pie recipe.

You can make your own bacon and cut it up or use a store-bought package.

RED WINE: Some recipes call for red wine. It is entirely optional, but if you would like, you could use red wine in place of beef broth.

How To Make This Shepherd’s Pie Recipe

There are two components to making this recipe. You will make the mashed potatoes as well as the ground beef mixture before assembling the casserole.

STEP ONE: In a large pot, boil the potatoes in water to cover until fork tender, and then drain the water.

STEP TWO: Add the butter, sour cream, milk, salt, and pepper to taste.

STEP THREE: Mash the potatoes with a potato masher or mixer until you reach your favorite mashed potato consistency. Set aside.

STEP FOUR: In a large skillet, brown the ground beef along with the onions and garlic. Drain any excess grease.

STEP FIVE: To the same skillet, add two cups of frozen vegetables, then cook for about five to seven minutes, stirring occasionally.

STEP SIX: Sprinkle the flour over the meat and veggies and stir to mix.

Shepherd's Pie process shot of ingredients in a pan

STEP SEVEN: Add the tomato paste and stir to mix it in.

STEP EIGHT: Then add the beef broth, Worcestershire sauce, rosemary, thyme, and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer and then reduce heat to low.

STEP NINE: Cook uncovered for ten minutes, adding additional broth if necessary to prevent the meat from drying out.

STEP TEN: Remove from heat. Spread the meat mixture in an even layer in a 9×13-inch baking dish that has been sprayed with nonstick spray.

Make sure to remove the bay leaf before adding the beef mixture to the dish.

STEP ELEVEN: Top the meat with the mashed potatoes, making an even layer of potatoes.

OUR RECIPE DEVELOPER SAYS

To help keep the mashed potatoes from sinking, allow the meat filling to cool in the casserole dish for about 20 minutes before layering the potatoes on.

Shepherd's Pie process shot of mashed potatoes spread over beef mixture in a baking dish

STEP TWELVE: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set your casserole dish on the baking sheet in case anything bubbles over as the shepherd’s pie is cooking. 

STEP THIRTEEN: Place the dish in the oven and bake at 350°F. Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown and bubbly.

After baking, you can place the dish under the broiler for a few minutes to brown the potatoes more, if necessary.

PRO TIP:

You can get all fancy and pipe the potatoes onto the meat or you can use a spoon and spread the potatoes evenly and then use a fork to make designs and ridges in the potatoes.

Shepherd's Pie process shot after pie is baked in a baking dish

How To Serve This Recipe For Shepherd’s Pie

This hearty dinner is a tasty family favorite.

Add a Caesar salad for extra greens or fluffy dinner rolls to mop up all the delicious gravy on your plate.

After you master this dish, be sure to try out a couple of our other dinner favorites.

This mashed potato casserole and this hamburger soup recipe are both hearty and filling.

How To Store This Cottage Pie Recipe

Now that you’ve enjoyed the delightful flavors of our shepherd’s pie, let’s talk about how to store any leftovers or prepare ahead for a convenient meal option.

MAKE AHEAD: If you want to plan ahead, you can prepare the shepherd’s pie in advance and refrigerate it before baking.

Simply follow the recipe up to the point of assembling the pie in the dish.

Instead of baking, cover it tightly with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and store it in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.

When you’re ready to enjoy, pop it in the oven following the original baking instructions, and you’ll have a fresh, homemade meal ready in no time.

IN THE FRIDGE: You can pre-make this classic recipe one day before and leave it in the fridge until you’re ready to cook.

Likewise, if you have leftovers after cooking, they can be stored covered in plastic wrap or in an airtight container in the fridge for two to three days.

IN THE FREEZER: Let your dish cool to room temperature after baking, then cover it tightly with aluminum foil and place it in the freezer for up to two months.

To reheat, place in the oven, still covered, for one hour at 350°F.

REHEATING: Whether you’re reheating leftovers from the fridge or freezer, there are a few methods to choose from:

  • OVEN: Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C). Place the shepherd’s pie in an oven-safe dish and cover it with aluminum foil. Bake for about 20-30 minutes (longer if it’s frozen) or until it’s heated through.
  • MICROWAVE: For quick individual servings, you can use the microwave. Place a portion in a microwave-safe dish, cover with a microwave-safe plate, and heat in 1-minute intervals, stirring in between until it’s hot.

Why We Love This Recipe

COMFORT FOOD CLASSIC: This recipe, with its creamy mashed potato topping paired with the savory meat and vegetable filling, delivers a warm, comforting homemade meal.

MAKE AHEAD AND FREEZER FRIENDLY: Whether you want to plan ahead or store leftovers, this recipe offers great make-ahead and freezer options.

CROWD PLEASER: Shepherd’s pie is a crowd-pleaser that appeals to both kids and adults alike.

overhead shot of a slice of Shepherd's Pie on a plate and Shepherd's Pie in a baking dish

You are going to love this simple shepherd’s pie recipe. It’s so easy and makes for a delicious and hearty meal that everyone in the family will love. The ease of making this dish, combined with classic ingredients, makes this a comforting dish that’s perfect for a busy winter night.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between cottage pie and shepherds pie?

Traditionally, cottage pie is made with ground beef, while shepherd’s pie uses ground lamb. You will often find the term used interchangeably now.

What is a shepherd’s pie called when it is made from beef?

When it is made from beef, shepherd’s pie is commonly referred to as cottage pie.

What is real shepherd’s pie made of?

Traditional shepherd’s pie is made of ground lamb and vegetables.

What is Irish shepherd’s pie made of?

Irish shepherd’s pie contains the same lamb and vegetables, topped with mashed potatoes as regular shepherd’s pie.

Can I make shepherd’s pie ahead of time and freeze it before serving?

This is a great make-ahead dish. Prepare it, let cool, and then freeze it for up to two months. Reheat at 350°F for one hour.

Can I use instant mashed potatoes in this recipe?

If you are looking to save time on this recipe, instant mashed potatoes will work just as well.

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close up shot of a slice of Shepherd's Pie on a plate

Shepherd’s Pie

4.99 from 65 votes
This shepherd’s pie is a hearty baked dish, complete with layers of flavorful ground beef, vegetables, and home-style mashed potatoes.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 10

Ingredients
  

Mashed Potato Topping

  • 2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into big chunks
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • ¼ to ½ cup milk
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Filling

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups frozen peas, carrots, and corn medley
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • ½ cup beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary
  • ½ teaspoon thyme
  • 1 bay leaf

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Boil the potatoes in water to cover until fork tender and then drain the water.
  • Add the butter, sour cream, milk, salt, and pepper to taste and mash the potatoes with a hand masher or mixer until you reach your favorite mashed potato consistency. Set aside.
  • In a large skillet brown the ground beef along with the onions and garlic. Drain any excess grease.
  • To the same skillet add 2 cups of the frozen vegetables. Cook for about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Sprinkle the flour over the meat and veggies and stir to mix.
  • Add the tomato paste and stir to mix it in.
  • Add the beef broth, Worcestershire sauce, rosemary, thyme, and bay leaf.
  • Bring to a simmer and then reduce heat to low. Cook uncovered for 10 minutes, adding additional broth if necessary to prevent the meat from drying out.
  • Remove from heat. Spread the meat mixture in an even layer in a 9×13 dish that has been sprayed with nonstick spray. Make sure to remove the bay leaf before adding the mixture to the 9×13 dish.
  • Top the meat with the mashed potatoes making an even layer of potatoes. You can get all fancy and pipe the potatoes onto the meat or you can use a spoon and spread the potatoes evenly and then use a fork to make designs and ridges in the potatoes. These little ridges will brown nicely!
  • Place the dish in the oven and bake for 30 minutes until brown and bubbly. You can place it under the broiler for a few minutes to brown the potatoes more if necessary.

Video

Notes

  • To help keep the mashed potatoes from sinking, allow the meat filling to cool in the casserole dish for about 20 minutes before layering the potatoes on.
  • You can get all fancy and pipe the potatoes onto the meat or you can use a spoon and spread the potatoes evenly and then use a fork to make designs and ridges in the potatoes.

Nutrition

Calories: 261kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 48mg | Sodium: 163mg | Potassium: 636mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 432IU | Vitamin C: 24mg | Calcium: 63mg | Iron: 4mg
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This recipe was developed, tested, cooked and photographed by the Spaceships Kitchen. From our dinner table to yours, we hope you think it's out of this world!

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  1. Jeanne says

    5 stars
    When I first read this recipe, I thought ‘this will be quick & easy and I have all the ingredients’. What I didn’t think was that it would be as flavorful and delicious as it was! The only changes I made was to add an extra cup of veggies so a cup each of frozen peas, carrots, and corn plus an extra 1/2 cup of beef broth. My husband said he wasn’t really hungry but after he tasted it, he proceeded to have 2 helpings.
    One note….I don’t think this should be baked in a 9×13 in. pan. I used a 7×11 and it was perfect. If you have 4 or more hungry people, double the recipe and use a 9×13 in pan. This recipe is a keeper!

  2. Maggie says

    5 stars
    Delicious…just the right amount of tang. I used half red wine and half beef broth. So good…this one is my “go to” recipe for Shepard’s Pie.

  3. Mimi says

    5 stars
    Simply delicious recipe! I’ve made your version this many times it especially is a great post partum comfort food for new Mothers and their families!

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