Shepherd’s Pie

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This easy shepherd’s pie checks all the boxes for a classic comfort food dinner that goes far beyond St. Patrick’s Day. The base is a simple a mix of ground lamb and vegetables, simmered in a savory sauce. Then, it’s topped with fluffy and creamy mashed potatoes that form a golden crust!

A large pan of shepherd's pie

What Is Shepherd’s Pie?

If you didn’t know, shepherd’s pie came about from Irish women getting creative with leftovers back in the 1800’s. Ground meat, mirepoix vegetables, and mashed potatoes were common ingredients and dishes served. So I’m sure those ladies thought, why not combine them for the ultimate cozy meal?

The basic structure of shepherd’s pie is a savory minced lamb filling topped with a layer of mashed potatoes. And the filling is usually simmered with onions, carrots, celery, and peas.

It’s almost like a take on chicken pot pie, but without a crust. And since Irish people love all things potato (especially mashed potatoes), shepherd’s pie became a winning recipe!

A single scoop serving of Shepherd's pie.

Shepherd’s Pie Ingredients

If you’ve ever had cottage pie, shepherd’s pie is really similar. The only difference is that cottage pie uses beef, and shepherd’s pie uses lamb or mutton. So when you eat a shepherd’s pie in the US that swaps ground beef for lamb, that’s actually a cottage pie, not a Shepherd’s pie. Oh, semantics! But here’s what you’ll need to make this.

  • Ground Lamb: As I mentioned, using ground lamb is traditional, but you can also use ground beef (like in cottage pie) or even ground turkey.
  • Vegetables: I’ve included carrots, celery, frozen peas, and onions. But feel free to always toss in more vegetables.
  • Broth: Chicken broth tastes best with lamb. But if you’re using ground beef, I recommend you use beef broth.
  • Tomato Paste: This helps create thickness and flavor in the sauce (without the use of flour).
  • Worcestershire Sauce: Adds a depth of flavor to the meat filling, because Worcestershire sauce itself is very layered in flavor. If you’re gluten-free, make sure to read my note below!
  • Mashed Potatoes: Deliciously fluffy and whipped spuds on top of the meat filling finish off a classic shepherd’s pie. Just follow my mashed potato recipe – it’s easy!

Find the printable recipe with measurements below.

Read The Labels On Your Worcestershire Sauce

Diving into the meat filling, you’ll see that Worcestershire is a key ingredient. This is a vinegar based sauce made from fermented onions and garlic, along with molasses, tamarind, anchovies, spices and more. Yep, you can say this sauce has an intense depth of flavor, making it perfect to add to meats.

But if you’re gluten-free, you’ll need to be mindful of the brands you buy. Worcestershire often includes a wheat-based soy sauce to get that deep dark brown color. So, I recommend purchasing one of the below brands that are gluten-free (always double check labels as ingredients may change).

Sauteeing vegetables in a pan for shepherds pie

How To Make Shepherd’s Pie

The first thing you’ll make is mashed potatoes. You can make this the day of, or you can make it a day before expedite the process. Once that’s done, you’ll move on to the meaty filling and preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C).

Saute all the veggies and meat together until cooked through. Then, add in all the flavorful herbs and aromatics and let it simmer for just a few minutes, until the sauce thickens a bit. Just remember to leave the frozen peas until the end as those can get mushy fast if they cook for too long! 

Cooking shepherd's pie filling in a pan.

The last step is dolloping and spreading the mashed potatoes on top. Once that’s done, transfer the shepherd’s pie to the oven, and let it cook for about 30 minutes. Keep an eye on it so that the top of the mashed potatoes doesn’t get burnt!

Making Shepherd's pie and dolloping mashed potatoes on top.

Helpful tip: I prefer to use a large oven-safe pan rather than a casserole dish. But you could transfer everything to a casserole dish as well.

Shepherd’s Pie Variations

The great thing about this recipe is that it’s easily modifiable. Here are some other variations to enjoy:

  • Low-Carb/Keto: swap the mashed potatoes for mashed cauliflower.
  • Dairy-Free: swap the butter in the mashed potatoes for ghee or a dairy-free spread and use non-dairy milk.
  • Vegan/Vegetarian: swap the lamb for a mix of mushrooms and lentils.
  • Paleo/Whole30: swap the peas for green beans (you can chop them up) and use mashed potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes or even mashed butternut squash.

And if you want a richer shepherd’s pie, feel free to add a generous splash of red wine with the chicken broth and use a little cornstarch or arrowroot powder to thicken it up.

Shepherd's pie on a table next to a napkin

Prep This Ahead Of Time

If you plan to make this ahead of time, store the mashed potatoes and filing in separate containers in the fridge. When you’re ready to bake, let the potatoes and filling sit at room temperature to soften before assembling. Then, pop it right into the oven for baking.

When it comes time to freeze leftovers, just place them in freezer safe containers for up to 3 months. This could be a great option if you also plan to meal prep this on a Sunday night. Just bake it, divide it into 6 sections, and freeze it!

Complete Your St. Patrick’s Day Dinner

Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with classic Irish recipes! If you want a festive Irish spread on the table, accompany the Shepherd’s Pie with:

More Easy Comfort Food Ideas

Are you in the mood for more comfort food? These tasty dinner recipes will surely hit the spot.

This easy shepherd’s pie is about as comforting as they come. If you make it, I’d love to know how it turned out in a comment below. Your review helps other in the community!

Taking a serving out of the Shepherd's pie recipe.

Easy Shepherd’s Pie Recipe

4.99 from 175 votes
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 40 minutes
Total: 1 hour
Servings: 6 servings
Author: Lisa Bryan

Description

This easy shepherd's pie is a classic comfort food recipe that's hearty, filling, and perfect for the winter season or St. Patrick's Day. Watch the video below to see how I make the recipe!

Video

Equipment

Ingredients 
 

Potato Topping

  • 2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • ½ cup milk
  • ¼ cup butter
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Meat Filling

  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil or olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 celery stalk, diced
  • pounds ground lamb or ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup chicken broth, or if using ground beef use beef broth
  • tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, see notes above
  • 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 1 cup frozen peas

Instructions 

  • Place the potatoes in a pot on the stove and cover with cold water. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. Cook for 13 to 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft when pierced with a fork.
  • Drain the potatoes in a colander, then return to the pot. Add the milk, butter, salt and pepper and mash until creamy.
    Mashing potatoes in a bowl.
  • Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C). In a large oven-safe saute pan, heat the oil on medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute for a minute. Then add the diced carrots, diced celery, and lamb. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until the meat is browned. Use your spatula to break up the meat while cooking.
    Sauteing onions, carrots, celery and lamb on the stove in a pan.
  • Drain the fat from the pan and add the broth, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper. Simmer for about 5 minutes, until the sauce is slightly thickened.
  • Add the frozen peas and stir together. Turn off the stove and use the back of your spatula to flatten the meat mixture into a single layer.
    Mixing spices into the Shepherd's pie filling on the stove.
  • Dollop the mashed potatoes on top of the meat and use a spoon or spatula to spread it flat to the edges. If desired, create texture in the potato topping with a spoon or fork.
    Dolloped mashed potatoes on top of the Shepherd's pie filling ingredients.
  • Bake the shepherd's pie until slightly golden, about 25 to 30 minutes. You can broil the top for 1 to 2 minutes as well.
    Finished Shepherd's pie fresh out of the oven.

Lisa’s Tips

  • If you’d like to make this recipe vegetarian or vegan, you can substitute the ground lamb for veggies such as mushrooms and lentils.
  • You can use ghee instead of butter and non-dairy milk for the milk as well. 

Nutrition

Calories: 606kcal | Carbohydrates: 38g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 40g | Saturated Fat: 17g | Cholesterol: 105mg | Sodium: 758mg | Potassium: 1160mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 3928IU | Vitamin C: 26mg | Calcium: 88mg | Iron: 4mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: British, Irish
Keyword: shepherd’s pie, shepherd’s pie recipe
Did you make this recipe?Mention @downshiftology or tag #downshiftology!

Originally posted December 2019, but updated to include new information.

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About the author

Lisa Bryan

Lisa is a bestselling cookbook author, recipe developer, and YouTuber (with over 2.5 million subscribers) living in sunny Southern California. She started Downshiftology in 2014, and is passionate about making healthy food with fresh, simple and seasonal ingredients.

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Recipe Rating




365 Comments

  1. What a great recipe! I used ground turkey and dried rosemary and thyme. Turned out excellent. I will surely be making this for my family often.

    Thank you!5 stars

  2. Oh MY this was good, thank you so much!
    We used beef, and next time will try bison.
    We did tweak it with red wine.
    ALSO we waited a bit to add the garlic after the onions had softened a bit, and added 1.5 tbsp of flour to thicken the meat mixture a bit when it was almost browned enough.
    Much appreciated!5 stars

      1. Haven’t served this dish to the housemates yet. I will bet they will love it. I LOVE THIS.;from one bite Yummy!4 stars

  3. This was a very tasty recipe. I would make it again, even though it was a lot of work & steps. I would recommend make this when you have a good chunk of time and want something filling and comforting. I had beef instead of lamb and still used chicken stock and it worked great.4 stars

  4. just made this and it’s delicious. I did add just a little more worcestershire for my liking. love the tomato paste sub for flour. another great recipe5 stars

  5. Hi! Love this recipe and have made it many times. I want to try making it with lentils. How much lentils would you recommend?5 stars

  6. Love this recipe! Have made it many times but am making it the first time with lentils. How much lentils would you recommend?

  7. I made this tonight, followed the recipe but added a can of cream of chicken soup to appetize the kiddos and my whole family gobbled it up! My husband who grew up on Shepards pie said it’s one of the best he’s ever had. Thank you!

  8. Had to make a last minute dinner without time to go to the market and I was able to make this recipe with some leftovers vegetables I had in the fridge… it saved me and it was a hit! Really easy to prepare and delicious!!!

    1. Hi Ana – Wonderful! I’m glad this shepherd’s pie worked out great with leftover vegetables you had on hand.

    2. Looks delish! I make my pie this way, but I am looking to make it even healthier. Do you have another recipe with less calories?

      1. Hi Anna – I don’t have another similar recipe with fewer calories yet. But, you can make a thinner layer of mashed potatoes.

    1. This is the best shepherds pie I’ve ever had. My sister made a sandwich for herself when I made it because she’s not a fan of shepherds pie until she tasted this. She couldn’t get enough. None of us could. I saved time by using Bob Evans sour cream and chive potatoes on top. It was delicious. I also made one using half ground beef and half hot italian sausage for an added kick and it was out of this world. Thank you for this recipe.

  9. Made this tonight it was a little bit of work but well worth it! I made this for my boyfriend and myself. He has a gluten sensitivity and has to eat a low acid diet. He loved it, and we both felt great.5 stars

  10. Made this recipe today and it was AMAZING!! I was concerned the carrots & celery would be crunchy, but they weren’t at all! Soft & delish! Everyone who tried it loved it. Tysm for this recipe! Will definitely be doing it again! 🫶🏽5 stars

  11. Made this last night for my sweetheart and he proclaimed it the best Shepherd’s Pie he’s ever had (and he lived in London)! I agree with him…this has lovely savory flavor, without being too rich and was very easy to make. I made the mashed potatoes and chopped the veggies in advance, so it was fairly quick to pull together on date night.5 stars

  12. The men in my life are shepherd’s pie lovers and love home cooking. Lisa’s pie recipe is easy to make, full of flavour and taste like shepherd’s pie. This recipe made it to the printer!5 stars

  13. Fantastic comfort food! Easy to make and double in my cast iron pot. It’s a family favorite, especially in winter. It also reheats well. I have only made it with ground beef, and I usually sub in sweet potatoes for some of the regular potatoes.5 stars

  14. Easy to follow and savory results… whole family enjoyed. I don’t have a cast iron pan so I used my Dutch oven and subbed A1 sauce because that’s what I had on hand. Will make this again… delicious5 stars

  15. This recipe was great! I used lamb and beef together and it was truly delicious! Typically when I make Shepherd’s Pie my potatoes dry out but this method was a game changer.5 stars

  16. I tried this recipe because my family was just dying for a lightened up version of shepherds pie. It was very, very tasty, and we always add extra Leftover vegetables, and edamame. When you’re finished the pie, you wish there was another one!5 stars

  17. So cozy and delicious! The whole family loved it. We were craving comfort food and this really hit the spot. Thank you as always!5 stars

  18. Solid Shepherd’s Pie recipe. Thanks Lisa!

    Sorry, I missed the stars! If you can you may delete my other review.5 stars

  19. This was delish! I didn’t add the carrots and celery. Then substituted corn for peas and turned out so good despite the changes. Definately one of those meals that you can personalize and it still turns out great!5 stars

      1. Hi Lisa! So excited to try this!
        I love soft veggies, will the carrots & celery get soft enough baking this way? I wanna make sure to avoid crunchy veggies!
        Also, frozen peas always taste wierd to me, so I am going to used canned peas (drained & rinsed of course), and then just add them on top of the meat right before I add the potatoes so they dont squish too much, do you think that will be ok?
        I will also add a can of corn! Just wanted some feedback before I start!

      2. Hi Sophia – You don’t need to worry about crunchy veggies with this recipe! As for the peas, that’s fine.

  20. Made a vegan version by replacing the beef for Beyond beef, oatmilk and vegan butter. For the mash potatoes, I used a piping bag and nozzle to make it look extra special. It was delicious and Beyond meat has a better flavor and texture than traditional ground beef which can get dense and dry.

  21. Good, solid and such an easy Shepherd Pie. Thumbs up from the whole family!
    Also easy to change around (different veggies or herbs).5 stars

  22. Am looking forward to making this! Thank you for including nutrition facts for those of us watching our waistlines! Am curious about how much one serving of this recipe is 606 kcal’s. Is a serving 1 cup?