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Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherd’s pie is a classic comfort food recipe that’s healthy, hearty and filling. The bottom layer is a simple a mix of ground lamb and vegetables, simmered into a delicious savory sauce. Then, it’s topped with fluffy and creamy mashed potatoes that form a golden crust. It’s an easy, cozy meal the whole family will love!

Shepherd's pie in a white baking dish.

What Is Shepherd’s Pie?

Originating from the early 1800’s, shepherd’s pie is a traditional Irish recipe. It’s a hearty dish where women had to get creative with leftovers. Similar to how we create leftover casseroles today!

The basic structure is having a savory minced lamb filling topped with a layer of mashed potatoes. The filling is usually simmered with onions, carrots, celery, and peas.

Sounds like a cottage pie right? Except, 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 truly a cottage pie, not a Shepherd’s pie. Oh, semantics.

If you don’t eat a lot of lamb, I say give this traditional version a try. I think you’ll love it! But no matter which type of meat you choose, this is true comfort food that will warm you from the inside out during the winter months.

Shepherd’s Pie Ingredients

While this is a fairly simple recipe, there’s a few key ingredients needed.

  • Ground Lamb: It’s traditional to use ground lamb, but you can also use ground beef 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 suggest you use beef broth.
  • Tomato Paste: To help create thickness and flavor in the sauce (without the use of flour).
  • Worcestershire Sauce: Adds a depth of flavor to the meat filling.
  • Herbs: Finely dice some fresh rosemary and thyme into the mix.
  • Mashed Potatoes: Simply follow my mashed potatoes recipe for deliciously whipped spuds.

Shepherd's pie ingredients cooking on the stove.

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).

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

How To Make Shepherd’s Pie

Now that you’ve gotten a quick rundown of what’s inside a classic shepherd’s pie, let’s get cooking. I prefer to use a large oven-safe pan rather than a casserole dish (making it almost a one-pan meal), but you could transfer everything to a casserole dish as well.

Mashed Potato Topping

  1. Peel and cut your potatoes into large pieces.
  2. Boil them in a large pot over high heat until tender. Make sure to add a generous amount of salt to flavor the potatoes.
  3. Drain the potatoes and return them back into the pot.
  4. Melt the butter milk mixture in a small saucepan, then pour on top of the potatoes.
  5. Mash the potatoes using a hand masher until they’re light and fluffy.
  6. Taste test to see if it needs more salt or pepper.

Lamb and Vegetable Filling

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Saute the onion and garlic in a large oven-safe saute pan.
  3. Add the diced carrots, celery, and lamb. Cook for 8-10 minutes or until the meat is browned. Make sure to break up the meat using your spatula.
  4. Drain the fat from the pan and add the chicken broth, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper. Simmer for about 5 minutes, until the sauce is slightly thickened.
  5. Add the frozen peas and stir together. Turn off the stove and use the back of your spatula to flatten the meat mixture into an even layer.
  6. Dollop the mashed potatoes on top of the meat and use a spoon or spatula to flatten the edges. Have fun creating any fun textures on top!
  7. Bake the Shepherd’s pie for about 25-30 minutes, until it’s slightly golden. You can also broil the top for 1-2 minutes.
  8. Serve and enjoy!

A single scoop serving of Shepherd's pie.

Shepherd’s Pie Variations

The great thing about this recipe is that it’s easily modifiable. My version is of course gluten-free, but 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 lentil.
  • 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 arrowroot powder to thicken it up.

Prep This Ahead Of Time

If you plan to make this ahead of time, I suggest keeping the mashed potatoes and filing separate at first. Store them away in the fridge in sealed containers. 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!

An individual serving of Shepherd's pie on a plate.

More Cozy Comfort Food Recipes

Are you in the mood for more comfort food? Here’s a list of soups, side dishes, and main courses that will hit the spot.

Shepherd’s Pie Recipe Video

You’re gonna love this recipe, promise. Watch how I make it on the video below! 

Taking a serving out of the Shepherd's pie recipe.
4.99 from 69 votes

Easy Shepherd's Pie Recipe

Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 40 mins
Total Time: 1 hr
Servings: 6 servings
Author: Lisa Bryan
Print Recipe Pin Recipe
This is an easy, classic Shepherd's pie recipe is made from a creamy mashed potato crust and ground lamb and veggie filling, simmered into a delicious sauce. It's hearty, filling and delicious!

Ingredients

Potato Topping

  • 2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • salt and 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
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground lamb, or ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup chicken broth, or if using ground beef use beef broth
  • 1 1/2 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 13-15 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 degrees fahrenheit (200 celsius).
  • 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 8-10 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 25-30 minutes. You can broil the top for 1-2 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
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166 comments on “Shepherd’s Pie”

  1. This is so so good and looks beautiful when finished.  Also, my first time using lamb in a recipe so that was fun :)

  2. Your first clue to whether it is a cottage pie or a shepherds pie, is in the name. Shepherds look after the sheep, so therefore, shepherds pie is made with lamb. I have never seen a shepherd herding beef cattle.

  3. AMAZING!!! Everyone in the family (even the toddler) kept asking for more. 

  4. I made this with beef and didn’t have fresh herbs or milk (just used water and butter). Also used frozen peas and carrots and just threw them in at the same time as the celery. Added some extra Worcestershire. 

    Also added some cayenne to the potato’s.

    Best Shepard’s pie I’ve ever had! Amazing! 

  5. Thanks for this recipe! Please note for your substitution notes that Worcestershire sauce is not vegetarian or vegan 

  6. I have made this so many times and every time is SO amazing. I try to incorporate my own flare, sometimes I do cauliflower mash instead of regular, sometimes I make my own Worchishire, sometimes I add red wine, red pepper flakes, a little brown sugar for some sweet and spicy action, but no matter what it turns out amazing. This would be my death row recipe if I had to choose a last meal 😭 

  7. If using a casserole dish, what size would you recommend for this recipe 

  8. What size of dish to put in oven?

  9. Hi there, great recipe! Being from the UK, and also of Irish descent, I grew up regularly eating both shepherds pie and cottage pie. Both are truly delicious but thought I would mention that the lamb version being called “shepherds” pie is because a person who cares for sheep is called a shepherd. I am not certain why the beef version is called a cottage pie though! I love all of your recipes, thank you 🙂

  10. I made this recipe tonight for a dinner with friends and it was a huge success. Thank you Lisa!

  11. Made this tonight and it was fabulous! I ended eyeballing the Worcestershire and tomato paste because I’m lazy, but will measure next time as I think the meat turned out just a touch sweet. Still a huge hit!

  12. I made this for dinner tonight and it was REALLY good! I planned to take a photo but it smelled so yummy we started just started eating. I had hoped for leftovers for tomorrow but there’s not much left. Definitely making again!

  13. My families new favorite to go on the rotation! Used cut great beans instead of peas because I didn’t have any, still amazing!

  14. Looks delish! What size braiser did you use? Will my 5 qt braiser work?

  15. Quite good. I like half beef half lamb (although lamb is, of course, traditional). One last thing, the cuisine is British… not America. A fine point, but a point nonetheless.

  16. If a warm, comforting hug had a taste, it would be this. 

    Lisa, you’ve done it again!

  17. The taste and depth of flavor is amazing! It also didn’t take as much time as I thought it would! 

  18. My first recipe (since I have joined your site )   that I made for my boys and I and we loved it. I am not a social media person but Lisa I love your warm and positive energy. Now not a day goes by without me watching your videos and more . A big thank you Lisa. 

    • Hi Christine – That makes me so happy to hear that you’re loving all my content so far on social, for someone who isn’t a fan of social media. I hope you continue to enjoy all my recipes and can’t wait to show you what’s in store for later this year.

  19. First time making this delicious recipe and now on our household favourite menu.

  20. Made this recipe and it was an immediate favorite by the family! We all had second portions. I didn’t have arrowroot powder to use for “thickening” but used some cornstarch when I added the peas to get a thicker sauce and let me tell ya. It worked great! So yummy and will share recipe with friends and family + make again!!!

    • Hi there – I’m so glad this recipe is now a family favorite! This dish is definitely great for feeding a large party and makes for great leftovers as well :)

  21. Made this recipe for my family.  I added shredded Mexican cheese to the mashed potatoes and on top.
    It was a nice addition.’
    Thanks!

    • Hi Terry – Wonderful! What a great cheesy addition to this recipe :)

    • First time making it tonight for dinner. SO yummy!! I used ground turkey instead of lamb, and it was great. I also added a little sharp cheddar on top of the potatoes. I will definitely be making this again! 

      • Hi Alyssa – Congrats on making your first shepherd’s pie! I’m glad you enjoyed it so much and will be making it again :)

  22. Excellent recipe and so easy to sub an ingredient I didn’t have on hand. Will definitely make this again!

  23. Lisa, YOU ARE AMAZING!  Thank yo so much.  I love everyone of your recipes.  Everyone thinks I’m a great cook because of your site.  I love how simple and easy you make it.  I just made this late night with turkey and mash sweet potatoes and it was a great hit!  

  24. In an effort to cook something different and new  every other week this was just what me and me lady needed for these uncertain times /with a bit of an African/Ugandan  touch the flavors are to die for .EYALAMA (Thank you in Ateso ) 

    • Hi there – I’m so glad both of you enjoyed this shepherd’s pie! Can’t wait to see what you two whip up next :)

  25. Can you eat the filling before baking?

  26. Hi, I am making this now and realized I don’t have tomato paste. Can I do without it or substitute it?

  27. This was an easy, tasty dinner that my whole family enjoyed.

  28. I make this every other week with my partner and it tastes incredible. Thank you so much!

  29. Lisa:

    I prepared this just a few moments ago. I thought it was delicious; however, I used dried (rather than fresh) rosemary & thyme and in retrospect should have scaled back the quantities of those herbs…? My wife loved it but our three finicky little ones weren’t so fond of it…

    • Hi Edward- Sometimes the dried amount can be more than when you’re picking out fresh ones! But I’m glad you and your wife still enjoyed this one. Maybe cut back on the herbs a bit and I’m sure your kids will enjoy it too :)

  30. I made this delicious recipe recently, with a couple of modifications. I didn’t have lamb on hand, so I used ground turkey. Also added a tsp of poultry seasoning and it was so good. Definitely make this again! Love your recipes, working through some autoimmune diseases, appreciate your experience with them as well, and your reference to anti inflammatory foods, a big help! So grateful for your help!

    • Hi Teresa- I’m so glad you enjoyed this recipe with your few minor tweaks and additions. And that’s great! I hope I can provide new information and some inspiration when it comes to listening to your body and nourishing it with wholesome ingredients :)