Shepherd’s Pie

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 1800s. I guess some things just never change, ha! Ground meat, mirepoix vegetables, and mashed potatoes were common ingredients and dishes served. So I’m sure they thought, why not combine them together 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 colcannon), this was the way to go.

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. 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 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, 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 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: Simply follow my mashed potatoes recipe for deliciously fluffy and whipped spuds.

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.

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. 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.

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:

Shepherd’s Pie Recipe Video

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

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!

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

Easy Shepherd’s Pie Recipe

4.99 from 100 votes
Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 40 mins
Total Time: 1 hr
Servings: 6 servings
Author: Lisa Bryan
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 above to cook along with me!

Ingredients

Potato Topping

  • 2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • ½ cup milk
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 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
©Downshiftology. Content and photographs are copyright protected. Sharing of this recipe is both encouraged and appreciated. Copying and/or pasting full recipes to any social media is strictly prohibited.
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Originally posted December 2019, but updated to include new information.

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246 comments on “Shepherd’s Pie”

  1. Best pie I ever made, only drifted from the recipe here and there. Saving this one!!5 stars

  2. This was a great and easy recipe to make. A huge bonus was that my very picky as of late nine-year-old gobbled it up! I think next time I will try with mushrooms and lentils or meat free Mondays. Thanks for a great recipe!5 stars

  3. Delicious! I was looking for something to make with ground beef and potatoes and this is the first recipe I found on Pinterest. Your photos made it look so good I decided to make it. I didn’t have thyme or celery so I substituted for savory and mushrooms. 5 stars

  4. Hello Lisa
    I love to make this recipe.. i also love making your recipes.. easy and yummy… 😁
    Is it possible to replace beef broth with water?
    I dont have fresh herbs, can be replaced with dried one? If so how much to use?
    What about the Worcestershire sauce? ( i dont have it where i live).

    Thank you 🌹
    Rasha

    • Yes, you can use beef broth instead! For the herbs, the general rule of is to use one-third the amount of dried herb for the fresh herb. For the Worcestershire sauce, I have a few links in the post where you can order it from!

  5. Hello,

    This was tonight’s dinner. I saw it yesterday and made it today. Big hit! Thank you, Lisa!5 stars

  6. Can this be frozen & cooked later?

  7. Hi! I’ve made this recipe before with ground beef and it was delicious. This time around, I want to use up my lentils and mushrooms. How much of each should I use in place of the meat?
    Thanks for all of the wonderful recipes 😋

  8. Super fun to make with the kids, and it’s delicious!5 stars

  9. Made this with my 14 year old brother who is new to cooking! It was super easy for him to follow 5 stars

  10. I should also mention that I have used bacon fat in place of butter in potato recipes. Give that a try if dairy upsets your tummy like it does mine!

  11. Pre COVID, a coworker had brought one in for a potluck and it was the first dish to go. Recently, I’ve been craving that dish and the weekly recipe email made me want it even more! I decided to prep it for my week’s lunch today and it was so much easier to make than I thought. I just had a bite and it’s super delicious. I will definitely be making it again! I did want to point out that in the video you say to use 1/2 cup of butter for the mashed potatoes while the written recipe says 1/4 of a cup. I followed the written recipe first and noticed the taste was a bit off and then watched the video. I added the extra 1/4 of a cup of butter and they were perfect! Thanks for the amazing recipe! Can’t wait for your cookbook!5 stars

  12. Thank you for answering my question as far as making ahead of time but I do have two other questions real quick. One do I have to use fresh thyme? I think I’ve made it without fresh time before. Also can I use the frozen peas and carrots that come already prepared in a bag or does it have to be the fresh carrots with the frozen peas. Thanks so much for your time. I’m going to make this tonight for Sunday because tomorrow I will be away all day. Thank you in advance

    • You can use dried thyme if that’s what you have on hand. As for the frozen peas and carrots – that’s no problem!

  13. Very good
    shepherd´s pie recipe. Very clear and with great pictures. Thanks for sharing.5 stars

  14. This recipe is absolutely delicious but I do have a question. Can I make the day before and then cook it the next day? Thank you

    • 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.

  15. Very hearty and comforting, but also light and healthy…. My favourite combo 😉 My partner and I had it for dinner and there was plenty of leftovers for the next night. It was almost better the next day.  Only change we made was adding a little bit of shredded cheese on the top. Thanks for the great recipe, Lisa! 5 stars

  16. Very good recipe. Easy for a novice cook. I added green pepper and it worked well.5 stars

  17. Very tasty on a cold night. Easy to follow directions and its nice she offers up variations for other dietary plans.5 stars

  18. If we’re using lentils/mushrooms instead of lamb, do we use the same amount (lbs/oz wise)? And would vegetable broth be best in that case? It certainly looks delicious!

  19. This recipe came out amazing and pretty easy to make! I used my instant pot to make my potatoes and added red wine for some additional flavor. Will make again!5 stars

  20. Another winner…thank you Lisa! 😘

  21. Loved the recipe! I am gluten free and appreciated the tips you gave to ensure it is GF. Also made it with impossible meat, my wife couldn’t recognize the difference. Used frozen veggies for a time saver. Will absolutely make it again! 

  22. Can I leave out the Worcestershire sauce? I am making this today. Hopefully it will turn out without the sauce because I don’t have any. 

  23. How would I go about making this ahead of time? Should I wait to add on the mashed potatoes until I bake or can I combine and let the mixture cool before storing?

    • 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.

  24. Hi Lisa, 

    Where can I buy this pot you are using with this recipe?

    Thank you!5 stars

  25. Excellent!!  I didnt use quite a teaspoon of salt and it was plenty.  5 stars

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