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Best Classic Shepherd’s Pie Recipe

Shepherd’s Pie is a hearty and flavorful dish that combines meat, vegetables, gravy, and mashed potatoes into a comforting and satisfying one-dish meal.

Homemade Shepherd's Pie fresh from the oven with golden potato top.

What is Shepherd’s Pie?

Shepherd’s pie, also known as “cottage pie,” has its roots in the United Kingdom, where it first emerged in the late 18th century. Originally, the dish was created as a way for frugal housewives to repurpose their leftover roast meat, which would be minced and combined with seasonal vegetables before being topped with a layer of mashed potatoes.

The name “shepherd’s pie” likely comes from the fact that the dish often featured lamb or mutton, though today beef is a common substitute. Over time, shepherd’s pie has spread in popularity, making its way to kitchens and dinner tables around the world.

Authentic Shepherd’s Pie Recipe

Shepherd’s pie is prepared with minced lamb cooked in a thick stew with vegetables and topped with mashed potatoes. You bake this dish in the oven until the mashed potatoes develop a golden crust. If you’ve got any dietary restrictions, feel free to substitute mashed potatoes for mashed cauliflower.

You can easily customize Shepherd’s pie to suit individual tastes and dietary preferences. For example, you can use ground beef or other meats instead of lamb and add different types of vegetables and seasonings to the filling.

We love this dish because it’s versatile and can be adapted to suit different culinary traditions and personal preferences. 

You’ll also love my other pie recipes: chicken pot pie, sweet potato pie, pumpkin pie, chicken pie, beef pie, and other amazing recipes. They are all delicious!

Ingredients for Shepherd’s Pie

  • Mashed potatoes: The dish is topped with a generous layer of creamy mashed russet potatoes. Use Butter, milk, and seasonings like salt and pepper to flavor the mashed potatoes. For an extra touch of indulgence, mix some grated cheese or butter with the potatoes before spreading them on top.
  • Ground beef or lamb: Shepherd’s pie traditionally uses minced lamb, but you can also use ground beef as a substitute or variation.
  • Vegetables: Common shepherd pie vegetables include onions, carrots, and peas. However, you can certainly get creative with the mix. These veggies not only add color and texture to the dish, but they also provide essential nutrients to make it a well-rounded meal.
  • Herbs and spices: Various herbs and spices for filling include thyme, ginger, garlic, and rosemary, which add depth and aroma to the dish.
  • Olive oil: saute your ginger, garlic, and onions with olive oil to bring out the aromatic flavor.
  • Gravy: A rich gravy made with beef or vegetable broth, tomato paste, and Worcestershire sauce for flavor and thickened with flour or cornstarch to create a thick, savory sauce that coats the meat and vegetables.

How to make Shepherd’s pie

  • Make the mashed potatoes. 
  • Saute onions, garlic, and ginger, and Brown the ground beef.
  • Stir in the tomato paste and cook.
  • Pour in the broth, Worcestershire sauce, flour, frozen peas, and carrots. 
  • Bring to a simmer until the vegetables are tender and the sauce has thickened.
  • Transfer the meat mixture to a 9×13-inch baking dish and spread the mashed potatoes over the top.
  • Use a fork to create some texture on the surface of the mashed potatoes.
  • Place the shepherd’s pie in a 400°F preheated oven and bake until the potatoes are golden brown and the filling is bubbling.
  • Allow the shepherd’s pie to cool for a few minutes before serving.
Close-up of Shepherd's Pie slice revealing rich meat and veggie filling.

FAQs

Is Cottage pie the same as Shepherds pie?

Cottage pie and shepherd’s pie are similar recipes, although their meat is generally different. Cottage pie is made with minced beef as the major meat element, whereas shepherd’s pie is made with minced lamb. 

How can I thicken my shepherd’s pie?

You can use slurry to thicken the pie. To make a slurry, combine equal parts flour or cornstarch and water, broth, or other liquid. Mix the slurry into the heated Shepherd’s pie filling and let it thicken for a few minutes. The flour or cornstarch will act as a thickening agent, binding the excess liquid and creating a thicker consistency.

What is the best potato for shepherd’s pie?

Traditionally we use russet potatoes for Shepherd’s pie due to their high starch and low moisture content. Yukon Gold or red potatoes can also be used, depending on preference. Yukon Gold potatoes have a waxy texture and buttery flavor for a creamier and richer mashed potato topping.

Can I use leftover mashed potatoes?

Yes, you can definitely use leftover mashed potatoes to make Shepherd’s pie! In fact, using leftover mashed potatoes is a great way to repurpose leftovers and save time in the kitchen. 

Can I use other types of meat in the Shepherd’s Pie?

Absolutely! While traditional Shepherd’s Pie uses lamb and Cottage Pie uses beef, feel free to experiment with other meats such as ground turkey or chicken.

What other vegetables can I add to the Shepherd’s Pie?

You can certainly add other veggies to the meat filling, such as corn, diced bell peppers, or chopped celery. Just ensure they are chopped finely for the best texture.

Close-up of Shepherd's Pie

Tips for this recipe

  • When cooking the meat and vegetable filling, make sure to cook it thoroughly to ensure that the flavors melt together and the meat is cooked through. 
  • If you’re using minced meat with a higher fat content, such as beef, it’s important to drain any excess fat after browning the meat, and this will prevent the finished dish from being overly greasy.
  • Allow the shepherd’s pie to rest a few minutes after baking to set before serving. This will help it hold its shape when sliced and allow the flavors to meld together.
  • Drain any excess fat after browning the ground if it is more than one tablespoon.

Tools for making this recipe

  • Skillet or sauté pan
  • Wooden spoon or spatula
  • Baking dish
  • Oven 

Preparing ahead

You can prepare the pie filling in advance, including cooking meat, vegetables, and sauce, and then transfer it to an airtight container or frozen for up to 3 months. To assemble the pie, you can reheat it in a saucepan until heated and then proceed with assembling and baking as per the recipe instructions.

How to Store Shepherd’s Pie

To prevent moisture from drying out or absorbing smells, keep shepherd’s pie in a covered container with plastic wrap, aluminum foil, or an airtight container. You can refrigerate and keep it for up to 3-4 days. If you want to store shepherd’s pie for a longer period, you can freeze it for up to 2-3 months for best quality, then thaw it overnight in the refrigerator when you want to use it. Even though it may have a slightly different texture if it has dairy-based toppings, it is still safe to consume and tasty.

What to serve with The Best Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherd’s pie is a complete meal on its own, as it typically contains meat, vegetables, and mashed potatoes. However, if you’d like to serve additional dishes alongside shepherd’s pie to round out the meal, here are some ideas:

Other Amazing Recipes you might enjoy:

Homemade Shepherd's Pie fresh from the oven with golden potato top.

Shepherds Pie

Shepherd’s Pie is a hearty and flavorful dish that combines meat, vegetables, gravy, and mashed potatoes into a comforting and satisfying one-dish meal. It’s a versatile dish for kids and adults.
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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 368.2kcal

Equipment

  • Skillet or sauté pan
  • Wooden spoon or spatula
  • Baking dish
  • Oven

Ingredients

For the mashed potatoes

  • 2 pounds potatoes peeled and cubed
  • 1/2 cup half and half or milk
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the filling

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1 pound ground beef or lamb or mix both
  • 1 teaspoon thyme dried
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon bouillon powder
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour or cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3/4 to 1 cup beef broth or vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
  • 3-4 ribs celery medium diced
  • 1 cup peas and carrots
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • In a large pot, boil the potatoes in salted water until tender (about 20 minutes). Drain and mash together with the milk and butter until smooth—season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • In a large skillet, add the oil over medium-high heat. Add the diced onions and cook until tender (about 3 minutes). Add the minced garlic and ginger and cook for few seconds or until fragrant.
  • Add the ground beef (lamb), thyme, rosemary, bouillon powder, salt, and pepper to taste and brown over medium-high heat until no longer pink.
  • Stir in the tomato paste and cook for another 2 minutes.
  • Pour in the broth, Worcestershire sauce, flour, celery, frozen peas, and carrots. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5-10 minutes, until the vegetables are tender and the sauce has thickened slightly stirring occassionally—season with salt and pepper to taste if needed.
  • Transfer the meat mixture to a 9×13-inch baking dish and spread the mashed potatoes over the top.
  • You can create some texture or pattern on the surface of the mashed potatoes if desired.
  • Place the shepherd’s pie in a 400°F preheated oven and bake for 30-35 minutes or until the potatoes are golden brown and the filling is bubbling.
  • Allow the shepherd’s pie to cool for a few minutes before serving.

Notes

  • When cooking the meat and vegetable filling, make sure to cook it thoroughly to ensure that the flavors melt together and the meat is cooked through.
  • If you’re using minced meat with a higher fat content, such as beef, it’s important to drain any excess fat after browning the meat, and this will prevent the finished dish from being overly greasy.
  • Allow the shepherd’s pie to rest a few minutes after baking to set before serving. This will help it hold its shape when sliced and allow the flavors to meld together.
  • Drain any excess fat after browning the ground if it is more than one tablespoon.

Nutrition

Calories: 368.2kcal | Carbohydrates: 9.4g | Protein: 15.8g | Fat: 30g | Saturated Fat: 12.8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1.4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 12.7g | Trans Fat: 1.2g | Cholesterol: 80.8mg | Sodium: 411.9mg | Potassium: 446.4mg | Fiber: 1.8g | Sugar: 2.7g | Vitamin A: 2709.3IU | Vitamin C: 6.9mg | Calcium: 64.8mg | Iron: 2.3mg

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Je

Friday 4th of August 2023

Hi,m Can anyone tell me is Orrington Farms Beef Flavored Broth Base & Seasoning Jar, be the same thing as "bouillon powder"?

Lola Osinkolu

Friday 5th of January 2024

Yes, you can use that brand. I apologize for the late response.