Crazy delicious and hearty Shepherd’s Pie. Flavorful meat and vegetables in a rich gravy topped with cheesy mashed potatoes and baked until golden, this is the only Shepherd’s Pie recipe you’ll ever need for an awesome dinner!
This is pure comfort food, top to bottom..literally. With a rich meat base and a golden crust made of mashed potatoes, this is a stick-to-your-ribs meal. And it never disappoints!
What is Shepherd’s Pie?
Shepherd’s pie is really a ground meat casserole topped with a mashed potato crust. It’s of English and Irish origin, but is super popular in the United States now with many variations.
What’s in Shepherd’s Pie?
Shepherd’s pie is made with ground meat and chopped up vegetables, which is simmered in a rich gravy, then topped with mashed potatoes and baked. In England, they almost always use ground lamb, whereas Americans usually make it with ground beef (which is technically Cottage Pie.) And I won’t be the least bit offended if you call one the other. Both delicious and easily interchangeable.
Does Shepherd’s Pie have cheese on top? Traditionally, a Shepherd’s Pie is not topped with cheese, but I always mix some shredded cheddar cheese into the mashed potatoes. Because, of course. Cheese makes it that much more delicious!
Shepherd’s Pie Recipe
Shepherd’s Pie can take some time to make and assemble, but many of the layers can be made ahead of time and it’s also a great way to use up leftovers, which is how this dish originally came to be. (Scroll below for the detailed printable.)
- Meat – traditionally, ground lamb is used for this dish and how I’ve written it so I don’t ruffle feathers of any purists. But I always use ground beef (aka cottage pie.) It’s cheaper and way more readily available. Use whichever!
- Vegetables – onion, carrots, and peas are my trio of choice. Plus garlic. I usually use fresh veggies, but you can easily use mixed frozen vegetables, too. You could also add in some corn, if you like.
- Gravy – the rich sauce is made up of beef broth, red wine, Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, and seasonings. It’s so delish!
- Potatoes – I prefer peeled Yukon gold potatoes because they’re so buttery. If I’ve got leftover mashed potatoes, it’s usually a struggle to decide on using them for mashed potato cakes, homemade Pierogi, or this dish.
- Extras – mustard, butter, half n half, cheddar cheese, and scallions get mixed into the mashed potatoes for awesome flavor.
How to Make Shepherd’s Pie
Making this Shepherd’s Pie recipe is actually incredibly easy, without the need for special equipment or skills. But there are 5 steps that make it a little time consuming. You’ve got to chop the vegetables, cook the meat mixture, make the mashed potatoes, assemble the casserole, and bake it. To make it easier, you can prep all of the components ahead of time. (If you’d rather bypass these helpful tips, scroll below for the detailed printable.)
How to Make Shepherd’s Pie Easy:
- Prep the vegetables – If using fresh onions, carrots, and garlic, you can prep these up to 2 days ahead of time. Keep them in the fridge in an airtight container. The frozen peas are already done. If using mixed frozen veggies, you’re good to go.
- Cook the filling – you can cook the filling up to 2 days in advance. Allow to cool and then store in the fridge in an airtight container.
- Make the mashed potatoes – these can also be made up to 2 days in advance. Again, allow to cool and then store in the fridge in an airtight container.
- Assemble – if making the filling and mashed potatoes ahead of time, I recommend storing them separately, then assembling right before baking. However, you can assemble the entire dish up to 1 day in advance. Cover and keep in the refrigerator, then on the day you plan to serve it, leave on the counter for at least 30 minutes so it starts to reach room temperature, uncover, and bake.
- Bake – this particular recipe fills a 3 quart casserole dish to the rim. If you’re concerned about juices bubbling over into your oven, place the dish on a parchment-lined baking sheet and then bake.
How to layer Shepherd’s Pie: I always put the meat filling layer on the bottom and top with the mashed potatoes, but I do know some people put the potatoes on the bottom and also the top. I think I’ll try that sometime!
How long to bake Shepherd’s Pie? If you’re cooking the filling and assembling this dish right before baking, it only takes 20 minutes to bake. However, if you made it ahead of time and has been in the fridge, then it will need to sit out for at least 30 minutes and then bakes for 35-40 minutes, covered for the first half or so. If it was frozen, it will need to be thawed overnight in the fridge, then bake at 350 degrees F (covered) for 45 minutes, uncover and continue baking for another 15 minutes.
Store leftovers in the fridge: stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, leftovers will keep 3-4 days.
How to reheat: large portions can be reheated in a 350 degree F oven for 10-15 minutes, or until warmed through.
Can You Freeze Shepherd’s Pie? Definitely! This dish is very freezer-friendly. Make sure all the layers have cooled completely, then wrap the casserole dish tightly in plastic wrap and then again in foil. It will keep for up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
What to Serve with Shepherd’s Pie
Because of the meat filling loaded with vegetables and the layer of mashed potatoes, this dish is pretty substantial and filling on its own, but I often serve it with one or two of these sides to round out the meal:
Watch it Being Made
- 2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes , peeled, cut into large chunks
- 1 1/2 pounds lean ground lamb (or ground beef AKA Cottage Pie)
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium sweet onion , diced
- 2 large carrots , diced
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- Few grinds of pepper
- 2 cloves garlic , finely diced
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 3/4 cup red wine
- 1 cup low-sodium beef broth
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 2/3 cup half n half
- Salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 2 scallions , diced small
- 3/4 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
- Cover the potatoes with cold water in a large pot; season with salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until tender; 15-20 minutes
- In the meantime, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat; stir in the onion and carrots. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until tender, about 6 minutes.
- Increase heat to medium-high and add in the lamb. Cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon until no pink remains; about 5 minutes. Drain fat and season with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and a few grinds of pepper.
- Stir in the garlic and thyme; cook until fragrant.
- Make space in the center; add the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the Worcestershire and wine; simmer until skillet is nearly dry, about 2 minutes.
- Add the beef broth and simmer until the mixture is saucy, 4-5 minutes.
- Stir in 1/2 cup frozen peas.
- Transfer to a greased 3-quart baking dish.
- Drain the potatoes and return to pot; add the butter and half n half; mash well. Season with salt and pepper and add in the mustard, scallions, and cheddar cheese.
- Spread the potatoes over the meat with the back of a spoon, then make ridges with the tines of a fork.
- Bake at 425 degrees F until the toping is golden, about 20-25 minutes.
- Let cool at least 10 minutes before serving (If you cut into it too soon, everything will collapse. It needs a little time to set.)
- Eat and enjoy!