Shepherd’s Pie is a traditional recipe packed with comforting ingredients and is surprisingly easy to make. Ground beef is seasoned with herbs and mixed with vegetables and then topped with a thick and filling layer of creamy mashed potatoes. This cozy dinner is perfect for a Fall or Winter night and is also super kid-friendly.

A large white dish full of Shepherd's Pie.

When you think of comfort food, you likely think of a few dishes.

Chicken Noodle Soup…

Meatloaf…

And of course, Shepherd’s Pie.

This dish is from the United Kingdom and is sometimes called cottage pie.

Unfortunately, some versions of this dish turn out bland, but that’s definitely not the case with this recipe.

Thanks to a few special ingredients, this classic dish gets a flavor upgrade.

And don’t worry if you’re gluten-free or dairy-free, I have a few EASY substitutions so you can enjoy it, too!

If you are looking for a fun and super delicious twist, try this Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie.

Or give one of these other comfort dishes, like Air Fryer Meatloaf or Instant Pot Chicken Soup, a shot.

Ground beef, potatoes, broth, vegetables, and seasonings are the ingredients for Shepherd's Pie.

Ingredients

To make this Shepherd’s Pie recipe you need:

  • Potatoes. You want a starchy potato, like Russet. Red potatoes or Yukon gold will work, but are a waxy variety and the texture will be affected.
  • Milk. This is essential for a creamy mashed potato! You can use regular, oat, soy, or cashew, whatever you prefer. Go for full fat if possible.
  • Ground beef. Look for a lean fat ratio, like 90/10 or 93/7. If it’s too fatty, the filling will be runny. If needed, you can sub in ground turkey, venison, or ground lamb.
  • Tomato paste. This addition is used to add flavor and thicken the filling. Avoid subbing with tomato sauce or diced tomatoes.
  • Flour. Also used to thicken the sauce. You can use all-purpose, or a gluten-free 1-to-1 blend.
  • Broth. While beef broth adds the most flavor, you can also use chicken or vegetable broth.
  • Worcestershire sauce. This gives the dish that indescribable umami flavor.
  • Dried herbs. Thyme, rosemary, and parsley are all included in the filling. You can use fresh herbs, but you will need 2-3 times more.
  • Frozen vegetables. Look for a traditional mix of corn, peas, and carrots.

How to Make Shepherd’s Pie

The basic steps for making this classic Shepherd’s Pie recipe are simple to follow:

Prep the Potatoes

Rinse the potatoes and scrub them under running water to get rid of any visible dirt.

With a vegetable peeler, remove the skins.

Roughly cut the potatoes into 1-inch chunks. They don’t have to be exactly 1-inch, but the closer they are to the same size the more evenly they’ll cook.

Cook and Mash

Place the potatoes in a large pot or Dutch oven, then add enough water to cover everything with at least one inch extra. Sprinkle in a tablespoon or so of salt.

Bring the water to a rolling boil. Then, reduce the heat to low. Allow the potatoes to simmer for 10 minutes. They are done when you can easily pierce them with a fork.

Drain the potatoes in a colander in the sink and then add them back to the pot.

Pour in the milk, butter, Parmesan cheese, salt, black pepper, and garlic powder. Use a potato masher to mash all of the ingredients together until the mixture is smooth and creamy with very few chunks left.

Set the pot of mashed potatoes aside.

Brown the Meat

Take your frozen vegetables out of the freezer and allow them to thaw while you are making the filling.

Place a large skillet or saucepan with oil over medium or medium-high heat. Add the diced onion and celery and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes. Then, add in minced garlic and continue cooking for another 30 seconds.

Push all of the vegetables to the side of the skillet. Add the ground beef and cook for 7 to 8 minutes, still over medium heat. You don’t want to see any pink remaining.

Use the potato masher again to break the meat into small pieces.

Make the Gravy

Keep the heat at medium on your stovetop.

Add the tomato paste, flour, Worcestershire sauce, herbs, salt, and pepper into the vegetable and meat mixture. Stir everything well.

Carefully pour in the beef broth and mix the filling together. Reduce the heat to low and allow the mixture to simmer for another 10 minutes.

During this time, the gravy should thicken and no longer be runny.

When there is about 2 minutes left, mix in the frozen vegetables.

Add to Pan

Use a 7 x 10-inch baking or casserole dish. Spray it well with non-stick cooking spray.

First, add in the meat mixture. Use a spoon or spatula to evenly spread it out to each corner and across the middle.

Then, carefully drop dollops of mashed potatoes across the top of the filling. Use a spatula to spread out the potatoes until there is an even layer covering the meat.

For a fancy look, use your spatula to make little peaks in the potatoes. These will brown up beautifully when baking.

Bake, Rest, and Serve

Preheat the oven to 400℉.

Place the Shepherd’s pie in the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Watch for the edges to turn brown.

If you want an extra crispy topping, turn on the broiler for a few minutes at the end. But DON’T walk away, it will burn quickly.

Remove the dish from the oven and let it rest for 10 to 20 minutes. This allows the gravy to thicken back up.

When you are ready to enjoy, serve a big helping in a bowl with a sprinkle of fresh parsley!

A casserole dish full of savory Shepherd's Pie.

Meal Prep and Storage

  • To Prep-Ahead: The day before, you can chop the veggies and make the mashed potatoes, just keep them separate until you’re ready to put the Shepherd’s pie together.
  • To Store: Keep leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 to 5 days.
  • To Freeze: You can freeze this dish in individual-sized portions for easy use. First chill it in the refrigerator, then tightly wrap and seal pieces and freeze for up to 3 months.
  • To Reheat: Warm this dish back up in a 350°F oven until completely heated through. Or, use the microwave.

Dietary Modifications

Here are some adjustments and substitutions you can make to the recipe to help it fit your dietary requirements:

  • Gluten-Free. Choose a gluten-free 1-to-1 blend for the flour.
  • Dairy-Free. Opt for a dairy-free variety, like oat, soy, or cashew. Skip the butter and use a on-dairy butter alternative, as well.
  • Whole30. Skip the butter and Parmesan and use compliant substitutes like coconut oil.
Crispy and golden mashed potatoes in Shepherd's Pie.

FAQs

What is traditional Shepherd’s Pie made of?

Shepherd’s Pie is usually a seasoned meat and vegetable gravy filling topped with creamy mashed potatoes.

Where is Shepherd’s Pie originally from?

Shepherd’s Pie is a common and inexpensive dish from Scotland and Northern England.

Where did Shepherd’s Pie get its name?

Traditionally, this dish was made with mutton, or lamb. It is also from an area in the United Kingdom with many shepherds and sheep farms.

Expert Tips and Tricks

  • Same size. To ensure the potatoes cook evenly, chop them into similarly-sized pieces.
  • Save time. You can easily make the mashed potatoes the day before!
  • Give it a crumble. Take time to thoroughly mash the beef so there are no big chunks. Use a potato masher to get the job done.
  • Simmer down. Don’t skip the 10 minutes over low heat. This is where the sauce thickens and gets the perfect consistency.
  • Peaks and valleys. Use the spatula to create little ridges in the mashed potatoes. These brown up beautifully and really enhance the presentation.
Shepherd's Pie is a warm and cozy meal for Fall and WInter.

What to Serve with Shepherd’s Pie?

While this dish doesn’t really need anything else, you can try it with one of these recipes:

More Comfort Food Recipes

If you are looking for more cozy meals to add to your recipe book, give one of these a shot next:

Tap stars to rate!

5 from 2 votes

Traditional Shepherd’s Pie Recipe

Shepherd's Pie is a traditional recipe packed with comforting ingredients and is surprisingly easy to make. Ground beef is seasoned with herbs and mixed with vegetables and then topped with a thick and filling layer of creamy mashed potatoes.
Yield 8 servings
Prep 30 minutes
Cook 30 minutes
Total 1 hour
An image of an envelope sealed shut with the Evolving Table logo.

Email this recipe!

Enter your email and we’ll send it directly to you.

Ingredients 

Potato Topping:

  • 1 ½ lbs. russet potatoes
  • ½ cup milk full-fat, regular or plant-based
  • 4 Tbsp. butter or oil
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese grated
  • 1 tsp. salt to taste
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper
  • ¼ tsp. garlic powder

Ground Meat Filling:

  • 2 Tbsp. oil avocado or olive
  • 1 cup sweet onion finely diced
  • 3 ribs celery finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic finely minced
  • 1 ½ lbs. ground beef 85/15 or 90/10
  • 3 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 2 Tbsp. flour or a gluten-free 1-to-1 blend
  • 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 ½ cups beef broth regular sodium
  • ¾ tsp. each of thyme rosemary, parsley, dried
  • 1 tsp. salt to taste
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper
  • 1 ½ cups frozen mixed vegetables thawed

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Rinse and scrub potatoes to remove any visible dirt and then peel using a vegetable peeler. Cut them into roughly 1-inch chunks.
  • Add the potatoes to a large Dutch oven or pot and then cover the potatoes with at least 1-inch of water. Sprinkle in a pinch or two of salt and bring the water to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and keep a rapid simmer for 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork tender.
  • Once cooked, drain the potatoes in a colander in the sink and then add them back to the pot along with the milk, butter, Parmesan cheese, ¾-1 teaspoon of salt, to taste, ¼ teaspoon of black pepper, and ¼ teaspoon of garlic powder. Using a potato masher, mash all of this together until it’s smooth and creamy with very little chunks remaining. Set this aside until you’re ready to use it.
  • Add oil to a large skillet or saucepan along with the diced onion and celery. Saute over medium for 3-4 minutes and then add in 3 cloves of finely minced garlic. Continue sauteeing for an additional 30 seconds or until the garlic becomes fragrant.
  • Push the vegetables to the side of the skillet and add the ground beef. Cook for 7-8 minutes over medium heat, or until there is no pink remaining. Use a potato masher to tenderize the meat and break it apart into finer crumbles.
  • Add in the tomato paste, flour, Worcestershire sauce, herbs, salt, pepper. Mix this all together until well combined.
  • Pour in the beef broth, reduce the heat to low, and let the mixture simmer for about 10 minutes or until it has thickened up and is no longer runny.
  • During the last 2 minutes of cooking, stir in the previously frozen and now thawed mixed vegetables.
  • Spray a 7 x 10-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray and then add in the ground meat filling, spreading it out to cover the bottom of the dish. Then place dollops of the mashed potatoes on top, evenly spaced. Use a spatula to spread this out to completely cover the ground meat layer. Use the side of the spatula to make little peaks in the potatoes if you’d like some of the edges to crisp up in the oven.
  • Bake the shepherd’s pie in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the edges begin to brown slightly. You can also pop it under a broiler for a few minutes at the end to get an extra crispy topping.
  • Let it rest at room temperature for 10-20 minutes in order for the ground meat filling to thicken back up.
  • Serve it with a sprinkle of finely chopped fresh parsley and enjoy!
Last step! If you make this, please leave a review letting us know how it was!

Tap stars to rate!

5 from 2 votes

Video

Notes

Meal Prep and Storage

  • To Prep-Ahead: The day before, you can chop the veggies and make the mashed potatoes, just keep them separate until you’re ready to make the Shepherd’s pie.
  • To Store: Keep leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 to 5 days.
  • To Freeze: You can freeze this dish in individual-sized portions for easy use. First, chill it in the refrigerator, then tightly wrap and seal pieces and freeze for up to 3 months.
  • To Reheat: Warm this dish back up in a 350°F oven until completely heated through. Or, use the microwave.

Nutrition

Calories: 438kcal, Carbohydrates: 27g, Protein: 20g, Fat: 28g, Saturated Fat: 11g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 12g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 78mg, Sodium: 839mg, Potassium: 884mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 2057IU, Vitamin C: 12mg, Calcium: 100mg, Iron: 4mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Made this recipe?Leave a comment below!
5 Secrets to Healthier Family Dinners
Tips & recipes for getting yummy — and healthy — meals on the table.

You May Also Like

Thanks for
Stopping By!

I’m London! Join me as we cook up nourishing meals for you and your loved ones and learn a few healthy cooking tips and tricks!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating