Make the best ever Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie for a comforting meal with this easy recipe! The traditional filling of ground beef, carrots, corn, and peas in a thick sauce is topped with healthy mashed sweet potatoes. This simple yet hearty dish is perfect for family dinners, or even meal prep since it freezes beautifully!
There are a few traditional dishes that always come to mind when someone mentions comfort food…
So when the first cool front of the season blew in, I immediately had a hankering for shepherd’s pie. When I looked in my pantry I had almost all of the ingredients on hand… except for those potatoes.
But what I did have?! Sweet Potatoes!!
And friends… what a successful swap it was!!
The subtly sweet addition of sweet potatoes balances out the savory ground beef and vegetable filling tremendously well.
Not to mention this sweet potato shepherd’s pie is also a bit healthier for you since the potatoes pack in more antioxidants in their orange-colored flesh.
The process is simple enough to follow that you can make it on any ole’ weeknight, or even whip it up when you want to impress some dinner guests!
What is Shepherd’s Pie?
Sometimes called cottage pie, shepherd’s pie is a classic comfort food that originated in the United Kingdom. The casserole-style dish generally consists of ground meat in a gravy topped with mashed potatoes. There are many variations of the recipe that include different meats or veggies. This particular recipes uses nutritious sweet potatoes in place of the usual mashed potatoes.
The simple ingredients you need to make this sweet potato shepherd’s pie recipe include:
- Sweet potatoes. Measure out exactly 1 ½ pounds of either garnet or jewel sweet potatoes. For a traditional shepherd’s pie use russet potatoes instead.
- Milk. This makes creamy mashed sweet potatoes. Choose regular, oat, soy, or cashew milk. Full fat is ideal for the best taste and texture.
- Ground beef. Find a fat ratio of 90/10 or 93/7. You don’t want it too fatty or it will be runny. Beef tastes amazing, but you can swap it out for ground turkey or even lamb.
- Tomato paste. In addition to adding a nice depth of flavor, this thickens the sauce. Do not substitute with tomato sauce or diced tomatoes.
- Flour. A must to assist with the thickness of the sauce. A gluten-free 1-to-1 blend or all-purpose flour will both work.
- Broth. Beef broth is recommended, but chicken or vegetable broth are other options.
- Worcestershire sauce. For the perfect umami feel, don’t forget this condiment!
- Dried herbs. Thyme, rosemary, and parsley are all included in the filling.
- Frozen vegetables. Pick a mix of corn, peas, and carrots.
How to Make Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie
The basic steps for making sweet potato shepherd’s pie are simple to follow. Please see the recipe card below for more detailed ingredient amounts.
Prep the Potatoes
Use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin from the potatoes.
Cut them into uniform 1-inch cubes. If you make the chunks larger they will take longer to cook.
Add peeled and cubed sweet potatoes to a large pot, cover with 1 inch of cold water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer (uncovered) and cook for 10-12 minutes, or until they pierce easily with a fork.
Drain the cooked potatoes in a colander.
Mash the Potatoes
Return the potatoes to the pot that you used for boiling. Mash the potatoes along with melted butter, milk, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. A potato masher or fork works well for this.
Alternatively, you can add the ingredients to the bowl of a food processor and puree for 20-30 seconds. (This makes the topping silky smooth and is what I prefer to do!)
Set aside until you’re ready to use them.
Make the Ground Beef Filling
Sauté the onion and celery in a skillet over medium-heat for 3-4 minutes. Mix in the garlic and cook for an additional minute.
Add the ground beef to the pan and cook for 7-8 minutes or until it is completely cooked. Break apart the meat with a potato masher into fine crumbles.
Mix in the tomato paste and flour. Pour in the Worcestershire sauce and ½ cup of broth. Simmer until the sauce begins to thicken and then add in the remaining broth in ¼ cup increments, waiting between each addition for the sauce to thicken up.
Toss in the herbs, salt, pepper, and frozen mixed vegetables and continue simmering until they’re heated through.
Layer it Up
Spray an 11×7-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray and pour in the ground beef filling so it covers the bottom. Place dollops of the mashed sweet potatoes all over and then spread it over the base. Leave some peaks of mashed potatoes if you’d like for the topping to get slightly crispy.
Bake in Oven
Place in a preheated 400°F oven and bake for 25-30 minutes. At the very end you can pop it under the broiler if you want crispier potatoes.
Meal Prep and Storage
- To Prep-Ahead: Chop the veggies, cook and mash the potatoes, and refrigerate in separate containers one day in advance. You can also measure out and mix the dried herbs, just keep them at room temperature.
- To Store: Place leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-5 days.
- To Freeze: If you are freezing in individual portions make sure to chill it in the fridge first, as it will hold together better when cutting. Then seal in a freezer-safe airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months.
- To Reheat: Bake in a 350°F oven until heated through. You can also microwave the leftovers.
Here are some adjustments and substitutions you can make to the recipe to help it fit your dietary requirements:
- Gluten-Free – Select a gluten-free 1-to-1 blend for the four.
- Dairy-Free – Use a dairy-free milk such as oat, soy, or cashew milk. Also substitute the butter for a non-dairy butter alternative.
- Vegetarian – Swap out the beef for your favorite plant-based alternative, or add in extra veggies. Mushrooms would add a great meaty texture.
- Vegan – Choose dairy-free milk and butter, and omit the beef. Find a vegan meat alternative or include mushrooms instead.
You sure can! Just swap out the sweet potatoes for russet potatoes.
Yes, any ground meat can be substituted for the beef.
For a quick and easy topping for your shepherd’s pie, instant potatoes may be used.
While this recipe packs in load of healthy nutrients from all the veggies, shepherd’s pie can contain a relatively high amount of fat. Select lean ground beef and low-fat milk to reduce the fat content.
Expert Tips and Tricks
- Similar in size. Cut the potatoes uniformly before boiling so they cook evenly.
- Prep ahead. Make the mashed sweet potatoes one day in advance.
- Mash it good. Break up the beef into fine crumbles using a potato masher.
- Let it thicken. Take the time to let the sauce simmer between additions of broth to ensure the right consistency.
- Leave some peaks. Achieve a crispier topping by creating ridges in the mashed potatoes.
More Cozy Comfort Food Recipes
Snuggle up with any of these tasty dishes:
Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie
Make the best ever Sweet Potato Shepherd's Pie for a comforting meal with this easy recipe! This simple yet filling dish is perfect for family dinners, or even meal prep since it freezes beautifully!
Mashed Sweet Potatoes:
- 1 ½ lbs. sweet potatoes peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 4 Tbsp. butter melted
- ½ cup milk oat or cashew milk
- ¾ tsp. salt to taste
- ¼ tsp. black pepper to taste
- ⅛ tsp. garlic powder
Ground Beef Filling:
- 2 Tbsp. oil olive or avocado
- 1 cup sweet onion finely chopped
- 2 celery ribs finely diced
- 3 cloves garlic finely minced
- 1 ½ lbs. ground beef 90/10 or 93/7
- 3 Tbsp. tomato paste
- 2 Tbsp. all purpose flour or a gluten-free 1-to-1 blend
- 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 1 ½ cups beef broth regular sodium
- ¾ tsp. each of dried thyme rosemary, and parsley
- ¾ tsp. salt to taste
- ¼ tsp. black pepper to taste
- 1 ½ cups frozen mixed vegetables
Add peeled and cubed sweet potatoes to a large pot and then cover with 1 inch of cold water. Bring the potatoes to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 10-12 minutes, uncovered. Once the potatoes pierce easily with a fork, drain them in a colander in the sink.
Add the cooked potatoes back to the pot along with the butter, milk, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Mash with a potato masher or fork until your desired consistency is reached. Alternatively, you can add the ingredients to the bowl of a food processor and puree for 20-30 seconds.
Place a large skillet over medium heat and add oil, onion, and celery. Cook for 3-4 minutes and then add garlic. Continue cooking for 1 minute.
Push vegetables to the side and add ground beef. Cook for 7-8 minutes, or until it is cooked through. Mash the beef with a potato masher to get fine crumbles.
Mix in tomato paste and flour. Pour in Worcestershire sauce and ½ cup of broth. Simmer until the sauce begins to thicken and then add in the remaining broth in ¼ cup increments, waiting between each addition for the sauce to thicken up.
Add herbs, salt, pepper, and frozen mixed vegetables and continue simmering until they’re heated through.
Spray an 11×7-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray and spread out the ground beef filling in the bottom. Place dollops of the mashed sweet potatoes all over and then spread it to cover the filling. Leave some peaks of mashed potatoes if you’d like for the topping to get slightly crispy.
Bake the shepherd’s pie in a 400 degree oven for 25-30 minutes. Add it to a high broiler for 2-3 minutes at the end to get the topping extra crispy.
Serve with a sprinkle of parsley and enjoy!