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This is the Best Shepherd’s Pie Recipe, made easy with golden cheesy mashed potatoes and a beefy cooked filling with veggies and seasonings that are pure comfort food for any night. Not just for St. Patrick’s Day, this homemade shepherd’s pie is a delicious recipe with full flavor that is sure to be a family favorite.

A slice of Shepherd's Pie on a dark grey plate.

Shepherd’s Pie vs Cottage Pie

Shepherd’s Pie and Cottage Pie are both British comfort dishes. Shepherd’s Pie, originating from Scotland and Northern England, features minced lamb as its primary ingredient, reflecting its name’s association with shepherds tending to sheep. The Irish began topping it with a layer of creamy mashed potatoes.

Cottage Pie hailing from England, substitutes minced beef for the lamb, reflecting its historical roots in rural cottage life where beef was more readily available.

While the terms “Shepherd’s Pie” and “Cottage Pie” are often used interchangeably (especially outside of the UK), purists emphasize the distinction based on the type of meat used. Here in the U.S., we usually call it Shepherd’s Pie even though technically it is Cottage Pie.

Whatever you call it – it sure has become a St. Patrick’s Day Menu staple!

Ingredient Notes

Labeled ingredients needed to make shepherd's pie recipe

Mashed Potato Layer

  • Potatoes: Use russet potatoes or Yukon gold potatoes washed, peeled, and cubed into one-inch chunks.
  • Butter: Who makes mashed potatoes without butter?
  • Parmesan Cheese: Make them cheesy good with a bit of parmesan!
  • Milk and Sour Cream: Whole milk and sour cream make the potatoes creamy good.
  • Seasonings: I use salt, pepper, and garlic powder for seasoning this recipe.

Meat Filling Layer

  • Ground Beef and Fat: Once you brown the ground beef, reserve some of the fat for later use.
  • Onion: I use a yellow, but a white onion will do the trick just as well.
  • Carrots: Wash, peel, and dice the carrots. 
  • Garlic: Whole garlic cloves are minced and added at the end of the saute process for the best flavor. 
  • Wine: Use your favorite red wine or a cooking wine.
  • Flour: Use all-purpose flour or swap for a gluten-free flour blend. I recommend King Arthur’s Gluten-Free Measure for Measure.
  • Tomato Paste:  Add depth of flavor with tomato paste.
  • Worcestershire Sauce: Step up the savory taste with Worcestershire.
  • Salt and Pepper: Use them to season the meat to taste.
  • Dried Herbs: Use dried parsley, thyme, and rosemary for the perfect flavor combination.
  • Beef Broth: Broth makes the meat gravy come alive.
  • Peas: Use a cup of frozen peas.

How to Make Classic Shepherd’s Pie Recipe

Be sure to see the recipe card below for exact ingredients and full recipe instructions!

Step 1 | Mashed Potatoes

Place your peeled and cubed potatoes in a medium pot and then cover them with water. Place the pot on the stove on high heat and boil them until fork tender.

Once your potatoes are soft, drain the water and return the potatoes to the empty pot.

Next, add all the listed mashed potato ingredients and mash with a potato masher until everything is combined and the butter is melted. Mash until smooth. Try to avoid overmixing, or the potatoes will become like glue. Set aside.

Cubed potatoes boiling in a pot until soft, then drained and butter, sour cream, cheese, salt, pepper and milk added.

Step 2 | Ground Beef Mixture

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cook the ground beef in a large skillet on medium-high heat and remove it when done. Pour 2 tablespoons of the grease into a measuring cup and reserve it. Then, drain any excess grease from the ground beef on a plate lined with paper towels.

In the same large sauté pan on medium heat, add your reserved beef grease and fresh veggies. Sauté with a wooden spoon until the onion is translucent and the carrots are soft.

Carrots and onions sautéing in a pan until softened and then garlic added.

Then, add the minced garlic for an additional minute.

Pour in your red wine and cook until the liquid is reduced by half, stirring occasionally. Then add in the flour and stir until it has dissolved.

A pot with caramelized onions and carrots deglazed with wine and a spoon of flour added to the top.

Now add the cooked ground meat, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, herbs, salt, and pepper, and mix until thoroughly incorporated.

Cooked ground beef in a pot with diced carrots, tomato paste and spices added.

Stir in your beef broth and frozen peas. Allow the mixture to cook until the peas are warm.

Ground beef mixture for shephard's pie in a pot with green peas added and stirred in.

Step 3 | Layer the ingredients and Bake

Prepare a 9×13 casserole dish, pour in your meat mixture in an even layer, then top with the mashed potatoes, smoothing everything out with a spoon or rubber spatula. 

A casserole dish filled with ground beef filling and then adding mashed potatoes to the top.

Cook uncovered in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. The top should be bubbly around the edges and the potatoes golden brown.

Garnish the top with minced parsley and allow to cool and set before serving

A white casserole dish filled with Shepherd's Pie.

Tips

  • Remember not to over-mix the potatoes; they will become a gluey constituency! You want to keep them fluffy.!
  • If the mashed potatoes are a little dry, you can add a little more milk to soften them up and make them easier to spread. Potatoes can vary based on the water content of the potato itself.
  • Ensure the ground beef mixture is drained to avoid a greasy meat mixture—just reserve 2 tablespoons to sauté the veggies.

Gluten-Free Shepherd’s Pie

This dish can easily be made gluten-free! This cottage pie is easily converted by just switching out a couple of ingredients.

Variations and Substitutions

  • Turkey Shepherd’s Pie: Want a beef alternative? Feel free to use ground turkey for this recipe.
  • Frozen Veggies: If desired you can omit the fresh carrots and add in frozen peas and carrots when the peas are called for in the recipe.
  • More Veggies: If you want to add other veggies, go right ahead. Green beans, diced zucchini, frozen corn, and lima beans are all excellent choices.
  • Easy Mashed Potatoes: Use leftover mashed potatoes! Or try my recipe for Creamy Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes or Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes, Just be sure to add in the sour cream, seasonings, and cheese to take these potatoes over the top. For a shortcut, you can also use 2 packages of mashed potatoes from the refrigerator section of your grocery store.
  • More Cheese: Add a layer of your favorite cheese to the top before baking!

Recipe FAQs

What’s the difference between Shepherd’s Pie and Cottage Pie?

Great question. Shepherd’s Pie is an Irish dish originally made using ground lamb. But seeing is not always easy to come by and is rather expensive. Today, it’s more common to see Shepherd’s Pie made with ground beef, which is also called Cottage Pie.

Can I use instant mashed potatoes instead?

You absolutely can, but fresh homemade mashed potatoes are best. For instant potatoes, follow the steps on the package, adding in the cheese, sour cream, and seasonings.

Can you Make Shepherd’s Pie Without an Oven?

While baking gives Shepherd’s Pie its characteristic golden crust, you can still prepare it without an oven. Cook the meat and vegetable filling on the stovetop and top it with mashed potatoes. If you want those potatoes golden, you can put the dish under the broiler for a few minutes until they are nice and crispy.

A white casserole dish filled with Shepherd's Pie with a scoop removed with a wooden spoon.

Storage & Make Ahead Instructions for Shepherds Pie

Make Ahead: This is a great make-ahead dish. You can store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. When you are ready to bake it, take it out of the refrigerator for about 20 minutes before you need to bake it to let it come to room temperature.  Uncover it, and bake.

Freezing: Tightly wrap the entire dish in plastic freezer wrap twice or the second layer in foil. Store in the freezer for up to 2 months. Remove from the freezer and let thaw in the fridge overnight. Remove the plastic wrap and bake, following the recipe instructions. You can also freeze pre-baked or as leftovers. When freezing leftovers, let the casserole cool completely before freezing.

Storage: Wrap the room-temperature baking dish in plastic wrap or place the leftover Shepherd’s Pie into an airtight container and refrigerate for 3-4 days.

What to Serve with Easy Shepherd’s Pie Recipe

Shepherd’s Pie pairs well with a side salad, steamed vegetables, or crusty bread or dinner roll. It’s a hearty dish on its own, but you can also serve it with condiments like ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, or gravy.

Do you know anyone who has recently had a baby or has been in the hospital? This Cottage Pie Recipe is an excellent meal for someone who needs a bit of help!

You can even freeze it and write the baking instructions on the foil with a Sharpie marker. Other recipes you might want to bless a friend with are Baked Chicken Spaghetti Casserole or this Easy Chicken and Rice Casserole.

More Comfort Food Recipes

Hungry for more easy, home-cooked, delicious recipes?

Sign up for my free recipe club to get family-friendly recipes in your inbox each week! Find me sharing daily meal-time inspiration on Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

A slice of Shepherd's Pie on a dark gray plate.
Recipe
4.88 from 8 votes

(click stars to rate)

Shepherd’s Pie

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Author: Nikki Lee
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Ingredients 

Mashed Potatoes

  • 3 pounds russet potatoes, washed, peeled, and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 8 tablespoons salted butter, softened to room temperature
  • cup parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup milk, (add a little extra if needed for consitencay)
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or pink Himalayan salt, (or to taste)
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

For the Filling

  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons reserved ground beef fat
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 -3 large carrots, peeled and cubed (about ½ cup)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons kosher or pink Himalayan salt
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons dried rosemary
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 ½ cups beef broth
  • 1 cup frozen peas

Instructions

Make Mashed Potatoes

  • Place the cubed potatoes in a medium pot and cover them with water. Place on the stove on high heat and allow them to come to a boil and continue to boil them until fork tender, usually around 10-15 minutes.
  • Once your potatoes are soft, drain the water, return them to the empty pot, and mash them with a potato masher until smooth.

Make Meat Filling

  • Cook the ground beef in a large skillet on medium-high heat and remove when done. Pouring 2 tablespoons of the grease into a measuring cup and reserve it. Then, drain the excess grease from the ground beef on a plate lined with paper towels.
  • In the same large sauté pan on medium heat, add the reserved beef fat, onion, and carrots and sauté until the onion is translucent and the carrots are soft, usually 5-7 minutes. Then add in your garlic for an additional minute.
  • Add in the red wine and cook until the liquid is halved, stirring occasionally. Then add in the flour and stir until it has been dissolved.
  • Next, add the cooked ground beef, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, herbs, salt, and pepper, and mix until everything is thoroughly incorporated. Then, stir in your broth and frozen peas. Allow the mixture to cook until the peas are warmed and soft, usually 7-10 minutes.

Assemble Casserole

  • While the mixture is reducing, preheat the oven to 400℉.
  • In a 9×13 casserole dish, pour in the meat mixture in an even layer, then top with the mashed potatoes, smoothing everything out with a spoon or silicone spatula.
    If, after sitting, the potatoes are a little dry, you can add a little more milk to soften them up and make them easier to spread.
  • Cook uncovered in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. The top should be bubbly around the edges and the potatoes golden brown.
  • Garnish with minced parsley and allow to cool for 10 minutes, to set, before serving.

Notes

Make-Ahead and Store Instructions:
Make Ahead: This is a great make-ahead dish. You can store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. When you are ready to bake it, take it out of the refrigerator for about 20 minutes before you need to bake it to let it come to room temperature.  Uncover it, and bake.
Freezing: Tightly wrap the entire dish in plastic freezer wrap twice or the second layer in foil. Store in the freezer for up to 2 months. Remove from the freezer and let thaw in the fridge overnight. Remove the plastic wrap and bake, following the recipe instructions. You can also freeze pre-baked or as leftovers. When freezing leftovers, let the casserole cool completely before freezing.
Storage: Wrap the room-temperature baking dish in plastic wrap or place the leftover Shepherd’s Pie into an airtight container and refrigerate for 3-4 days.
TIPS:
  • Remember not to over-mix the potatoes; they will become a gluey constituency! You want to keep them fluffy.
  • If the mashed potatoes are a little dry, you can add a little more milk to soften them up and make them easier to spread. Potatoes can vary based on the water content of the potato itself.
  • Ensure the ground beef mixture is drained to avoid a greasy meat mixture. Just reserve 2 tablespoons to sauté the veggies.

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1serving Calories: 636kcal (32%) Carbohydrates: 41g (14%) Protein: 29g (58%) Fat: 37g (57%) Saturated Fat: 18g (113%) Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g Monounsaturated Fat: 14g Trans Fat: 2g Cholesterol: 119mg (40%) Sodium: 1464mg (64%) Potassium: 1314mg (38%) Fiber: 4g (17%) Sugar: 5g (6%) Vitamin A: 2198IU (44%) Vitamin C: 21mg (25%) Calcium: 190mg (19%) Iron: 5mg (28%)

Nutritional Disclaimer

Soulfully Made is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is only an estimate. We recommend running the ingredients through an online nutritional calculator if you need to verify any information.

©️Soulfully Made

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13 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    We had this shepherd’s pie tonight which was delicious and I love the flavors you added to the mash.

  2. 5 stars
    I made this shepherds pie for dinner last night and it was amazing! Exactly the comfort food I was craving.

  3. 5 stars
    This Shepherd’s Pie truly is the best Shepherd’s Pie I’ve eaten- and I’ve tried a fair few! The flavor in that meat filling just can’t be beat. My entire family asked for seconds!

    1. Thank you, Julia! This is a hearty family favorite at our house too! It’s on our St. Patrick’s Day menu!