If you asked 6 year old me what my favorite meal was, the answer was shepherd’s pie. And if you ask me right now what my favorite comfort meal is, the answer would be: shepherd’s pie.

There’s just something so cozy and comforting about a big bowl – yes, I have to have it in a bowl – of super savory saucy beef mixed with corn and peas topped off with a huge pile of creamy mashed potatoes.

shepherd's pie bowl | www.iamafoodblog.com

I still eat it the same way I did when I was little: I mix everything together so each bite is essentially mashed potatoes with meat mixed in. I use a spoon so everything goes from the bowl to my mouth in no time flat. For me I can’t imagine anything more cozy than being wrapped up in a blanket, on the couch, with a bowl of shepherd’s pie.

But wait! You’re probably thinking to yourself right now, shepherd’s pie isn’t made with beef. And you’re right! Shepherd’s pie is traditionally made with lamb, but beef is just as tasty – if not more! Technically what I love eating is called a cottage pie, but tomato, to-mah-to, am I right? Whatever you want to call it, a super savory meaty ragu topped off with creamy mashed potatoes is a comfort food classic, one that you’ll come back to time and time again.

shepherd's pie | www.iamafoodblog.com

What is shepherd’s pie?

Shepherd’s pie is an classic English dish: a ground meat pie topped off with mashed potatoes. There are so many variations, but generally, they all have a saucy ground minced meat bottom and a layer of potatoes baked up until bubbling and crisp.

Originally, shepherd’s or cottage pie was an ingeniously way use up leftover meat by baking it into a potato topped casserole. Now, most people purposely make it instead of it being a leftovers dish.

Shepherd’s pie vs cottage pie

Purists will say that shepherd’s pie is made with lamb and cottage pie is made with beef, but in America, most people refer to cottage pie (which is made with beef) as shepherd’s pie. This particular iteration is made with beef so it’s technically a cottage pie! Try this recipe for a classic lamb version.

How to make shepherd’s pie

One of the reasons why shepherd’s pie is so popular is probably because it’s so easy to make. It’s a great weeknight meal, it’s perfect for meal prep, and you can make it ahead and freeze it as well.

  1. Cook the potatoes. Start off by cooking peeled potatoes in salted water. While they’re happily simmering away, you can multitask and make the pie filling.
  2. Cook the aromatics. Lightly cook some onions, garlic, carrots, celery until soft and tender.
  3. Cook the beef. Add the beef to the pan and cook, breaking up, until cooked through. Sprinkle on some flour – this helps thicken up the base of the pie – and then add some beef stock, tomato paste, herbs, and a splash of soy sauce for an extra bit of umami. Scoop everything into a casserole dish and set aside.
  4. Mash the potatoes. By now your potatoes should be tender. Drain them well then mash and season. I like stirring in a bit of sour cream for tang. You can also add in shredded cheese for cheesy potato tops too!
  5. Make the pie. Finish off the pie by spooning the potatoes onto the meat and evenly spreading them off. Top the potatoes off with a bit of butter and it’s ready to go in the oven.
  6. Bake. Bake the casserole (place it on a baking sheet to catch any drips) until the tops are golden brown and crispy and enjoy!

a slice of shepherd's pie | www.iamafoodblog.com

Shepherd’s pie ingredients

We’re making a classic shepherd’s/cottage pie with ground beef, onions, garlic, celery, carrots, corn, peas, herbs, potatoes, butter, sour cream, and just a touch of soy sauce and tomato paste to bring everything together and give the pie an extra boost of flavor.

To bake or not to bake

When I was making this, Mike asked me, why the heck do you bake it when all the ingredients are cooked? That is a good question! I do it because I like the tops to be browned and crispy, but if you don’t want to wait or don’t care for crispy potato tops, you can serve this up in a bowl with a scoop of the saucy meat with mashed potatoes on top. In fact, I’ve seen lots of shepherd’s pie served like this in pubs and restaurants.

Some might argue that they’re baked together to meld the flavors or some such stuff like that but really, with a comfort food like this, I think you can pretty much get away with doing what you like!

baked shepherd's pie | www.iamafoodblog.com

Make ahead

Assemble the shepherd’s pie completely (don’t bake it) and then cover it tightly and pop it into the fridge. You can make this up to 2 days in advance. When you want to serve, bake it in a 375°F oven until bubbly and crisp.

unbaked shepherd's pie | www.iamafoodblog.com

How to freeze

To freeze, make the pie but don’t bake it. Cover tightly and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw completely before warming in the oven.

How to reheat

My preferred way of reheating individual portions is the microwave for about 1 minute but you can also heat this up in a low 300°F oven, covered, for 10-15 minutes or until heated through. If you’re heating it up from frozen, let the pie thaw before heating in the oven.

shepherd's pie | www.iamafoodblog.com

Variations

shepherd's pie recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com

shepherd's pie | www.iamafoodblog.com

Shepherd’s Pie Recipe

Super savory saucy beef mixed with corn and peas topped off with a huge pile of creamy mashed potatoes.
Serves 6
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 1 hr

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lb potatoes Yukon gold, peeled and quartered, about 3-4 large potatoes
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • 2 small carrots peeled and diced
  • 2 stalks celery diced
  • 1 lb ground beef lean preferred, or lamb
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 cup beef stock no sodium preferred
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary minced, leaves only
  • 1/2 cup corn
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 3 tbsp butter divided
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4-1/2 cup milk

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 375°F. While the oven’s warming up, make the mashed potatoes: place peeled and cut potatoes in a pot and cover with water. Generously salt the water and bring to a boil over high heat. When boiling, reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes or until fork tender.
    drained potatoes | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • While the potatoes are cooking, make the pie filling. Heat a bit of oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. When the oil is hot, add the diced onions and brown slightly, 2 minutes or so. Add the garlic, carrots, and celery. Cook until slightly tender, 2-3 minutes. Add the ground beef and cook, breaking up into pieces. When browned and cooked through, stir in the flour.
    shepherd's pie filling | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • Add the broth, tomato paste, soy sauce, thyme, and rosemary. Stir and cook over medium low. Stir in the the corn and peas. Mix well, simmering, until it thickens slightly. Taste and season with salt and pepper, then scoop into the bottom of an oven-safe casserole dish.
    shepherd's pie filling | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • When the potatoes are cooked, drain well and return to the pot. Add the roasted garlic. Over very low heat, mash the potatoes. Stir in 2 tablespoons butter and the sour cream. Stir in the milk until desired consistency. Taste and season generously.
    mashing potatoes with a sieve | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • Top the meat portion with the mashed potatoes and dot with the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter.
    unbaked shepherd's pie | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • Bake the casserole (place on a baking sheet to catch any drips) until the potatoes are golden brown and crispy, about 30 minutes. If needed, broil for 5-8 minutes for an extra golden potato top. Enjoy warm.
    baked shepherd's pie | www.iamafoodblog.com

Estimated Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Shepherd’s Pie Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 324 Calories from Fat 157
% Daily Value*
Fat 17.4g27%
Saturated Fat 8.7g54%
Cholesterol 85mg28%
Sodium 301mg13%
Potassium 659mg19%
Carbohydrates 18.8g6%
Fiber 3g13%
Sugar 3.9g4%
Protein 23.7g47%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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3 Comments

  1. Jack says:

    Recipe looks tasty…don’t see the steps for making roasted garlic.

  2. Paul says:

    That’s a cottage pie!

  3. Sygun says:

    5 stars
    Hi. I just made a Sheppard’s pie…..my version used Sweet Potatoe mash. Much healthier…. regular white potatoes may be involved in inflammation/arthritis…it’s a member of the nite shade family…

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