This classic shepherd’s pie is a cozy casserole made with ground beef (or lamb), veggies, flavorful gravy, and a mashed potato topping. It’s a must make family friendly dinner that’s perfect for a cold night!
Looking for another ground beef casserole? Try my tamale pie!
Why you’ll love it
Hearty casserole – This meat and potatoes casserole is one that will truly leave you feeling satisfied after eating it. Between the ground beef filling and the creamy mashed potato topping all you’ll need to go with this hearty dinner is a simple salad.
Family friendly – This is a meal the whole family will love. It’s perfect for meat and potatoes lovers and kids will love the mashed potato topping, especially if you top it with extra cheese.
Freezer meal – Shepherd’s pie is a great dinner to freeze for a night when you don’t have time to cook. You can freeze it for up to 3 months.
What is shepherd’s pie?
Shepherd’s pie is a savory British casserole that originated in Edinburgh in the 1800’s. It’s made of ground (minced) meat, covered with mashed potatoes and then baked. Ground lamb or beef are most frequently used.
The meat filling often veggies such as carrots and peas and is cooked in a gravy. The filling is then topped with mashed potatoes and then baked.
Shepherd’s pie is called shepherd’s pie because it was traditionally made with lamb. These days beef is frequently used.
What’s the difference between shepherd’s pie and cottage pie?
Shepherd’s pie and cottage pie are very similar and the difference comes down to the meat used. However, that’s subjective these days, as they are used interchangeably.
Historically shepherd’s pie was made with minced lamb and cottage pie was made with minced beef.
Ground beef filling
- Onion, garlic, carrots, peas – The aromatics and veggies used in the filling.
- Ground beef – I recommend 90% lean so that the filling isn’t too greasy.
- Smoked paprika, Italian seasoning – The flavorful blend of dried herbs and the hint of smoky flavor from the paprika make the filling extra special.
- Tomato paste – Adds a rich flavor.
- All-purpose flour – Thickens the gravy
- Low sodium beef broth – Adds a deep savory flavor to the gravy.
- Worcestershire – Adds a wonderful umami flavor.
Mashed potato topping
- Yukon gold potatoes – Naturally buttery in flavor.
- Butter – Adds a rich flavor.
- Milk – I recommend using 2% or whole milk.
- Greek yogurt – Low fat or whole milk Greek yogurt makes the mashed potatoes extra creamy.
- Egg yolk – Optional, but gives the mashed potatoes a richer flavor and more body.
- Parmesan cheese – Gives the potatoes a salty cheesy flavor.
How to make shepherd’s pie
Mashed potatoes – Start by peeling and cutting the potatoes into chunks. Add them to a pot and cover them with cold water. Add in salt and bring the potatoes to a boil.
When the potatoes are fork tender, drain the potatoes. Add them back to the pot along with the butter and mash them. Add in the Greek yogurt and gradually pour in the milk mashing as you go.
Season the potatoes with salt and pepper then stir in the egg yolk and parmesan cheese.
Make the filling – Sauté the onions and carrots in a 10-12 inch oven safe skillet. When soft, add in the ground beef and crumble it. Season with salt and pepper. Mix in the garlic, tomato paste and worcestershire sauce. Cook for a minute.
Sprinkle the flour over the mixture and then stir it in until you can no longer see any white streaks. Pour in the beef broth and stir everything together. Cook the filling, stirring it often, until the sauce thickens.
Stir the peas into the filling. There’s no need to defrost them, they can be stirred in frozen.
Add mashed potatoes and bake – Dollop the mashed potatoes on top of the filling and then spread them out into an even layer until the filling is covered. Place the skillet onto a baking sheet and then put it in the oven.
Bake at 375° F. for about 25-30 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Let it cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.
Variations and tips
- Use frozen mixed vegetables to save time.
- My recipe for creamy mashed potatoes can be made in advance and used as the topping for the shepherd’s pie.
- Swap ground beef with ground turkey, chicken, or lamb.
- Add extra cheese on top of the mashed potato topping.
- Swap parmesan cheese with cheddar cheese.
Can you freeze shepherd’s pie?
Yes. This casserole freezes very well. Let it cool completely and then transfer it to a freezer safe container. Freeze for up to 3 months.
Let the shepherd’s pie defrost in the fridge overnight and then reheat it in the microwave or in the oven at 350° F. until warmed through.
Can shepherd’s pie be made ahead of time?
Yes. Follow the steps up until the baking part, then cover and refrigerate it overnight. The baking time will likely be a little longer since it will be going into the oven cold.
Can shepherd’s pie be made gluten free?
Yes. Substitute the all purpose flour for a 1:1 gluten free flour, such as Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 Baking flour.
More comfort food recipes
- Green Chile Chicken and Rice Casserole
- Stuffed Pepper Casserole
- Green Chile Mac and Cheese
- Creamy Pesto Chicken Pasta
- Beef Enchilada Skillet
- Baked Parmesan Risotto
Did you make this shepherd’s pie? I’d love if you’d leave a recipe rating and review below.
Mashed Potato Topping
- 1 1/2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
- 2 tablespoons butter
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup 2% milk
- 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1 egg yolk
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 carrots, peeled and diced
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 2 cloves of garlic, grated or minced
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 1 cup low sodium beef broth
- 1 tablespoon worcestershire
- 1/2 cup frozen peas
Mashed Potato Topping
- Add the peeled and chopped potatoes them to a pot and cover them with cold water. Add in salt and bring the potatoes to a boil.
- When the potatoes are fork tender, drain them and add them back into the pot along with the butter, salt and pepper. Mash them and then add in the milk and Greek yogurt. Continue to mash until your desired consistency is reached. Taste for seasoning and then stir in the egg yolk and parmesan cheese.
- Preheat oven to 375° F.
- Sauté the onions and carrots in a 10-12 inch oven safe skillet until they’re soft. Add in the ground beef and crumble it. Season with salt and pepper then stir in the garlic, tomato paste and worcestershire sauce. Cook for a minute.
- Sprinkle the flour over the mixture and stir it in until you can no longer see any white streaks. Pour in the beef broth and stir everything together. Cook the filling until the sauce thickens. Stir often.
- Once the filling has thickened, stir in the peas and then dollop the mashed potatoes on top and spread them into an even layer so that all of the filling is covered.
- Place the skillet onto a baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Let it cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 421Total Fat: 18gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 114mgSodium: 332mgCarbohydrates: 35gFiber: 5gSugar: 6gProtein: 30g
Nutritional information is an estimate. Please consult a registered dietician for the most accurate nutritional information.