Shepherd’s Pie

This easy Shepherd’s Pie recipe is filled with lots of veggies and tender ground beef (or lamb), simmered together in the most delicious sauce, and topped with the creamiest mashed potatoes.  Perfect for St. Patrick’s Day!

Shepherd's Pie

Last month on Instagram, I happened to mention that I had never made a homemade shepherd’s pie before…and my inbox instantly exploded.

So many of you love shepherd’s pie!! 

Even better, so many of you had shepherd’s pie tips and recipes that you were willing to share with me.

So with St. Patrick’s Day just around the corner, I’ve been hard at work this past month testing and re-testing all of your recommendations until I landed on my own classic shepherd’s pie recipe that I’m happy to finally add to this site today.  It’s overflowing (quite literally) with tender beef or lamb and lots and lots of veggies, including a generous handful of chopped mushrooms that bring a delicious depth of flavor and extra heartiness to the filling.  It’s topped with my trademark creamy mashed potatoes (<– which you should totally double, while you’re at it, so that you can enjoy the extras as leftovers.)  And best of all, it is made with an unforgettably rich and flavorful sauce that brings everything together perfectly.

After making multiple batches for testing, I can also vouch that the leftovers are fantastic and freeze well too.  So whether you’re planning a big feast for St. Patrick’s Day, or just looking for some comforting meal prep for the week ahead, be sure to bookmark this recipe and let’s make some shepherd’s pie!

Easy Shepherd's Pie

Shepherd’s Pie Ingredients:

Alright, grocery list time.  Here are the basic shepherd’s pie ingredients that you will need to make this recipe:

  • Ground beef or lamb: It’s traditional to make shepherd’s pie with ground lamb (and “cottage pie” with beef), but feel free to use ground beef, turkey or chicken if you prefer in the recipe below.  (Or see notes below for how to make vegetarian shepherd’s pie sans-meat too.)
  • Veggies: Finely-dice lots of onion, carrots, celery, garlic and frozen peas.  Plus I also highly recommend adding in some finely-diced mushrooms (baby bella, white button, or portobellos) too.
  • Flour: I used flour to thicken the sauce, but see below for gluten-free substitution options.
  • Beef stock: Or chicken or veggie stock, whatever you have on hand.
  • Dry red wine: I also love the extra depth of flavor this adds.  But if you prefer not to cook with wine, just add in an extra 1/2 cup of beef stock instead.
  • Tomato paste: Which will give it that nice tomato-y base.
  • Worcestershire sauce: A must!
  • Herbs: Definitely toss in a few bay leaves.  Then I also recommend adding in a few sprigs of fresh Italian herbs, such as rosemary and thyme.  (Or if you don’t have fresh herbs available, you can add in 1.5 tablespoons of dry Italian seasoning.)
  • Mashed potatoes: This recipe calls for a half batch of my favorite mashed potatoes recipe, made with potatoes, milk, butter and cream cheese.

Shepherd's Pie Ingredients

How To Make Shepherd’s Pie:

To make this Irish shepherd’s pie recipe, simply:

  1. Cook the mashed potatoes. Cook the large potatoes in a large stockpot until tender.  Then drain, mash, and stir in the remaining mashed potato ingredients until combined.  Set aside for later.
  2. Brown the meat.  Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan, cook the ground beef or lamb in a bit of oil until browned, crumbling it with a wooden spoon as it cooks.  Then transfer it to a separate plate with a wooden spoon, reserving any grease that it has left behind.
  3. Sauté the veggies.  Cook the onion, carrots, celery, mushrooms and garlic in the leftover grease (or you can add in extra oil) until they are softened as well.
  4. Add in the flour and wine.  Stir in the flour to help thicken the sauce.  Then add the wine, and scrape the bottom of the pan with your wooden spoon to loosen any of those tasty brown bits.
  5. Add the remaining sauce ingredients.  Stock, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, bay leaf, herbs and frozen peas.  Then give everything a good stir, and cook the mixture until it reaches a simmer.  Reduce the heat to let it simmer for a few more minutes, so that those herbs can really season the sauce.  Then remove the herbs (including bay leaves), stir in the cooked meat, give the mixture a taste, and season with salt and pepper as needed.
  6. Layer it all up.  Transfer the filling mixture to a 9 x 13-inch baking dish, and spread it out in an even layer.  Then spoon the mashed potatoes on top and carefully spread them out in an even layer as well.
  7. Bake.  Pop the whole dish in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are lightly golden and the filling starts to bubble up around the edges.  (If you would like the potatoes to be a bit more browned, you can turn on the broiler for 1 or 2 extra minutes.)
  8. Garnish and serve.  Then remove the pan from the oven, sprinkle with a few extra herbs if you would like, and dish it up while the shepherd’s pie is still nice and warm.  Yum.

How To Make Shepherd's Pie

Easy Shepherd’s Pie Variations:

Want to customize your shepherd’s pie recipe? Feel free to:

  • Make it vegetarian.  To make a vegetarian shepherd’s pie, just omit the meat and double the amount of mushrooms.  (It could also be delicious to stir in a cup of cooked farro as well.)  And of course, use veggie stock instead of beef stock, and vegan Worcestershire sauce (if you don’t eat anchovies).
  • Make it vegan.  Do the above, plus use vegan butter, milk and cream cheese in your mashed potatoes.
  • Make it gluten-free.  Nix the flour and whisk 1.5 tablespoons cornstarch together with the (room-temperature) stock before adding it to the sauce.  Also be sure to double-check, as always, that all of your other ingredients are certified GF.
  • Use sweet potatoes: For an amazing sweet+savory combo, feel free to use sweet potatoes instead of Russets or Yukon golds in your mashed potatoes.  So good!!!

Irish Shepherd's Pie with Beef

How To Store Shepherd’s Pie:

You can either store your shepherd’s pie leftovers in a sealed container:

  • In the fridge: For up to 3 days, or…
  • In the freezer: For up to 3 months

What To Serve With Shepherd’s Pie:

You’re welcome to serve this shepherd’s pie with extra gravy on the side, if you would like.  Otherwise, we enjoyed ours with:

  • A simple side salad: Such as my Everyday Salad recipe.
  • A loaf of crusty bread: If you’re interested in more carbs. ;)
  • Corn on the cob: A simple and colorful side dish.
  • A nice cold Guinness: Cheers!

Happy early St. Patrick’s Day, everyone!  Hope you enjoy!

Print

Shepherd’s Pie

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 60 minutes
  • Yield: 12 servings 1x

Description

This easy Shepherd’s Pie recipe is filled with lots of veggies and tender ground beef (or lamb), simmered together in the most delicious sauce, and topped with the creamiest mashed potatoes.  See notes above for possible ingredient substitutions.


Scale

Ingredients

Shepherd’s Pie Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1.25 pounds ground beef
  • 1 medium white onion, peeled and diced
  • 8 ounces baby bella or white button mushrooms, finely diced
  • 2 medium carrots, finely diced
  • 2 stalks celery, finely diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine (or you can sub in more beef stock instead)
  • 2 cups beef stock (or vegetable or chicken stock)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs each fresh rosemary and thyme (or whatever herbs you love)
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • sea salt and freshly-cracked black pepper
  • 1 batch mashed potatoes (see below)

Mashed Potato Ingredients:

  • 2.5 pounds potatoes (either Russets, Yukon golds, or a mix of the two)
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup whole milk, or more as needed
  • 2 ounces cream cheese (or 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt)
  • sea salt and freshly-cracked black pepper

Instructions

  1. Cook the mashed potatoes.  Follow the instructions here to prepare a half batch of this mashed potatoes recipe.  Once they are ready to go, remove from heat and set aside until ready to use.
  2. Brown the beef (or lamb).  Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat.  Add the ground beef (or lamb) and cook until browned, crumbling it with a wooden spoon as it cooks.  Transfer the cooked beef to a separate plate with a wooden spoon and set aside, reserving any grease in the sauté pan that it has left behind.  (Or if there is no leftover grease, add an extra tablespoon of oil to the pan.)
  3. Sauté the veggies.  Add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the carrots, celery, mushrooms, garlic and sauté for 5-7 more minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened.
  4. Add in the flour and wine.  Stir the flour in with the veggie mixture until evenly combined, then continue to sauté for 1 minute more, stirring frequently.  Stir in the wine, then use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits that are stuck to the bottom of the pan.
  5. Add the remaining sauce ingredients.  Immediately stir in the stock, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, bay leaf, herb sprigs and frozen peas until combined.  Continue cooking until the mixture reaches a simmer.  Then reduce heat to medium-low to maintain a low simmer, and continue cooking for 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove and discard the bay leaves and herb sprigs.  Stir in the cooked meat  Taste and season the mixture with salt and pepper as needed.
  6. Layer it all up.  Transfer the filling mixture to a 9 x 13-inch baking dish and spread it out in an even layer.  Spoon the mashed potatoes on top and carefully spread them out in an even layer as well.
  7. Bake.  Bake uncovered at 400°F for about 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are lightly golden and the filling has started to bubble up around the edges.  (If you would like the potatoes to be a bit more browned, you can turn on the broiler for 1 or 2 extra minutes, keeping a close eye on the potatoes so that they do not burn.)
  8. Garnish and serve.  Remove the baking dish from the oven, sprinkle a few extra herbs on top if you would like, then dish up your servings while the shepherd’s pie is still nice and warm.  Or store the pie in sealed containers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.

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26 comments on “Shepherd’s Pie”

  1. Hi Ali,
    Do you mix the ground beef with the veggie sauce or do you just layer it all on the baking dish?
    Thanks!

  2. I can’t believe this hit my in-box today when my friend and I have definitely been talking about making!!! I never know how long it takes me to make stuff, so I like to make in the morning, place in fridge, and then just back at dinnertime. Do you have any idea how long to cook (and maybe at a lower temp?) if I am baking it from a cold fridge?

  3. Here’s a little tip I learned while watching British cooking shows. Shepherds Pie contains lamb, while Cottage Pie contains beef. The trick to remember which is which? If you’re a shepherd, you herd sheep! So, technically speaking, this is a recipe for a delicious Cottage Pie. 😊

  4. I am snowed in at the moment so can’t get to the store to buy the ingredients, so I have not made it yet but I do plan to in the near future. However, this is not a Shepard’s Pie recipe. It is a Cottage Pie recipe. They are basically the same thing except for the type of meat used but a Shepard’s Pie always contains mutton AKA sheep meat. Also if you want to go for a Fisherman’s Pie you could use this recipe but use seafood for the meat if you want another variation to try.

  5. Looks delicious! Do you think this would hold up well as a make-ahead dish? Cook all the different components and assemble them, but then don’t bake it until you are about to serve?

  6. For the record, this is NOT Shepherd’s Pie. A true Shepherd’s Pie is made with ground lamb, not ground beef.

    This recipe is what is actually known as Cottage Pie. My husband is of British ancestry, and he has made Shepherd’s Pie many times, so he knows what goes into it. In fact, he has also made Cottage Pie, and another variant that he calls Stalker’s Pie, because it uses ground venison.

    Either way, I don’t mean to sound picky, but I just wanted to set the record straight.

  7. If this serves 12 people it is mighty low in protein. I will have to adjust the number of servings to make the recipe work for us. And adjust the amount of mashed potatoes down. Unfortunately I have become borderline diabetic and can’t afford to eat high carb/low protein meals. Once I make the adjustments I need, I think we will enjoy this shepherds pie. It sounds wonderful.

    • If you want to cut out some of the carbs, you can top with a mixture of mashed potatoes and pureed cauliflower. I did this the last time I made cottage pie (I have my own recipe) and no one even noticed the substitution. I also didn’t use ground beef, but instead used some steaks cut into 1-inch x 1/2 inch strips, similar to what you find in some stroganoff recipes.


  8. This looks amazing!!!

  9. Hey Hon

    I will send you my review after I have made your recipe, it looks great. Don’t think twice about people who say your recipe is a bogus Shepard’s Pie, people should stop hoarding and herding Sheep…phew if they want to smell the roses, they need to think out of the box some.

    Thanks (MUCH) for sending it to me!

  10. Made this last night. Delicious!! I made the vegetarian version. I used 2- 8 oz packages of sliced mushrooms and one cup of cooked farro. The wine really pulls it all together! This makes a lot of food. Had trouble putting the mashed potatoes on top without it pushing the pie ingredients over the edge. Was a Big hit for my vegetarian friends and meat eaters!


  11. Absolutely delicious!!! My husband and I loved this dinner and have plenty of leftovers. I swapped out the red wine for additional beef broth and used vegan Worcestershire sauce for regular due to a food allergy. I subbed cauliflower for half of the potatoes, skipped the cream cheese, and reduced the milk due to the amount of liquid in the cauliflower. Will definitely make again!!


  12. Thanks for another great recipe! Made as written tonight for dinner, and it was fabulous!


  13. I made this, but used frozen veggies instead. Turned out great.


  14. This is the best Shepherd pie I’ve ever made! We just had it for dinner 😋👍


  15. Tasted delicious. I would make this again and have forwarded the recipe on to my mom who wants to try something other than her tried and true version. Thanks!!


  16. Made it with lamb. This was ridiculously delicious! Thanks for the great recipe!


  17. I made this dish over the weekend. It was really delicious!!


  18. I made this cottage pie tonight and it was delicious! The casserole dish was filled to the very top. You may want to consider putting the casserole dish on a baking sheet covered with aluminum foil in case it bubbles over.

    I cooked the carrots and onions togethet so they would have extra cooking time and not be crunchy. I also added extra hot milk to the potatoes to make them creamier.

    This makes 8 large servings ot 10 medium. For safety sake store the casserole in smaller dishes in the refrigerator so it cools down quickly.


  19. I’ve made shepherd pie before it’s always been a big flop! This recipe is so good, everything turned out wonderful and the whole family enjoyed it my husband took the leftovers to work the next day. Feeling accomplished thanks for the great recipe! The only thing I did differently is I cooked potatoes added a little salt and that was it, “ I recently cut out all dairy” then I mashed the potatoes with my inversion blender which works wonders I don’t even miss the butter and milk.


  20. Oh my goodness, this ‘Shepherd’s Pie’ is awesome!!! I had leftover mashed potatoes from the night before & used them. That cut down on some of the work for me. It’s not hard to make at all & is wonderful!! My husband loved it!! I will be making this again for sure!!!
    Thank you so much for sharing this recipe!!!


  21. Yum!!! I did substitute beef & added sage. Fresh corn cut off the cob & it is amazing!!

  22. Ali,

    I am about to make this recipe. I noticed two comments that asked about preparing it in advance, with no one responding. Please let me know if assembling the pie in advance, refrigerating it overnight, and baking it the next day, works. If so, at what temperature and for how long? Thanks!


  23. Yum!


  24. Delicious and so simple to make. You can ‘fiddle’ with the herbs and just use what you have in your pantry and I used half mashed potato half kumara(sweet potato) and it was yum :)


  25. This was delicious!