Whether you call it shepherd’s pie or cottage pie, this dish is still absolutely delicious. Creamy mashed potatoes on top of a meat and veggie filling is the perfect comfort food for the whole family.
An Irish Speciality
Before I met my husband I’d never even heard of shepherd’s pie and now it’s one of our family’s favorite recipes thanks to my part Irish husband! I mean theres a reason I have so many St. Patricks Day games on my site!
I mean what’s not to love? Meat, good. Potatoes, good. Veggies, good.
Yep – shepherd’s pie is all of the best things all in one delicious dish. And this recipe in particular has the most amazing flavor in the filling. Combine that with creamy mashed potatoes and hello, dinner is served.
The one thing you need to know is that this is made with beef, not lamb. I know traditional shepherd’s pie is made with lamb, but we were going for easy shepherd’s pie so beef it is. If you were (are??) English, you might actually call this cottage pie instead.
But we’ve always called it shepherd’s pie so that’s what we’re going with for this post.
Okay so first off, that might look like a lot of ingredients but that includes both the pie and homemade mashed potatoes. This recipe is actually perfect for using up leftover mashed potatoes. So you may not actually need all those ingredients, just the ones for the actual filling.
- Ghee – we always use ghee after doing this Whole 30 meal plan but you can totally substitute butter instead if you don’t have ghee on hand.
- Chicken broth – you can use either chicken or beef broth or bone broth.
- Ground beef – like I mentioned above, we used ground beef in the photos for this post but you can also use ground beef if you want a more traditional shepherd’s pie compared to cottage pie
- Tomato paste – if you don’t have tomato paste on hand, ketchup works too since I’m guessing most people have that on hand
Okay so the first step is going to be making your mashed potatoes. Make these mashed potatoes without milk with that recipe.
While your mashed potatoes are cooking, preheat your oven to 400 degrees and prep the meat filling.
Heat a large saute pan over medium high heat. When it’s hot, melt the ghee in the pan and coat the pan with it.
Add the carrots and salt and cook for 3 minutes. Then make a well in the middle of the pan, kind of like you would for this ham friend rice, and push the carrots to the sides.
Salt both sides of the meat, breaking it into two halves and salting both halves if it’s a large block of meat.
Add the meat in the well in the pan and brown for three minutes on each side.
Break up the meat into small pieces and cook for another 2 minutes, mixing in the carrots as you cook.
Add the spices and stir for two minutes, making sure not to burn the garlic (so keep stirring!).
Once the spices are combined into the meat and cooked, sprinkle the flour over the meat mixture and stir to combine.
Make this gluten-free by using a gluten-free alternative to flour like tapioca starch.
Add the liquids to the pan, stir to combine, and scrape any browned bits from the bottom of the pan into the mixture.
Increase the heat and bring it to a boil. Then cover the pan, reduce to low, and let the mixture simmer for about 10 minutes or until the sauce has thickened.
Add the peas and corn to the meat mixture – these will just warm up in the oven and don’t need to be pre-cooked with the other ingredients.
Pour the meat filling into the bottom of an 8×8 glass baking dish, spreading it around to cover the bottom of the dish.
Add the mashed potatoes on top of the shepherd’s pie filling and smooth it out with a spatula.
Use a fork and lightly rake the entire surface of the mashed potatoes one way and then the other direction. This helps the top brown evenly.
Place the dish on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake on the middle rack of the oven for about 25 minutes or until the potatoes begin to brown.
Let it cool for a few minutes then serve warm, making sure to get plenty of the mashed potatoes and filling in each serving!
Pay attention to corners when you’re covering the filling with the mashed potatoes. You want to create a seal to keep any juices from bubbling up and making the mashed potatoes on top soggy (rather than that nice crisp layer).
Cut large blocks of meat in half (hamburger bun wise) so you have two thinner pieces for meat for even browning. Salt both sides of each half before browning for the best flavor.
Keep watch on the garlic while it’s cooking, making sure to stir it constantly so you don’t end up with burnt garlic. It burns quick if you aren’t paying attention.
Store any leftover shepherd’s pie in an airtight container in the fridge for up to five days. Reheat in the oven until warm.
The main differences are that shepherds pie is a traditional Irish dish that normally uses a lamb filling. Cottage pie is an English dish that normally uses a beef filling. Both are topped with mashed potatoes.
Since shepherd’s pie already comes with pretty much everything you need for a full meal – meat, potatoes, and veggies – I recommend just serving it with a crusty bread and a yummy desert like this chocolate brownie cake or s’mores bars.
Make mashed potatoes and make your filling. Top the filling with the mashed potatoes in a baking dish and bake.
Replace the flour in this recipe with a gluten free alternative like tapioca starch and yes, shepherd’s pie is gluten free.
Shepherd’s pie is a great make ahead dish. You can either make and bake the entire thing ahead of time – or just the make the mashed potatoes and filling separately and don’t put them in the pan yet. When you’re ready to eat, simply add the filling and potatoes and bake until hot.
More Easy Beef Recipes
Easy Shepherd's Pie
- 1 1/2 lbs russet potatoes peeled and diced into 1/2 to 3/4 inch cubes
- 1/4 cup whipping cream
- 4 TBS butter at room temperature
- 3/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 TBS ghee
- 3 medium carrots peeled and dice into pea size pieces
- 1 lb ground beef or lamb
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 4 medium garlic cloves minced
- 2 tsp dried rosemary
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 2 TBS flour
- 1 cup chicken or beef broth
- 2 tsp tomato paste
- 2 tsp coconut aminos
- 2/3 cup peas fresh or frozen
- 1/2 cup corn kernels fresh or frozen
- Put the potatoes in a medium pot and cover with cold water. Drain the water to remove any excess starches and then fill the pot with more cold water until the potatoes are just covered with water. Cover the pot and bring the water and potatoes to boil over high heat.
- Once boiling, uncover the pot and reduce the heat to medium to maintain a simmer. Simmer the potatoes until they are easily pierced and crushed by a fork, about 10-15 minutes.
- Once tender, drain the potatoes in a colander.
- Return the empty pot to medium heat. Add the cream to the pot and heat just until warmed, about 1-2 minutes. Once warmed, remove the pot from the heat and set the cream aside for later.
- Add the potatoes back to the empty pot and lightly mash with a whisk to break up the potatoes. Add in the room temperature butter and continue to mash and stir with the whisk until the butter is fully incorporated. Add the warm cream, salt, and pepper and continue to mash until smooth.
- Heat a large saute pan over medium high heat. Once hot, add the ghee, melt, and swirl to coat the pan.
- Add the carrots and a pinch of kosher salt and saute for 3 minutes. Make a well in the medium of the pan by pushing the carrots to the sides.
- Using the 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, salt both sides of the meat. If working with a block of meat, cut it in half to form two thin squares and salt both sides of each half of the meat.
- Add the meat to the well and brown for three minutes on one side, flip and cook for another three minutes on the other side. Break up the meat into small pieces and cook for another 2 minutes, incorporating the carrots as you cook the ground meat.
- Add the minced garlic, rosemary, thyme, and any left over salt from the 1 teaspoon used for the meat and stir for 2 minutes, careful not to burn the garlic.
- Sprinkle the meat mixture with the flour, stir to combine, and cook and stir for another minute
- Add the broth, tomato paste, and coconut aminos and stir to combine, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
- Increase the heat to high and bring the meat mixture to a boil. Once boiling, cover the pan, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened.
- Remove the pan from the heat and add the peas and corn to the meat mixture and stir to combine.
- Add the meat mixture to an 8x8 glass baking dish and spread evenly to cover the bottom of the dish.
- Add spoonfuls of the mashed potatoes to cover the meat mixture. Using a spatula, smooth the potatoes out over the meat mixture until it is evenly, and fully covered, paying careful attention to the corners to prevent any potential juices from bubbling up. Use a fork and lightly rake the entire surface of the mashed potatoes from one end to another. Rotate the dish and then rake again in lines perpendicular to the ones you made before.
- Place the dish on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake on the middle rack of the oven for 25 minutes, or until the potatoes begin to brown.
- Once browned, remove from the oven and serve once cool enough to eat.