Make shepherd’s pie with leftover mashed potatoes for a hearty dinner the entire family will enjoy! Veggies, ground meat, and gravy mix together to create the base then get topped with creamy mashed potatoes in this easy shepherd’s pie recipe!
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.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Easy recipe – while there are a good amount of ingredients in the recipe, the actual process to make this delicious comfort food is pretty simple, especially if you’re using leftover mashed potatoes!
- Great leftover dinner – we love to make a big batch of this and enjoy it all week long because the leftovers warm up and taste just as good, if not better, than the original!
- One dish meal – shepherd’s pie is a great way to get in everything – meat, potatoes, and veggies – without having to make a bunch of different things. It’s an easy meal that’s also a complete meal – less dishes for everyone!
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. Or if you don’t want to use either of those, olive oil works as well.
- 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 lamb if you want a more traditional shepherd’s pie compared to cottage pie. You could also make this with ground turkey if you really wanted, although that’s not my preference.
- Tomato paste – if you don’t have tomato paste on hand, ketchup works too since I’m guessing most people have that on hand
- Veggies – I personally like to use engish peas, corn, and carrots because they’re easy to get to the same size, but you can totally use any veggies you want. I know some people love to add cut up green beans to their vegetable mixture as well. Also, I prefer to use fresh vegetables in this recipe but you could totally use a mixed bag of frozen veggies as well. Just make sure to thaw and strain them so you don’t end up with all of the extra liquid.
- Coconut aminos – if you don’t have coconut aminos, you can also use soy sauce, I just recommend a low sodium kind.
While I regularly make this with leftover mashed potatoes, I don’t recommend making it with ready-made mashed potatoes (aka instant mashed potatoes). They don’t have the same texture and thickness as regular mashed potatoes to keep the filling in and well, just go for the real thing!
How to make shepherd’s Pie
Making this shepherd’s pie is pretty easy, especially if you’re going to make it with leftovers for your mashed potato topping. Here’s the general process, make sure to keep reading for details. The printable recipe and full information is at the bottom of this post in the recipe card!
- Make mashed potatoes (if not using leftovers).
- Cook the veggie and ground beef mixture.
- Add the beef mixture to a dish and add the mashed potato topping on top.
- Bake and serve.
1 – Make the Mashed Potatoes
We love making this with leftover mashed potatoes (we typically make this almond chicken and mashed potatoes on day 1 and use the leftovers for this on day 2), but you can also make them from scratch.
Okay so the first step is going to be making your mashed potatoes. If you are going to make them from scratch, I recommend this mashed potato recipe.
While your mashed potatoes are cooking, preheat your oven to 400 degrees and prep the meat filling.
2 – Make the Meat and Veggie Mixture
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 while it’s still on medium high heat and salt and cook for 3 minutes. If you’re using frozen veggies, you can add them all at this point. Also, give it a bit of space because it might splash as the frozen veggies hit the hot ghee.
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 then add the meat in the well in the pan and brown for three minutes on each side.
If you are cooking a large block of meat, cut it in half and salt both sides of each half so that all of the meat gets salted. Then cook each half of the block together in the pan, cooking each side for three minutes. This will make sure that all of your meat is cooked, flavorful, and tender.
Break up the meat into small pieces and cook for another two 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 instead of the flour.
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. This will give you kind of a brown gravy with veggies mixed in.
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.
If you are adding other fresh veggies to your mixture that will need to be cooked down like celery or onions, add them earlier with the carrots. Frozen vegetables should all be added in the earlier adding carrots step to allow them to cook.
3 – Make the Shepherd’s Pie
Pour the meat filling into the bottom of an 8×8 glass baking dish (aka square casserole 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 and gives it a really pretty look.
4 – Bake the Shepherd’s Pie
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 turn golden 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.
Cut the meat into small bite size pieces, like you would with this homemade taco meat, so that it’s about the same size as the veggies. You want to go more with ground beef than beef stew chunks.
Store any leftover shepherd’s pie in an airtight container in the fridge for up to five days. Reheat in the oven until warm. You could also cover it tightly with plastic wrap, but I always prefer actual airtight.
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. If you really want, you can even add cheese on top of the mashed potatoes for some extra flavor!
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
If you need another delicious recipe for next time, try one of these other amazing recipe ideas that use ground beef!
- Cincinnati chili recipe – this recipe calls for beef, tomato paste, cinnamon, and chocolate so you know it’s good!
- Beef barley soup – this soup is a delicious way to warm up on a cool winter day!
- Sweet spaghetti sauce – this isn’t your typical tomato sauce, it’s sweet and delicious!
- Easy taco meat – forget the packets, this taco meat has so much flavor that it’s perfect for tacos, burritos, and nachos!
- Classic beef stew – another great option for a cooler winter day!
Easy Shepherd’s Pie
- 1 ½ lbs russet potatoes peeled and diced into 1/2 to 3/4 inch cubes
- ¼ cup whipping cream
- 4 TBS butter at room temperature
- ¾ tsp kosher salt
- ¼ 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
- ⅔ cup peas fresh or frozen
- ½ 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 8×8 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.
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