My easy Shepherd’s Pie Recipe is 100% from scratch and SO flavorful. Simply sauté ground meat and veggies in a homemade gravy, top with mashed potatoes, and bake! Recipe includes a how-to video!
The BEST Shepherd’s Pie Recipe
My ultra-cozy shepherd’s pie recipe is so hearty and satisfying, you will be hard pressed to not go back for seconds. Flavorful lamb or beef, crisp-tender veggies, and a silky homemade gravy all topped with fluffy mashed potatoes…this is true comfort food!
Much like my salisbury steak, this 100% from-scratch recipe tastes SO much better (and is better for you) than one made with store-bought soup or gravy mix. We’ll use a handful of simple pantry staples to create an impressive depth of flavor everyone will love. It makes for a simple and filling weeknight meal, or a fun and festive St. Patrick’s day dinner (alongside some soda bread, of course)!
Besides the taste, the shining quality of this shepherd’s pie recipe is how easily it comes together. You don’t need any fancy tools (I just run a fork over my potatoes after spreading) and while there’s a fair share of mincing and chopping, this recipe is very beginner friendly.
What You Need
Let’s get familiar with today’s ingredients before heading over to the stove. Most importantly, you will need:
- Ground meat. Shepherd’s pie is traditionally made with lamb and you are welcome to use that here (it’s incredible this way!), but you can use either beef or lamb (or even chicken or turkey!) in my shepherd’s pie recipe. Lamb is not readily available where I live, so I typically opt for beef.
- Veggies. Including the classics: peas, carrots, onions, and potatoes (either russet or gold, for the mash on top). If you want to up the veggie factor and add in some frozen corn with the peas, that works, too!
- Spices. Including parsley, thyme, and black pepper. Adding some chopped fresh parsley as a garnish just before serving is always a good idea!
- Flour. A bit of flour thickens the sauce and helps it cling to the meat, creating a hearty dish rather than a soupy one.
- Worcestershire sauce. This adds depth of flavor alongside the tomato paste and beef broth. You could substitute coconut aminos for the Worcestershire!
- Parmesan cheese. Grate your own cheese so it can seamlessly blend into your mashed potatoes. Pre-shredded/grated cheeses contain anti-caking agents that prevent them from melting nicely (I talk about this in my bacon mac and cheese post too!).
SAM’S TIP: I’ll sometimes add a pinch (like a teaspoon) of brown sugar in with the meat for extra depth of flavor. If you do this, be careful not to add too much, or you could end up creating a barbecue/sloppy joe -esque flavor.
How to Make Shepherd’s Pie
This meal isn’t difficult to make at all, but it isn’t a zippy-quick 30 minute dinner, either. To cut down on assembly time, I’ll often cut my veggies in advance or even make the entire dish a day or several hours in advance of serving.
Prepare the Ground Meat Layer
- Cook the onions and carrots in melted butter and oil until softened. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant.
- And the ground beef and cook until browned, crumbling as you go. Drain any excess grease if needed.
- Stir in the tomato paste, vinegar, salt, and spices.
- Add the flour and stir until absorbed, then cook for another 30 seconds or so (this toasts the flour a bit and helps develop the flavor).
- Slowly drizzle in the broth while stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan (we’re deglazing/removing any browned bits from the bottom, adds tons of flavor and makes for a much easier to clean pan later on!).
- Add Worcestershire sauce and let simmer until thickened. Taste test for seasonings, then stir in the peas.
Prepare the Mashed Potatoes
- Boil potatoes in salted water until tender, then drain and place back in the warm pot (a minute or so in the pot lets the excess water steam off, keeping the potatoes from being too wet!).
- Add the flavoring – Add milk, butter, cheese, and seasonings.
- Mash until smooth, then spread the potatoes over the meat and veggie mixture.
- Rake and bake – Rake the top of the potatoes with a fork before baking at 400F for 20-25 minutes. I look for some of the potatoes to be beginning to brown. For more browning, broil the dish for several minutes (keep a close eye, you can go from golden brown to burnt shepherd’s pie in a hurry!).
SAM’S TIP: I like to let the meat rest while I prepare the mashed potatoes. This makes it easier to spread and keeps the potatoes from just sinking into the meat in the oven (maintains two defined layers). You could certainly start making the potatoes the same time that you start the meat to save time, but there’s nothing wrong with the meat sitting while you prepare the mashed potatoes.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes! Store your shepherd’s pie in an airtight container and freeze for several months. To reheat from frozen, let thaw in the fridge overnight before baking. It will likely need a few extra minutes in the oven.
Cottage pie is made with beef, not lamb. Technically today’s recipe is actually a cottage pie recipe because I made it with beef (don’t come at me in the comments, please!). True shepherd’s pie is made with lamb, but that isn’t readily available where I live; however, most of the shepherd’s pies I’ve eaten have been made with beef and it’s often made this way in America
Yes! Just prep, assemble, and cover before storing in the fridge. It will likely need a few extra minutes in the oven and I’ll sometimes cover it with foil for the first 10 or 15 minutes.
SAM’S TIP: I’ll occasionally make a simple gravy to serve on the side with this shepherd’s pie recipe. It’s not necessary, but if you like a lot of gravy, it’s nice to have extra to serve atop the potatoes.
Serve yours with some crusty sourdough bread (recipe on its way!) for a complete & hearty meal!
- 1 Tablespoon butter salted or unsalted
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 (140 g) medium yellow onion diced (about 1 cup)
- 3 (195 g) large carrots diced (1 ½ cup)
- 1 Tablespoon minced garlic about 3 cloves
- 1 lb (453 g) ground lamb or ground beef
- 1 ½ Tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon dried parsley
- 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup (236 ml) beef broth
- 2 ½ Tablespoons worcestershire sauce
- ½ cup (64 g) frozen peas
- 2 lbs (907 g) russet or gold potatoes peeled and cut into 1” pieces
- ⅓ cup (75 g) unsalted butter 5 ⅓ Tbsp
- ½ cup (118 ml) milk
- ¼ heaping teaspoon salt plus additional to taste
- ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper plus additional to taste
- ½ cup (40 g) grated parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 400F (205C).
- Add butter and oil to a 10” (25cm) oven-safe skillet (see note) and cook over medium/high heat until butter is melted and skillet is hot.1 Tablespoon butter, 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- Add onions and carrots and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.1 (140 g) medium yellow onion, 3 (195 g) large carrots
- Add garlic and cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds).1 Tablespoon minced garlic
- Add ground beef and cook, crumbling as you go, until meat is browned. Drain excess grease if/as needed.1 lb (453 g) ground lamb or ground beef
- Once beef is mostly cooked, add tomato paste, vinegar, salt, pepper, thyme and parsley and cook, stirring, until beef is completely browned.1 ½ Tablespoons tomato paste, 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar, ¾ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper, ½ teaspoon dried thyme, ½ teaspoon dried parsley
- Sprinkle flour overtop and cook, stirring, until flour is completely absorbed and then cook another 30 seconds while stirring.2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
- While stirring, slowly drizzle in beef broth until combined (make sure to scrape the bottom of the pan!).1 cup (236 ml) beef broth
- Add worcestershire and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened. Taste-test sauce and add salt/pepper if needed.2 ½ Tablespoons worcestershire sauce
- Stir in peas. Remove from heat and set aside while you prepare the potatoes.½ cup (64 g) frozen peas
- Place potatoes in a large pot of cool water and add salt. Cook until potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork.2 lbs (907 g) russet or gold potatoes
- Drain potatoes and return to pot. Let them sit in the pot for a minute (to allow the water to evaporate), stirring once or twice, before proceeding.
- Add butter, milk, salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese and use a potato masher to mash until smooth. Taste-test and add more salt/pepper as needed.⅓ cup (75 g) unsalted butter, ½ cup (118 ml) milk, ¼ heaping teaspoon salt, ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper, ½ cup (40 g) grated parmesan cheese
- Top the meat layer with an even layer of potatoes. If desired, rake a fork across the surface (helps promote browning).
- Transfer skillet to center of 400F (205C) oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until potatoes on top are beginning to brown. If you’re worried about your skillet being too full, place a foil lined baking sheet beneath it to catch any possible spills. For deep browning on top of the potatoes, broil for 1-2 minutes before removing from oven.
- Serve warm and enjoy!
SkilletIf you do not have a sufficient 10” oven-safe skillet, you can prepare the meat in a skillet and then transfer it to a 10” pie plate or a casserole dish instead before layering with potatoes and then baking.
StoringStore in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Leftovers may also be frozen in an airtight container for several months.
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered an estimate only. Actual nutritional content will vary based upon brands used, measuring methods, cooking method, portion sizes, and more.