Cozy recipes just taste better when made at home. I love making stews, soups, slow cooker recipes, especially in the colder months, but I also really love traditional recipes that call on classic ingredients like meat and potatoes. This best and easy shepherd's pie recipe is exactly that. Classic ground beef with a variety of vegetables under a thick blanket of mashed potatoes, baked to delicious perfection. Comfort at its finest.
Shepherd's pie is a perfect comfort food recipe that can be made virtually any time of year, but is even more delicious during the "ber" months, think November or December.
Cozy recipes like my slow cooker turkey chili, beef chili, or my sweet and sour chicken meatballs influenced me to retest and reshoot this recipe for this site, as all of these bring big smiles to many faces, and I know this one will too.
- What is shepherd's pie?
- What are the ingredients for making shepherd's pie?
- How do you make shepherd's pie?
- What's the difference between cottage pie and shepherd's pie?
- Recipe Swaps and Substitutions
- Why you'll love this recipe
- What to serve with shepherd's pie
- What do I do for storage? How about freezing?
- Hungry for more?
- Did you like this recipe? Share it!
- Classic Shepherd's Pie Recipe
What is shepherd's pie?
There's a few different back stories to the original, but across the pond in the UK, Shepherd's pie originated as a comfort meal that's comprised of mutton or lamb, vegetables, stock, with a thick layer of mashed potatoes on top. This version calls for ground beef, but the option for ground lamb still stands!
What are the ingredients for making shepherd's pie?
- Ground Beef - as I said above, this recipe is technically considered a "cottage pie," but if you preferred to be very traditional, opt for ground lamb instead! When choosing ground beef, I like to buy grass fed ground beef for various reasons.
- Mirepoix - a classic combination of chopped veggies such as carrot, celery, and onion.
- Corn - we used corn instead of peas in this version, Adds another crunch factor, and more veggies!
- Tapioca Flour - I typically use arrowroot or tapioca to thicken stews and stocks.
- Vegetable stock - just one quarter of a cup of stock is all we need to get the ground meat and veggies nice and thick before layering with the potatoes.
- Salt and Pepper - the classic duo, to season the meat as it browns.
- Olive oil - a little olive oil to help with the sauté of the mirepoix.
For the mashed potato topping, here's what you'll need:
- Russet Potatoes - I swear by using russet potatoes for mashed potatoes. They're starchy, hearty, and just tastes delicious.
- Butter - I used salted butter for this, but also added just an additional pinch of salt after I whipped the potatoes.
- Half and half - a little milk goes a long way for making mashed taters.
- Garlic powder - I like using granulated garlic in my mash, it's easier and gives just enough flavor.
See the recipe card for specific information about quantities.
How do you make shepherd's pie?
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 375º and bring a large pot of water to a boil (in preparation for the mashed potatoes).
In a large skillet or frying pan, sauté the onions, carrots, and celery until fragrant and the onions become translucent.
Step 2: To the same pan, and in the ground beef and let it brown. Continue to cook the ground beef and add in the corn.
Step 3: Pour in the water or stock and stir in the flour to thicken the meat mixture.
Step 4: Let simmer on low to thicken, stirring occasionally.
Step 5: Meanwhile, take the boiled potatoes out of the boiling water and mash using a hand mixer. Add in half and half and butter and continue to mix. Pour in a tablespoon of garlic powder, and mix together using a spatula. Set aside.
Step 6: Pour the meat mixture into a cast iron skillet or oven-safe casserole dish and evenly distribute so there is an even layer of meat.
Step 7: Add a few dollops of mashed potatoes on top, then smooth out with a spatula.
Step 8: Sprinkle some paprika on top and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the top of the mashed potatoes is a golden brown and slightly crisp. Serve immediately.
HINT: While I didn't do this, because I didn't have red wine on hand, you can add a splash of red wine to the meat along with some Worcestershire sauce for added depth! It gives the meat a sweet, yet savory flavor.
What's the difference between cottage pie and shepherd's pie?
This version is made with ground beef and is technically considered English, as ground beef was available to the English. Whereas in Ireland, this meal is considered shepherd's pie because most Irish would herd sheep (aka, shepherds), giving them access to mutton and lamb, which was less expensive than ground beef.
Recipe Swaps and Substitutions
Making this recipe, but looking for ways to make it your own? Here are my trust recommendations:
- Meat: use ground beef, lamb, venison, turkey, chicken, or even a plant-based alternative if you're vegan!
- Potatoes: you can easily make this with sweet potatoes on top if you would prefer the sweet potato versus russet potato.
- Vegetables: this recipe calls on the classic mirepoix (celery, carrot, onion), with the addition of corn, but you can add in peas or other vegetables if you want to make it a bit heartier.
- Stock: I used a vegetable stock to thicken the meat, but you can use a chicken or beef stock.
Why you'll love this recipe
- This is one of those hearty, healthy, and incredibly satisfying dishes that just tastes good over and over again.
- You've got a good balance of protein, veggies, and starch. What more could you ask for?
- It's easy to prepare ahead of time, pop in the oven, and dinner is served!
What to serve with shepherd's pie
- Roasted broccoli or cauliflower
- Sautéed snap asparagus or garlicky string beans (my personal favorite)
- Simple side salad
What do I do for storage? How about freezing?
To Store: Simply wrap the casserole dish with plastic wrap and place in the fridge. This will be good for up to 3 days. To reheat, do not microwave. Put the oven to 350º and reheat for 15 minutes.
To Freeze: If you want to make a batch for the freezer, consider preparing the entire thing in a freezer-safe tin rather than scooping and storing in containers. You can prepare this dish with the mashed potatoes on top, wrap with plastic wrap, then one layer of aluminum foil (label what it is, baking time, and oven temp!). Store in the freezer for up to two months. When you want to bake this, thaw in the fridge overnight, then bake the next day.
Hungry for more?
Try these other delicious comforting dinner recipes
Did you like this recipe? Share it!
If you're just as in love with this recipe as I am, please share a comment below and rate it! Better yet, share this recipe with family and friends!! Thank you for being here!!
Classic Shepherd's Pie Recipe
- 1 large pot
- 1 hand mixer
- 1 mixing bowl
- 1 oven safe baking dish
- 1 large frying pan
- measuring cups and spoons
For the Mashed Potatoes
- 2 medium russet potatoes peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoon butter salted or unsalted
- ¼ cup half and half
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
For the Meat Filling
- 1.5 lbs ground beef or ground lamb
- 1 cup corn
- ½ cup carrots finely chopped (3 large stalks)
- ½ medium onion finely chopped
- ½ cup celery finely chopped (2 large stalks)
- 3 tablespoon tapioca or arrowroot starch/flour or sub with cornstarch or regular flour
- ¼ cup vegetable stock or sub with chicken or beef stock
For the Mashed Potatoes
- Fill a large pot of water and bring to a boil.
- Peel the russet potatoes and roughly chop.
- Add the potatoes into the boiling water and boil for 30 minutes or until fork tender. Strain and add to a mixing bowl
- To the mixing bowl, add the butter, half and half, and mix with a hand mixer.
- Add in the garlic powder, then fold together with a spatula. Mix until the garlic powder is incorporated then set aside.
For the Meat Filling/Assembly
- In a large skillet or frying pan, sauté the onions, carrots, and celery until fragrant and the onions become translucent.
- To the same pan, and in the ground beef and let it brown. Continue to cook the ground beef and add in the corn.
- Pour in the water or stock and stir in the flour to thicken the meat mixture.
- Let simmer on low to thicken, stirring occasionally.
- Pour the meat mixture into a cast iron skillet or oven-safe casserole dish and evenly distribute so there is an even layer of meat.
- Add a few dollops of mashed potatoes on top, then smooth out with a spatula.
- Sprinkle some paprika on top and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the top of the mashed potatoes is a golden brown and slightly crisp. Serve immediately.