Easy Shepherd’s Pie

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Easy Shepherd’s Pie – This classic dish is homemade comfort food at its best. It has a rich beefy base, loaded with vegetables and a thick, buttery potato topping.

Easy Shepherd's Pie in bowl

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What is Shepherd’s Pie?

Have you ever made shepherd’s pie? This was my second go-around for this dinner recipe, and I have to say, it’s pretty darn delicious. This classic dish is homemade comfort food at its best. It has a rich beefy base, loaded with vegetables and a thick, buttery potato topping.

This is definitely not a traditional version by any means, but it does have some traditional elements. Our family prefers using ground beef instead of lamb, so technically this is cottage pie. We also like the addition of aged white cheddar in with the mashed potatoes which makes it even more amazing. This is optional but highly recommended! 😁

What’s the difference between shepherds pie and cottage pie? Really, it’s the meat. Shepherds pie is usually made with lamb and cottage pie is typically made with beef.

Shepherd's Pie potatoes

Tips for making Shepherd’s Pie filling:

  • Grab an extra large skillet (oven-safe if you don’t want to transfer it later on). There is a lot of filling so you need something wide and deep!
  • Dice, chop and mince fresh veggies. Frozen veggies won’t taste as good, plus they hold excess water, something we’re trying to avoid.
  • Use beef stock NOT broth. Why? Beef stock is way more concentrated, which means it has a whole lot more flavor than broth. I like to buy a 32 oz. box of it.
  • Let the filling simmer. You the filling to be thick enough to withstand the density of the potatoes. Don’t be in a rush.
  • Season to taste. What does this mean? Grab a spoon and taste the filling before you move on. Once you add those potatoes the deal is sealed. Pun intended. 😉

How to make shepherd's pie aka cottage pie

How to Make Shepherd’s Pie

The topping for shepherd’s pie is similar to mashed potatoes, but with a little less liquid.

To make the topping for Shepherd’s Pie:

  1. Boil the potatoes until fork tender, then drain.
  2. Return the potatoes to the pot, then place the pot back on the warm burner. This will help excess water evaporate.
  3. Add cream, butter, salt, pepper and cheese (if desired).
  4. Use a potato masher to create a smooth, yet thick mash.

Carefully spread the topping over the filling. You can either do this in the same skillet if possible, or transfer the filling to a 9×13-inch dish and use that instead. Using a spatula or offset spatula works best. Dollop small amounts over the filling to prevent the potatoes from dragging the filling around.

Then grab a fork and drag it through the potatoes in swirl motions. The design doesn’t matter. You can do a lattice design, waves, straight lines, basically get creative! Or if you’re feeling extra fancy, you can pipe the potatoes on top using an large pastry bag and a large star tip.

Drizzle melted butter over top, then bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes. The potatoes should be golden brown. Remove from the oven and let the shepherd’s pie rest for 20 minutes before serving.

Cottage Pie in casserole dish

Why let Shepherd’s Pie rest?

Letting the shepherd’s pie rest allows both the filling and topping to cool and liquid to be reabsorbed. Or in short, it helps firm things up. You don’t want a soupy mess.

Can I prepare shepherd’s pie in advance?

Of course, you can! Just make as directed and then cover and place in fridge for up to 48 hours in advance. Then, bake as instructed. Store any leftovers in an air-tight container for up to 3 days in the fridge.

Can you freeze shepherds pie?

To freeze, let pan cool after baking, then cover tightly with foil and place in freezer for up to 2 months. When ready to eat, reheat the pie for 1 hour at 350.

Shepherd's Pie Recipe in casserole dish

Shepherd’s pie is a savory, filling meal that the entire family will love – I know ours did! It’s really easy to customize too. Don’t want to use beef? Try lamb. Don’t want to add peas? Try corn. Have picky eaters that don’t love veggies? Try finely grating them instead! There are so many ways to make this easy shepherd’s pie recipe a crowd pleasing meal.

What to serve with Shepherd’s Pie?

For more great dinner ideas, check out:

Shepherd's Pie Recipe

5 from 10 votes

Easy Shepherd's Pie - This classic dish is homemade comfort food at its best. It has a rich beefy base, loaded with vegetables and a thick, buttery potato topping.

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 8
Calories 425 kcal

Ingredients

For the filling:

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 carrots cubed
  • 1 rib celery thinly sliced
  • 1 onion diced
  • 3 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 lb. ground beef
  • 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 c. tomato paste
  • 2 3/4 c. beef stock not broth
  • 2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. dried thyme or 1/2 tsp. freshly minced thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 c. frozen peas

For the potatoes:

  • 5 large russet potatoes peeled and cubed into 1-inch chunks
  • 2/3 c. heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1/3 c. grated aged white cheddar (optional)
  • 2 tbsp. butter, melted - reserved for drizzling over top

Instructions

  1. In an extra large skillet set over medium heat, add the oil. Once hot, add the carrot and celery, saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the onion and continue cooking for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.

  2. Sprinkle in the flour and toast for 30 seconds, then mix in the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute. Gradually pour in the chicken stock, whisking to create a smooth sauce. Add the Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, garlic powder, salt, pepper, cumin, thyme, and bay leaf. Bring to a low simmer and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  3. Meanwhile, in a large stockpot filled with water, boil the potatoes until fork-tender, about 20 minutes. 

  4. Add peas and stir. Cook for an additional 3 minutes, then remove from the heat.

  5. Drain potatoes and return the pot to the burner. Let the heat evaporate any excess moisture. This should take a minute or so. Add the cream, butter, salt, pepper and cheddar, if desired. Using a potato masher, mash potatoes into a smooth, creamy consistency. They should be on the thicker side.

  6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

  7. Pour the filling into a 9x13-inch baking pan or keep in skillet if it's deep enough to hold the potato layer. Using a spatula (or an offset spatula), carefully spread the potatoes over top. You will want to add "dollops" of potatoes in spots so that the weight of the potatoes doesn't drag filling into them.

  8. Use a fork to drag swirls or marks into the layer of potatoes. Drizzle with melted butter. 

  9. Place in the oven and bake for 40 minutes. If the top is not as gold as desired, turn the broiler on low and broil for 5 minutes or until golden brown.

  10. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 20 minutes before serving.

Easy Shepherd's Pie Recipe

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Author

Natalie Dicks

I’m the food photographer and blogger behind Life Made Simple. I’m passionate about creating from scratch family-friendly recipes ranging from healthy to decadent.

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Comments

  1. I’m not one to read blogs, but yours is terrific! Your recipes are delicious and realistic. I don’t feel like I have to have a ton of ingredients or spend a lot of money to put together a great meal. Thanks, also, for the wonderful variety of recipes. I can find anything I want, from starters to desserts. I’m so glad i found your recipes on pinterest. i’m officially hooked! Be blessed.

  2. My hubby loves this dish!! I love that it has so much flavor, that my kids even like it! It’s one of our favorite Sunday dishes!

  3. A classic! We typically use ground beef instead of lamb. I like having our potatoes, meat and veggies all in one.

  4. This recipe was a hit at our house. I HAVEN’T had this since i was a little girl and kindof forgot all about it. I am so glad I saw it on your blog! Great recipe- One the whole family loves

  5. My mom Would always make shepherds pie layering the potatoes and other ingredients. I have to say i like your veRsion better with all the potatoes on top. Its so good!