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How to Make 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.

This classic dinner recipe is hearty and perfect for any Sunday meal. We love to serve it with rolls or even glazed carrots, making it the epitome of comfort food!

Easy Shepherd's Pie recipe in bowl.

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.

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.

TOPPING. 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

number one TIP + FAQ

Why let Shepherd’s Pie rest? It’s our number one tip for this recipe. Why?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 this? Yes!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.

How to make Shepherd's Pie- in casserole dish.

What to serve with Shepherd’s Pie?

For more great dinner ideas, check out:

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4.83 from 17 votes

Shepherd’s Pie

By: Lil’ Luna
Learn how to make shepherd's pie, a delicious comfort food with a rich beefy base, hearty veggies, and a thick, buttery potato topping.
Servings: 8
Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 1 hour
Total: 1 hour 30 minutes


For the filling:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 carrots, cubed
  • 1 rib celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 teaspoons minced garlic
  • pounds ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • cups beef stock, not broth
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme, or ½ tsp. freshly minced thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup frozen peas

For the potatoes:

  • 5 large russet potatoes, peeled and cubed into 1-inch chunks
  • cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • cup grated aged white cheddar, (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted, – reserved for drizzling over top
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For the Filling

  • In an extra-large skillet set over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons olive oil. Brown 1½ pounds ground beef.
  • When meat is almost browned, add 2 cubed carrots and 1 rib sliced celery. Sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add 1 diced onion, and continue cooking for 2 minutes. Add 3 teaspoons minced garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  • Sprinkle in 2 tablespoons flour and toast for 30 seconds. Mix in ¼ cup tomato paste and cook for 1 minute. Gradually pour in 2¾ cups beef stock, whisking to create a smooth sauce.
  • Add 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, 1 teaspoon each of red wine vinegar, garlic powder, and salt, ½ teaspoon ground black pepper, ¼ teaspoon each of cumin and dried thyme (or ½ teaspoon of freshly minced thyme), and 1 bay leaf. Bring to a low simmer and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add 1 cup frozen peas and stir. Cook for an additional 3 minutes, then remove from the heat.

For the Potato Topping

  • Meanwhile, in a large stockpot filled with water, boil 5 peeled and cubed large russet potatoes until fork-tender, about 20 minutes.
  • Drain and return the pot to the burner. Let the heat evaporate any excess moisture. This should take a minute or so. Add the ⅔ cup heavy whipping cream, 2 tablespoons butter, 1 teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper, and ⅓ cup grated aged white cheddar, if desired.
  • Using a potato masher, mash potatoes into a smooth, creamy consistency. They should be on the thicker side.

To Bake

  • Preheat oven to 375°F.
  • Pour the filling into a 9×13-inch baking dish or keep it in the skillet if it's deep enough to hold the potato layer.
  • Top with "dollops" of potatoes so the weight of the potatoes doesn't drag filling into them. Use a spatula (or an offset spatula) to spread the potatoes over the top.
  • Use a fork to drag swirls or marks into the layer of potatoes. Drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of melted butter. 
  • 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.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 20 minutes before serving.



Make ahead of time. Make as directed and then cover and place in fridge for up to 48 hours in advance. Bake as instructed.
STORE any leftovers in an air-tight container for up to 3 days in the fridge.
FREEZE. Let the pan cool after baking, then cover tightly with foil and place in the freezer for up to 2 months. Reheat the pie for 1 hour at 350°F.


Calories: 425kcal, Carbohydrates: 11g, Protein: 17g, Fat: 34g, Saturated Fat: 15g, Cholesterol: 103mg, Sodium: 692mg, Potassium: 448mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 815IU, Vitamin C: 15.1mg, Calcium: 51mg, Iron: 3.1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
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About Natalie

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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Recipe Rating


  1. Jennifer says:

    5 stars
    I used to make the typical version with frozen veggies and fake potatoes- never ever again! This recipe packs five times the flavor and truly is just as easy. Take only a few minutes to chop fresh veggies for this and the potato top is just perfect. With three hungry guys in the house this one is a filler and a winner all in one.

    1. Lil'Luna Team says:

      Yay! So happy to hear you all enjoyed the recipe!

  2. Toni says:

    5 stars
    Maybe I missed it but I don’t see where you put the beef in? Where’s the beef? 😆😆

    1. Kristyn Merkley says:’s in the video, but I need to add it in the instructions. You brown the meat at the very beginning & add the carrots & everything else to the meat. Sorry, about that. Thanks for letting me know!

  3. Hannah says:

    When do you brown The beef?

  4. Karol Westbrook says:

    2 stars
    Am I missing something? When do you cook/aDd the ground beef? I’m halfway through making the filling and realize the instructions left this out. What did I miss? Also, the instructions refer to chicken stock.

    1. Kristyn Merkley says:

      I am so sorry, I need to add it, but you add the meat & brown it, in step 1. And, use beef stock, not chicken. So sorry to have forgotten that!