Home Dinner Classic Shepherd’s Pie Recipe

Classic Shepherd’s Pie Recipe

The key to a great shepherd’s pie is using quality ground lamb. Plus, there should be plenty of aromatics, tender veggies, and creamy, fluffy mashed potatoes on top. 

And this recipe has it all!

Some say it’s British, while others are sure it originated in Ireland. Either way, it’s been a family favorite for generations.

It started as a way for people to repurpose leftovers. Now, it’s the ultimate cold-weather meal and perfect for celebrating St. Patrick’s Day!

Mashed potatoes on top of ground lamb with corn kernels and green peas.
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Why You’ll Love This Shepherd’s Pie

Comfort Food Classic: This hearty dish is a beloved comfort food staple, perfect for cozy family meals and nostalgic indulgence.

Batch Cooking Friendly: Shepherd’s pie is an excellent make-ahead meal, allowing you to prepare large batches and enjoy leftovers throughout the week. It even freezes well!

Easy Preparation: The ingredient list may look long, but recreating this dish is a breeze!

Mashed potatoes in a stainless pot on a marble top.

Ingredients

  • Ground Lamb: Rich, flavorful ground lamb is the traditional choice, but lean ground beef works well, too.
  • Olive Oil: Just a splash to sauté the veggies.
  • Onion, Carrots, and Garlic: The aromatic trio that creates the savory base. Finely chop them for even distribution.
  • Salt and Black Pepper: Seasoning essentials to enhance all the flavors.
  • All-Purpose Flour: The thickening agent that turns the broth into a luscious gravy.
  • Tomato Paste: For depth of flavor and a touch of tangy sweetness.
  • Beef Broth: Adds rich, meaty flavor to the gravy. Choose a high-quality brand for the best results.
  • Worcestershire Sauce: The secret ingredient that provides unami and ties all the flavors together.
  • Fresh Rosemary and Thyme: Woodsy, fragrant herbs that complement the lamb perfectly.
  • Frozen Peas and Corn Kernels: Pops of color and sweetness to balance the dish.
  • Potato Topping: Fluffy mashed potatoes made with milk and butter for extra creaminess. Add a cheesy topping for extra luxury!
Shepherd's pie in a baking dish with green peas and corn kernels.

How to Make Shepherd’s Pie

There’s just something about a hearty shepherd’s pie that screams comfort food.

And while the filling needs to cook on the stove and you have to make a pot of mashed potatoes, it’s really simple to put together. 

1. SAUTÉ: Cook the onion and carrots in oil until soft.

2. ADD: Mix in the garlic, lamb, salt, and pepper and cook until the meat is browned. 

3. SPRINKLE: Stir in the flour, then the tomato paste, broth, Worcestershire, rosemary, and thyme.

4. SIMMER: Reduce the heat and cook until thick. Add the peas and corn last.

5. BOIL: Cook the potatoes in well-salted water, then mash and mix in the milk, butter, salt, and pepper.

6. PREHEAT: Preheat the oven to 400°F (205°C).

7. ASSEMBLE: Pour the thick meat mixture into a 9×13-inch casserole dish and top with the mash. 

8. BAKE: Bake until the filling bubbles and the potatoes brown (about 25 mins).

9. COOL: Let cool for 5-10 mins before serving. Enjoy!

Sauteed ground lamb with green peas and corn kernels in a stainless pan.

Tips For the Best Shepherd’s Pie

No matter what meat you use, the rich gravy loaded with tender veggies is pure stick-to-your-ribs goodness. 

And let’s be honest, what’s not to love about a meal with a big fluffy potato blanket on top?

But before you start, check out these tips:

  • Ground lamb alternative. If you don’t have ground lamb, lean ground beef for a classic cottage pie.
  • Best potatoes. Russet potatoes are ideal for the mashed potato topping as they create a fluffy, creamy texture. But Yukon Gold also works well.
  • Colorful veggies. Don’t be afraid to add mushrooms, celery, and leeks for extra flavor and texture.
  • Red wine. Add 1 cup of red wine before adding the stock. Let it simmer and reduce by at least half before adding the stock.
  • Cool the filling. Let the meat filling cool before topping with the mashed potatoes to keep the layers separate.
  • Broil for color. Place the baked pie under the broiler for a couple of minutes to get the mashed potatoes golden brown on top.
  • Serving suggestions. Shepherd’s pie pairs well with crusty bread or dinner rolls to soak up the flavorful sauce. A light green salad also makes a refreshing contrast to the rich, hearty pie.
  • Make-ahead tip. Prepare the meat filling and mashed potatoes, let them cool, and then refrigerate until ready to bake. You can also assemble, cover tightly with plastic wrap and foil, then freeze for up to 6 months.
Shepherd's pie in a baking dish with a portion scooped out

How to Store

Shepherd’s Pie is my go-to when I want a fuss-free meal that’s guaranteed to warm hearts and fill bellies. 

It’s perfect for chilly evenings, or anytime you’re craving the culinary equivalent of a big hug.

And as mentioned, it stores really well!

To Store: Refrigerate cold leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

To Freeze: Let the shepherd’s pie cool completely, then wrap tightly with plastic wrap and foil and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.

To Reheat: Reheat individual portions in the microwave for 1-2 minutes. For the whole dish, bake covered at 350°F for 20-30 minutes until heated through.

To Bake from Frozen: Unwrap, then cover the dish with fresh foil and cook at 320°F (160°C) for 60-80 minutes. 

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Shepherd’s Pie

Course: Main CourseCuisine: British, Irish
Servings

4

servings
Prep time

20

minutes
Cooking time

30

minutes
Calories

790

kcal

The key to a great shepherd’s pie is quality ground lamb. Plus, there should be plenty of aromatics, tender veggies, and fluffy mashed potatoes on top.

Ingredients

  • Meat Filling
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped

  • 2 carrots, peeled and finely diced

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground lamb (or lean ground beef)

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste

  • 1 cup beef broth

  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary

  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

  • 1 cup frozen peas

  • 1/2 cup frozen corn kernels

  • Mash Potato Topping
  • 2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

  • 1/4 cup milk

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into chunks

  • salt and black pepper, to taste

  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese or mature cheddar, optional

Instructions

  • Make the meat filling. Warm the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and carrots and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the garlic, ground lamb, salt and pepper. Cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until browned, about 8 minutes.
  • Sprinkle the flour over the top and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly, until combined. Add the tomato paste, stir well, and cook for 1 minute. Then, add the beef broth, Worcestershire, rosemary, and thyme.
  • Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring often, for 30-40 minutes or until the sauce is thick. Stir in the peas and corn and adjust the seasoning to taste.
  • Make the mashed potatoes. While the meat cooks, place the potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water. Add a large pinch of salt and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain well.
  • Return the potatoes to the pot and mash until lump-free. Add the milk and butter and mix until well combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (205°C).
  • Transfer the meat mixture to a 9×13-inch baking dish. Spread the mashed potatoes evenly over top and sprinkle over the cheese, if using.
  • Bake until the filling is bubbling and the potatoes are lightly browned, about 25 minutes.
  • Let cool for 5-10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Notes

  • Add 1 cup red wine before adding the stock. Let it simmer and reduce by at least half before adding the stock.
  • Add 2 egg yolks to the mashed potatoes to make them extra rich and creamy. Beat them in before adding the milk and butter.

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author avatar
Kim - InsanelyGood
Hey there! I'm Kim. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

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