This Shepherd’s Pie Recipe is made with tender ground lamb (or beef) and chopped vegetables cooked in a rich gravy, then topped with a layer of creamy delicious mashed potatoes, and baked until golden and bubbly. Simple and easy to make, learn how to make this classic Shepherd’s pie and enjoy it over and over again.
Easy Shepherd’s Pie
This is my absolute favorite shepherd’s pie recipe. It’s hearty, comforting, and loved by my child who, it seems, eats nothing that I make. Ok, that’s not true. He does love my chicken noodle soup, steak bites, overnight oats, and smoothie recipes (particularly this pumpkin smoothie).
Filled with tender chunks of ground lamb, vegetables, and topped with a thick layer of rich and creamy mashed potatoes, this easy shepherd’s pie recipe is also fantastic at feeding a very hungry family.
Although the ingredient list may seem overwhelming at first, they are simple and straightforward. My guess is that you probably have many of them in your pantry already. The best part? Shepherd’s pie is fantastic leftover or frozen and saved for lazy, busy nights when you have no time or desire to cook.
What is Shepherd’s Pie?
Shepherd’s pie is a type of meat pie made with lamb and a crust or topping made from mashed potatoes. Original versions were a way of using leftover roasted meat. The pie dish would have been lined on the bottom and sides with mashed potatoes as well as topped with mashed potatoes before being baked.
Shepherd’s pie is made by cooking the ground lamb in gravy or sauce with vegetables such as onions, carrots, celery, peas, and sometimes corn.
Shepherd’s pie vs Cottage pie
The terms shepherd’s pie and cottage pie are oftentimes used interchangeably. However, there is one key difference: Shepherd’s pie is made with lamb while cottage pie is made with beef.
The thing is this: the term cottage pie came first. In fact, the name cottage pie was put in place sometime around 1791 when the potato became a popular, inexpensive crop for the poor who, not so coincidentally, lived in tiny little “cottages”.
However, sometime around 1854, people started to refer to the cottage pie as a shepherd’s pie. At this time it didn’t matter if it was beef or lamb, cottage pie and shepherd’s pie were, for the most part, considered the same thing.
Until the 20th century. All of a sudden this disambiguation changed when the UK decided that the term shepherd’s pie would apply only when the meat is lamb.
What’s in Shepherd’s Pie?
The basic, must-have ingredients in Shepherd’s pie include:
- Mashed potatoes – You’ll need a nice big batch of creamy mashed potatoes to top your shepherd’s pie. I seasoned mine with salt, pepper, butter, milk, and sour cream (as is my favorite way of making them), but feel free to get creative and add extra herbs or shredded cheese.
- Ground lamb – Personally, I love ground lamb. If it’s not your thing, feel free to use ground beef or ground turkey instead.
- Veggies – In traditional shepherd’s pies, you’ll typically find onions, carrots, celery, and sometimes peas and corn. As with any recipe, add what you love (or have on hand) and leave out the rest.
- Flour – You’ll need something to thicken the gravy. I used all-purpose flour. See suggested options below if flour isn’t a part of your diet.
- Broth – Beef broth, bone broth, chicken broth, or even vegetable broth.
- Tomato paste – Tomato paste helps give your sauce a nice tomato base while also thickening your sauce. If you really like tomatoes, feel free to add a can of diced tomatoes to the meat and veggies as they cook.
- Worcestershire sauce – a flavor must, this sauce adds a hint of umami flavor to the overall dish.
- Garlic – Because garlic goes in all things.
- Fresh herbs – I like to add a little fresh thyme and rosemary. But I also add some dried Italian seasoning too. If you don’t have the option to add fresh herbs, simply add a half teaspoon or so of additional dried seasoning.
How to Make Shepherd’s Pie
1. Cook the mashed potatoes
Check out my full recipe for the creamiest mashed potatoes or use your favorite instant mashed potatoes. You can also substitute regular potatoes for cauliflower to make low-carb creamy mashed cauliflower. Totally up to you.
2. Cook the meat filling
Start by cooking the ground lamb (or beef) in a large heavy-bottomed pan or skillet. Cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Drain any excess fat and remove the ground meat to a clean plate. Set aside.
In the same skillet, cook the vegetables until starting to soften then add the minced garlic. Season with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Sprinkle the vegetables with all-purpose flour and continue to cook over medium heat until fully incorporated. Add the tomato paste and mix well to combine.
Slowly add the broth, Worcestershire sauce, and fresh rosemary. Simmer for about 5 minutes or so before returning the ground meat back to the pan. Cook for another 5 minutes or so and remove from heat.
3. Assemble for baking
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and spray a large baking dish or casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray.
Add the meat mixture to your greased baking dish and spread in an even layer. Top with a thick layer of mashed potatoes.
4. Bake and serve
Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until the potatoes are golden and the filling is bubbling around the edges. Remove from the oven and drizzle with melted butter, if desired.
What to Serve with Shepherd’s Pie
Preparing Shepherd’s Pie Ahead of Time
Sadly, this is not a wham-bam 30-minute meal. That said, it’s a million times worth it so let’s try to get the most out of our time, shall we?
- First and foremost, you can store leftovers, covered, for 3-5 days in the refrigerator. I recommend always properly reheating before serving.
- You can also FREEZE your leftovers! You know what that means, right? Make extra! I always make two of these beauties and freeze one for later. Before freezing allow it to cool, cover tightly, and transfer to the freezer for up to 2-3 months. Cook from frozen for approximately one hour or so and enjoy the meaty goodness all over again.
- Making mashed potatoes? Or baked potatoes? Make extra. You can always use those leftovers to make the mashed potato topping the next day or even the day after that.
- Assemble everything the night or day before and bake the next night. Simply keep it covered and stored in the refrigerator until you’re ready to bake. Easy peasy.
- Use instant mashed potatoes. Not as good as homemade, but worth their weight in gold when time is short and people are hungry.
Recipe Tips and Tricks
- For a more deeply flavored gravy add a quarter to half a cup of red wine just before adding the broth.
- If you plan to make this Shepherd’s pie recipe with ground beef instead of ground lamb, use lean ground beef. It will be hearty enough without the extra grease.
- To make this Shepherd’s pie recipe vegetarian, simply omit the meat and double the vegetables. Instead of chicken or beef broth, use vegetable broth and use a vegan Worcestershire sauce.
- Make it lower in carbs by replacing the mashed potatoes with mashed cauliflower.
- Make it a little sweeter – Yep, make a Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie! I’ve been making this recipe for years. It’s my all-time fav.
- Try adding other veggies such as corn or mushrooms.
- Place a large baking sheet under your baking dish just in case some of the filling bubbles up over the sides as it bakes.
More Lamb Recipes and Cooking Resources
- Biryani Recipe – How to Make Chicken and Lamb Biryani
- Garlic Herb Lamb Chops (How to Cook Lamb Chops)
- Slow Cooker Harissa Lamb Tacos
- Middle Eastern Curried Lamb Meatballs
- Grilled Lamb Kebab Platter with Basil Goat Cheese
- What is Mirepoix? How to Make and Use Mirepoix
- Potato Types: A Guide to Popular Types of Potatoes
Have you tried making this Easy Shepherd’s Pie Recipe?
Tell me about it in the comments below! I always love to hear your thoughts. And tag me #theforkedspoon on Instagram if you’ve made any of my recipes, I always love to see what you’re cooking in the kitchen.
Shepherd’s Pie Recipe
For the Potatoes
- 3 pounds russet potatoes (peeled and cut into quarters)
- 6 tablespoon butter
- 1.5 cups milk
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- salt and pepper (to taste)
For the Filling
- 2 tablespoon olive oil (divided)
- 2.5 pounds ground lamb
- salt and pepper (to season)
- 1 large onion (diced)
- 4 large carrots (peeled and diced)
- 6 stalks celery (diced)
- 5 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 4 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2½ cups chicken broth
- 3 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 teaspoon fresh rosemary (chopped)
- 2 cups peas (fresh or frozen)
For the Potatoes
- Prepare potatoes – Peel potatoes and chop them into chunks approximately equal in size for even cooking.
- Cook potatoes – Transfer potatoes to a large stockpot and sprinkle with approximately 1 teaspoon of salt. Cover potatoes with cold water and bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until potatoes are fork-tender, approximately 20-25 minutes (cooking time will vary depending on the size of potato chunks). Remove from heat and drain then return back to the pot.
- Heat the milk and butter – Add the butter, milk, sour cream, salt, and pepper to a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook until hot stirring often.
- Mash the potatoes – Meanwhile, use a potato masher to mash the potatoes. Pour the heated milk and butter mixture in with the mashed potatoes and continue to mash and mix until desired texture and consistency are reached. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
For the Filling
- Preheat oven. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. and spray a large casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray.
- Cook the lamb and beef. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ground lamb and use a wooden spatula to break it apart into smaller pieces. Continue to cook until browned – approximately 5 minutes. Drain any excess fat and remove the ground lamb to a clean plate. Set aside.
- Sauté the vegetables. To the same skillet add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until soft, approximately 3-4 minutes. Stir often. Add the carrots and celery to the skillet and continue to cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring often. Add the minced garlic and sauté for 60 seconds, stirring continuously, before seasoning with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning.
- Sprinkle with flour and mix with tomato paste. Reduce heat to medium and sprinkle the vegetables with 3 tablespoons of flour, mixing thoroughly to incorporate the flour into the vegetables. Mix in the tomato paste, reducing heat if necessary to prevent it from burning.
- Add broth and Worcestershire sauce and simmer. Slowly add the chicken broth and mix well to combine. Add the Worcestershire sauce and fresh chopped rosemary and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook for approximately 5 minutes.
- Return the ground lamb and peas. Return the lamb to the vegetables and add the peas. Mix well to combine and cook for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Put it together. Spread the lamb and vegetable mixture evenly into your greased 9×13-inch baking dish. Top with a thick layer of mashed potatoes.
- Bake. Transfer to the oven and bake at 400 degrees F. for approximately 20-30 minutes, or until the potatoes are golden and the filling is bubbling around the edges.
- Garnish and serve. Remove from the oven and drizzle with melted butter, and sprinkle with fresh herbs, if desired.
- Store leftovers. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. You may also freeze extras in a freezer-safe dish for up to 3 months.
- Feel free to substitute the ground lamb for any combination of ground turkey, ground beef, ground pork, or ground chicken.
- Make this recipe vegetarian by omitting all ground meat and doubling the vegetables. You may also use a ground beef substitute such as Beyond Beef or Gardein.
- To make this recipe gluten-free substitute the all-purpose flour for rice flour or cornstarch instead. Double-check to make sure your Worcestershire sauce is gluten-free.
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.)