The Best Classic Shepherd’s Pie

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The Best Classic Shepherd’s Pie – AKA Shepards Pie or Cottage Pie. Ground Beef (or lamb) with vegetables in a rich gravy, topped with cheesy mashed potatoes, and baked.

Classic Shepards Pie on a plate

Shepherd’s Pie

So, this is how you spell it:  Shepherd’s Pie.  But, from doing a quick google search, it came to my attention that TONS of people think it’s Shepards Pie.

Irish Shepherd’s Pie

Traditional Irish Shepherd’s Pie would actually call for ground lamb.  The difference between Shepherd’s Pie and Cottage Pie is the meat.  Cottage Pie uses ground beef, while Shepherd’s Pie uses ground lamb.

I called this recipe Shepherd’s Pie.  But, I wrote the recipe so that you could use ground beef or ground lamb.

I typically use ground beef because it is widely available.  But, for a special occasion, like St. Patricks day, I would use ground lamb.

How To Make Shepherd’s Pie

(Note – The full printable recipe is at the bottom of this post)

  • Sauté some chopped onions in olive oil.
  • Add ground beef or ground lamb.

Skillet full of sautéed onions and ground beef for The Best Classic Shepards Pie Recipe

  • Add dried parsley, dried thyme, dried rosemary, salt, and pepper.
  • Stir and cook the meat mixture until the meat is browned.
  • Add minced garlic and Worcestershire sauce.

Adding minced garlic and worcestershire sauce to a skillet of ground lamb and chopped onions for The Best Classic Shepherd's Pie Recipe

  • Cook the garlic for a minute.
  • Add flour and tomato paste.

Adding flour and tomato paste to a skillet full of ground beef and onions for Easy Shepherd's Pie

  • Add beef broth, frozen mixed peas and carrots, and frozen corn kernels.
  • Simmer the meat gravy until it is thick.

Skillet full of the seasoned meat and vegetable gravy for Irish Shepherd's Pie

  • Boil some peeled and chopped potatoes until they are soft.
  • Drain the potatoes

Pot of boiling potatoes for homemade Shepards Pie

  • Add butter, half & half, parmesan cheese, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
  • Mash the potatoes until smooth.

Mashing cooked potatoes in a pot with butter, half & half, parmesan cheese, garlic powder, salt, and pepper for Classic Shepherd's Pie

  • Pour the meat mixture into a casserole dish.
  • Top it with the cheesy mashed potatoes.

A casserole dish with Cottage Pie beef on the bottom and parmesan mashed potatoes being spread on top

  • Bake until the meat is bubbling and the potatoes are golden.

A baked casserole dish of homemade Shepherd's pie

Easy Shepherd’s Pie

Making the best Shepherd’s Pie is not difficult.  But, there are a few steps to it.  You have to make the meat mixture, the mashed potatoes, assemble the casserole, and bake it.

I find that the easiest way to make this dish is to work ahead.  You could make the beef or lamb mixture ahead of time.  Or, you could make the mashed potatoes ahead of time.

Piece of Shepards pie on a plate with layers of mashed potatoes and meat gravy with peas, carrots, onions, and corn

You could also make the whole recipe ahead of time.  Just assemble the casserole, cover the dish, and keep it in the refrigerator until you are ready to bake it.  I find it is best to bake it within 3 days of preparing it.

When you are ready to bake it, take it out of the refrigerator for about 20 minutes before you need to bake it to let it start coming to room temperature.  Uncover it, and bake.

What to serve with The Best Shepherd’s Pie

Watch the Video for the Best Classic Shepherd’s Pie Below.

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A piece of the best shepherd's pie on a plate with layers of cottage pie beef and vegetable gravy topped with parmesan cheese mashed potatoes

Best Classic Shepherd’s Pie Recipe

4.98 from 1100 votes
The Best Classic Shepherd's Pie - AKA Shepards Pie or Cottage Pie. Ground Beef (or lamb) with vegetables in a rich gravy, topped with cheesy mashed potatoes and baked.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes


Servings 6 servings
Calories 400 kcal


Meat Filling:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1 lb. 90% lean ground beef -or ground lamb
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves -minced
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 cup frozen mixed peas & carrots*
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn kernels

Potato Topping:

  • 1 ½ - 2 lb. russet potatoes -about 2 large potatoes peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter -1 stick
  • 1/3 cup half & half
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese


Make the Meat Filling.

  • Add the oil to a large skillet and place it over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Add the onions. Cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the ground beef (or ground lamb) to the skillet and break it apart with a wooden spoon. Add the parsley, rosemary, thyme, salt, and and pepper. Stir well. Cook for 6-8 minutes, until the meat is browned, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the Worcestershire sauce and garlic. Stir to combine. Cook for 1 minute.
  • Add the flour and tomato paste. Stir until well incorporated and no clumps of tomato paste remain.
  • Add the broth, frozen peas and carrots, and frozen corn. Bring the liquid to a boil then reduce to simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Set the meat mixture aside. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Make the potato topping.

  • Place the potatoes in a large pot. Cover the potatoes with water. Bring the water to a boil. Reduce to a simmer. Cook until potatoes are fork tender, 10-15 minutes.
  • Drain the potatoes in a colander. Return the potatoes to the hot pot. Let the potatoes rest in the hot pot for 1 minute to evaporate any remaining liquid.
  • Add butter, half & half, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Mash the potatoes and stir until all the ingredients are mixed together.
  • Add the parmesan cheese to the potatoes. Stir until well combined.

Assemble the casserole.

  • Pour the meat mixture into a 9x9 (or 7x11) inch baking dish. Spread it out into an even layer. Spoon the mashed potatoes on top of the meat. Carefully spread into an even layer.
  • If the baking dish looks very full, place it on a rimmed baking sheet so that the filling doesn’t bubble over into your oven. Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes.** Cool for 15 minutes before serving.


*If you can’t find frozen mixed peas and carrots, you could use ½ cup frozen peas and ½ cup frozen sliced carrots.
**Bake at 400° F.  Start preheating the oven after you make the meat mixture (listed in step 6).


Serving: 1/6th of the recipe | Calories: 400kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 30g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Cholesterol: 97mg | Sodium: 751mg | Potassium: 483mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 2860IU | Vitamin C: 7.9mg | Calcium: 99mg | Iron: 2.7mg
Course Dinner, Entree, Main Course
Keyword Classic shepherd's pie, How to make shepherd's pie, Shepherd's Pie Recipe
Cuisine American, Irish
Author Amanda Finks

Check out all of my great ground beef recipes.

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  1. The best shepherd’s pie recipe I have tried! I made it with lamb and it was delicious. I have made other recipes and it’s never come out great so I’ve stuck to the premade seasoning packets but I will never use them again after using this recipe.

  2. 5 stars
    So delicious! Best shepherds pie I’ve ever made! The spice blend really makes this recipe stand apart from the rest

  3. 5 stars
    I made this last night and it was so delicious! I used ground beef, and I did end up using almost 2 cups of broth because it seemed to soak it up so fast during the simmer process. I’ve made shepherds pie before but it never tasted this good. Will definitely make again.

  4. 5 stars
    Thank you for the great recipe! I considered this recipe for the simplistic nature and staying true to the origin of shepherds pie.
    Having said that, I take measurements as a suggestion and add extra spices to enhance and serve my family’s palate.
    Next time I make this recipe I’ll add stewed tomatoes for flavor, liquid and texture and omit corn (texture didn’t flow).
    I had Idahoan potatoes on hand that made the potato topping super easy and flavorful.
    Thanks again!

  5. 5 stars
    I have made this twice now. My 3 year old asks for seconds each time and my husband devours it! I shared it with my sister and sister in laws and all around rave reviews from adults and kids alike! Thank you!!

  6. I made this recipe the day before and I tripled it! Since I did that it took about 2 hours for it to warm up. My husband kept sticking the thermometer in it. My sons loved it and all wanted some to take home with them. This is definitely a keeper recipe everyone loved it and it was really easy to make.

  7. I have been leery of recipes including tomato-sauce based anything because I am not a huge fan of tomato-based sauces. I made this tonight and was hoping for leftovers for tomorrow or even a small dish for my FIL. My husband and 2 teen sons were fighting over getting seconds and thirds. I will have to double this the next time (which I’ve been told is next week). Also, I didn’t have any thyme-I used all I had yesterday in my Irish stew-so I substituted marjoram and my only frozen veggies were the corn, peas, carrots, and green beans….my boys actually didn’t pick out the green beans this time. It was amazing and delicious and will now be a staple meal for our family!

  8. 5 stars
    I’ve made this recipe twice in two weeks. My mom even suggested that it’s better than her Irish friend’s version. Delicious!

    Has anyone assembled theirs in advance? I’m wondering how long I should cook a whole one for once it’s been in the fridge.

  9. I would like to know if anyone has changed the kind of meat I have leftover eyeround I would like to use instead of ground beef . Though I am not sure how well it will bond together and if I’ll need anything else to help it stay together and thoughts would be greatly appreciated

  10. This was delicious!!! I definitely will be making again. I did not have thyme so I used marjoram instead. I also do not like cooked carrots so I substituted canned tomatoes for the carrots. The filling made a good bit so I froze half of it for later. A wonderful hearty dish!!

  11. Could I cook in cast iron skillet and then add the potatoes to the top of that and bake it in the skillet?

  12. 5 stars
    This is a delicious recipe! I haven’t made shepherd’s pie before bit I will definitely be making this recipe again,

  13. 5 stars
    I was looking for a Shephard’s Pie recipe today and stumbled across this website. As I read through the recipe and looked at the pictures, I decided to make this recipe for dinner. The dish turned out amazing! Really delicious and will definitely be sharing this recipe with friends and family and sharing the website.

  14. 5 stars
    Use lamb! Most important use FRESH ingredients! Replace ALL dried herbs with fresh: where is says 1 tsp dry, use 1 Tbsp fresh. 2T fresh for 2t dry, etc. And, use fresh veggies, NOT frozen. Cut the corn off the cob, etc. And, 6 cloves of garlic, not 2. (if you like garlic) Using all fresh and more garlic this is AWESOME Shepherds Pie.

  15. 5 stars
    This was delicious! I love Shepard’s Pie and this came out very flavorful. I did make the mashed potatoes Hungarian style (sour cream and egg added in) but that’s how we always make mashed potatoes. I’ll use this recipe again!

  16. 5 stars
    This recipe. Omg. So amazing even my partner was excited about it and he does not get excited about much that I cook! So easy and delicious!

About Amanda Finks

I’m a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist living in Zionsville, IN. I’m an avid cook, travel nerd, & lover of good food! I’m trained in Food Science & recipe development. It’s my mission to bring you the BEST recipes your whole family will love!

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