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. 5 stars
    I’ve made this several times now. Always a hit with my family. Even my picky 5 year old will eat this! I add a whole bag of frozen veggie mix with peas, carrots, corn, and green beans. I also add a bit more worcestershire, garlic, and salt than called for. Sprinkle a little extra cheese on top before baking and it’s perfect!

  2. 5 stars
    This is ridiculously good! We LOVED it! This is by far the best recipe I’ve ever tried, and is definitely the only one I’ll ever make again!

  3. 5 stars
    Made the cottage pie version tonight, using lean ground beef and making a few substitutions to lower the fat. I used olive oil spray to brown the meat, adding some onion flakes since my husband does not like chopped onions. I drained what little fat there was after browning the meat. I added more veggies: par-cooked fresh chopped carrots and green beans, along with frozen peas and corn. Instead of plain flour, I used 2 1/2 T of onion gravy mix, 1/2c low sodium beef bullion and 1/2 c water, along with the Worcestershire, tomato paste and the dried herbs. To the salted, cooked potatoes, I added only 1 1/2T of butter, 1/8c of half and half, 1/4 c light sour cream, a little low fat milk, garlic salt and 1T grated Parmesan. I tried to keep the potatoes on the dry side. I used 4 individual pot pie tins and cooled the meat mixture slightly before topping it with the mashed potatoes, as some of the tips indicated. I baked it for 30 min. It was savory and seasonings were just right. We cleaned our plates. A keeper!

  4. 5 stars
    Wow! This was amazing and was pretty easy to put together. My family LOVED it. This was our first time having Shepherd’s Pie and we are now fans. Thank you so much for providing this wonderful recipe!

  5. 5 stars
    I made this for St. Patrick’s day and it was a big hit. Everyone loved the taste of it. One of the best recipes for shepherds pie I have tasted! It will deffinately be on my list of go to meals. Company worthy. A great comfort food too. I am making it for a friend who recently lost her husband.

    I will also try it with ground turkey instead of beef to cut down some fat and calories.

    Thank you so much for posting this recipe.

  6. Would it make any difference if I used canned peas and corn and fresh carrots? I usually have those on hand but not so much frozen versions.

  7. Do you guys drain your ground beef or not ? I was confused by this… I didn’t see it anywhere in the recipe…

  8. I have never been a fan of Shepherd’s Pie but I make it once a year for my husband who loves it. This is a game-changer! I followed the recipe with only a few minor changes which include using unsalted chicken stock instead of beef broth or beef stock, about six cloves of garlic minced, and maybe 4 tablespoons of fresh parsley as opposed to one teaspoon of dried. I only used about 2 tablespoons of Parmesan in the mashed potatoes because my husband is not a great big fan of parm. Absolutely delicious and I look forward to making it again. Many many thanks for this delicious recipe.

  9. 5 stars
    I didn’t use russet potatoes, but Yukon Golds and the potatoes were too runny. My fault. Nevertheless, this was truly delicious. Based on another comment, I did measure the herbs a bit scant, but I think they would have been fine with the full measure. Perhaps the other person who thought they were too strong used ground instead of full leaf rosemary and thyme? In any case, the seasonings were just right.

    I really loved the parmesan in the potatoes! I was very generous with my measure of that (maybe double) because I used a rasp grater which usually ends up making the cheese under-measured.

    I am certainly saving this recipe, and if I use the Yukon Gold potatoes (which tasted great) again, I’ll carefully watch how much liquid I put in rather than go with the recipe amount.

  10. 5 stars
    This was the best shepherd’s pie I have ever had. The family loved it! I made it with ground lamb, yukon gold potatoes, fresh herbs, extra garlic and much less butter. It was amazing.

  11. 5 stars
    My first Shepherds/Cottage Pie ever and we loved it!! However, I did take a shortcut by using prepared mashed potatoes from the grocery store (time saver), doctored them a little and it was still absolutely delicious! Will definitely use this recipe again.👏👍

  12. This is an amazing dish! I made it for St Patrick’s Day and we all loved it. Even my 13 month old gobbled it up. Not hard to make and so flavorful! I’d highly recommend this recipe!!!

  13. 5 stars
    Made this for St. Patrick’s Day last night, and it came out great! I substituted ground turkey for the beer/ lamb. Your time estimates seem to be a little optimistic though – this took me almost 2 1/2 hours to make. Also I feel like you could be making the potatoes while cooking the meat mixture to save time, I don’t see any reason to delay that step.

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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