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 951 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

Video

Servings 6 servings
Calories 400 kcal

Ingredients
 

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

Instructions

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.

Notes

*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).

Nutrition

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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Comments

  1. Last year about this time, made this for “Girls Week” at St. George Island, FL, 8 of us. I made no side sides, but 1 of the ladies cut tomatoes with mozzarella cheese. We almost ate all of it. everyone raved! Then, we simply had to ,finish it! This recipe is so easy to follow, needs no adjusting, except size, maybe.
    I made some for my boss & his wife when he was recovering from knee surgery. They loved it. Also made for my son & girlfriend; they were totally impressed. Lamb is new to her; I introduced lamb during holidays over 6 years ago. The ground lamb is the best; never tried this with beef.
    I’m taking your marvelous Shepherd’s Pie again this weekend, (tomorrow) by request. I added apple salad & baked butternut squash this time.
    You did great, thank you so much from all of us. Sooooooooo yummy!!!!! And nutritious.

  2. 5 stars
    Whoa! I tasted the meat filling when i was taking it off burner and was THIS close to devouring whole pan right on the spot ;o

  3. 5 stars
    This was so good . This recipe is a keeper and I would consider making this for company . My husband loved it!

  4. 5 stars
    Perfection. Added a little layer of cheddar cheese between meat/potato layers. Made brown gravy and ate this over biscuits!

  5. 5 stars
    This is by far the best Shepherd’s pie I’ve ever had. I’ve made it twice—once all beef and once half pan half beef. I prefer the all beef. It was so good I couldn’t wait to make it again.

  6. I tried this recipe today. I did not have any tomato paste so I substituted ketchup. It was delicious and I definitely will make it again. My husband said it was very tasty.’ Thank you. I also did not use paarmesan cheese but shredded sharp cheddar.
    Mary

  7. 5 stars
    Hello. Do I need to drain the fat after browning the beef? Looking forward to a great evening dinner.
    Thanks, John.

  8. 5 stars
    Loved this recipe so much! It is easy to follow and the result is delicious. The mashed potatoes with the cheese gave the flavor an extra twist. Thank you so much for this recipe. Will definitely be doing it again!

  9. 4 stars
    This recipe turned out great, but it took way more time than the recipe described. I spent over 2 and half hours preparing this dish for my family as it was described. Also, I would recommend using a fork and putting furrows on top of the dish right before you put it in the oven, and also consider spraying it with a bit of cooking spray. That should crisp the top right off for a nice finish.

  10. 5 stars
    I remember Shepherds pie from my childhood. I always found it bland and gross. Not this recipe! So simple and easy to make yet packed with flavour. Keeps well so good for work lunches. Will make again

  11. 5 stars
    The best Shepards’s (cottage) pie I’ve ever made!!! The mashed potatoes on top are also delicious, I would use that recipe for mash on its own it’s so good! The recipe was so easy to follow and the video was a good addition for extra reference. Thank you for posting an incredible recipe and sharing it with people like myself who really appreciate a hearty and tasty meal!

    1. 5 stars
      I want to start off by saying that I am not the best cook, but this recipe was easy to follow. A perfect comfort meal with good flavor! I plan to check out more recipes.

  12. 5 stars
    This was my first time making a shepherds pie. I have avoided them because my mom used to make them all the time and I did not like it. My husband asked for it so I gave it a shot and omg it was so good!! Nothing like I remember! (Sorry mom). Will definitely be making this again.

  13. 5 stars
    This is absolutely delicious and would definitely work for feeding company at the house. It was no trouble to make either. Thanks for sharing.

    1. I don’t eat beef & was wondering if ground chicken would work? I’ve been hungry for Sheppard’s pie for awhile, your recipe looks delicious & easy to follow.

    1. 5 stars
      Great recipe! I added fresh grated horseradish and fresh grated ginger. Also, ground to Turmeric and ground curry powder for extra flavor and health benefits.

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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