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 2116 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. 5 stars
    This recipe is amazing! Didn’t change anything on the recipe. Delicious! Will for sure use this recipe anytime Shepard’s Pie is requested.

  2. 4 stars
    I made this on St Patty’s Day using ground lamb. Next time I will use ground beef. The gameyness of the lamb was a little too much for me!

    1. Hi Donna, I’ve never cooked with lamb, but I’ve cooked a lot of wild rabbits, squirrels, and venison. I have found out during my years of cooking, that if you want to tame the gaminess of lamb, or other gamey meats, usually soaking it in milk will do the trick or cooking it along with another meat and mix them together worked for me. Especially with venison roast. Cook it and a beef roast together, shred, and voila! Shredded roast sandwiches or add some barbecue sauce and make sammies with it.
      If you soak the lamb in milk, you can soak it for a few hours or overnight. When you take the lamb out of the milk, rinse it off and cook as usual.

    2. 5 stars
      So SOOOOOO yummy!!! I didn’t have carrots on hand but chopped up a bell pepper and sautéed with the onion instead. I also topped the potatoes with a half cup of shredded cheddar and WOW 🤩 this recipe is a new Sunday go-to!

  3. 5 stars
    Excellent dish. My husband wants me to double it next time so that we will have more leftovers. It is a long list of ingredients, but I had all of them in my pantry and freezer, and those ingredients give the dish such a depth of flavor. I will certainly make it again.

  4. 5 stars
    Excellent however I improvised a bit. I added a can of rotel which I sautéed before and with onions and I put Parmesan on top of potatoes rather than mixing in. Otherwise perfect

  5. 5 stars
    This is the Best recipe. All the spices are well balanced and all cooks up delicious. I made it with ground beef as my husband doesn’t care for lamb. It worked very well! It’s a keeper for sure! Mashed potato topping is just the right ratio to the meat filling using a 9× 9 inch square casserole dish. Very good!

  6. 5 stars
    You have some of the best recipes I have ever made. This Shepherd’s pie is delicious and my family loves it. I made it last week and then made a double recipe to freeze today. I assembled it but did not bake it. Any suggestions on baking it after it is frozen?
    Thank you.
    p.s. Your chicken pot pie is excellent and worth the effort of making your own crust!

  7. 5 stars
    My family absolutely loved this version of shepherd’s (cottage) pie! We have tried other recipes for shepherd’s pie in the past and this recipe by far has been the best that we’ve found. I doubled the potatoes to make more mashed potatoes to put a thick coating on top, added some shredded cheddar cheese into the potatoes while mashing and sprinkled the parmesan cheese over the top before baking. It sounds like a lot of ingredients but it was so easy to put together and so very, very tasty! YUM! This recipe will be used again and again!

  8. 5 stars
    This recipe had amazing depth of flavors and richness . I altered the flour with a bit of brown gravey mix. It was absolutely delicious.

  9. 5 stars
    I made this recipe a few days ago and my husband, who grew up eating Shepards Pie said it was like he remembered eating as a kid. We both enjoyed it and I am looking forward to making it again. Thank you.

  10. 5 stars
    Tried this for St. Patrick’s Day weekend 2023–made it today March 18th. It is great–really good. Haven’t had this since I was a young boy. I’ll be having plenty more. Not difficult to make and doesn’t make much of a mess to clean up. I bought Leg of Lamb at the grocery store and used my electric grinder to turn 1-1/3 lbs. into ground Lamb for the Shepherd’s Pie–the rest will be for Lamb Stew in the Slow Cooker.

    1. 5 stars
      Amazing dish! My husband asked me to make this dish after having it at a dinner party. I made it exactly like the recipe. He loved it! Next time I will put potatoes at the bottom with cheddar cheese before adding meat mixture and then adding another layer of potatoes. I read it in one of the comments.
      Thank you!

  11. 5 stars
    Easy and delicious meal. Can be one pan if you have something oven safe after the sautéing on the stove. Next time will cut the rosemary and thyme a little bit. Maybe restaurants have us used to something with less flavor. Also another change we will make, but using same recipe, put mashed potatoes on top after it has already been in the oven 20 minutes. We really like the separation of the two and the liquids of the meal boiled up through the potatoes. We cheated like most here and used refrigerated ones (bob Evans or hormel)

  12. 5 stars
    I made this recipe and it was fabulous. Used Elk hamburger instead and added a teaspoon of beef bouillon. I also like a bit of celery seed in my meat pies and doubled the potatoes because I like love potatoes. Plus, to make it gluten free I used Gefen pure Potato Starch instead of flour (1 tablespoon). I piped (withcake icing bag) the potatoes on. This recipe made two- 9 inch pies. I froze one on a tray a bit before covering it with foil. My son took that one back to college with him and baked it when he got home. He loved it. My husband loved it. Will definitely make this one of my go-to recipes.

  13. 5 stars
    I’ve been watching old British Crime shows lately and in one, “Pie in the Sky”, the chef recommends putting a layer of potatoes at the bottom AND over top. So I did just that and also sprinkled a little more parmesan and it was excellent! Will definitely make again.

  14. 5 stars
    Made on St. Patrick’s Day and it was a hit! Doubled the recipe without doubling the butter and it was perfect. I couldn’t find frozen carrots, so I just cut up fresh ones (next time I’ll soften them with the onion, but no one seemed to mind a little crunch. Thank you for sharing the recipe! Will definitely make again!

  15. 5 stars
    Excellent. My whole family loved it.. I made in 3 separate baking dishes, one batch with plant based hamburger for my vegetarian daughter and one dish with only corn for my other daughter that doesn’t eat peas and carrots. My wife and I got the batch exactly from the recipe. A bit more work but to have a meal that everyone in my family says, ” Please make this again!”, Is rare. Because I had 3 dishes to cover didn’t have enough real mashed potatoes so had to supplement with a package of instant. Still delicious! Thanks for a great recipe.

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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