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


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
    Wonderful recipe. I substituted ground venison and added for the meat and added a tbd of g butter and included some mushrooms pan roasted and added to the base. Thank you so for sharing this recipe. It was wonderful even with the changes.

  2. I am from South Africa so I had to google what half and half is. The pie was delicious, and will definitely be my go-to recipe. Thank you for sharing.

  3. 5 stars
    Wonderful recipe! I used 7 medium potatoes and a little more half and half for the mashed potatoes. I also used one cup each of the peas, carrots and corn. It was the best Shepherds Pie I’ve ever had.

  4. 5 stars
    This is a phenomenal recipe! Highly recommend! We add extra Worcestershire sauce since the word is long and hard to pronounce and it enhances the flavor! Caveat: the prep time listed here is cheating the system somehow. It took me a full hour running around at record speed before it got to the oven bake time. Enjoy!!!

  5. 5 stars
    As a cancer patient w/ swallowing challenges I’ve been looking for healthy options. This has become a staple for me. Really tasty and even better as left overs.

  6. 5 stars
    We really enjoy this recipe.. we never have peas on hand, so I use canned string beans and cut those in half so they’re more the size with the carrot pieces. What I like about this dish is I can make the mashed potatoes during the day so when it comes time to preparing the meat it seems to be a lot easier… even though it’s technically the same amount of work and time… 🤣😉

  7. 5 stars

    I added a little red wine to it. This was a house crowd pleaser. My 8 year old, and 3 year old loved it!!!

  8. 5 stars
    Seemed to be a typo either in the amount of beef or the amount of potatoes. Weighed another potato after we finished layering and they were nearly 1 pound each on the money. The meat and veggies were 1 1/2 inches deep and only about 1/2 inch of potatoes. Either needed to cut the beef part in half or double the potato’s. Taste thought is 10/10. Thanks!

    1. 5 stars
      Made this for the first time. The only thing I changed was adding japanese golden curry paste. With a sprinkle of cheddar after potatoes were golden brown, my son is sometimes picky and my fiance was skeptical. I used 2xs recipe and let me say it was phenomenal. I thought I’d have lord of left overs, but nope husband had 3 helpings, my son and I had 2. New favorite thank you!!!

    2. 5 stars
      I weighed my russet potatoes in the store and bought 1 1/2 pounds, which was 4 good size russet potatoes and the meat layer was the same depth as my mashed potato layer. This recipe is a keeper for us.

  9. 5 stars
    This has to be the best Shepherd Pie ever made.Made multiple times. Due to Husband is a picky eater.
    Due to cost of groceries, could the filling be made then FREEZED for future meal. When ready to make defrost then add mash potatoes.
    Any suggestions greatly appreciated.

  10. 5 stars
    This has become a family favorite and I often make it for guests too, who always love it! In fact I am making it again today for my husband and I and thought I should finally give compliments to the original chef for the recipe! It is delicious! I use lamb when I make it by the way!

  11. 5 stars
    This recipe was amazing! My family was crazy for it! Most definitely will be a main staple in my cooking routine!!! Minor changes: I used butter instead of oil, and cooked fresh carrots and celery with the onions. I only had fresh rosemary on hand, but it all turned out yummmmmy.

  12. 5 stars
    Best ever Shepherd’s. So much flavour. I used half cauliflower and half potato for topping and added some mushrooms to the meat (to get some extra vegetables into the dish) component. Many thanks highly recommend making this dish so much flavour.

  13. 5 stars
    For those that have doubled the recipe….did it work good…any modifications? This is one of our families favorite recipes and I am having a big family dinner tonight and would like to make it. Suggestions welcome!!

  14. 5 stars
    This is now my go-to Shepherds Pie recipe (after trying so many others). Adding garlic powder to the mash makes this extremely special.

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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