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. 4 stars
    Great recipe. Save yourself a little time and frustration and make yourself a good rue before you start. Recipe leaves things a tad wet for my taste. But the flavors are great. I used chopped beef and made a stock from bone marrow. So good.

  2. 5 stars
    Love this recipe, super easy to put together and flavorful. I use ground lamb because I love lamb but I made it with lean ground beef too and that’s just as good. This is a recipe that if you have a helper can be made faster such as one grating cheese or chopping onion and garlic and prepping potatoes. While my fiancé browns the meat I add the herbs and other ingredients. Total comfort food and no need to serve with anything else except maybe a small salad.

  3. 5 stars
    made this for senior community bingo and every one, and I mean every one, loved it and requested the recipe saying it was the best they ever had! It is in my recipe file.

  4. 5 stars
    Delicious! I even added some red wine in with the stock and can’t believe how good this is.
    Definitely will make it again

  5. 5 stars
    Honestly! This recipe is SO good. We made it for a church group tonight and they were coming up for seconds.

  6. 5 stars
    I’ve got the pie in the oven! The only thing I didn’t have was half and half but it’s not going to hurt the dish. It’ll be enough for leftovers too!! My family is going to love it, I just know.

  7. 5 stars
    This was delicious! The best one I’ve ever made. The only thing i didn’t add was the garlic in the potatoes and that’s only because it’s my preference. My husband has asked me to make it again!

  8. 5 stars
    help me out here, guys!
    Has anyone got advice on where to find (and what type of) 2lbs spuds?
    2 potatoes around here do NOT weigh 3-4 lbs!

    That aside, very tasty! I make it all the time

  9. 5 stars
    I just made this today and it turned out so delicious! The recipe is so easy to follow and quick to make. My husband and I like things spicy, so I added a Tbsp of red chili peppers and a bit more of the beef stock because mine was getting a bit thick. I also didn’t have russet potatoes, so I ended up using yellow flesh potatoes, but they worked just fine. At the end of it all, my husband and I loved it! This is definitely a new recipe in my regular rotation.

  10. 5 stars
    Made this for my family. Never had made it before. Followed recipe exactly and everyone loved it. It did have an overwhelming taste of rosemary that I will leave out next time but definitely a keeper!

    1. 5 stars
      First time tried this recipe. Everyone literally inhaled it! I have a lot of mouths to feed, so I doubled the recipe and I added a light topping of shredded cheddar cheese on top of the potato mixture. Delicious! I had one question though…I didn’t see mention of whether to drain the grease after cooking the meat, or to keep all of it as part of the “gravy” mixture, so I drained most of the fat and added extra beef broth. If I failed, it still was amazing!

    2. 5 stars
      I’ve made this recipe several times know.
      Family loves it. Only problem I have with it
      is I eat way too much of it.
      I just wanted to ad… you can freeze it.
      I make a large amount (makes 4). I use the disposable aluminum foil 8″ x 8″ containers
      w/ same type of lids.
      We eat 1, give 1 away, and freeze 2
      They’re good in the freezer for 6 months.

    3. 5 stars
      First time having Shepherds pie and I never would have imagined it tastes this good. This recipe is the only one I’ve had but it HITS.

    1. 5 stars
      I have made this before and my family loved it. What I am wondering is has anyone tried to put it together and freeze it to bake later? How would one go about it?

    1. 5 stars
      I’m making this for the second time in three days, my husband and I loved it! The only step I’d add is to remember to drain the hamburger before adding in the garlic and Worcester sauce. It could be easy to forget if you are just going step by step.

      It really is even better reheated the next day! Yum.
      Thank you SO much for this fantastic recipe!

    2. 5 stars
      It funny,I’m from Indiana also. Zionsville was close to us and been there many times. Your recipe is very similar to my Grandma’s, which I loved. Now I love to cook, and can’t wait to make this. One question. Is there a reason you use frozen vegetables or can I use caned as well.

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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