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 1638 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
      Excellent dish! I was out of Worcestershire Sauce so I substituted with a little A1 Sauce and it still came out delicious. I did also make the potatoes first because it took me a while to peel, cut and boil them, and I didn’t want the meat to be sitting out that long. Doubled the recipe for my family of 6 and it was a hit👍👍

  1. 5 stars
    I’ve been eating shepherd’s pie for many decades..if you think about it it’s been 60 years of eating shepherd’s pie, and still not tired of eating it..!!!!🤙🤩

  2. 5 stars
    Amazing!!!! I made this tonight and my picky 13 year old, and husband both said put this on the regular rotation. Let’s not get seconds so we can have leftovers for lunch.

  3. I’ve made other Shepherd’s Pie recipes in the past and they’ve always been bland and too juicy or too dry, this one had the perfect amount of spices and liquid, also adding the flour helped to thicken what liquid there was to create more of a gravy than a soup. I appreciated that addition. For the potatoes, I think people need to make them the way they prefer their mashed potatoes. I added a few more potatoes and added more salt, a little cheddar cheese and sprinkled paprika on top before baking. I also went out on a limb and added some French’s crispy fried onions on top of the beef mixture before adding the potatoes, just to add a little umph. I agree with the other comments, it takes longer and makes less than described. I spent exactly 2 hours, from start to finish and it fed 4, and that’s if one of the 4 is a small child so in reality, you’ll probably yield enough for 3 hungry folks. Enjoy! This is a fantastic recipe and one that’s easily tweaked to your taste. That’s what I love about cooking. In Sinatra’s words, “I did it my way”

    1. 5 stars
      AMAZING- top 10 of my fave dishes, hands down. I increased recipe by 50% for more servings, used fresh rosemary & added dash of nutmeg to the mashed potatoes; and I’ll add that 1/2 block of cream cheese is another fantastic cheese to use instead of Parmesan too.
      Thank you for the great recipe!

    2. 5 stars
      Excellent recipe! Made this gluten free, using a heaping tablespoon of potato starch vs the 2 Tbs of flour. I also used instant mashed potatoes to simplify that step, doctoring up per the recipe. Really great flavor all around!

  4. 4 stars
    This is a really good recipe that I have made several times. This time I made it for my husband, who is in Rehab following brain surgery. He has not been interested in eating, but tonight when I take some to him, I bet his appetite comes back! I have substituted both already prepared and quick cooked mashed potatoes but nothing beats mashed potatoes from scratch.

  5. 5 stars
    Hi, thank you for this recipe! I have made it many times and often gift it as a freezer meal. I am wondering if anyone has made this GLUTEN FREE? What can I use instead of the flour to thicen up the gravy?

    Thank you in advance!!

    1. 5 stars
      I made this with gluten-free flour blend (a 1-1 substitute) and it worked great. I would think corn starch, arrowroot, or tapioca flour would all also work well.

  6. 5 stars
    Ive never really been good at cooking, i wanted to surprise my husband with a home cooked meal and surprised him with this dish, it turned out phenomenal, he said this was the best thing ive ever cooked before, 10/10!

  7. 5 stars
    Made this for my daughter’s 9/1 Harry Potter party, and everyone loved it- teens , 20s, and 50s. 😃 I am making it again tonight for dinner. Tip: Start hearing water for potatoes as the meat cooks to save on time.

    1. 5 stars
      I tried it, never having made it before. I didn’t have enough beef. We are a house full of bachelor’s. So I used Jimmy Dean regular sausage to round it out. Made the stick out of that beef bullion paste in a jar. Extra veggies.

      I was letting it cool. Came back and they were treating into it. I was lucky to come away with all my fingers attached

      1. Love your critique and humor and am impressed enough with your comments to make it Thurs. evening for a hungry group of assorted aged folks coming for a Bible Study (college students to elderly!) to try it with confidence! Thank you for a great smile!

  8. 5 stars
    Loved this! First time cooking a meal I loved when I was back in school, man this hits the spot. Tastes amazing!
    Incredible work making the recipe easy-to-follow 🙌

  9. 5 stars
    Incredibly delicious! So savory. I used fresh carrots since my family hates peas and they worked beautifully. I used left over mashed potatoes which I had on hand. Just so yummy! Thank you!

    1. 5 stars
      Delicious recipe! I made this vegan with TVP, homemade Worcestershire sauce, and soy milk and it was a great dinner for a fall night. Thanks for sharing the 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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