Shepherd’s Pie

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A rich gravy with ground beef and vegetables topped with ultra creamy mashed potatoes. The ultimate comfort food: Shepherd’s Pie!

Up close shot of a spoon with a scoop of Shepherd's Pie casserole

Shepherd’s Pie

Growing up, my family had a tradition of big Sunday dinners. Nearly every Sunday we’d go to our grandparents house for some kind of pot roast or ground beef dish, mashed potatoes, and lots of sides. Whenever it was my parent’s turn to make the roast and potatoes, they’d make extra which my mom would refashion into a shepherd’s pie for Monday night dinner. It was one of the most frequent meals we had growing up and luckily, everyone loved it!

I was talking to one of my sisters recently about mom’s famous shepherd’s pie and realized I’d never really made it for my own family.  Since making it a few times for my boys, we’ve decided this shepherd’s pie needs to show up frequently on our dinner table.

Side by side photos of the process of making Shepherd's Pie

What is Shepherd’s Pie?

First of all, this meal is not technically a true “Shepherd’s Pie”! A true shepherd’s pie originates from England and is traditionally made with ground lamb. However, since in the states, ground beef is eaten more than lamb, this meal is usually referred to as a shepherd’s pie. (In England and other parts of the world, they’d call this ground beef version a “cottage pie” and the lamb version “shepherd’s pie.”)

Although the name might be a bit different, a shepherd’s pie is essentially a casserole with cooked meat and vegetables in a flavorful gravy, topped with creamy mashed potatoes, and sometimes cheese. This casserole gets baked in the oven until the the mashed potatoes are golden and slightly crispy on top.

Shepherd’s pie is a great way to repurpose a big meal (or holiday leftovers) into an equally delicious dinner! While I’m sharing ground beef in this recipe today, my mom often made shepherd’s pie with leftover pot roast which you can certainly do.

Overhead photo of the filling that makes the base of the Shepherd's Pie

How to make Shepherd’s Pie

Because shepherd’s pie is often made up of leftovers, it is one of the easiest and quickest meals to make! Here’s how to make it in a few quick steps:

  • Prepare your meat base: Add sauce or gravy and vegetables to your meat. This creates the base of our shepherd’s pie. The wonderful thing about shepherd’s pie is that you can always change the veggies, sauce, and meat that you use. While I’ve included my favorite version of shepherd’s pie here, you should feel free to try your own variations using the veggies or meat you have on hand – just make sure you keep to the recipe’s ratio of meat and veggies.
  • Add the potatoes: Once the meat and veggie base is prepared, you can add the mashed potatoes on top. After you add the mashed potatoes on top, use a fork to add texture to my potatoes. This will give you plenty of crispy potatoes bites after you’ve baked the pie. Alternatively, you can add cheese to the top of your shepherd’s pie. When adding cheese, prepare it first without cheese and then remove the pie 3-5 minutes early, add shredded cheese, and return to the oven until cheese is melted.
  • Cooking shepherd’s pie: Because all of the components are already cooked, this meal cooks relatively quickly. The pie should cook until the potatoes are golden brown and the edges are bubbling – approximately 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Side by side photos (overhead) of Shepherd's Pie right before and right after baking

Yummy side dishes

Because shepherd’s pie is a heavier dish that already includes meat, potatoes, and vegetables, I would recommend a lighter salad to go with it. Here are a few of my favorite sides:

Preparing ahead

  • Shepherd’s pie is a great dish to prepare ahead of time. Make it the night before or the morning of, store it covered in the fridge, and then bake it when you’re ready to eat!
  • After your shepherd’s pie is cooked, you can store typically it for an additional 3-5 days, covered in the fridge. You may need to adjust that storage time depending on whether you used fresh ingredients or leftovers. If using leftover meat, remember that meat should not be stored for more than five days from when it was originally cooked, NOT from when the pie was made!
  • You can freeze this Shepherd’s Pie! After cooking the pie cover it tightly and you can freeze it for up to two months. Cook the frozen pie at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for an hour before enjoying.

Up close overhead shot of a plate of Shepherd's Pie

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Shepherd's Pie

5 from 39 votes
A rich gravy with ground beef and vegetables topped with ultra creamy mashed potatoes. The ultimate comfort food: Shepherd's Pie!
Print Recipe

Shepherd's Pie

5 from 39 votes
A rich gravy with ground beef and vegetables topped with ultra creamy mashed potatoes. The ultimate comfort food: Shepherd's Pie!
Course Dinner
Cuisine American
Keyword shepherd's pie
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 6 -8 servings
Calories 445kcal
Author Chelsea

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, separated
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups mirepoix (mix of carrots, onion, & celery), finely chopped (I chop 1 small yellow onion, 1 celery rib, & 1 carrot to get 2 cups)
  • 1.2 pounds ground chuck round
  • 1/4 cup white flour
  • 1/2 cup frozen sweet peas or corn
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 and 3/4 cups beef stock (low sodium) (can use low sodium beef broth)
  • 1/2 cup 100% grape juice
  • 1 beef bouillon cube
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 3 bay leaves, separated

Topping

  • 2 and 1/2 pounds potatoes (I use an equal mix of Yukon Gold and Russet; if just using one use Yukon Gold)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (can use fat free)
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Fine sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
  • Optional: fresh parsley or fresh thyme, for topping

Instructions

  • Pour 1 and 1/2 tablespoons olive oil in a large (oven-safe to save a dish!) skillet over medium high heat. Add garlic cloves and finely chopped onion and cook, stirring frequently for about 1 minute. Add the finely chopped carrots and celery and cook for another 2-3 minutes or until veggies are softened.
  • Increase heat to high and add in the beef. Cook, breaking up the beef, until browned through. If there is excessive grease, drain off that additional fat. Add in the flour and cook an additional minute to cook off the flour taste. Reduce heat to medium-high and add in the frozen peas or corn, can of diced tomatoes, tomato paste, beef stock, grape juice, beef bouillon cube, Worcestershire sauce, dried thyme, and 2 bay leaves. 
  • Bring this mixture to a simmer then reduce heat to medium and bring the mixture to a rapid simmer. Cook for 25-35 minutes at medium heat, stirring every 5 or so minutes, until you have a good thickened gravy. Remove from heat, cover, and refrigerate until ready to bake. (I like making in the morning and assembling before dinner). If making immediately, place in the fridge until potatoes are done (you want the mixture to chill for as long as possible so the layers stay separate when baking, 15-20 minutes at a minimum) πŸ™‚ If you didn't prepare in an oven-safe skillet, transfer to a 2 quart oven-safe dish.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Peel and then cube the potatoes into golf-ball sized pieces. Place in a strainer and rinse under cold water until the water rinsing through comes out clear. Place in a large pot and cover with cold water. Add 1 tablespoon fine sea salt and 1 bay leaf, stir, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer until the potatoes are fork-tender; about 15-20 minutes. When a potato can easily be pierced, drain the potatoes in a strainer and make sure you get rid of ALL the extra moisture. Let them dry for about 3 minutes. Discard the bay leaf.
  • While the potatoes are drying in the strainer, add the heavy cream, sour cream, and butter to the pot. Melt on low heat and stir to combine. While potatoes are still hot, put them through a ricer and add right on top of the butter/sour cream mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper (I use about 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper). Cover and place in the fridge until ready to assemble pie! OR add these mashed potatoes to top the pie in an even layer.
  • Use a fork to add marks into the surface of the potatoes. Drizzle with remaining 1/2 tablespoon olive oil. 
  • Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until the potatoes are golden brown and the edges are bubbling. Broil for 1-2 minutes on high to get the very tops of the potatoes crispy! Remove from heat and garnish with fresh thyme or fresh parsley as desired. Serve hot πŸ™‚

Video

Nutrition Facts

Calories: 445kcal

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Recipe Rating




126 Comments

    1. 5 stars
      I substituted red cooking wine, instead of grape juice. I’m sure the tastes are very similar. Amazing recipe. Thank you.

  1. 5 stars
    wow, this screams savory and perfect time of year for this and a nice change to the usual pot roast, etc., a nice “import” from across the pond too, thank you!

  2. Looks yummy, I will try it soon!

    You’re right that shepherd’s pie is made with lamb. When it’s made with beef then it’s called Cottage pie. Strange how many people around the world love these pies, but don’t know the naming differences. ?

  3. 5 stars
    As I sit here eating this recipe, I have to compliment the creator. It’s something extremely yummy and comforting. I used a 12” cast iron skillet to make this dish, this time around. 3 large Idaho potatoes. The meat mixture seemed very liquidity even after cooking 30 minutes stovetop and in the oven for another 30 minutes. The layer of potatoes for me was very thin maybe 1/4 inch. I used drained canned peas and canned corn, recommendation that. Can never have too many veggies.
    I am going to make this again.
    I will use 1 lbs 80/20 ground beef and 1 lbs ground lamb for a more authentic flavor profile. 1 extra carrot and 1 celery stick. Use a large Dutch oven. And 4-5 large Idaho potatoes. For a thicker mash potato topping. I will include fresh chopped chives in the mash potatoes as well.

  4. I can’t help but fell I did something wrong mine is really thick not a liquidy ad the picture and more of a red then a brown color I did all the measurements right I don’t really know where I went wrong

    1. Did you simmer the mixture too long? Any recipe substitutions? It will be more brown with all beef broth/stock if you opt to use that instead of wine/juice.

      1. 5 stars
        I made this with a few substitutes.
        I used chicken broth instead and i didn’t have grape juice so i used water and extra chicken bouyang and instead of using olive oil i used bacon fat. Came out extraordinary thank you for sharing

  5. 5 stars
    Great recipe! I was going to use lamb but my grocery store was out of ground lamb. So I used beef. I also used red wine instead of grape juice and added it after I added the flour. To deglaze the pan and cook off some of the alcohol. Delicious!

  6. I made this recipe last week and my family loved it. I omitted the grape juice and added a little more broth. The prep and cooking time is not even close. Between chopping vegetables, making the meat base, cooling the base, preparing the mashed potatoes, assembly, and cooking, this took me over 2 hours to prepare. Great recipe, but give yourself more time than the instructions state.

  7. 5 stars
    I made this recipe using Burgundy instead of grape juice. WOW. Replaced the mashed potatoes with premade mashed potatoes from the grocery (I know, I know…). And it still worked beautifully. Topped with grated cheese. My husband went back for seconds, which is rare.

  8. 5 stars
    Wow! So good! I made this for my family and we all loved it. Kids went back for seconds and requested that I make it again soon. ? I was also pleasantly surprised at the delicious new flavors that resulted from pantry staples. And while it took longer to make than my standard weeknight supper, it was easy. Thanks for a great recipe!

  9. 5 stars
    This recipe is really a delicious comfort food. I usually use a shepherd’s pie seasoning mix. This was my first try making it from scratch. This is so much better. The only change that I made was using red wine instead of grape juice. I did simmer it for 35 minutes to thicken and stirred frequently to keep from sticking. I made the meat mixture one day. Then put it together with the mashed potatoes the next day. Another great recipe. Thanks Chelsea!

  10. 5 stars
    OMG. This is SO DELICIOUS. I have made shepherd’s pie before and it was bland and blah. This recipe is … wow. I actually made cauliflower mash with two heads, and all frozen veggies. I also used Pinot Noir instead of grape juice ?

  11. Making this currently. Subbed a local hard cider for the grape juice, added a bit more seasoning, and a dash of balsamic vinegar (while browning the meat). My supermarket actually had lamb this week, so I’m using that instead of beef. Currently at the simmering stage and my house smells amazing. Dinner is gonna be late tonight (prep too a lot longer than I thought for whatever reason) but it’s definitely going to be worth the wait.

    1. This is the best part about Shepherd’s pie, you can personalize it so easily and it’s still delicious! I’m sooo glad you enjoyed! Thanks Miciah!:)

    1. I made this for the first time. Never made this dish before so I didnt really know what to expect. It was really good. Everyone loved it. The only thing I would change is that I would use twice as much peas and carrots. It definitely needed more veggies. Besides that it was perfect!

  12. It’s so faded here I couldn’t see where to post. Just wondered where the link is for the video. No link is there.

  13. 5 stars
    This was the best shepherd’s pie I’ve ever made, and I’ve tried a number of different recipes. Thanks! The depth of flavor was incredible

  14. Meat and veggie mixture was great, thickened up nicely, I added a half cup more veggies. The amount of potatoes seemed half of what it should be (it was a very thin layer) at least to my liking. Next time more potatoes. Great tasting recipe though!

  15. 5 stars
    I don’t like potatoes very much, but I really like beef, I replaced potatoes with sweet potatoes and the result is great food. My husband is quite fond of this recipe, just a little change to suit my family’s taste.
    Thanks for your recipe!

  16. 5 stars
    Seriously fantastic recipe! Excellent flavor! I substituted sherry for the grape juice. Picky husband couldn’t think of a way to improve it!

  17. 5 stars
    Hi Chelsea! I had so much fun cruising around your website/blog. Your recipe for Shepherd’s Pie caught my eye. I had just about everything on hand, except for the grape juice. Grape juice? I couldn’t even imagine that in a Shepherd’s Pie. But .. I trotted on over to our friendly grocery store just a couple blocks away and picked up the grape juice. Amazing! This recipe was absolutely yummy!! Thank you so much for sharing. I’ll be back!

  18. 5 stars
    Wonderful meal, probably the best one to date. I am going to try skme of the other ones for the kiddos. Thanks again!!!

  19. 5 stars
    I changed many things about this recipe (only because I was working with food I received from a food pantry.) This recipe is the perfect guideline for making a great cottage pie. I only had instant potatoes, three cans of mixed veggie tables, amino acids, ground beef, garlic cloves, rosemary. Turned out amazing. Even had a neighbour ask for a go bowl.

  20. 5 stars
    I followed the recipe with the slight twist of doing 50/50 sweet potato and ordinary potato. It looked lovely and tasted delicious and filled us all up very comfortably!

    1. Oh that sounds amazing!! πŸ™‚ I’ll have to try that next time πŸ™‚ Thanks for the comment and review πŸ™‚

  21. It was edible, and people enjoyed it. Though, it was SWEET. Too sweet. I would leave out the grape juice and tomatoes, double up on peas.

  22. 5 stars
    Just made this last night and it was amazing… I did alter it slightly as I tend to like it a little spicy. I used wine (cabernet) instead of grape juice. and added Smoked Tabasco and a little black pepper…perfect.

  23. 5 stars
    Love this recipe. I forgot to buy grape juice, so I used some white wine that I had open and finely chopped some dried apricots for similar depth of flavor (my stew go to). Made one to take to family and small one for here. Can’t. Stop. Eating, It. Thank you.

  24. 5 stars
    I love love this recipe. It’s just me and my boyfriend so this is way too much food but I always forget to cut it in half. So….leftovers!!

    1. I wish I could be more helpful, but to tell you the truth I’ve never used Instant potatoes! Hopefully someone else could chime in here

  25. 5 stars
    I’ve made this fantastic recipe several times the past couple of months; it was immediately our new favorite comfort food dish. I make it fairly close to as written, but we love the richness of red wine in place of juice and I like to add in some sliced mushrooms. I also puree the fire roasted tomatoes (picky wife lol). Thanks again!

  26. Tried making your Cottage Pie recipeβ€”so bland that taco sauce could not save it. Sorry, didn’t like it.

  27. I LOVE this recipe. I made it for the first time on my husband’s birthday last year, and it was so good that I made it again on his birthday this year. I think it’s becoming a tradition. I’ve tried using red wine, but I think the grape juice actually gives the best taste (maybe because of the sugar content?).

    PS – I also just finished your ebook, and it was incredibly helpful and inspiring. Thanks for sharing!

    1. I am so glad you love this Shepherd’s pie so much! What a fun tradition! I like the grape juice because of the sugar it adds! πŸ™‚ And yay, I’m so happy you enjoyed the ebook! Thanks for your support on my site! πŸ™‚

  28. This is a great recipe. Definitely got the thumbs up at my house. I plan on 1.5-2 hours for all the chopping, etc since I pop it in the oven while everything is hot. I substitute cream sherry for the grape juice (1/4 cup), add half the broth and the rest as needed. Top off with shredded cheddar cheese for the last 5 minutes. So glad I ran across this recipe – others I tried didn’t come close!!

    1. I am so happy to hear you love this Shepherd’s pie so much! And what awesome tips for some substitutions! Thanks for your comment! πŸ™‚

  29. Am making this tonight. All of your other recipes I’ve tried are delicious, I am sure this one will be also.

  30. This recipe is just great! its the second time making it, The first time I was in total awe over how much flavor it had, it will be my go to recipe forever!

  31. This recipe is incredible. Never again will our household eat bland shepherd’s pie (that my partner grew up on). Only thing we did differently was use concentrated bouillon because it’s my newest favorite ingredient.

    1. Whoops, actually we also didn’t use greap juice because I neglected to see that on the list when I grocery shopped for this. Since we’re still in a pandemic I wasn’t going to shop for one thing.

  32. 5 stars
    We love this recipe! I’ve cooked it several times for my family. The kids love it and my husband raves about it. Thank you for making it easy πŸ™ŒπŸ»

    1. I’m so happy you guys love this Shepherd’s pie! Thanks so much for your comment Danielle! πŸ™‚

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