This classic shepherd's pie recipe has ground beef, veggies, and mashed potatoes to make the best comfort food! The rich, savory gravy is mouthwatering, and you can make this tasty and affordable meal ahead of time.
Love mashed potatoes? Try this Loaded Mashed Potato Casserole.
What is shepherd's pie?
It's a baked dish that has a ground meat and vegetable filling that's topped with creamy mashed potatoes. Even though purists will say that shepherd's pie must have lamb, according to the Oxford English Dictionary shepherd's pie was historically used synonymously in the UK with the term cottage pie, and it could have either lamb or beef (or whatever meat was on hand, if any. This is the 1800s, you guys). The more you know!
Whatever you call it, this shepherd's pie recipe with ground beef is delicious. It's also actually simple and straightforward to make, and you totally shouldn't feel intimidated by it! This cozy complete meal will become a family favorite in your home since it's inexpensive and comforting and makes wonderful leftovers.
Ingredients for it
For the filling
- Ground beef - we're using 90% lean. You can use lamb if you prefer.
- Onion - we prefer sweet (Vidalia) onion, but yellow is great
- Butter - for sautéing
- Italian seasoning - it's a blend of fragrant dried herbs that comes in one convenient jar
- Tomato paste - for richer flavor and hint of tomato
- Flour - to thicken the sauce
- Beef broth - it gives a deep savory quality
- Worcestershire sauce - don't skip it! It's a fantastic way to infuse a ton of extra flavor
- Frozen vegetables - peas, carrots, and corn were my pick
For the mashed potatoes
- Russet potatoes - I find these are best for mashed potatoes
- Heavy cream and butter - I don't recommend changing these up. It makes these potatoes perfectly luxurious!
- Garlic - along with salt & pepper, fresh garlic is all you really need to season mashed potatoes
Can I use fresh veggies?
- Sure! Frozen veggies are great for saving time since they're already partially cooked, but if you want to use fresh vegetables, you can. Just cook them for a bit first to ensure they're soft enough. Try sautéing them with the onions.
How to make shepherd's pie
This is an overview with step-by-step photos. Full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.
Preheat your oven to 375F. Peel and quarter the potatoes and boil until tender. In a skillet, sauté the onion. Add in the ground beef and brown it.
Stir in the Italian seasoning, tomato paste, and flour, and cook until incorporated, stirring constantly. Add in beef broth, Worcestershire sauce, and salt, and scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Let it thicken.
In a small saucepan, heat the cream, butter, garlic, and salt & pepper and warm it over medium heat until the butter has melted. Drain the potatoes, and add the cream mixture over top. Mash well.
Add in the frozen mixed vegetables to the skillet, and cook for about 5 minutes. Transfer the meat and veggie mixture to a 9x13 casserole dish and spread evenly with a spatula.
Add the mashed potatoes over top in a uniform layer. Use a fork to rake the mashed potatoes for texture. Bake and enjoy!
Can I make shepherd's pie ahead of time?
- Absolutely! Simply assemble it up to the baking step, cover tightly, and refrigerate overnight. You can also freeze it for up to 3 months.
- When you're ready to heat it up, you may need to increase the baking time since it will be cold. Try baking it covered with foil for the first 30 minutes, uncover and bake for 20 more, and then broil if desired.
- If cooking from frozen, let the baking dish warm up a bit on the counter so that it doesn't break. Or use these disposable foil baking pans!
Substitutions and variations
- You can use your own mashed potato recipe if you like, but we can't guarantee how it'll turn out without testing.
- Sub the cream for half-and-half or milk at your discretion, but the potatoes will end up less rich and likely dry, especially after being baked.
- Want a fancy touch? Swap half of the beef broth with red wine! Use a full-bodied red wine such as a cabernet sauvignon or merlot.
- Try sprinkling some parmesan cheese and/or grated cheddar on top of the potato layer prior to baking for a little bit of decadence!
Tools for this recipe
What to serve with it
- In England, HP Sauce or brown sauce is often served with shepherd's pie. It's got tomatoes and tamarind and an addictive tangy taste!
- Shepherd's pie also pairs well with a side salad. Try this parmesan arugula salad or some mixed greens with this Creamy Balsamic Dressing.
- It's also fantastic on its own or with a slice of crusty bread.
Leftovers and storage
- It will keep just fine in an airtight container 3-4 days in the fridge.
- Shepherd's pie leftovers heat really well on the stove in a small saucepan. You can also microwave until warmed through!
- You can freeze it too even though we prefer the refrigerator. It might not be exactly the same as when first cooked, but it'll still taste great.
Any questions or comments? I'd be thrilled to hear from you in the comments below!
Meat and veggie filling:
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 1 pound lean ground beef or lamb
- 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup beef broth
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups mixed vegetables (I use a combo of frozen peas & carrots and frozen corn)
- 2.5 pounds Russet potatoes peeled and cut into quarters
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Pepper to taste
- Garnish: chopped fresh parsley optional, to taste
- Peel the potatoes and cut them into 4 pieces each. Boil them until tender. Start the rest of the recipe while they're cooking. Preheat your oven to 375F and move the rack to the top third of the oven. Don't worry if the meat filling and potatoes aren't quite done at the same time.
- Add 2 tablespoons of the butter to a large skillet and melt over medium-high heat, then add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes.
- Add the beef to the skillet and cook, breaking it up with your spoon as you go along, until browned (about 6-8 minutes).
- Reduce the heat to medium and stir in the Italian seasoning, tomato paste, and flour. Cook (stir constantly), for about a minute.
- Add in the beef broth, Worcestershire sauce, and salt, and scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Let the liquid thicken up a bit (about 1 minute).
- Stir in the frozen mixed veggies and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often.
- When the potatoes are almost done, add the cream, butter, garlic, and salt & pepper to a small saucepan and warm it over medium heat until the butter has melted and it's warmed through (don't let it boil). Once the potatoes are done (a knife should slide in easily), drain them and add them back to the pot they were cooked in. Pour the saucepan mixture over the potatoes and mash until smooth.
- Transfer the meat mixture to a 9x13 casserole dish and then spoon the potatoes over top. Smooth with a rubber spatula (or spoon if that's all you have). You can use a fork to create texture by raking it over the potatoes.
- Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly, then broil for a few minutes (watch it carefully) to brown the potatoes.
- Let it sit for a few minutes before serving and sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley if desired.
- I recommend weighing the potatoes at the grocery store as potato sizes vary a lot and everyone has a different idea of what a "large" potato is, but if you need to eyeball, 2.5 pounds of Russets is roughly 3 large potatoes.
- Serves 6-8 depending on portion size. Leftovers are delicious.
- See blog post for more tips including step-by-step photos, substitutions, and make ahead instructions.
- Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only and should be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Salt & Lavender makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information.