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Warm up your winter nights with a comforting Shepherd’s Pie, a rich and flavorful stew topped with a layer of creamy mashed potatoes.
Shepherd’s pie is a comforting dish consisting of creamy mashed potatoes on top of a rich and bubbly stew. It originated in the UK and Ireland and is traditionally made with lamb, but in the U.S. it is more commonly made with beef (and referred to as cottage pie). While the original version is made with leftover stew, modern recipes typically call for ground meat, which cooks quickly and doesn’t require leftovers. For this version, you begin by whipping up a batch of buttery, sour cream-enriched mashed potatoes, and then you make a flavorful ground beef stew with bacon, vegetables, and wine. You can either spread the mashed potatoes over the stew right in the skillet (for easy clean-up) or assemble the layers in a separate casserole dish for baking.
What you’ll need To Make Shepherd’s Pie
Step 1: Tenderize the Beef
Before starting with the mashed potatoes, it’s important to tenderize the beef. Place the beef, baking soda, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and 1 tablespoon of water in a medium bowl.
Mash with your hand to combine, and set aside for 20 minutes. As it rests, the baking soda raises the pH of the meat, helping to lock in moisture and making the beef tender.
Step 2: Make the Mashed Potatoes
While the meat tenderizes, place the potatoes in medium saucepan and add enough cold water just to cover them. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 8 to 10 minutes. The potatoes should be soft and fork-tender.
Drain the potatoes and return to the saucepan. Place the pan over medium heat and stir the potatoes with a wooden spoon or potato masher until they are dry and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and add the sour cream, butter, half & half, and the remaining teaspoon of salt.
Using a potato masher, stir and mash the potatoes with the other ingredients until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. Set aside.
Step 3: Make the Stew
Heat a large oven-proof skillet over medium heat and add the bacon. Cook, stirring frequently, until crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate, leaving the fat in the pan.
Add the onions and carrots to the bacon fat.
Cook, stirring frequently, until softened and starting to brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more.
Add the wine and increase the heat to high; bring to a boil, scraping any brown bits off the bottom of the pan, until the liquid reduces by about half.
Add the flour and stir until dissolved.
Add the reserved ground beef mixture, tomato paste, and Worcestershire sauce.
Continue cooking over high heat, breaking the meat apart with a spoon, until the meat is no longer pink, about 5 minutes.
Add the chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low, and cook, scraping any brown bits from the bottom of the pan, until thickened, about 2 minutes.
Add the thyme, pepper, peas, and reserved bacon.
Cook to warm the peas, then taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.
Step 4: Assemble & Bake
Dollop the mashed potatoes evenly over the filling.
Use a rubber spatula to spread evenly all the way to the edges of the skillet.
Drag a fork across the top to make ridges.
Place the skillet on a baking sheet or large sheet of foil to catch any drips. Bake until hot and bubbly, about 30 minutes. (For more color, turn on the broiler and broil for the last 5 minutes, or until the top is golden.)
Sprinkle the Shepherd’s pie with chives and serve.
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- Chicken Pot Pie
- Stuffed Peppers
- Beef Stew with Carrots & Potatoes
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Shepherd’s Pie Video Tutorial
Warm up your winter nights with a comforting Shepherd’s Pie, a rich and flavorful stew topped with a layer of creamy mashed potatoes.
- 1½ pounds 90% lean ground beef
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons salt, divided
- 2½ pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
- ¼ cup sour cream
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1-in chunks
- ¼ cup half & half
- 4 oz bacon, diced (about 3 slices thick-cut bacon)
- 2 medium yellow onions, diced
- 2 carrots, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup red wine
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1½ cups chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup frozen peas
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
- Preheat the oven to 375°F and set an oven rack in the middle position.
- Place the beef, baking soda, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and 1 tablespoon of water in a medium bowl. Mash with your hand to combine. Set aside for 20 minutes.
- While the meat tenderizes, place the potatoes in medium saucepan and add just enough cold water to cover them. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until the potatoes are soft and fork-tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain the potatoes and return to the saucepan. Place the pan over medium heat and stir the potatoes with a wooden spoon or potato masher until they are dry and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and add the sour cream, butter, half & half, and the remaining teaspoon of salt. Using a potato masher, stir and mash the potatoes with the other ingredients until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. Set the mashed potatoes aside.
- Heat a 12-in oven-proof skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring frequently, until crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate, leaving the fat in the pan. Add the onions and carrots to the bacon fat and cook, stirring frequently, until softened and starting to brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more. Add the wine and increase the heat to high; bring to a boil, scraping any brown bits from the bottom of the pan, until the liquid is reduced by about half. Add the flour and stir until dissolved. Add the reserved ground beef mixture, tomato paste, and Worcestershire sauce; continue cooking on high heat, breaking the meat apart with a spoon, until the meat is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken broth; bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to low, and cook, scraping any brown bits from the bottom of the pan, until thickened, about 2 minutes. Stir in the thyme, pepper, peas, and reserved bacon, and cook until the peas are warmed through. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.
- Dollop the mashed potatoes evenly over the filling. Use a rubber or offset spatula to spread the potatoes evenly over the stew and all the way to the edges of the skillet. Drag a fork across the top to make ridges. Place the skillet on a baking sheet or large sheet of foil to catch any drips and bake until the filling is hot, the topping is lightly browned, and the edges are bubbly, about 30 minutes. (For more color, turn on the broiler and broil for the last 5 minutes, or until the top is golden.) Sprinkle with chives and serve.
- Note: If you don’t have an oven-safe skillet, you can transfer the meat mixture to a 2.5-qt casserole dish and then spread the mashed potatoes overtop.
- Make-Ahead Instructions: The stew portion of the recipe can be made several days ahead of time and refrigerated. Before assembling the pie, reheat the stew, adding a little broth if necessary if it seems dry. The mashed potatoes should be made right before assembling and baking the pie.
- Per serving (6 servings)
- Calories: 650
- Fat: 33 g
- Saturated fat: 15 g
- Carbohydrates: 50 g
- Sugar: 7 g
- Fiber: 5 g
- Protein: 33 g
- Sodium: 1243 mg
- Cholesterol: 122 mg
This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.
Who the heck puts bacon into Shepherd’s Pie?
Thanks Jen. This went over very well for a small dinner party. Great comfort food! I made it a day ahead and heated up the meat as you instructed and had to add a little stock to get the gravy back. Piped on the mashed potatoes so it would go on evenly and covered it with shredded old cheddar as we all love melted cheese on top. Perfect served with a big green salad and just enough leftover for the two of us for tomorrow!
Delicious! Another great recipe, thank you.
Another winner from Jenn’s kitchen! For years I’ve used a recipe for Shepherds/cottage pie from a food network star, but i was always tweaking it and finally decided to look up a new recipe. Voila! I should’ve known to check Jenn’s site first 😀 I thought the addition of red wine would make a really rich gravy and we weren’t disappointed. Based on other feedback I tweaked this a little too. I’m not fond of bacon in a casserole so I didn’t use it. I used 3 Tbls flour to make sure the roux was thick enough since others found the sauce thin (but they may not have cooked the wine down). We thought it needed more salt and pepper but that’s a personal preference. This Shepherd’s Pie is a real winner! It would be amazing with Jenn’s biscuits! Thanks again Jenn for another “go to” dinner!
This is cottage pie, shepherds is lamb hence the name.
Also, this is Cottage Pie as it uses beef. Makes me doubt the rest of your recipes.
This is my favorite shepherds pie recipe! I was wondering if you’ve ever made it with sweet potatoes?
So glad you like it! I haven’t used sweet potatoes here, but think you could. 🙂
Delicious! Will go in our rotation for “comfort food”. Instead of putting the entire skillet into the oven, I made 2 servings using 5 inch pie pans and put baked them in our countertop air Cuisinart fryer/convection oven at 375 F for 18 minutes. The remainder, I froze into portions of 2. Also, I used Bob Evans premade mashed potatoes instead of making my own. They also freeze well. I like knowing I can pull out 2 portions from the freezer to top with potatoes. I can give these to my mother and her caregiver to have on hand as well.
I frequently make your delicious chicken pot pie recipe, and was wondering if it would work to prepare this mixture and potato topping and then bake in individual soup bowls/ramekins? (My grandpa was supposed to come for dinner tonight, but I awoke with a sore throat and am trying to figure out the best way to still get dinner to him…) Thanks!
Hi Lauren, I haven’t tried it but don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t work. Hope everyone enjoys!
Hello Jenn…I love your cookbooks, this blog, and how I never miss when serving your recipes! I’m making your Shepherds Pie on Saturday for a crowd and was wondering what size baking dish you’d recommend for a doubled recipe. Thank you!
Hi Donna, thanks for your kind words — so glad you like the recipes! If you’re doubling this I would make it in two pans. Assuming you don’t have two 12-inch oven-proof skillets, I’d recommend using two 2.5-quart casserole dishes. (See the note at the bottom of the recipe for more details.) Hope everyone enjoys!
As I expected, this Shepards Pie, (made with beef) was delicious. So much so that the Irishman guest asked if he could take some of the leftovers with him.
This was so tasty on a cold night! I added a bit more salt and had two pounds of ground beef, but otherwise I made it as written. My daughter even ate the peas!
Very delicious but quite runny every time I’ve made it
Best Shepherd’s Pie ever!!!! I was amazed by how tender and flavorful the beef was and the mashed potatoes on top was on point! I wanted a second serving!
No. no. no. dear Chef,, that is a delicious Cottage Pie, made with vegies from Cottage Garden, thus the name, !!! – and mince meat from Butcher,, While Shepherds Pie, does not have vegies in it, but served with boiled vegies on side, and NOT made with Mince Meat from Butcher, but is MADE WITH pieces of Roast Lamb fed into your own Mincer,, this minced cooked meat is then mixed with Tomato Sauce, pressed into Pie Dish, topped with Mash Potato and popped under grill to brown the top, — this is absolutely delicious, as you enjoy the texture and the flavour of RoastLamb,
Yes , any cooked cold meat could be used, but,, you will not have that Roast Lamb flavour,, — How do I know this,, back in 1940’s I watched my Granmother make it many times,, us kids loved it,, as she told us the origins of Shepherds Pie history,,,?
I followed the recipe and it was delicious. Will be making this again.
This was amazing!! I’ve never in my life made any version of Shepherd’s/Cottage pie and when I saw this it looked so good I had to try it. I had 2 lbs of thawed hamburger to use so I increased the filling and potatoes and ended up with 2 big pie tins – one for dinner and one to freeze. I know you said you wouldn’t recommend freezing with the potatoes but I’ve cooked potatoes in the Instapot, mashed and put in freezer bags (squeezing out all air) before and they actually taste like freshly made potatoes after being re-warmed so I wanted to try it with this one and see. I put a layer of Saran Wrap, trying to push out all the air I could between that and the layer of potatoes, and then foil on top.
I did have a few deviations after reading comments – I didn’t have wine so did as another reviewer suggested and used 1/2 cup red wine vinegar + 1/2 cup H2O. I also didn’t have a lot of carrots on hand so did as another reader suggested and added corn. I tried shredded cheese on one side and freeze dried chives (all I had) on the other. I couldn’t tell a huge difference between the two so the one I froze only had chives on it. Talk about a recipe that can work with you!
So after some skepticism from my family (since this is not something I would normally make) they ended up going back for seconds and devoured the whole thing almost. Once again, you manage to make the rest of us rock stars in our kitchen as well! Thank you Jenn!
Looking forward to trying this yummy looking recipe on a cold night tonight. Question… to be a little more healthy, have you prepared using ground turkey? Maybe use beef broth instead of chicken broth.
Hi Gwen, It should work – you can skip the baking soda step with ground turkey.
Shepherd’s look after sheep. Shepherd’s Pie is made with lamb’s mince, not beef. What you have here is Cottage Pie.
Yep – that is correct! I mention in the recipe intro that nowadays you’ll often find Shepherd’s Pie with beef. 🙂
oh yes,, haha, this is so funny how so many great cooks out there all try to explain difference between these two pies,, so,, please read Marions comment,, she did watch her German Grandmother make true Shepherds Pie, back in the 1940’s,, as she helped turn the handle of her mincer that she had screwed to her big kitchen table,,,, that is nothing like Cottage Pie at all,,, completely different —ingredients,, — texture and — flavour,,, Do try it,,,
Marion get over yourself a bit. Miss Manners would be appalled by the nose so high.
I will be making this meal for guests this weekend. I’m thinking the Irishman will find it delicious.
Can I substitute ground thyme or dried thyme for the fresh stuff? If so, about how much would you use?
Hi Sonia, yes, I’d use 1 teaspoon of dried thyme. Hope you enjoy!
Also, could I make this dish, but instead of putting it in the oven to bake, could I freeze it (potatoes and all)? I’m not sure how the potatoes will hold up on the freezer. Or should I just freeze the meat portion.
I wouldn’t recommend freezing it with the potatoes — I’d stick with just the meat portion.
Can portions be frozen after it’s cooked?
Hi Angela, I don’t think the mashed potatoes would freeze well, but if it’s going to go to waste, it’s worth a try.
This was excellent! So much better than the old school Shepard’s pie from when I was a kid. It was definitely worth the effort! And wine in a recipe always makes it better! This is another keeper from Jenn’s amazing recipes.
The family loved it!
This was delicious. I used frozen peas and carrots, but otherwise followed the recipe as written. My meat sauce was a little too runny for my liking. I will make this again, but next time cut back to 1 cup of the chicken broth.
An absolute new favorite. Omitted the bacon based on our taste preference but followed the rest of the recipe as written. Was a bit soupy so I thickened with a small amount of cornstarch mixed with water before adding mashed potatoes. It was just so delicious. I have portioned and placed leftovers in the deep freezer. 10 stars.
SUPERIOR to all others. I skipped the baking soda. Didn’t make roux.., I’m lazy. Turned out picture perfectly, and does NOT take up ANY space in the fridge because it’s gone in minutes. I knew this was gonna be a keeper. So I took a chance… made 4 pounds. It is magnificent… Just watch watch your liquids. Meat first, tilt your pan when done, let it rest, prep the rest, drain the fat and go. Thanks Jen, love ya lots…. Behave!!!!
Love this Have made it twice already Also the classic New York cheesecake is delicious.
Wow!!! This dish was so flavorful and delicious. I used instant potatoes instead of cooking them by scratch, which saved a lot of time. The only thing that I did wrong was it being too soupy. I guess I should have cooked it in the oven longer or waited longer after adding the wine until it was cooked down to half. Next time I make this, I will know to cook it a little longer, but this was a fabulous recipe.
Mine was too soupy too – I thickened it with cornstarch mixed with a bit of water before added the mash potatoes. I agree – it’s fabulous.
I read your comments about this dish being soupy and reduced the liquids accordingly. Nonetheless my dish was exceedingly soupy. I tried to boil/simmer down the liquids before I put it in the oven and then left it in the oven longer than called for. Still soupy! But it tasted very good. I’ll make again but really, really reduce the liquids! 5 stars for taste. 2 to 3 stars for consistency. So I’ll compromise and give it 4.
We love cozy comfort foods on snowy evenings and this recipe filled the bill. It was delicious and easy to make earlier in the day, then just pop in the oven when ready for dinner. I used finely chopped leftover ribeye roast in lieu of cooked ground beef and it was wonderful. A great way to repurpose leftover beef. Next time we’ll try it as written.
This was fabulous – made some small adjustments, added celery, and browned the lamb separately before adding to veg but would definitely make again!
Recipe sounds delicious. Question on portions. Most recipes call for one pound ground beef for six servings. Yours calls for 1 1/2 pounds for 4 – 6 servings. I like your recipe the most! Is yours really more like six servings. I need enough for seven people and don’t know how to adjust quantities. Thanks.
Hi Carole, I base my serving sizes on my family, which includes two big eaters (if you have ever fed a teenage boy, you know what I mean!). But yes, I would say it is closer to 6 normal servings.
This was delicious! Made a few tweaks based on family’s preferences: doubled the garlic, worcestershire, and peas. Used beef broth instead of chicken. Added shredded parm on top of potatoes and turned to broil for last 5 mins. Cooked in cast iron skillet. Raves all around.
I made this for a friend who is sort of a picky eater. It was something I thought she would enjoy. Enjoy is an understatement….. she went back three times for seconds! And then finished the entire dish the next day for lunch! It was delicious and a “keeper” recipe!
Hi Jen. I was unable to read through all the comments, so forgive me if someone already asked this question. I’d like to use ground Turkey instead of beef. Would I also do the tenderizing step?
Hi Susie, You can skip that step if using ground turkey. Hope you enjoy!
I made this tonight and a HUGE hit. We don’t use wine, so substituted 1/2 cup red wine vinegar and 1/2 cup H2O. Used lean beef and think this was important. It was so yummy
a KEEPER as most of her recipes are!!!
I did move the beef and veggies to a 2.5 casserole dish, topped with the mashed potatoes and reheated to serve. It was PERFECT!
Made this for Sunday night dinner for me and my husband. I followed the recipe exactly and the shepherd’s pie turned out fantastic. The flavors that combined deliciously with the potatoes. Note to self, I would boil another potato or two just to cover the pan and make the potato layer a bit thicker.
Restaurant quality — will definitely make this perfect dish again.
It’s an interesting twist on a recipe. Here in the UK a typical Shepherds Pie tends to mainly be made with a rich stock base and even with the addition of gravy granules. I’ve seen wine added to the pie before in a few gourmet recipes but never tried it with bacon or peas in as well. I might just try it!
I made this for my parents and they loved it! Really delicous, hearty…so much rich flavor. They did freeze some leftovers and said it reheated wonderfully. I always check Jen’s website when I want to make something new because I can always trust it will turn out great. Five stars
Hi Jenn & everyone…
another OUTSTANDING recipe!!! Yum!
Ok -so I did it a little differently- but everything used was from Once Upon A Chef -Jenn…
We had leftover beef stew (not sure how that happened ?), so I used it in place of ground beef. I added peas, and then followed the rest of the instructions. Incredible!!!!! My guy loved it too.
Thank you Jenn
Can you use beef broth instead of red wine?
Hi Amanda, I would just leave the wine out.
Can I substitute a good homemade beef stock for the chicken broth? I would like a dark rich sauce in the Shepherd’s pie.
This was absolutely delicious!
Saw this recipe today and tried to cook by following the steps as provided. The result was very good really yummy. I did deviate in one step and left the teaspoon of salt out of the meat mixture. In hindsight it probably needed that salt and maybe a little more pepper than I added.
Easy to follow instructions were appreciated.
Certainly a keeper for sure. Thanks Jenn.
Ross , Adelaide – South Australia.
It doesn’t matter what you want to call this , it was DELISH!
It was a cold stormy day so I didn’t want to go out of the house to get a few called for items so I used what I had on hand…..puréed tomatoes instead of tomato paste, 1 onion and a big shallot in place of 2 onions, panchetta in place of bacon, and ground buffalo in place of hamburger meat…. So what does that make this version…. Prairie pie????
Seriously Jen, you have yet another hit! Thank you
Have not made this recipe yet, but plan to do so as Jen’s recipes are always good. For the people responding about lamb vs beef, keep in mind there are MANY people who do not care for lamb (I always ask for dislikes when inviting friends for dinner and lamb is the winner, especially with men). Also remember the cost of food today. I love lamb chops but the good ones are one bite judging by the size and the cost is really expensive. Substituting beef for the lamb is not awful.
Hi Jenn – We love your recipes. I give your wonderful cookbooks as gifts for my foodie friends. Can I use leftover beef roast in lieu of ground beef? Any adjustments? Thank you.
Hi Gail, Thanks for your nice words about the recipes and support of the cookbook! Yes, you can use your leftover roast but you won’t need to spend five minutes cooking it. You can add the chicken broth along with the beef, tomato paste, and Worcestershire sauce and proceed from there. I’d love to hear how it turns out!
We always put cream of corn on top of the meat and below the potatoes. That’s the way Mom made it.
Do you use a 14-inch skillet? You said large oven-proof skillet. Should I use a cast iron pan? It’s a little deeper.
Love all your recipes and my family is so excited to have me make it!
Hi Edie, My skillet is 13 inches. The cast iron or 12 to 14-inch skillet will work. Hope you enjoy!