Shepherd’s Pie

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Shepherd's Pie

The epitome of simple, homey comfort food, shepherd’s pie is a casserole consisting of creamy mashed potatoes atop a rich and bubbly stew.

Shepherd's Pie

The epitome of simple, homey comfort food – and one of my husband’s favorite things that I cook during the winter – shepherd’s pie is a casserole consisting of creamy mashed potatoes atop a rich and bubbly stew. The dish originated in sheep country in the UK and Ireland, so it is traditionally made with lamb. In the States, shepherd’s pie is typically made with beef (though this version is often referred to as cottage pie).

Shepherd’s pie was originally conceived as a way to use up leftover pot roast or stew, but most modern versions are made with ground meat, which cooks much faster. Either way, shepherd’s pie is a lazy weekend type of recipe. It’s not hard, but it takes a good hour and a half start to finish. For this version, you begin by making a batch of mashed potatoes and setting those aside. Then, you make a flavorful ground beef stew with bacon, vegetables, and wine. At this point, you can either spread the mashed potatoes over the stew right in the skillet (as I do) or assemble the layers in a separate casserole dish for baking.

What you’ll need To Make Shepherd’s Pie

How To Make Shepherd’s Pie

Before starting with the mashed potatoes, it’s important to tenderize the beef. To do so, place the beef, baking soda, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and 1 tablespoon of water in a medium bowl.

how to make shepherd's pie

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.

how to make shepherd's pie

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.

how to make shepherd's pie

Drain the potatoes and return to the saucepan.

how to make shepherd's pie

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.

how to make shepherd's pie

Remove the pan from the heat and add the sour cream, butter, half & half, and the remaining teaspoon of salt.

how to make shepherd's pie

Using a potato masher, stir and mash the potatoes with the other ingredients until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. Set aside.

how to make shepherd's pie

Heat a large oven-proof skillet over medium heat and add the bacon.

how to make shepherd's pie

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.

how to make shepherd's pie

Add the onions and carrots to the bacon fat.

how to make shepherd's pie

Cook, stirring frequently, until softened and starting to brown, 6 to 8 minutes.

how to make shepherd's pie

Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more.

how to make shepherd's pie

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.

how to make shepherd's pie

Add the flour and stir until dissolved.

how to make shepherd's pie

Add the reserved ground beef mixture, tomato paste, and Worcestershire sauce.

how to make shepherd's pie

Continue cooking over high heat, breaking the meat apart with a spoon, until the meat is no longer pink, about 5 minutes.

how to make shepherd's pieAdd 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.

how to make shepherd's pie

Add the thyme, pepper, peas, and reserved bacon.

how to make shepherd's pie

Cook to warm the peas, then taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.

how to make shepherd's pie

Dollop the mashed potatoes evenly over the filling.

how to make shepherd's pie

Use a rubber spatula to spread evenly all the way to the edges of the skillet.

how to make shepherd's pie

Drag a fork across the top to make ridges.

how to make shepherd's pie

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.)

how to make shepherd's pie

Sprinkle with chives and serve.

Shepherd's Pie

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Shepherd's Pie

The epitome of simple, homey comfort food, shepherd’s pie is a casserole consisting of creamy mashed potatoes atop a rich and bubbly stew.

Servings: 4 to 6
Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Cook Time: 1 Hour
Total Time: 1 Hour 30 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 pounds 90% lean ground beef
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 2-1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1-in chunks
  • 1/4 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
  • 1-1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped chives

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F and set an oven rack in the middle position.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • 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.

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Reviews & Comments

  • We have all made Shepherd’s Pie but this was in a class of it’s own!
    The only change was what I baked it in, a casserole dish 🙂 My family loved it! I make extra mashed potatoes when having a big dinner, like say, Christmas then reheat them and whipped them with milk. Loved, loved, loved!!

    • — Nora on December 29, 2020
    • Reply
  • I was hopeful that you would include the LAMB version of Shep’s Pie. Americans have forgotten that there is other meat than hamburg. Would you include your rendition of Shepherds pie? Something butchers are offering occasionally is a lamb and hamburger mix which makes a wonderful burger instead of lamb chops.
    Really delight in making the Beef Stew recipe. I cut it in half and half and have a nice meal several times for the week. Thanks!

    • — Abigail Forrest on December 19, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Abigail, You can actually use lamb here if you prefer. You can skip the tenderizing step as well as the bacon (lamb is so flavorful that I don’t think the bacon is necessary). Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on December 20, 2020
      • Reply
  • Jenn, this is WONDERFUL! Absolutely delicious. There are only two of us and so we have three meals. Tomorrow we’ll have the repeat performance and another meal of stew only is in the freezer. This is so savory and comforting, and the sauce is craveable. Your recipes are always scrumptious. A Few Favs: beef stew, chicken piccata, chicken Marsala, quiche Lorraine, shrimp scampi, pie crust, French lentil soup, beef barley soup (in cookbook), etc. so many! You cook with my favorite ingredient: Love! And your instructions are clear and concise! Thank you for blessing my family. (Grown children love your recipes!) You mean so much to us! We love you! Thank you!

    • — Mimi on December 9, 2020
    • Reply
    • ❤️❤️

      • — Jenn on December 10, 2020
      • Reply
  • Beef mince is Cottage Pie, Lamb mince makes Shepherd’s Pie, shepherd’s look after sheep, not cows! Why change the name for no reason?

    • — Shaun on November 17, 2020
    • Reply
    • Such a wonderful Shepherd’s Pie! Thank you!!!

      • — Naomi on November 24, 2020
      • Reply

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