Shepherd’s Pie

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Shepherd's Pie

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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 rustic 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 and is traditionally made with lamb. However, in the States, shepherd’s pie is often made with beef (though this version is technically 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 recipes are made with ground meat, which cooks much faster 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 (less dishes to clean) or assemble the layers in a separate casserole dish for baking.

What you’ll need To Make Shepherd’s Pie

STEP-BY-STEP INSTRUCTIONS

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.

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: 45 Minutes
Cook Time: 1 Hour
Total Time: 1 Hour 30 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 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

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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Comments

  • Absolutely delicious! People went back for seconds.

    • — Cassie on June 8, 2022
    • Reply
  • Love this recipe! Made it on St. Patrick’s Day and my husband was impressed! I must say I was too. It was a little time consuming to make but that’s ok since it was delicious! The layered flavor of the bacon, beef and wine had so much depth. Beautiful dish with beautiful flavor. I will be making this one again!

    • — Stacy McGarry on April 2, 2022
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  • I made this for dinner tonight and it was delicious! Followed your recipe as written and wouldn’t change a thing! Really enjoyed how the stew came together. Can’t wait to eat leftovers tomorrow. Thanks Jenn❤️

    • — Laura M on March 28, 2022
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn, I have made this multiple times and it is always so yummy ! Love it and thank you for the recipe. It makes a lot and I am only going to use half of the stew and either freeze the other half or use in another way. Do you have any suggestions other than the shepherds pie to use for the stew? Thank you in advance.

    • — Cheryl Skornik on March 20, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Cheryl, so glad you like this! If you want to re-purpose the rest of the stew, some options that come to mind are turning it into sloppy Joe-like sandwiches, serving it over rice or another grain, or putting it in a pie plate, topping it with puff pastry, and turning it into a something resembling a pot pie. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on March 22, 2022
      • Reply
      • Thank you so much for your kind reply. I will try those things and as the stew is amazing, Im sure these will be too! Love your new cookbook!

        • — Cheryl S on April 1, 2022
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  • I made this last night for St Patrick’s Day and wanted to try a new recipe. The bacon sounded like a great twist and the ratings were high so I gave it a try. Maybe my 12 inch pan was more shallow than the one in the photo..but it barely fit everything…so I feel like larger would have worked much better.
    The big problem in the end though I think was the wine. One cup sounded like a lot but I wanted to follow the recipe. I did use a “big” red blend…so perhaps that was it…but it really just tasted too strongly of wine. I reduced by half as the recipe states. I couldn’t taste the bacon in the least or much of anything else. Once everything mixed with the potatoes it mellowed it a bit but my kids and I didn’t care for it. Luckily my husband will eat anything with mashed potato. If I try it again I would skip the wine and use broth only. I’m not sure what wine everyone else was using with the great reviews…but sadly this just didn’t “pan out” for me.

    • — Lauren on March 18, 2022
    • Reply
  • Hello- I would love to try this recipe. We do not cook with alcohol in our house. Would it be okay to just substitute the wine with the same amount in broth or do have additional suggestions to make up for the flavor loss?

    • — Jen on March 12, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Jen, You can use more broth in place of the wine. So go right from the step where you saute the garlic to adding the flour. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on March 12, 2022
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn!
    What if I wanted to use ground lamb?! Does this recipe stay the same?
    ThanksMuch
    Gigi B.

    • — Gigi B on March 9, 2022
    • Reply
    • Sure, Gigi – 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 March 9, 2022
      • Reply
      • Will DO! Thanks much Jenn!!

        • — Gigi B on March 10, 2022
        • Reply
        • Hi Jenn,
          I DID make this with the ground lamb, tasted great. But the only and main issue I had was it was just soooo greasy!! I’ve made this before and I must’ve drained it before doing the tomato paste etc… I did check your recipe this time to see if you’d suggested it, but you hadn’t. It was so bad that as it cooked it almost covered the mashed potatoes. Just thought I’d tell you…. Still a fantastic recipe though!!

          • — Gigi B on March 25, 2022
          • Reply
          • Ugh — I’m sorry you had a problem with it Gigi — I guess the lamb had a lot of fat!

            • — Jenn on March 25, 2022
    • I rate this recipe 1 star for beef and 4 stars for lamb. If you do use ground lamb, you’ll be making authentic Shepherd’s pie. Ground beef means it is a “cottage pie”, and not nearly as wonderful!! I have seen comments where people say it’s the same to use beef or lamb, but it is definitely NOT. Lamb raised in the USA has 3x more omega 3 fatty acids, more protien per ounce, less fat per ounce and less cholesterol per ounce. Also, more zinc and selenium for our brains… a much healthier meat.

      • — Chris S on March 16, 2022
      • Reply
  • The best Shepherds Pie! Luv shepherds pie and have made many – this is the best!!
    Thank you again for another super recipe!

    • — Anne on February 28, 2022
    • Reply
  • I made this when our neighbours came over with their younger, sometimes fussy children and they each had 3 helpings! This was the best Shepherds pie I’ve ever made!

    • — Kathy on February 21, 2022
    • Reply
  • It took me 2 solid hours to make this dish, but was super delicious! Only change was I omitted the bacon for health reasons. Still fabulous comfort food at its best!

    • — Tara on February 20, 2022
    • Reply
  • First, thank you for a great base recipe! Thank you, also, to the people who took the time to review/comment and say what they did differently (if they did!). I also made some changes, but followed the recipe pretty closely, so I will still give it 5 ⭐️! I used whole milk in place of half and half, cremini mushrooms in for 1/2 the ground beef. I also omitted the bacon (didn’t have on hand). It was STILL amazing. The flavors were incredible and I will absolutely make it again! I ended up making it in a Le Cruset 8 qt dutch oven. Super tasty! And great comfort food for cold nights!

    • — Kelly Langston on February 14, 2022
    • Reply
  • I’ve made this before and it’s wonderful. This past time, I made it with Yukon Golds. Still good, but next time, I’ll stick with Russets as Jenn wrote. 😉

    • — Jane on February 13, 2022
    • Reply
  • Made this for dinner last night and it was just delicious. I will definitely make it again. Thanks for a great recipe.

    • — Patty on February 8, 2022
    • Reply
  • Absolutely delicious! I used a slow cooked lamb shoulder I cooked the day before with onions, carrots, and some flavorful stock, and chopped it into pieces for the pie the next day after skimming the hardened refrigerated fat off the top. I did not use tomato paste or Worcester sauce as the stock was so tasty I did not want to lose that taste. I added peas and mushrooms and a little chopped spinach too. And a light sprinkle of Parmesan helped brown up the potatoes just a little, and added a nice taste. Served six hearty eaters.

    • — Dianne F. on February 7, 2022
    • Reply
  • Best I have ever had or made

    • — Darren on February 1, 2022
    • Reply
  • Made this for second time last night and it was wonderful! Had a question about tenderizing hamburger. If you are using chuck or a fattier ground beef would you still tenderize? Also would you use this method on grilled hamburgers or meatloaf? Thank you for all your cooking wisdom!

    • — Viki on January 31, 2022
    • Reply
    • So glad you enjoyed it! If you’re using something fattier (i.e, 80%) it’s not necessary (although it won’t hurt). And no need to use this method for hamburgers or meatloaf as they contain other tenderizers (like bread crumbs in meatloaf or a panade in hamburgers such as in this recipe). Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on February 4, 2022
      • Reply
  • People! read what Jenn says at the very beginning and then you won’t have to tell everybody that there’s a difference between Shepherd’s Pie and Cottage Pie.

    • — Pearl McElheran on January 31, 2022
    • Reply
    • Thank you for saying this! I am so annoyed with people pointing this out and not reading what she stated in the beginning!

      • — TMS on March 17, 2022
      • Reply
  • Sorry that’s not Shepard’s pie, it’s Cottage pie. Shepard’s pie is only made with lamb either from a leftover roast or ground. Not lentils, beef, mushrooms or anything else.

    • — Bruce Wood on January 31, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Bruce, I mentioned in the recipe intro that the dish originated in sheep country in the UK and Ireland and is traditionally made with lamb. However, in the States, shepherd’s pie is often made with beef (though this version is technically referred to as cottage pie). Hope that clarifies.

      • — Jenn on January 31, 2022
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    You mention in one of your responses that to serve 8 people you would double the recipe. What size pan(s) would you use to do this, one large pan, or two pans that are the same size? Please be as specific as possible with size/brand/type. Thank you so much! Love, love, love ALL of your recipes!

    • — Jeanine on January 27, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Jeanine, So glad you like the recipes! I would make this in two pans. I’m guessing you may not have two 12-inch oven-proof skillets (the one I use in the recipe is an All-Clad stainless skillet) so I’d recommend using two 2.5-quart casserole dishes. (See the note at the bottom of the recipe with more details.) Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on January 28, 2022
      • Reply
      • Next time I think I’ll add more thyme, and some Rosemary and a little basil. Using ground turkey requires more flavor. As always, Jenn, directions were spot on! The prep is what takes the time!

        • — Mona on February 26, 2022
        • Reply
  • I made this with goat burger! Delicious!

    • — Theresa on January 25, 2022
    • Reply
  • sorry – just added a review but forgot to add the 5 stars!!

    • — isabelle on January 25, 2022
    • Reply
    • Thanks Isabelle! I just went back to the comment and added them. 🙂

      • — Jenn on January 26, 2022
      • Reply
  • Others may have commented on this, so sorry if repetitive. I am a singleton and typically make all of the beef recipe but half of the potatoes and make a casserole dish with half of the meat (more or less). The leftovers microwave well the next day. But the remainder of the meat stew i then freeze for a future casserole with again half of the potato recipe for on top. Really works well. Also, for me, i use a 1 lb package of grd beef so up the amount of veggies. Again, that is adult friendly, but maybe less so for families/kids? But really yummy – esp in cold winter weather!

    • — isabelle on January 25, 2022
    • Reply
  • This is definitely a house favorite here! I’ve made it several times & is something my kids (especially my son) request pretty regularly. The other week I decided to make it with a dark beer instead of red wine since I didn’t have any wine & it was delicious that way, too.

    • — Amanda J on January 25, 2022
    • Reply
  • I made this for dinner tonight and my husband’s comment was it is absolutely incredible. The only modification I made was to use gluten free flour vs. regular wheat flour. This recipe is a keeper! Thank-you!

    • — Julie on January 22, 2022
    • Reply

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