With its meaty gravy, comforting fillings, and creamy mashed potatoes, shepherd’s pie is the perfect one-dish meal for a chilly night. This easy shepherd’s pie recipe is fragrant, delicious, and filling, a guaranteed crowd-pleaser.
When I was a kid, there was probably a 50% chance we’d be eating shepherd’s pie if I got invited to a friend’s house for dinner during the winter. Only sometimes it was made with lamb, sometimes beef, sometimes canned soup. Sometimes it was delish. Other times, well…the results could be…let’s just say uneven.
This Shepherd’s pie is absolutely delicious. I decided to reconnect the dish to its Irish shepherd’s pie roots, ditching the instant mashed potatoes and more oily ground beef. My shepherd’s pie recipe is rich, hearty, and flavorful, with cheesy mashed potatoes and savory ground lamb. When this shepherd’s pie is in the oven, nobody is going to think twice about accepting an invitation to dinner.
How do I make homemade shepherd’s pie?
The word “pie” suggests apple pie, or chicken pot pie, with a top and bottom pastry crust. But the “pie” in “shepherd’s pie” comes from the shape of the dish and the way its topping covers the filling. Shepherd’s pie starts as a stew, with meat and vegetables cooked together in a saucepan, then liquid added and reduced to create a flavorful, thickened saucy base. After the stew is transferred to a baking dish, it’s topped with cheesy mashed potatoes. The whole dish is finally baked together.
In the more Americanized version you might find a layer of cheddar cheese on top, but for this recipe, I sprinkle a little parmesan, and mix some cheese into the potatoes, rather than having it be its own separate layer.
What’s the difference between cottage pie and shepherd’s pie?
The two dishes are close cousins, so they get confused a lot, but there’s a key difference: the meat. They’re both stew dishes topped with mashed potatoes, but cottage pie is an English dish, and uses beef. Shepherd’s pie is has Irish origins, and is made with lamb.
The same recipes will work with either meat, so it’s really a matter of what you prefer. But you get extra points if you use the right name with the right dish. If you want to use beef for this recipe, go for it. It will be delicious.
How do you make shepherd’s pie with cheese?
If you’ve got some faint memory of cheese being involved, you’re right. But the cheese does NOT go in the stew. The cheese in shepherd’s pie goes into the mashed potatoes, or if you want it more Americanized, on top of the mashed potatoes as a final layer.
I love buttery gruyere cheese, which I stir into the mashed potatoes, where it melts in and makes them extra rich and creamy.
How do you make shepherd’s pie easy?
Sorry, but I have to throw some shade on Grandma. There were a lot of shortcuts that went into the shepherd’s pie I had as a kid. Instant mashed potatoes, cheap ground beef from a sleeve, frozen vegetables. You just can’t take those shortcuts and get a good result. Use fresh vegetables and real potatoes. Quality ground lamb is no harder to brown than cheap ground beef that’s been ground too fine to have any texture. Good shepherd’s pie is easy enough. Don’t try to make it easier.
Recommendation: Oxo Good Grips Stainless Steel Potato Masher
People get downright religious about how they like their mashed potatoes, so hey, I’m just telling you what *I* like. I. Me. Just me. So here it is: I like my mashed potatoes with some texture, rather than whipped. There’s a role for a ricer, but for this dish—where the potatoes are also carrying cheese—I prefer the potatoes to be more hearty than fluffy. This zig-zag-style masher is just right, and the rubber-cushioned handle will keep your hands from slipping as steam comes off the potatoes. You could also check out this post for how to make great mashed potatoes.
Does shepherd’s pie put you in a traditional mood? Lean in by serving it with Irish soda bread. If you don’t see your family getting excited about cabbage, try Brussels Sprouts with Candied Pecans and Butter Glaze on the side. Then finish the meal with Grandma’s Carrot Pudding.
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- 1 1/2 Tbs olive oil
- 1 Tbs minced garlic 2 cloves
- 1 yellow onion finely chopped
- 1 large carrot finely chopped
- 1 rib celery finely chopped
- 3/4 tsp dried oregano
- 1/4 tsp dried sage
- 1/4 tsp dried thyme
- 1/4 tsp crushed rosemary
- 1/2 cup chopped zucchini
- 1 1/2 lbs ground lamb Can be subbed for ground beef
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 2 cups beef stock
- 1 beef bouillon cube crumbled
- 1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
- Salt and pepper
- 1 cup frozen petite peas
- 2 lbs potatoes peeled and cut into cubes
- 2/3 cup milk
- 2 Tbs butter salted
- 1 cup gruyere cheese
- 2 Tbs butter melted
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat, then add onion and garlic.
- Cook onion and garlic for 1 minute, stirring so as not to burn.
- Add carrots, celery, oregano, sage, thyme and rosemary, and cook for 3 minutes. Then turn heat up to high.
- Add lamb and use a wooden spoon to break it up as you cook it. Cook until browned.
- Once lamb is browned, and broken up, add flour and stir it in.
- Add tomato paste, broth, bouillon cube, Worcestershire sauce, and salt and pepper. Stir well.
- When mixture starts bubbling, turn heat down to medium, and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring from time to time. Continue to cook until the sauce has reduced to the thickness you desire.
- Taste, and adjust seasonings to your preference.
- Pour mixture into a 2 qt baking dish.
- Add peas and stir to combine.
- Put mixture into refrigerator and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Peel and cube potatoes.
- Cook potatoes in boiling water for 15 minutes or until soft.
- Drain potatoes, and return to pot.
- Add butter and begin mashing. Then add milk, salt and pepper.
- Mash until it's soft, add more milk if needed, but you don’t want the potatoes to be runny.
- Stir gruyere cheese into potatoes
- Remove lamb mixture from refrigerator, and spread potatoes over lamb mixture.
- Drizzle with butter.
- Bake for 30 - 40 minutes or until golden on top and bubbling on the edges.
- Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Our recipe card software calculates these nutrition facts based on averages for the above ingredients, different brands, and quality of produce/meats may have different nutritional information, always calculate your own based on the specific products you use in order to achieve accurate macros for this recipe.
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