Shepherd’s Pie is a traditional Irish dish made with a saucy ground lamb (or beef) base, peas, and carrots and topped with a mashed potato crust. Easy and tasty, all year round!
What is Shepherd’s Pie?
Shepherd’s Pie is a delicious combo of ground lamb (although many people use beef) that has been cooked with carrots, sweet green peas and corn in a gravy or sauce. The lamb mixture is then topped with a crust of creamy mashed potatoes.
This casserole traditionally made with ground lamb. Many people make this recipe with ground beef however, if you use ground beef it’s actually called Cottage Pie! (You can also replace the meat for a vegetarian lentil version).Either way, this crustless meat pie is topped creamy mashed potatoes and baked until bubbly.
Do you put cheese on top of Shepherd’s Pie? Traditionally, a Shepherd’s Pie is not topped with cheese, but as you all know, cheese is my love language. You can add a sprinkle of cheddar cheese on top of the mashed potatoes or just brush them with a little bit of butter before baking.
Shepherd’s Pie can be prepared fresh but it’s also a great way to use up any leftover meat, veggies, gravy or mashed potatoes.
- MEAT Lamb is traditional but you can use any ground meat in this recipe (I most often use ground beef). Leftover roast works too!
- VEGGIES Frozen mixed vegetables make prep quick and easy but leftover roasted veggies work perfectly too. If using fresh, steam them until tender before adding.
- SAUCE Shepherd’s Pie is so versatile, I’ve given a couple of shortcut sauces in the recipe below but you can use leftover gravy (or gravy mix), tomato sauce… the sky is the limit here.
- POTATOES Traditional mashed are what I most often use but garlic mashed potatoes add great flavor to this dish! If you are in a hurry, you can use store-bought mashed potatoes
Prep Ahead and Tips for Shepherd’s Pie
You will love how easy and convenient this dish is. It can be made a day in advance, which makes dinner prep easier.
- Layering After prepping the meat mixture, let it cool and then chill it in the fridge for 20 minutes. This will help keep the mashed potato layer separated.
- Prep Ahead Prep and assemble up to one day in advance and refrigerate. Let it come to room temperature 30 minutes before baking it.
- Quick Clean Up If your baking dish is very full, place it on a parchment lined baking sheet to avoid any juices spilling in your oven.
- To Freeze Before Baking
- Cool completely. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and then in foil. Freeze.
- Thaw overnight in the fridge. Bake for 45 minutes covered and 15 minutes uncovered
Serve this With…
- A fresh tossed salad or fresh tomatoes and cucumbers
- Homemade French Bread, crescent rolls or dinner rolls – or Irish Soda Bread
- Fresh veggies like steamed broccoli, sauteed kale or roasted asparagus
And finish the meal with a belly warming Irish Coffee!
More St. Patrick’s Day Favorites
- Colcannon Recipe (Cabbage and Potatoes)
- Lamb Stew (Irish Stew)
- Instant Pot Corned Beef
- Fried Cabbage
- My Favorite Reuben Sandwich
- Irish Pub Style Potato Nachos
Shepherd's Pie Recipe
- 1 pound ground lamb or beef
- 1 medium onion diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 4 cups mixed frozen vegetables defrosted
- 10 ounces tomato soup or mushroom soup
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon basil
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
- 3 cups prepared mashed potatoes
- 1 cup cheddar cheese shredded
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Cook lamb or beef, onion, and garlic over medium heat until no pink remains. Drain any fat.
- Stir in mixed vegetables, soup, Worcestershire sauce, salt, basil, and pepper. Spread into the bottom of a 2 qt casserole dish.
- Spoon mashed potatoes over top and sprinkle with cheese.
- Baked 25-30 minutes or until bubbly.
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.)
Why is it called Shepherd’s Pie?
Originally a meat pie made with minced (or ground) meat and mashed potatoes was known as a Cottage Pie (and it was even sometimes made with pastry many years ago). It is very popular in Ireland, Scotland and England as well! In the late 1800’s the pie was named Shepherd’s Pie if made with lamb (since the shepherd looked after the sheep) and if made with beef it was called Cottage Pie.
Regardless of the name, this recipe is a classic Shepherd’s Pie recipe loaded with flavor and the perfect make ahead meal to serve all year long!