A traditional Shepherd’s Pie recipe is an easy comfort food!

Tender ground lamb (or beef) and vegetables baked in a savory gravy and under a fluffy mashed potato topping.

It’s a complete meal, and we love that it reheats and freezes well.

Shepherd’s Pie in the dish with a spoon

What is Shepherd’s Pie?

It’s the ultimate Irish recipe that’s heartwarming and hearty! Although many versions use ground beef, a traditional Shepherd’s pie recipe is made with ground lamb. If you use ground beef, it is actually cottage pie, although the terms are often used interchangeably.

ingredients to make Lamb Sheperds Pie

Ingredients & Variations

This recipe is a traditional Shepherd’s pie, if you’re short on time, try our shortcut Shepherds Pie.

Ground Meat – Although ground lamb is traditionally used in shepherd’s pie, ground beef is more widely available and common in North America, making it a great option for the filling. You can use either or a combination of both. Skip the meat entirely for a vegetarian shepherd’s pie.

Vegetables – A combination of onions, carrots, celery, and peas adds the perfect flavor. If you’re pressed for time, use a bag of frozen mixed vegetables or add leftover veggies like mushrooms or green beans.

Sauce – The gravy is super simple with beef broth, tomato paste, and herbs. You can use leftover gravy or even canned cream of mushroom or tomato soup.

Mashed Potatoes Creamy mashed potatoes are the perfect shepherd’s pie topping. Try creamy garlic mashed potatoes or even Instant mashed potatoes.

How to Make Shepherd’s Pie

Making a classic shepherd’s pie recipe is easy:

  1. Cook Potatoes: Cook potatoes per recipe directions below. Drain & mash with a potato masher.
  2. Make Filling: While potatoes are boiling, cook ground meat with onion & garlic. Add veggies.
  3. Make Sauce: Stir flour into the beef. Add remaining ingredients and simmer until thickened. Stir in frozen peas.
  4. Top & Bake:  Top the meat mixture (in the skillet or a baking dish) with mashed potatoes. Bake until golden and bubbly.

Feeling Fancy?

You can pile the potatoes on top and scrape it with a fork to make a pretty design. If you’re feeling extra fancy, put the potatoes in a piping bag with a star tip and pipe them on top.

Lamb Sheperds Pie before cooking

Tips for Shepherds Pie

  • Swap out the fresh veggies for frozen mixed veggies to keep the prep fast!
  • Prepared or packaged mashed potatoes work well in this recipe. You can also used mashed cauliflower.
  • Stir in an egg yolk to make the mashed potatoes extra rich in flavor or some cheddar cheese.
  • If using an oven-proof pan, skip the casserole dish and layer the potatoes over the meat in the skillet!
  • Make it pretty by piping the mashed potatoes with a piping bag.
  • Let shepherd’s pie rest for about 5 minutes before serving.
plated Lamb Sheperds Pie
What to Serve with Shepherd’s Pie

Lamb Shepherd’s pie goes well with a fresh tossed salad and some homemade French bread or some Irish soda bread.

What’s the Difference between Shepherd’s Pie and Cottage Pie?

Shepherd’s pie is made with lamb while cottage pie is made with ground beef. Many people make it with ground beef and still call it Shepherd’s pie.

Mashed Potato Mash-Ups

Did your family love this Shepherd’s Pie? Be sure to leave a rating and comment below! 

Shepherd’s Pie in the dish with a spoon
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Shepherd’s Pie

Classic Shepherd's Pie is a traditional Irish dish loaded with lamb (or beef), veggies, and mashed potatoes!
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 6
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Ingredients  

  • 1 pound ground lamb (or beef, see note)
  • 1 onion diced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 carrots ½ inch diced
  • 2 ribs celery ½ inch diced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 ⅔ cups beef broth
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • cup peas
  • ¼ teaspoon salt and pepper each

Mashed Potatoes

  • 2 pounds russet potatoes or Yukon gold potatoes
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • ½ cup warm milk

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  • Peel potatoes and cut into 1-inch chunks. Place in a large pot of cold salted water.
  • Gently boil the potatoes for 13 to 16 minutes or until they are fork tender.
  • Meanwhile, in a large skillet or dutch oven, brown the ground lamb, onion, and garlic over medium high heat until no pink remains. Drain any fat.
  • Add the carrots and celery to the skillet, and cook for an additional 5 minutes or until the vegetables are just tender crisp.
  • Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Add beef broth, Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, parsley, thyme sprigs, and bay leaf.
  • Let the meat mixture simmer over medium heat for 20 minutes or until the gravy has thickened. Remove bay leaf, taste and season with salt and pepper. Stir in the peas.
  • Drain the potatoes well and mash them until smooth. Mix in the butter, and gradually add warmed milk time until the potatoes are smooth and fluffy, you may not need all of the milk. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  • Spread the potatoes over the meat mixture, and place it in the oven. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden

Video

Notes

  • You can replace the ground lamb with ground beef. Ground lamb is traditional.
  • Swap out the fresh veggies for frozen mixed veggies to keep the prep fast!
  • Prepared or packaged mashed potatoes work well in this recipe.
  • If using an oven-proof pan, skip the casserole dish and layer the potatoes over the meat in the skillet! This can be baked in any 2 to 2 1/2 qt baking dish or casserole dish or a large skillet.
  • Make it pretty by piping the mashed potatoes with a piping bag.
  • Let shepherd’s pie rest about 5 minutes before serving.
4.98 from 43 votes

Nutrition Information

Calories: 448 | Carbohydrates: 39g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 72mg | Sodium: 336mg | Potassium: 1206mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 3840IU | Vitamin C: 20mg | Calcium: 87mg | Iron: 3mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.

Course Dinner, Entree, Main Course
Cuisine American, Irish
Shepherd's Pie in the pot and plated with writing
Lamb Shepherd’s Pie with a title
cooked Shepherd’s Pie in the pan with writing
plated Shepherd’s Pie with writing

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Holly Nilsson is the creator of Spend With Pennies, where she creates easy, comforting recipes made for real life. With a passion for nostalgic flavors and simplified techniques, Holly helps busy home cooks create delicious meals that always work. She is also the author of “Everyday Comfort,” which promises to inspire even more hearty, home-cooked meals.
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Comments

    1. Yes, it can be prepared ahead. Remove it from the fridge at least 30 minutes before baking and bake for 35 to 40 minutes.

  1. This is the first time I had made shepherd’s pie as I am not a fan of it. But it was delicious! Takes some time to make, but is well worth it. It was a huge hit with my guest. I will definitely make it again.5 stars

  2. This was a huge hit at my house with the husband so I made it for my daughter and grandchildren. It was a hit. I will keep this recipe as a favorite for sure.5 stars

  3. I make this about once a month , with different meats ! Sometimes ground lamb , sometimes ground beef, even ground moose , or deer with beef. It’s a convenient way to have a delicious nutritious dinner !5 stars

  4. Hello, I plan on making this dish this Friday, March 17, 2023 for my Irish Husband and I. I do want to make it look fancy, what size star should I use? I’m not familiar with piping, but I want to try and do it, so I want to make sure I buy the correct size. Thanks in advance for your reply and thank you for all your great recipes. Regards, Debra

  5. wow this is a delicious Cottage Pie, using vegies from cottage garden, —but if recipe said “ground pieces of Roast Lamb” (instead of mince meat to be fried,) then you have traditional Shepherds Pie,, as in the 1940’s War Years when I turned the handle of my Grandmothers mincer that was screwed to her kitchen table, as she fed into it, left over pieces of roast lamb,, she then mixed that with Tomato Sauce, a dash of Worcestershire Sauce, mash potatoes piled on top, little hills made with her spoon, popped in her big wood fired stove to just brown it, , boiled vegies were served beside,,
    — so there you are, simple recipe,, to put vegies in it would spoil the delicious texture and flavour of that roast lamb,,, please do try it, it is very different to Cottage Pie,, in later years we did add some boiled, left over, pieces if pickled mutton,, or sneak in some silverside pieces,,,
    I hope you do enjoy this ,,,
    —- the secret is “roast lamb pieces, minced”… NOT mince meat from the butcher ,,,4 stars

  6. When I received this email, I though, how clever, she’s covered the mixture with a noodle of some kind? After I went back to the email 3 or 4 times, I saw that a piping bag of mashed spuds was used. How clever? I must try this recipe, even though I have made cottage pie at least a 100 times, I’ve never got flashy with the potato delivery. I can’t wait to see the wife’s face when I put my creation on the table. I cook most dinners, as she still works, poor girl. Report to follow.

  7. Hi, your recipes are wonderful. What size baking dish should be used for Shepherd’s Pie Recipe?

    1. Thank you Joyce! I use a 2 to 2 1/2 qt baking dish or casserole dish or a large 12-inch skillet. Enjoy!