This is a classic recipe for Shepherd’s Pie, a traditional Irish dinner made with any type of leftover meat but usually beef or lamb, a mix of veggies (usually peas and carrots but any vegetables will do), gravy, and mashed potatoes to top things off. Everything bakes together for a complete one-pan meal. Freezer friendly too.
Shepherd's Pie is a traditional Irish dinner loved by just about everyone and is easy to bring to your dinner table made with ground beef, beef gravy, peas, carrots and then topped with mashed potatoes. The potatoes are crisped to a golden brown in the oven for the final touch.
There are a few ways I make my shepherd's pie extra tasty. I use red potatoes. I love their flavor.
Shepherd's Pie Made Healthy
You can lighten up this classic dish by cutting fat without cutting all the flavor. My favorite way to do this is by using a blend of ground turkey and ground beef. I do this a lot when I make classic Italian dishes and it works really well because there are so many other flavors going on, you don't focus on the meat itself when you're tasting it. I usually do half and half ratio.
Try ground turkey.
Instead of beef, you can opt to lighten up this dish by using ground turkey. You can also use a blend of half turkey, half beef. Or whatever blend you prefer. The ratio of beef to turkey is totally up to you.
If you want more traditional beef flavor and don't mind a few extra calories, then go ahead and make this with just beef. Want an ultra light version of this Shepherd's Pie? Go ahead and use all turkey.
Try other meats too.
You can also use cubed steak or even lamb if you want to add a more sophisticated flavor to this dish. Experiment and see what you like best.
Mashed Potatoes - Homemade, Store-bought, or Instant?
Listen, I love mashed potatoes and I love short cuts. Almost equally. So this is a really tough question for me to weigh in on.
However, I do have a definitive opinion on this subject. Homemade mashed potatoes are better. Hands down. There are somethings you can short cut without loosing a lot of flavor but mashed potatoes isn't one of those. In my opinion.
Now, if you're a fan of boxed mashed potatoes, or you just don't have the kind of time it takes to peel, cook and whip all those potatoes into shape, I get it. Not judging. Do the boxed! But if you're asking me what's better, I'm going to say homemade every time.
You can also get the best of both worlds and opt for store-bought masher potatoes that come ready made to save time. Usually you can find these in the refrigerator section of the grocery store.
This recipe calls for canned gravy but often times I will make this with homemade gravy. I like to use leftover juices from pot roast as gravy. You can also make a quick homemade gravy using beef broth + a roux to thicken it and some added beef bouillon.
I have a tutorial for making chicken gravy. Follow the same steps using been bones and beef broth. Check out the gravy tutorial here.
Adding Wine (Optional)
I also like to add a splash of wine to my gravy to give it more flavor. You can use dry red wine, marsala wine, cooking wine or even a bit of red wine vinegar. I've also used a little bit of whiskey!
What kind of potatoes work best?
It's all about flavor here so I prefer red potatoes. They are a bit more time consuming to peel since they are so small but worth it! You can also use gold or white potatoes. Any potatoes work, so choose your favorite or use what you have readily available.
The fun of this recipe is that you can flavor your potatoes and give this dish a whole new spin. You can certainly stick with classic mashed potatoes but stir in some cheddar cheese and you'll get cheddar potatoes, use sour cream and chives whipped potatoes for a burst of extra flavor or try mashed sweet potatoes!
If you're making Shepherd's Pie for the first time, I would go with regular mashed potatoes. Then experiment with other flavors the more times you make this recipe.
For cheesy potatoes, try any type of cheese! Just stir the cheese into the potatoes after you mash them. The cheese will melt when you bake this whole dish. Mmmmm....
Traditional Shepherd's Pie recipes call for peas and carrots but you can substitute any veggies you want. Or add extras. Veggies I think taste great in this dish are: corn, spinach, celery, bell peppers, yellow beans, broccoli, zucchini, squash, asparagus and/or parsnips. Basically, any combination of vegetables you love!
What to serve with Shepherd's Pie
What I love about this dish is it truly covers all the food groups. So you really don't need to serve anything with it. It's a complete meal in itself. However, if you want to be a bit extra, you can serve with a side salad, fresh baked bread and butter, and an Irish beer!
To Freeze the Shepherd's Pie
Instead of baking you can freeze this pie. To reheat from frozen, bake covered at 350˚for about 35-40 minutes. Remove foil about for last 10 minutes of baking to achieve a golden brown crust on top. *If freezing in a glass baking pan, be careful to slowly heat up the baking dish along with the oven to prevent cracking and shattering of the glass.
Want more easy dinner ideas?
Easy Shepherd's Pie
- 6 russet potatoes see notes below
- 2 tablespoon sour cream
- 2 tablespoon butter
- ½ teaspoon pepper divided
- ½ teaspoon parsley
- 1 tablespoon salt divided
- 1 lb ground beef
- ½ onion diced
- 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary chopped
- 10.5 oz can beef gravy
- ½ cup mixed diced peas and carrot frozen or fresh
- ¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese optional
- 2 tablespoon red cooking wine optional
- Peel and boil potatoes in a large pot over medium-high heat until soft; about 10-15 minutes. Drain and return potatoes to pot.
- Add butter, sour cream, 1 and ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper and parsley then beat with a hand mixer on high until smooth. *If you want cheesy potatoes, stir in a ¼ cup of shredded cheddar cheese while potatoes are still hot.
- In a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat, add ground beef, peas, carrots, and onion and cook for 5-7 minutes or until beef is browned and onions are translucent.
- Add rosemary then add gravy then salt and pepper to taste pepper. *add optional red wine if you'd like. Bring to a boil them remove from heat; stirring frequently.
- In each of the 8x8 baking dishes or two deep-dish pie pans layer in cooked beef and vegetables with gravy then top with a layer of mashed potatoes.
- You can use a fork to make a pattern in the top if you want, or just smooth the top of the potatoes with a spatula.
- Bake at 400˚for about 15-20 minutes or until top of potatoes is golden brown.