Easy Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherd’s Pie comes to us from England, and is traditionally made with lamb or mutton. Here in the states we are more of a beef eating culture than a lamb eating one, and when one is served “shepherd’s pie” here, it is most often made with ground beef. In England (and Australia and New Zealand) they would call the beef dish a “cottage pie” and the lamb dish “shepherd’s pie”.

Regardless of what you call it, a shepherd’s pie is basically a casserole with a layer of cooked meat and vegetables, topped with mashed potatoes, and baked in the oven until the the mashed potatoes are well browned. When you dig in you get a spoonful of mashed potatoes, some crispy bits, meat, and vegetables all in one bite. It’s pure comfort food.

What follows is a simple recipe for a ground beef version of Shepherd’s Pie. The original recipe comes from my friend Frances Hochschild, and her mother (thanks Frannie!).

Easy Shepherd’s Pie Recipe

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: Serves four.
Yum

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds potatoes (about 3 large potatoes), peeled and quartered
  • 8 Tablespoons (1 stick) butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1-2 cups vegetables—diced carrots, corn, peas
  • 1 1/2 lbs ground round beef
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt, pepper, other seasonings of choice

Method

1 Place the peeled and quartered potatoes in medium sized pot. Cover with at least an inch of cold water. Add a teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until tender (about 20 minutes.

2 While the potatoes are cooking, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a large sauté pan on medium heat. Add the chopped onions and cook until tender, about 6 to 10 minutes. If you are including vegetables, add them according to their cooking time. Carrots should be cooked with the onions, because they take as long to cook as the onions do. If you are including peas or corn, add them toward the end of the cooking of the onions, or after the meat starts to cook, as they take very little cooking time.

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4 Add ground beef to the pan with the onions and vegetables. Cook until no longer pink. Season with salt and pepper. Add the worcestershire sauce and beef broth. Bring the broth to a simmer and reduce heat to low. Cook uncovered for 10 minutes, adding more beef broth if necessary to keep the meat from drying out.

5 When the potatoes are done cooking (a fork can easily pierce), remove them from the pot and place them in a bowl with the remaining 4 Tbsp of butter. Mash with a fork or potato masher, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

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6 Preheat oven to 400°F. Spread the beef, onions, and vegetables (if using) in an even layer in a large baking dish (8x13 casserole). Spread the mashed potatoes over the top of the ground beef. Rough up the surface of the mashed potatoes with a fork so there are peaks that will get well browned. You can even use a fork to make creative designs in the mashed potatoes.

7 Place in a 400°F oven and cook until browned and bubbling, about 30 minutes. If necessary, broil for the last few minutes to help the surface of the mashed potatoes brown.

Suggested variations:

Put a layer of creamed corn between the ground beef and the mashed potatoes.

Sprinkle grated cheddar cheese over the top of the mashed potatoes before baking.

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Showing 4 of 216 Comments

  • Sherry

    In between the meat layer and the potato layer – we put a can of corn (drained). Like my mom says about getting your veggies in.

  • Pink Sun Drops

    Can you call it a hit when your two little nieces and nephews are over and wolf it down? Along with your mother who generally only likes to eat out? I think so! Delicious! I added steamed baby carrots into the beef before baking and a can of corn between the beef and potatoes as suggested by Sherry and served with broccoli, peas, and artichoke & herb bread. Thank you for this recipe, it’s now on my list of family favorites!

  • Steven Belt

    Thank you! This is a simple dish that’s always a hit. My 3 teens don’t usualy eat thigs that are “mixed together”, but they do like this. We added 1/2 Lb. more Ground Beef. 1/2 Cup more Onion. 1 Clove Garlic. 1 Tsp. Worcestershire Sauce. And 1/2 can each of Green Beans, Corn, & Carrots. We’ve even added Frozen Peas. There are so many ways to very it!

  • Jerry in Colfax CA

    Fantastic – I too added the corn, I also added three slices of American Cheese to the mashed potatoes…. and a dash of mustard, then whipped them and put them on top…. came out golden brown and delicious!!!!! Thanks for the idea…

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