Easy Shepherd’s Pie

VideoCasseroleComfort FoodGluten-FreeGround Beef

American favorite shepherd's pie recipe, casserole with ground beef, vegetables such as carrots, corn, and peas, topped with mashed potatoes.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Featured in 11 Casseroles to Double and Freeze

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 mashed potatoes are well browned.

Shepherd's Pie

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!).

How to make Shepherd’s Pie

Easy Shepherd’s Pie Recipe

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4

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 Boil the potatoes: 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 Sauté vegetables: 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.

3 Add the ground beef, then Worcestershire sauce and broth: 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.

4 Mash the cooked potatoes: 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.

5 Layer the meat mixture and mashed potatoes in a casserole dish: Preheat oven to 400°F. Spread the beef, onions, and vegetables (if using) in an even layer in a large baking dish (9x13 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.

6 Bake in oven: 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.

(Be careful when broiling using Pyrex or glass dishes, they have been known to shatter under the high heat of the broiler. It's not a worry if you are using a ceramic or metal casserole dish.)

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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Shepherd's Pie

Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

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757 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. R Gardner

    I feel the need to tell you that using beef in this pie makes it a cottage pie. A Shepherds pie has to be made with lamb that’s why it’s called shepherds pie. In the USA if you use
    Beef, it aught to be called, Cowboy pie?

    Show Replies (1)
  2. Meghan

    Wish I knew to drain the grease :/ messed up the entire meal.

    xxxxxyyyyy

    Show Replies (2)
  3. Lauren

    GO-TO RECIPE! This recipe is the biggest staple in my household! I like to double the recipe so it lasts my family the week, and I go heavy on the Worcestershire sauce for flavor. Super simple, super hearty, super yummy. When I don’t have patience for making potatoes, I use instant mashed potatoes instead. ;) If you’re really in a rush, it’s not necessary to bake in my opinion. I’ve made mashed potatoes and just cooked the rest in a pan and spread over the potatoes.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  4. Dan

    Very Easy & Tasty!
    20:20 One Dish Meal
    I used ready chopped frozen onions, green peppers, and instant potatoes. 20 minute prep time (mostly cooking meat and veggies down). 20 Minutes at 400.
    Done!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  5. Elsie

    Easy & delicious. The kids love it.

    xxxxxyyyyy

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