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

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 (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.

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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693 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Grandpa g

    Great recipe, we use mushroom soup instead of beef broth

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  2. Christine

    Great recipe. I always add a package or two of brown gravy mix to thicken it. I used 2# 80/20 hamburger, a whole can of beef broth, 3 potatoes and a 10 oz. bag of frozen peas and carrots in the recipe. When I mashed the potatoes with only butter I thought they were quite dry, but after baking, the potatoes were buttery and creamy. Served it at church and everyone loved it!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  3. Karen Gale

    The family LOVED this. I doubled the recipe, and even then it disappeared in a flash. I used all the suggested vegies–onions, corn, peas, and carrots. I had a little too much liquid in the meat mix (probably because the peas were frozen), so I added a half teaspoon of xantham gum (like corn starch) during the last 5 minutes and it ended up the perfect consistency. Also, because my potatoes were a little too dry I added about a third cup of heavy cream, then topped them with a light sprinkle of 3 cheese Mexican mix, because that is what I had.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  4. Deb

    I would like to add minced garlic when sautéing the onion and carrots. Will that enhance the flavor or will it mess up the recipe?

    Show Replies (1)
  5. Elizabeth

    It’s a good recipe but I have been doing my own for quite a few years now and it’s just a gram hamburger some salt and pepper and ham midst onion and them I put in frozen corn on top of that and then some gravy beef gravy then I put the mashed potatoes on top of that sometimes I put a little bit of gravy on top of that but sometimes not and I put the oven for 30 minutes at 400. And it does come out pretty good and it’s pretty easy I don’t use peas and carrots but eventually I’ll probably will have to because corn truly is noAnd it does come out pretty good and it’s pretty easy I don’t use peas and carrots.

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