How You Make Shepherd’s Pie

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How to Make Shepherd’s Pie

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and toss in a pinch of salt. Then wash and cut the potatoes into quarters you dont have to peel them, youll do that later. Once the water is boiling, place the potatoes into the pot.

Now, wash and peel the carrots, then chop them roughly. Then, dice the onions and, if need be, mince the thyme and rosemary. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

How This Pie Is Different From Traditional Shepherds Pie

The shepherds pie of my upbringing features a hefty portion of meat, with vegetables playing a supporting role, and a thick topping of buttery mashed potatoes. My updated version bumps up the ratio of vegetables to meat and calls for extra-lean ground beef, which is the leanest option in the butcher case.

For the mashed potatoes, the recipe swaps in olive oil for butter, which means more heart-healthy fats in every bite. The sum total of these swaps is a lighter dish with no shortcuts on flavor.

Can You Freeze Shepherds Pie

A Shepherds Pie is the perfect make ahead food.

Once your pie is assembled you can chill and then freeze for up to one month. It can also be cooked from frozen. To bake from frozen, cook at 160C/fan 140C/gas 3 for 1 hr-1 hr 20 mins until piping hot in the centre. Flash under the grill to brown, if needed.)

If not freezing, you could also keep in the fridge 2 days before cooking.

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Types Of Recipes On This Site

While I am proud to be a dietitian, I do NOT only eat health food. So, thats not what this site is about. I strive to make the BEST recipes, the recipes you keep coming back to over and over because your whole family loves them. If I can convince one family to cook one of my easy recipes at home instead of going through the fast-food drive through, then I consider that a win!

The recipes on this site tend to fall into one of two categories:

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How To Make Vegetarian Shepherds Pie

Homemade shepherd

Once the mashed potatoes are done, its pie time. The filling is easy to prepare and the flavors are incredible!

  • In a large cast-iron or heavy-bottomed skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until softened.
  • Add the mushrooms, carrots, rosemary, and thyme and cook until the carrots are just starting to soften. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.
  • Add the tomato paste and flour to the skillet and stir. Add the wine and deglaze the skillet, stirring to scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the skillet.
  • Add the Worcestershire and broth, stirring until the gravy starts to form. Simmer until the gravy starts to thicken.
  • Remove the rosemary and thyme. Stir in the frozen peas and corn. Season with salt and pepper.
  • If you are using a cast-iron or other ovenproof pan, you can spread the reserved mashed potatoes right over the vegetable filling. Otherwise, transfer the filling to a 9-inch square or oval baking dish. Spread the mashed potatoes over the top of the filling.
  • Bake until the mashed potatoes are starting to brown and the filling is bubbly.

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Suggestions And Substitutions For Shepherds Pie

A true shepherds pie is actually done with lamb, not beef . Cottage pie is the term traditionally applied to one made with beef.

Regardless of what you call it, you can make this with basically any type of ground meat you like, knowing that they range widely in fat content. Ground lamb, turkey, bison, venison, and beefor half and half of any of the aboveare all fair game.

Nothing beats fresh vegetables and cheese youve grated on the spot to make this recipe, but if youre short on time, here are a few shortcuts:

  • Swap in frozen mixed vegetables for the carrots, celery, and peas. Use two and a half cups and add them to the dish when it instructs you to add the peas.
  • Use pre-shredded sharp cheddar. Take a gander at the ingredients, since some brands use additives to keep the cheese from clumping. Less is more, if you ask me.
  • Buy screw-top wine. Every little bit counts when it comes to saving time. Plus, fussing with a bottle opener isnt my favorite pastime. You dont need fancy wine for this anyway, just something dry and drinkable.

Ingredients For Shepherds Pie

  • Ground Beef we used lean beef, or you can substitute with ground lamb.
  • Salt and Pepper after several tests, we found this simple seasoning is all that is needed. Thyme and rosemary are commonly added but we found it overpowering in any quantity.
  • Onion we used yellow onion, but you can substitute any variety
  • Garlic aromatic that enhances the sauce
  • All-purpose flour thickens the sauce
  • Red Wine use a dry red wine to add rich flavor. Use any dry red wine such as Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet, or Sauvignon
  • Beef Broth you can use Chicken broth if that is what you have on hand.
  • Tomato paste rounds out the flavor of the sauce
  • Worcestershire sauce adds the umami
  • Frozen vegetables we use a combination of carrots, peas and corn

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Traditional Shepherds Pie With Lamb

Traditionally, Shepherds pie is made with lamb chops. However, lamb may be hard to find in your local store If you dont live in Britain, I believe! So I used mainly more common beef and a small amount of lamb mixed mince.

Moreover, lamb has a stronger, meatier flavor and its quite fatty. Tender and juicy lamb is a delightful dish, however not all like its flavor. Of course the flavor of lamb depends on how the animal was raised, fed and how old it was.

But to my mind it is totally worth making the dish with beef. This will be classic cottage pie. Any way, this meat pie is a great dinner idea, if you have leftover mince!

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Key Steps For Easy Shepherds Pie

SHEPHERD’S PIE RECIPE | how to make shepherd’s pie easy healthy
  • Buy some shortcuts. I actually find chopping to be quite therapeutic, but when it comes to shepherds pie, peeling and chopping carrots is the last thing I want to spend my time on. Instead, opt for a bag of mixed vegetables from the freezer.
  • Focus your efforts on the potatoes. You can totally make shepherds pie with store-bought mashed potatoes and you should if youre in an especially big hurry. But in the time it takes to make the beef filling, you can chop four large russets and cook them until tender. The resulting mashed potatoes will have more flavor and a better texture than store-bought.
  • Add a yolk to the potatoes for texture and structure. Another benefit to making the mashed potatoes from scratch: you can stir in an egg yolk. Just one yolk makes the mash ultra-creamy, and also helps the potatoes form a crispy crust in the oven.
  • Brown the beef in the same skillet youll serve from. This is key to the ease of this recipe. Use a large oven-safe skillet to brown the beef for the pie cast iron is best, if youve got it. Once the beef is brown, youll add your frozen vegetables and a few other ingredients to make a quick gravy, which is the base of the pie.

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How To Store & Freeze

You can make the Shepherds pie in advance. Store fully prepared in the refrigerator, for up to 2 days before cooking. Make-ahead meals are a lifesaver and this one always hits the spot!

You can also freeze shepherds pie. Freeze in an ovenproof dish for easy baking once it defrosts. A square glass baking dish or a foil disposable dish are great options. Wrap tightly in plastic and then in foil. Store in the freezer for up to 1 month. When ready to bake, remove the plastic wrap and foil and bake from frozen, adding 20 to 25 minutes to the baking time.

Leftover shepherds pie will keep in the refrigerator, covered or stored in an airtight container, for up to 4 days. You can reheat individual portions in the microwave or cover your shepherds pie tightly with foil and bake in the oven at 350°F for about 30 minutes or until heated through.

A Quick Word On The Mashed Potatoes

I decided to put Greek yogurt in my potatoes to lean towards healthy while still being creamy-tangy .

That being said, if you want this to be a completely vegan shepherds pie, just use olive oil instead of butter and maybe a splash of non-dairy milk in your potatoes and you will be golden. And if youre gluten-free? I have a hack for you involving mashed potatoes check the FAQs.

Can you smell it though? That red wine, garlic, olive oil, rosemary aromatherapy?

If youre really looking ahead, Ill also say that Shepherds Pie is a perfect after-Thanksgiving recipe, because guess what you have a lot of in your fridge after Thanksgiving? Leftover mashed potatoes. This is an amazing way to use up some of those holiday potato leftovers.

Important to note that this vegetarian shepherds pie is a total comfort food meets real food situation, so its going to require pajamas or sweats. A big fluffy sweater would be okay, too. Blanket, slippers, and candle are all optional. But a big appetite will be necessary. I know you can deliver.

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How To Make Shepherd’s Pie

Find out how to make this classic comfort food casserole, and learn the difference between shepherd’s pie and cottage pie. #goodtoknow

Nicole McLaughlin, aka NicoleMcmom, shows you how to make her recipe for hearty shepherd’s pie, with loads of how-to tips along the way. But first, a few words about shepherd’s pie, because that’s how we roll.

Shepherds Pie: A Dish Born Out Of Necessity

Easy Shepherd

Now isnt that something I thought to myself. Here we have a famous dish that came about from necessity. Then a train of thought hit me relating to Shepherds Pie that I never thought of

Shepherds pie is of English origin.. The English brought this pie recipe to Trinidad and Tobago during the colonial times . The house slaves may have probably seen how to make it or made it because Im sure some of them may have been cooks or kitchen assistants. The recipe, handed down in this manner, could have been a possible influence to our local pies like fig pie, dasheen pie, yam pie and eddoes pie for example. Hmmm!

Coming to think of it, these pies may have been made out of necessity too, because potatoes may not have been available to slaves. They would have used whatever was available to them, like ground provision. Even though its a thought, that is some real Trinidad and Tobago pie history to ponder on dont you think?

Anyhow, however the history goes we have been making shepherds pie in Trinidad and Tobago for ages. The variations like the fig pie tastes just as well and have become a regular on the menu, especially the Sunday menu, in most homes. Personally, I like the fig pie but then man does not live on fig pie alone so Shepherds pie is welcomed from time to time. Of course, the extra cheese on top is also a plus

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Shepherds Pie Vs Cottage Pie

So What exactly is the difference between shepherds pie and cottage pie?

Traditionally shepherd pie is made with lamb mince, whereas cottage pie is made with beef mince. I tend to make and serve both with the same sides and I tend to make both in a similar way.

I have a great recipe for Cottage Pie too.

Get The Recipe For Nicole’s Traditional Shepherd’s Pie


  • 1 cup frozen green peas
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley, or to taste


  • Place potatoes in large saucepan and add enough water to cover by 2 inches. Stir in 1 tablespoon salt and place pot over medium-high heat bring to a boil. Cook until potatoes are fork tender, about 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and drain.
  • Return potatoes to the hot pan and set over the same burner. Add milk and 2 tablespoons butter allow butter to melt from the residual heat. Mash potatoes with a potato masher until smooth. Stir in Cheddar cheese, sour cream, egg yolk, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Set aside while you prepare the filling.
  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F . Grease a 9×13-inch casserole dish.
  • Heat olive oil and remaining 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and carrot and cook, stirring constantly, until onion begins to turn translucent, about 5 minutes.
  • Add lamb and beef and cook, crumbling with a spoon and stirring often until browned, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle meat mixture with flour, remaining salt and pepper, rosemary, and thyme. Cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes.
  • Add beef stock, tomato paste, and Worcestershire cook, scraping any flavorful bits from the bottom of the skillet. Bring mixture to a simmer. Cook until thickened and vegetables are tender, about 8 minutes. Stir in peas. Transfer mixture to the prepared casserole dish and top with the prepared mashed potatoes.
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    Is Shepherds Pie Healthy

    Because Shepherds Pie uses lamb mince it can be quite high in fat.

    If youd like to reduce this, when you brown the mince, you can drain off an fat in the pan at that point before you add any other ingredients, that will reduce the fat you are actually consuming.

    You can try to buy lean lamb mince but its quite difficult to find.

    To add some more nutrients, you could also replace the regular white potato mash with sweet potato mash if you fancied.

    Tips For Making Shepherds Pie

    How To Make Shepherds Pie

    There are a few stages to making Shepherds Pie, but its a straightforward recipe. Theres just two little things that you dont see in most recipes, little things that bugged me:

  • Cool the filling before topping with potato: It thickens and makes it easier to spread the potato across the top and it stops the potato weeping into the filling

  • Creamier mashed potato = easier to spread and just an all round better eating experience. I just dont like dry, very firm mash. When I break through the mash, I want it to be borderline collapsing, rather than being able to cut cleanly through it like cake.

  • I stress again these are little things that bug me, so feel free to by-pass them! Nagi x

    PS One last time Cottage Pie is made with beef. Shepherds Pie is made with lamb!

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