Homemade Shepherd's Pie Recipe (with Tips to Make it Perfect!) (2024)

1 hour hr 15 minutes mins

| 382 Comments |

4.71 from 701 votes

Jump to Recipe | Updated: | by Nora

Make the ultimate comfort food for your family: Homemade Shepherd’s Pie (or Cottage Pie) with ground beef (or lamb!) – simple, yummy and easy to make.

Homemade Shepherd's Pie Recipe (with Tips to Make it Perfect!) (1)

A delicious filling with lots of gravy underneath a fluffy layer of mashed potatoes – perfect for a cold night, or as a special St. Patrick’s Day treat.

I always use myInstant Pot Mashed Potatoeson top (butregular mashed potatoeswork just fine, if you’re not an instant-potter ?). You can also use leftover mashed potatoes (those also make great Irish potato pancakes… just saying!). Simple, but so comforting!

Ingredients you’ll need

Here is a visual overview of the ingredients in the recipe. Scroll down to the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post for quantities!

Homemade Shepherd's Pie Recipe (with Tips to Make it Perfect!) (2)

Ingredient notes

  • Wine: You can skip the wine and use more broth instead. If you’re not sure which wine to use, go for a dry red wine you would also drink. A Merlot or Pinot Noir is great. (You can technically use cooking wine, it’s just not my preference – if you do use seasoned cooking wine, make sure to taste test and pay attention to the amount of salt you add.)
  • Tomato paste: Can also use ketchup instead if you don’t have tomato paste.
  • Mashed potatoes:I usually make myInstant Pot Mashed Potatoesfor this, but myregular mashed potatoesare delicious, too. I’ve also had readers made this with ready-made mashed potatoes, so that’s a great shortcut.
  • Allergy friendliness:For a gluten-free friendly version, use cornstarch in place of the flour. Be sure to check all of your ingredients to make sure they’re gluten free (especially the beef broth! you can use water if you don’t have any).
  • If you don’t like peas,it’s also delicious with chopped green beans.
  • I hear people make this low carbby using mashed cauliflower they whisk together with 1 egg yolk in place of the mashed potatoes. I love my potatoes, but your call 😉
  • You can also make this vegetarianby using 2 cups of cooked, brown lentils in place of the ground beef and vegetable broth in place of the beef broth.

Beef or lamb?

It might we worth telling you right now thatthe technical term for this recipe is actually cottage pie(made with ground beef) and not authentic shepherd’s pie (made with ground lamb). But my mission here on Savory Nothings is always to share recipes real people with a real grocery budget and a regular grocery store and an everyday exhausting kids/work/life situation can make.

So, there it is. Fake Shepherd’s Pie. Aka Homemade Shepherd’s Pie with ground beef. One that’ssimple and affordable and delicious. It is the best ❤️

Feel free to use ground lamb in place of the beef for a more authentic version! Lamb tends to be more fatty, so drain it after browning if you prefer less fat.

Step by step photos

Homemade Shepherd's Pie Recipe (with Tips to Make it Perfect!) (3)

Recipe tips

  • Don’t be scared of adding some color: Make sure to brown the meat and vegetables well for the most intense flavors
  • Do not skip cooling the filling: This is how you keep the layers in shepherd’s pie from mixing; depending on the dish and the room temperature, cool it for 15-30 minutes (sometimes I put mine outside in the winter, it’s cold in 15 minutes!)

Shepherd’s Pie FAQs

What’s the difference between cottage pie and shepherd’s pie?

Like I said above, the main difference between cottage pie and shepherd’s pie is the meat: Shepherd’s pie uses ground lamb, cottage pie uses ground beef. In America, the term Shepherd’s pie has commonly been adopted for the version made with ground beef.

Can you eat shepherd’s pie the next day?

Yes, if you keep it in the fridge, shepherd’s pie keeps well for up to 3 days. Just reheat it until piping hot all the way through and serve.

How do you reheat Shepherd’s pie?

Oven: Reheat the leftovers at 350°F until piping hot all the way through (this will take 15-30 minutes, depending on how much of the pie you are reheating). If you’re re-heating leftovers, I recommend transferring them to a clean baking dish to avoid food burnt into the dish.
Microwave: Make sure you put the pie in a microwave-safe dish. Cover and microwave in 30 second bursts until piping hot all the way through. Check the pie in between (careful, it can get hot!) and stir a little to make the food heat evenly.

Homemade Shepherd's Pie Recipe (with Tips to Make it Perfect!) (4)

Make ahead instructions

Assemble the entire pie as directed in the recipe,right up to the finally baking step. Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days, then bake at 400°F for 30-40 minutes, or until the filling is bubbly and the top is golden.

Freezer instructions

Prepare as directed in the recipe, right up to the final baking step. Wrap well with foil and then aluminum foil.Label and freeze for up to 2 months.

To reheat:No need to defrost! Remove both foils, then replace the aluminum foil. Bake at 400°F with the foil on for 1 hour. Remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes, until browned.

Serving suggestions

As a casserole, this is generally an all-in-one meal I often serve pretty much by itself. Sometimes I’ll make sautéed green beans or crockpot glazed carrots on the side, especially if it’s a holiday or we have family over.

A nice green salad is also a good side. I make mine with a homemade honey mustard dressing – so good!

Homemade Shepherd's Pie Recipe (with Tips to Make it Perfect!) (5)

I LOVE Shepherd’s Pie. It’s the ultimate comfort food to me. It reminds me of working in a pub after finishing high school, it reminds me of my late British grandma, and it reminds me how much better it is to spend St. Patrick’s Day at home vs at a party, haha!

While, admittedly, this IS a bit more work than something like a one pot pasta or a throw-together casserole… It’s still fairly simple for such a hearty and traditional meal.

AND, you can always make double and freeze one for an easy meal later – freezer instructions are included in the recipe notes below. Enjoy!

More comfort food classics

  • Crock Pot Beef Stew
  • Easy American Goulash (One Pot!)
  • Homemade Salisbury Steak
  • Easy Beef Stroganoff

PSIf you try this recipe, please leavea review in the comment section and add a star rating in the recipe card – I appreciate your feedback! Follow along onPinterest,FacebookorInstagram.

Printable recipe

Printable Recipe Card

Homemade Shepherd's Pie Recipe (with Tips to Make it Perfect!) (10)

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Homemade Shepherd’s Pie

Make the ultimate comfort food for your family: Homemade Shepherd's Pie (or Cottage Pie) with ground beef – simple, yummy and easy to make. See notes if you want to make this with lamb for a fully authentic version!

Recipe by Nora from Savory Nothings

made it? tap the stars to add your rating!

4.71 from 701 votes

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Recipe details

Prep 30 minutes mins

Cook 45 minutes mins

Total 1 hour hr 15 minutes mins

Servings 6 servings

Difficulty Medium

Equipment

Ingredients

For meat & vegetables

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 clove garlic chopped
  • 2 onions finely chopped
  • 2 medium carrots finely diced
  • 2 sticks celery finely diced

For gravy/to finish filling

  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground paprika
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons white flour
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • cup red wine OR more broth if avoiding alcohol
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
  • ½ teaspoon finely chopped thyme
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary

For topping

  • 4 cups mashed potatoes (click for my recipe and you’ll have some leftovers to sneak during cooking)
  • ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese

Instructions

  • Brown meat and vegetables:

    Heat the oil over medium high heat in a large, deep skillet. Brown the ground meat, then add the chopped vegetables and sauté until softened.

  • Season and deglaze the pan:

    Sprinkle salt, paprika, pepper and flour over the pan. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring often. Stir in tomato paste and cook, stirring all the time, until it smells roasted (about 1 minute). Pour in the red wine (OR beef broth if you prefer!), scratching any browned bits off the bottom.

  • Finish filling and cool:

    Then stir in broth, herbs and peas, simmer 4-5 minutes and then let cool in a 7×11 inch baking dish.

  • Prep mash:

    In the meantime, make your favorite mashed potatoes. You need about 4 cups of mash to top off the casserole. About 1.5 pounds of peeled potatoes should yield enough.

  • Bake pie:

    Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Spread the mashed potatoes over the cold filling. (Be careful not to mix up the two.) Criss-cross with a fork for a great look and crispy edges! Sprinkle with the cheese. Bake at 400°F for 20 minutes or until golden (I recommend baking on a lined baking sheet to catch any spills).

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Notes

Beef or lamb?

Feel free to use ground lamb in place of the beef for a more authentic version! Lamb tends to be more fatty, so drain it after browning if you prefer less fat.

Make ahead instructions

Assemble the entire pie as directed in the recipe, right up to the finally baking step.

Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days, then bake at 400°F for 30-40 minutes, or until the filling is bubbly and the top is golden.

Freezer instructions

Prepare as directed in the recipe, right up to the final baking step. Wrap well with foil and then aluminum foil. Label and freeze for up to 2 months.

To reheat:No need to defrost! Remove both foils, then replace the aluminum foil. Bake at 400°F with the foil on for 1 hour. Remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes, until browned.

Cooking tips

  • Make sure to brown the meat and vegetables well for the most intense flavors
  • Don’t skip cooling the filling. A cool filling is much easier to top with mashed potatoes without mixing the layers.

Ingredient notes

Mashed potatoes: I usually make my Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes for this, but my regular mashed potatoes are delicious, too. I’ve also had readers made this with ready-made mashed potatoes, so that’s a great shortcut.

Tomato paste: Can also use ketchup instead if you don’t have tomato paste.

Gluten free: For a gluten-free friendly version, use cornstarch in place of the flour. Be sure to check all of your ingredients to make sure they’re gluten free (especially the beef broth! you can use water if you don’t have any).

If you don’t like peas, it’s also delicious with chopped green beans.

I hear people make this low carb by using mashed cauliflower they whisk together with 1 egg yolk in place of the mashed potatoes. I love my potatoes, but your call 😉

You can also make this vegetarian by using 2 cups of cooked, brown lentils in place of the ground beef and vegetable broth in place of the beef broth.

Nutrition

Serving: 1servingCalories: 377kcalCarbohydrates: 45gProtein: 24gSaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 56mgSodium: 562mgFiber: 5gSugar: 6g

Nutrition is an estimate.

More recipe information

Course: Main Course

Cuisine: British, Irish

And in case you’re here for St. Patrick’s Day…

More Irish inspired recipes

  • Sausages and Onion Gravy: Bangers and Mash!
  • Slow Cooker Irish Beef Stew
  • Irish Soda Bread with Raisins
  • Colcannon

I first published this recipe in 2017. I republished it on 06/04/2020 to make it better for you.

Homemade Shepherd's Pie Recipe (with Tips to Make it Perfect!) (15)
About Nora
When I got married to my professional chef husband, I realized I had to step up my game in the kitchen. Now I share my favorite foolproof family recipes here on Savory Nothings: Chef-approved, kid-vetted and easy enough for everyday home cooks like you and me! Learn more.

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Comments

  1. Deanna says

    Homemade Shepherd's Pie Recipe (with Tips to Make it Perfect!) (18)
    I’ve tried a few Shepherd’s Pie recipes but none of them beat this one. Thank you for sharing!

    Reply

  2. Debbie J Harbin says

    Homemade Shepherd's Pie Recipe (with Tips to Make it Perfect!) (19)
    Fast, easy,delish

    Reply

  3. Debbie says

    Homemade Shepherd's Pie Recipe (with Tips to Make it Perfect!) (20)
    This sounds delish except that I really don’t care for rosemary. What would be a good substitute seasoning I could use instead?

    Reply

    • Nora says

      Debbie, you can just skip it, or use a little extra thyme instead. Hope this helps!

      Reply

  4. Kat says

    Homemade Shepherd's Pie Recipe (with Tips to Make it Perfect!) (21)
    Delicious! The wine adds a great taste, easy to make.

    Reply

  5. Stacy says

    Homemade Shepherd's Pie Recipe (with Tips to Make it Perfect!) (22)
    very good! will definitely fix again!

    Reply

  6. Deanna says

    Homemade Shepherd's Pie Recipe (with Tips to Make it Perfect!) (23)
    FABULOUS!! made this recipe for the first time tonight and it was a hit with everyone in the house! Used green beans, onions and minced garlic in the meat mixture and topped with green onions. We left off the cheese. Next time I may add peas and carrots. This will be going on our fall/winter rotation of meals!

    Reply

  7. Vicki Glass says

    Homemade Shepherd's Pie Recipe (with Tips to Make it Perfect!) (24)
    Despite this not being a difficult recipe, there are a lot of steps and I made a mess of my kitchen making this! But it turned out SOOO good! And looked just like the pictures. Will definitely make this again!

    Reply

  8. Brenda says

    Homemade Shepherd's Pie Recipe (with Tips to Make it Perfect!) (25)
    Delish! Yes, you can substitute lentils for ground beef if you’re vegetarian but you also would want to use vegetable broth. It’s quite yummy with the lentils. This is a very homey, comforting meal!

    Reply

  9. Carol Lee says

    Homemade Shepherd's Pie Recipe (with Tips to Make it Perfect!) (26)
    I used 1/2 lb of ground beef and 1/2 lb of ground pork. I sautéed sliced mushrooms in addition to the carrots, celery, and onions. Otherwise, I followed the recipe pretty closely, however it was very juicy and didn’t hold together when I served it. The flavor was very good.

    Reply

    • Nora says

      If you want to hold it together, it really needs to sit on the counter and cool a little before serving. Otherwise yes – it’s a bit sloppy. But that’s kind of the point 😉 Glad you otherwise enjoyed it, Carol!

      Reply

  10. Tracy B says

    Homemade Shepherd's Pie Recipe (with Tips to Make it Perfect!) (27)
    I just made this with ground brisket and tweaked the ingredients. (I only had chicken broth , sweet red wine and no paste/used ketchup) it was so good!!!

    Reply

  11. Sabrina says

    Homemade Shepherd's Pie Recipe (with Tips to Make it Perfect!) (28)
    Delicious!!! I prepped it night before all the way up to baking. Refrigerated overnight for a quick weeknight dinner. The flavors are rich. I topped the mashed potatoes (made my homemade mashed potatoes ) not only with cheese but also a little French fried onions. Was a hit with whole family. Everyone had seconds.

    Reply

  12. Shawna says

    Homemade Shepherd's Pie Recipe (with Tips to Make it Perfect!) (29)
    I can’t remember if I’ve already left a review 😆. But this recipe is good enough to leave another 5 stars so I’m gonna. This really is delicious. It’s my go-to meal to deliver to families. It’s simple to make dairy free and or gluten free. I love the gravy. I do add a tablespoon or Worcestershire sauce because I think it’s a delicious addition but otherwise I follow the recipe to a T.

    Reply

  13. Roxanne Heimann says

    Homemade Shepherd's Pie Recipe (with Tips to Make it Perfect!) (30)
    So delish! I took out the tomato paste and subbed ketchup (just because that’s what I had!). also used frozen mixed veggies instead of fresh. So good, even better as leftovers

    Reply

  14. Phyllis Byrne says

    Homemade Shepherd's Pie Recipe (with Tips to Make it Perfect!) (31)
    I have used this recipe several times and it always turns out so delicious.

    Reply

  15. APRIL says

    Have you ever used ground turkey? Just wondering if I would need to alter the seasonings.

    Reply

    • Nora says

      April, I haven’t. If you want to make a good old fashioned shepherd’s pie, just using ground turkey instead of beef, I don’t think you’d have to alter the seasoning. BUT ground turkey tends to release a lot more juices vs ground beef, so you may need to cook the filling a little longer to make sure it’s not too runny.

      Reply

  16. Freya Petersen says

    Homemade Shepherd's Pie Recipe (with Tips to Make it Perfect!) (32)
    I have read your recipe and it made it but and it’s not bad. but I must say if you go and read in any food dictionary it is actually cottage pie. I did read your notes where it said that you can exchange lamb in place at the beef but they’re truly is two different names for the recipe shepherd’s pie is made with lamb and only lamb. cottage pie is made with beef and some people put beef and pork so to be very authentic to your readers to just call it cottage pie sorry

    Reply

    • Nora says

      I have answered this question so many times now… This IS authentic Shepherd’s Pie in the US. There’s not a lot of lamb consumption. We just call the beef version Shepherd’s Pie because that’s what our grandmas called it. I’m being authentic to my actual readers here, because most of them are in the US. I do have some British family connections, and they’d probably throw mashed potatoes at me for this, but like you said… I’m just being authentic for my readers.

      Reply

  17. Pat says

    Homemade Shepherd's Pie Recipe (with Tips to Make it Perfect!) (33)
    Nora great recipe. My mum from Dublin always made this. I did add few squirts of A-1 sauce to “ beef “ flavor up. And used Bovril n water for the beef stock My adult kids loved this as well I used ground beef not lamb though. Seasonings were point on ! Great memories💚

    Reply

    • Nora says

      What a lovely comment, Pat. So glad you liked the recipe! And thanks for your tips, appreciate it.

      Reply

  18. Jeanne says

    Nora, if we make it with ground lamb, does that change the spices or anything else about the recipe? Technically, when you use beef it’s considered cottage pie!

    Reply

    • Nora says

      Jeanne, yes, it would technically be called „Cottage Pie“ with beef. But in the US, it’s commonly known as Shepherd‘s Pie with either meat, so that’s why I don’t make the distinction in the recipe title. I use the same recipe, same spices, when I make it with ground lamb. Hope this helps!

      Reply

  19. Susan Barnett says

    Homemade Shepherd's Pie Recipe (with Tips to Make it Perfect!) (34)
    Nicest shepherds pie I’ve tasted

    Reply

    • Nora says

      I’m so glad, Susan!

      Reply

  20. Louise Chain says

    Homemade Shepherd's Pie Recipe (with Tips to Make it Perfect!) (35)
    Delicious. Made mine with lamb mince

    Reply

    • Nora says

      Glad you liked the recipe, Louise!

      Reply

  21. Deanna says

    Homemade Shepherd's Pie Recipe (with Tips to Make it Perfect!) (36)
    I’ve tried a couple recipes for this dish and I kept returning to this one! I quit looking at other recipes and only make this one. I make a huge batch. One big pan for our family, one big pan for a friend’s family who need a hand and a small pan for the freezer.

    Reply

    • Nora says

      What an honor for my humble recipe, Deanna! I’m glad it’s serving you so well.

      Reply

  22. kristy says

    Homemade Shepherd's Pie Recipe (with Tips to Make it Perfect!) (37)
    AMAZING! This is my St Paddy’s Day go-to for sure, but make it every month or so as well. My family LOVES it! Wish I was faster at chopping the vegetables though!! Thanks for making me look Irish to my Irish husband!

    Reply

    • Luc says

      I use frozen mixed vegetables, which prevents me from chopping them. I quadruple the recipe and bake it in a foil lasagna pan. I freeze the rest in two portions. I’ve been making this exact recipe for years and we all love it!

      Reply

      • Nora says

        Thank you so much for sharing your tips, Luc! And I’m glad the recipe has been serving you so well.

        Reply

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