Shepherd’s Pie

published Mar 15, 2024
Shepherd’s Pie Recipe

It doesn’t get more comforting than buttery mashed potatoes baked over a savory, veggie-packed filling.

Serves6 to 8

Prep15 minutes to 18 minutes

Cook1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes

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overhead shot of shepards pie with a scoop taken from the bottom left corner.
Credit: Photo: Vicky Wasik ; Food Stylist: Rachel Perlmutter

Shepherd’s pie is the comforting casserole everyone should be eating more often. Each serving is a complete meal with savory ground meat, tender vegetables, and buttery, fluffy mashed potatoes. 

Meat pies were popular as far back as the Middle Ages, but it took the introduction of potatoes to the British Isles (and another 200 years or so for widespread acceptance) for the shepherd’s pie we’d recognize to find its way to the table. The term shepherd’s pie first appeared in the 1870s, though it was likely already a commonly prepared dish by this point.

Shepherd’s pie started as a way to reimagine lesser cuts or leftover lamb and vegetables cooked in a savory gravy as a hearty and tasty meal. This recipe starts with ground meat (either lamb or beef) from the grocery store and a smart combination of fresh and frozen vegetables. Here’s how to make the coziest shepherd’s pie at home.

Why You’ll Love It

  • Shepherd’s pie is comfort food at its finest with a savory filling topped with fluffy, buttery mashed potatoes. 
  • Shepherd’s pie is an all-in-one meal with protein, veggies, and starch in every bite.
  • It is easy to assemble shepherd’s pie in advance and bake it off when you’re hungry.

Key Ingredients in Shepherd’s Pie

  • Russet potatoes: Starchy potatoes make an amazing baked potato (especially when you cook it like the British do), but they give the mashed potato topping a light texture that can’t be beat.
  • Egg yolk: This adds richness to the mashed potato topping, while helping it bind together. 
  • Ground lamb: Lamb is traditional for shepherd’s pie, while beef technically makes it cottage pie. Use what you like — ground lamb, ground beef, or a combination of the two.
  • Vegetables: Finely diced carrots, frozen peas, and corn kernels make this casserole an all-in-one meal. 
  • Tomato paste: The concentrated flavor of tomato paste gives the filling a deep, umami flavor, especially when paired with Worcestershire sauce, beef broth, and dried herbs.
Credit: Photo: Vicky Wasik ; Food Stylist: Rachel Perlmutter

How to Make Shepherd’s Pie Recipe 

  1. Make the mashed potato topping. Mash boiled potatoes with butter, milk, and an egg yolk until smooth and creamy.
  2. Prepare the filling. Brown the ground beef or lamb, then add seasonings and vegetables to make a hearty filling for the casserole.
  3. Assemble and bake. Transfer the filling to a baking dish and top with the mashed potatoes, spreading them to the edges of the pan. Bake until the filling bubbles up and the potatoes turn golden in some spots. 

Helpful Swaps

  • Swap the fresh carrots and frozen peas and corn kernels with a 16-ounce bag of frozen mixed vegetables. Add the frozen vegetables to the filling after the sauce thickens, then transfer to the baking dish and top with mashed potatoes. 
  • Lamb is the traditional choice for shepherd’s pie, but you can use ground beef or even ground turkey in its place.
  • Dried Italian seasoning is a good substitute for the individual dried herbs called for in the recipe. Just use 1 1/2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning in place of the dried thyme and rosemary.
  • If shepherd’s pie is on the menu, but you’re pressed for time, use refrigerated prepared mashed potatoes. They’re usually already seasoned, so just mix in the egg yolk before spreading the potatoes over the meat and vegetable filling.

Storage and Make-Ahead Tips 

Get a head start on dinner by assembling the shepherd’s pie up to 1 day in advance before baking. Once you’re done eating, transfer leftovers to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 4 days.

What to Serve with Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherd’s Pie Recipe

It doesn’t get more comforting than buttery mashed potatoes baked over a savory, veggie-packed filling.

Prep time 15 minutes to 18 minutes

Cook time 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes

Serves 6 to 8

Nutritional Info


  • 5 tablespoons

    unsalted butter, divided

  • 2 1/2 pounds

    russet potatoes (4 to 5 medium)

  • 1 tablespoon

    plus 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided, plus more as needed

  • 3/4 cup

    whole or 2% milk

  • 1

    large egg yolk

  • 3

    medium carrots

  • 1

    medium yellow onion

  • 2

    cloves garlic

  • 1 1/2 pounds

    ground lamb, lean ground beef, or a combination

  • 1 teaspoon

    dried thyme

  • 3/4 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    dried rosemary

  • 2 tablespoons

    all-purpose flour

  • 1 tablespoon

    tomato paste

  • 1 cup

    beef broth

  • 2 tablespoons

    Worcestershire sauce

  • 1 cup

    frozen peas (do not thaw)

  • 1/2 cup

    frozen corn kernels (do not thaw)

  • Chopped fresh parsley leaves, for serving (optional)


Make the potato topping:

  1. Cut 4 tablespoons of the unsalted butter into 8 pieces, place on the counter, and let sit at room temperature until softened. Meanwhile, peel and cut 2 1/2 pounds russet potatoes into 1 1/2-inch chunks. Place in a large saucepan or pot and add enough cold water to cover by about 1 inch. Add 1 tablespoon of the kosher salt and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook until the potatoes are knife tender, 15 to 20 minutes. (This is a good time to cut the vegetables for the filling.)

  2. Drain the potatoes. Pass through a ricer into the now-empty pot, or return the potatoes to the pot and mash with a potato masher until smooth.

  3. Place 3/4 cup whole or 2% milk, 1 large egg yolk, and 1 teaspoon of the kosher salt in a liquid measuring cup or small bowl and whisk to combine. Add the milk mixture and softened butter to the potatoes. Stir until the butter is melted and the mixture is combined. Cover to keep warm.

Make the filling:

  1. While the potatoes cook, arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F. Prepare the following, adding each to the same large bowl as you complete it: Peel and finely dice 3 medium carrots (1 1/4 cups) and 1 medium yellow onion (about 1 1/2 cups). Mince 2 garlic cloves.

  2. Melt the remaining 1 tablespoon unsalted butter in a large (12-inch) skillet over medium heat. Add 1 1/2 pounds ground lamb, and break it up with a wooden spoon. Add 1 teaspoon dried thyme, 3/4 teaspoon black pepper, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary. Cook, stirring occasionally, until evenly browned and no signs of pink, about 8 minutes.

  3. Add the onion mixture and cook until the onions are translucent and carrots brighten in color, 4 to 5 minutes.

  4. Add 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour and 1 tablespoon tomato paste, stir to coat, and cook until incorporated and a film begins to form on the bottom of the pan, about 1 minute. Add 1 cup beef broth and 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce. Cook, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan, until the sauce is thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 1 minute.

  5. Add 1 cup frozen peas and 1/2 cup frozen corn kernels, and stir to combine. Taste and season with more kosher salt and black pepper as needed.

Assemble the casserole:

  1. Transfer the filling to a 2 1/2 to 3-quart baking dish (such as a 9x13-inch) and spread into an even layer. Dollop the potatoes over the filling, then spread into an even layer, going all the way to the edges of the baking dish.

  2. Bake until the potatoes are browned in spots and the filling is warmed through and bubbling, about 25 minutes. Sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley leaves if desired, and let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Recipe Notes

Frozen vegetable variation: 1 (16-ounce) bag frozen mixed vegetables can be substituted for the carrots, peas, and corn. Add to the filling after the sauce has thickened, before assembling the casserole.

Make ahead: The casserole can be assembled up to 1 day ahead, covered, and refrigerated. Uncover before baking, and add 10 minutes to the baking time.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.