This Shepherd’s Pie is a classic casserole originating from the UK, and a hearty “whole dinner in one.” Ground lamb and vegetables are cooked in an herbed gravy and topped with creamy mashed potatoes.

My favorite thing about Shepherd’s Pie is it’s big batch food that feeds the whole family and also promises leftovers.

Shepherd's Pie - One Serving Plated on a Gray Plate with a Fork

I need a certain amount of this food in my regular meal rotation, because as much as I like making a fresh Pan Seared Steak for dinner, sometimes I need to just reheat something. And this is a dish that keeps well, whether it’s in the fridge or the freezer.

Shepherd’s Pie is traditionally made with ground lamb, which is what I’ve chosen here.

But, you could just as easily make this with ground beef, which would technically make it a cottage pie.

I actually used to make this with ground beef before I developed a taste for lamb. Now I like the lamb better.

Easy Shepherd's Pie Recipe - Shown in Casserole Dish with Serving Spoon and Thyme on Top

How to Make Shepherd’s Pie:

This recipe has two main steps: cooking the meat and vegetables for the base, then making the mashed potatoes for the crust on top.

I share how to do both of these steps, in the same pan so there’s less dishes, but know that you could also use leftover mashed potatoes here if you’ve got it from another dish. 

Make the Lamb and Vegetable Base:

In a large skillet, brown ground lamb for about 8 minutes, seasoned with salt, until fully cooked through and a bit caramelized on the edges:

Browned ground lamb in a stainless steel skillet

Remove the lamb to a plate, then add chopped onion, butter, and salt:

chopped red onion, butter, and salt in a stainless steel skillet

Cook that until softened, then add minced garlic and a bundle of fresh thyme:

cooked red onion in a skillet with raw minced garlic and fresh thyme

Usually I add the thyme with the onions so it has more time to infuse, but I forgot to grab some from the garden before picture time. Do wait to add the garlic until the onions are cooked though, so it doesn’t burn.

Next add peas, corn kernels, and chopped carrot:

Frozen veggie medley with peas, carrots, and corn added to softened onions in skillet

I make this easy by buying a bag of frozen vegetable medley that already includes these three things.

In the past I’ve chopped fresh carrot, but the frozen is honestly just fine and I don’t find chopping the vegetables fresh to be worth the effort. You can add the frozen vegetables straight to the pan.

Cook the vegetables for a few minutes to warm them up, then add all-purpose flour:

All-purpose flour added to vegetables in stainless steel skillet

Toss the flour around and cook for about a minute for the flour to absorb, then add beef stock:

Pouring beef stock into pan with vegetables

Bring this mixture to a boil to thicken:

Vegetables Simmering in Gravy in Pan

Then turn the heat off, remove the thyme, and stir in the ground lamb:

Ground lamb with peas, carrots, corn, and onion in a skillet

Do a final taste to check the seasoning, then add this to an 8×11 casserole dish:

Shepherd's Pie Lamb Vegetable Mixture in 8x11 Casserole Dish

Make the Mashed Potato Crust:

To make the mashed potatoes, I use the same skillet (affiliate) I cooked the lamb in, so I have less dishes. 

Peel and chop a couple pounds of yukon gold potatoes, then cover with cold water and add salt:

Chunks of Yukon Gold Potatoes in Water in Pan with Salt

Gently simmer until fork tender, then drain the potatoes, and spread them out on a sheet pan.

Then you can mash them with a fork or potato masher:

Mashing Yukon Gold Potato Chunks with Fork on a Sheet Pan

The reason why I like spreading them out on a sheet pan is the steam can evaporate better, so you get less gummy and wet potatoes.

Also, it’s much easier to mash potatoes on a flat surface than in a bowl.

Once the potatoes are roughly mashed, add half and half, butter, and grated cheddar cheese:

Pouring Half and Half Over Mashed Potatoes with Butter and Cheddar Cheese

Mash that all in using a fork, until the potatoes are smooth:

Creamy Cheddar Cheese Mashed Potatoes on Sheet Pan for Shepherd's Pie

Put the mashed potatoes on top and spread it evenly using a spoon or offset spatula:

Spreading the Mashed Potato Layer in Casserole Dish with Offset Spatula

If you’d like, swirl the top decoratively or rake a fork across.

Bake the shepherd’s pie for 20 to 25 minutes, until the mashed potatoes are brown on top.

Shepherd's Pie Recipe - Shown in a Green 8x11 Casserole Dish with Serving Spoon

Then serve right away, while the dish is warm.

I like to sprinkle a few more thyme leaves on top, for a pop of fresh flavor:

Easy Shepherd's Pie - Single Serving Plated on a Gray Dish with Fork  

LasagnaBeef Stew, and Slow Cooker Short Ribs are a few more of my favorite big batch meals that make for great leftovers. Enjoy!

Shepherd’s Pie FAQ and Tips:

  • How to Freeze: After baking, let it cool to room temperature, then cover tightly with foil and freeze for up to 2 months.
  • How to Reheat: Still covered with the foil, warm in a 300ºF oven for 1 hour. Or, you can thaw the shepherd’s pie the night before by moving it from the freezer to the fridge, and warming it in the oven for a half hour. 
  • Swap for beef if desired: I find the pronounced flavor of the lamb to meld well with all the other ingredients here, but you may use ground beef instead of ground lamb, if you prefer. I recommend a fattier percentage, like 85/15.
  • Making in Advance: You can fully assemble the shepherd’s pie up to the point of baking, then keep in the fridge the day before you bake it. You’ll likely need to bake for an additional 10 minutes or so, 30-35 minutes total.
  • Different Types of Potatoes: I prefer Yukon Gold, but russet potatoes also work well for the mashed potatoes, if you like that better.
Single serving of Shepherd's Pie on Gray Plate with Thyme Leaf Garnish

Shepherd's Pie

Ground lamb and vegetables are topped with creamy mashed potatoes for this classic casserole.
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Ingredients

For the Beef and Vegetable Base:

  • 1 tbsp preferred cooking fat like tallow or ghee or butter
  • 2 lbs ground lamb
  • 2 cups chopped yellow or red onion
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 10 sprigs fresh thyme (recommended tied together with twine)
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic (2 large cloves)
  • 2 cups frozen veggie medley with peas, corn, and carrots
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • salt

For the Mashed Potato crust:

  • 2.5 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 2 tbsp butter softened
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese (about 4 ounces)

Instructions 

  • Heat a 12” skillet over medium high heat, then add the 1 tbsp cooking fat of choice and the lamb. Season with 3/4 tsp salt. Brown lamb until fully cooked, about 8 minutes.
  • Remove the lamb to a plate, then to the same pan add the chopped onion, butter, and thyme. Season with ½ tsp salt, then cook for 10 minutes, until soft. Add the garlic, and cook for 1 more minute.
  • Add the frozen veggie medley, and cook for 5 minutes to soften slightly. Then stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute, until the flour has absorbed.
  • Add the beef stock, then bring the liquid to a boil over high heat. Cook for a minute or two until it thickens slightly. Turn the heat off, then stir in the cooked ground lamb. Taste and making any necessary seasoning adjustments with salt before transferring the lamb and veggies to an 8x11 baking dish.
  • Preheat the oven to 425ºF.
  • Peel the potatoes and cut into chunks about 1" big. Place in a pan (I use the same skillet as the lamb since it has high sides) and cover with cold water. Season the water with ½ tsp salt.
  • Bring to a boil over high heat then reduce to a gentle simmer, and cook for about 10 minutes, until the potatoes are fork tender. Drain the potatoes using a colander, then spread them out on a half sheet pan in a single layer to let the steam escape.
  • Use a fork or potato masher to roughly mash the potatoes, then add the half and half, butter, and cheese, and mash until smooth and well mixed. Taste it and make any necessary seasoning adjustments with salt, then spread the mashed potatoes evenly on top of the lamb and veggies.
  • Place the casserole dish on a sheet pan (to catch any drippings) and bake for 20–25 minutes, until the mashed potatoes are golden brown and crispy on top. Enjoy!

Notes

  • How to Freeze: After baking, let it cool to room temperature, then cover tightly with foil and freeze for up to 2 months.
  • How to Reheat: Still covered with the foil, warm in a 300ºF oven for 1 hour. Or, you can thaw the shepherd's pie the night before by moving it from the freezer to the fridge, and warming it in the oven for a half hour. 

Nutrition

Calories: 587kcal, Carbohydrates: 28g, Protein: 27g, Fat: 41g, Saturated Fat: 20g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 124mg, Sodium: 285mg, Potassium: 968mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 486IU, Vitamin C: 30mg, Calcium: 178mg, Iron: 3mg

Nutrition is estimated using a food database and is only intended to be used as a guideline for informational purposes.