How to Make Shepherd’s Pie?

How to make Shepherd’s Pie? The pie is a dish that has been around for centuries, but it also happens to be relatively simple and easy to make. This is because it doesn’t require any fancy ingredients or complicated cooking techniques.

how to make shepherd's pie

In this blog post, we’re going to learn about shepherd’s pie, its history, and how to make shepherd’s pie.

What is a Shepherd’s Pie?

Shepherd’s pie, cottage pie, or hachis Parmentier is a traditional English or Irish dish, made with minced lamb or beef, with a crust or topping of mashed potato. It is most likely of English origin.

It was originally served as an economical alternative for the poor who could not afford meat on Fridays. The name comes from “shepherd” because it was traditionally cooked in a casserole that resembled a small oven tray used by shepherds. 

Where Did Shepherd’s Pie Originate from?

It first came about in Ireland in the 1800s. Back then, people tried to be frugal and make food from what they had. They were also trying to figure out how to make use of the leftovers that husbands and children would reject.

It was delicious, even though it was created as a way to utilize leftovers. There are many variations on the dish, however, its basic form remains consistent.

There’s a mashed potato crust on top and bottom. Minced beef is used in the dish. A Cottage Pie, on the other hand, uses beef, while a Shepherd’s Pie includes lamb or mutton instead.

What is Shepherd’s Pie Made of?

How to Make Shepherd's Pie?

Although there are many different versions out there (some with vegetables and some without), we’re going to be focusing on a traditional version. Traditionally, this dish consists of meat, vegetables, and potatoes.

Traditionally, the meat used is lamb or mutton (sheep). However, it’s not uncommon to see beef being used instead–and sometimes veal too! Some people also like to add cheese when making this dish for an Irish twist on the traditional recipe.

A dish has a lot of versions. But the important ingredients are meat cooked in gravy or sauce, onions, and mashed potatoes on top.

Sometimes people add other vegetables to the filling. They might add peas, sweetcorn, carrots or celery. Sometimes the filling is also grated with cheese.

How to Cook Shepherd’s Pie?

To make, you should start by preparing the meat. This means that after cutting it into small pieces, you’ll have to fry them in a pan first before adding other ingredients and cooking it for about 40 minutes. While this is happening, you can also boil the potatoes.

Once the potatoes are ready, you’ll have to mash them and then mix them with butter or milk until they become creamy. Then it’s time to add some salt and pepper–and that’s all! Now it’s just a matter of putting everything together in an oven-friendly dish before baking for around 40 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Nutrition Facts

One serving contains around 357 calories, while also containing high amounts of protein (28g), fat (20g), and carbs (40g). It should be noted that this dish is relatively high in sodium as well–with a single serving containing almost 950mg.

What is the difference between Shepherd’s Pie Vs Cottage Pie?

Shepherd’s Pie and Cottage Pie are very similar to one another; however, there is a difference between the two. The main differences come from their ingredients:

  1. A Shepherd’s Pie includes lamb or mutton (sheep) as its meat base while a cottage pie uses beef instead.
  2. While both include mashed potatoes for the crust, a shepherd’s pie typically includes it both on the top and bottom while cottage pie only has one layer.

Is Shepherd’s Pie Healthy?

This dish is definitely not healthy. It’s very high in carbs, sodium, and fat. Additionally, this food does not contain much vegetables or fiber. Eating it every day might not be good.

It contains saturated fats from the meat and butter, and it doesn’t contain any vegetables. This dish is a good source of protein but has high amounts of fat as well as carbs from the potatoes.

Is Shepherd’s Pie Good for You?

It isn’t exactly “good for you.” But that can also depend on how much meat you use.

For example, if you’re using lean meat like ground chicken or turkey, it’ll be much lower in fat and will also contain more protein than traditional one which contains beef (or lamb).

Is Shepherd’s Pie Bad for You?

It is not bad for you inherently. However, the ingredients used in this dish are generally considered to be bad for you.

For example, the meat is usually ground beef or lamb (which contains saturated fat). The potatoes typically include butter and milk which both contain high amounts of sodium as well as cholesterol–and it doesn’t even contain any vegetables!

How to Make Shepherd’s Pie?

shepherd pie oven

 Shepherd’s Pie is a hearty dish that will keep you warm all winter long. These recipes are easy to make and can be made in large batches for your family, friends, or even just yourself.

All the ingredients are cheap and readily available at any grocery store so there’s no need to worry about missing out on this amazing comfort food.

Easy Classic Recipe

This simple recipe is the most basic and classic recipe.


For potato topping

  • 2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • salt and pepper, to taste

For meat filling

  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil or olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onions, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground lamb or lean ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp tomato paste or tomato puree
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, see notes above
  • 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 1 cup frozen peas


  1. Put the potatoes in a pot and cover them with water. Put the pot on the stove and turn it to high. Cook for 13-15 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft when you stick them with a fork.
  2. Take the potatoes out of the pot and put them in a colander. Add milk, butter, pinch of salt and pepper to the potatoes. Mash with potato masher or fork until creamy.
  3. Preheat your oven to medium heat to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200 celsius).
  4. In a large oven-safe pan, put oil on the stove and turn it to medium. Put onions and garlic in the pan. Cook them for 1 minute. Then add carrots, celery, and lamb to the pan. Cook the meat mixture for 8-10 minutes or until meat is browned; use a spatula to break up meat while cooking.
  5. Drain the fat or excess grease from the pan and add a broth, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper. Let it simmer for about 5-10 minutes until it’s slightly thick.
  6. Add the frozen peas and stir together. Turn off the stove and use the back of your spatula to flatten the meat into a single layer.
  7. Spread the mashed potatoes on top of the meat. The mashed potatoes make it taste good.
  8. Bake until most of the masher has turned golden brown. Do this for about 25-30 minutes. If you want, you can also broil the top for 1-2 minutes so it becomes crispy and golden crust too.

Vegan Shepherd’s Pie Recipe

Vegetarian or vegan recipes can be made by changing out the ground lamb for vegetables such as mushrooms and lentils.


For potato topping

  • 3 pounds yukon gold potatoes, partially peeled (thoroughly washed)
  • 3-4 Tbsp vegan butter
  • Sea salt or kosher salt, and black pepper (to taste)

For filling

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion (diced)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste (optional)
  • 1 generous pinch each sea salt and black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked brown or green lentils (rinsed and drained)
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme (or sub 1 tsp dried thyme per 2 tsp fresh)
  • 1 10-ounce bag frozen vegetables (mixed veggies)


  1. Slice large potatoes in half. Put them in a pot and fill with cold water. Boil on medium high for between 20-30 minutes, or until you can slide the potato off of a knife easily.
  2. Once the potatoes are cooked, remove them from the pot and add them back to it. Then they will evaporate the water off. Transfer them to a bowl and mash with a potato masher or fork until they are smooth. Add vegan butter and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
  3. While the potatoes are cooking, pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Then grease a 2-quart baking dish with some oil.
  4. In a big pot, cook the onions and garlic in olive oil for about 5 minutes.
  5. Add pinch of salt, pepper, and tomato paste. Add lentils, stock, and thyme. Bring the soup to a boil then lower the temperature to simmer. Cook for 35-40 minutes or until lentils tender. Remove the lid when it’s done cooking then keep cooking until there’s no more liquid left in the soup with stirring every few minutes.
  6. In the last 10 minutes of cooking, add the frozen veggies, stir, and cover to meld the flavors together.
  7. Taste your food. Adjust the seasonings if needed, and then put it in a casserole dish. Spread mashed potatoes on top and add some pepper and salt.
  8. Put the dish on a baking sheet to make sure they don’t spillover. Cook in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes or until the top is lightly brown.
  9. Let cool briefly before serving.


What are the two main ingredients of shepherd’s pie?

The dish has many types, but the thing that makes it is meat and mashed potatoes.

What was shepherd’s pie originally made with?

Shepherds’ pies were made by baking the pie crust, adding leftover meat bits and gravy, and then baking it. When the dish made its way from Scotland to Ireland, they skipped the pastry and used their abundance of potatoes. They created mashed potato topping.

Can you freeze shepherds pie?

Freezer Instructions: After baking, let it cool, cover with foil, and put in the freezer for up to 2 months. When ready to eat, take it out of the freezer and put it in an oven at 350 degrees. Bake for 1 hour.

Can you reheat shepherds pie in the oven?

Cover your pie tightly with foil and bake it for 30 minutes at 350°F.

Can you leave shepherds pie out overnight?

Yes, it is fine. I do this all the time because when we eat dinner late at night it is too hot to put in the refrigerator so I leave it out until morning. And I have never had food poisoning. It will be fine if you heat it up again before eating.

See also: 20 Different Types of Meat Pies From Around the World