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Shepherd’s Pie – Easy Family Dinner

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Shepherd’s pie has got to be one of my husband’s and my all-time favorite comfort foods. I like it because it’s super easy to make.

Serving of Shepherds Pie with ground beef, peas and carrots, mashed potatoes, and cheese

We both like it because it’s delicious and filling.

It has a wonderful blend of flavors from the meat, potatoes, vegetables, and cheese. What’s more is you serve it warm, so it makes you feel good from the inside out.

Another thing I like about this is that you can assemble it in advance and put it in the fridge. All you have to do when you’re ready is put it in the oven to heat it up.

You’ll have a delicious family dinner by the time you get out of your work clothes and set the table.

Most casseroles are convenient like this. So sometimes I make more than one so there’s always something I can pull out when I’m busy.

You can also make the chicken and rice casserole and mac and cheese with ham casserole ahead of time. In fact, some people claim that they taste better if you prepare them one day and cook them another. They’ve had some time for the flavors to blend.

Key points to keep in mind:

  • You may use cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes if you’re trying to keep your car count low. Another thing you can do is half potatoes and half cauliflower.
  • For a completely different flavor, use mashed sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes.
  • If you prefer to leave out the gravy, that is fine. It will taste just as good.
  • Most vegetables will work in a shepherd’s pie.
  • Canned vegetables will cook more quickly.

What You Need to Make Shepherd’s Pie

There are surprisingly few ingredients in my version of the shepherd’s pie. I use grass-fed ground beef, potatoes, canned or frozen vegetables, and beef broth.

Most of the time I add some cornstarch to the broth to thicken it a bit. However, it’s not necessary. In fact, you don’t even have to add broth.

Shepherds pie ingredients, including package of ground beef, bowl of peas and carrots, carton of beef broth, whole potatoes, and cornstarch

Alternative Ingredients for Shepherd’s Pie

You can swap out some of the ingredients, and it’s still good. If you prefer ground turkey, then you can use that instead of ground beef.

As I researched shepherd’s pie, I was surprised to learn that it was originally made with lamb. I would like that, but my husband doesn’t care for lamb, so I probably won’t make it that way.

Shepherd’s pie purists call the version with ground beef “cottage pie.”

There are also meat alternatives for vegetarians. I’ve used some of the soy crumbles in the past, and they’re good. However, I still prefer to use ground beef.

Another thing you may want to swap is the type of vegetables. I used peas and carrots this time, but there have been times when I used green beans. By all means, use whatever you have on hand.

While I prefer traditional mashed potatoes—either from scratch or prepared mashed potatoes—you can also use sweet potatoes. My daughter and her family prefer the mashed sweet potatoes.

Package of prepared mashed potatoes

How to Make Shepherd’s Pie

I always coat the bottom of my casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray to make cleanup easier.

Casserole dish sprayed with nonstick cooking spray so the shepherd's pie doesn't stick

Next, brown the ground beef, drain it, and pour it into the casserole dish. You may season it if you want.

I typically shake a tiny bit of salt and pepper onto the ground beef to keep it from being bland.

Layer of cooked ground beef on the bottom of the casserole dish to form the base of the shepherds pie

After that, drain a can of vegetables if you used the canned version and pour it over the ground beef. However, if you use frozen, I recommend steaming them first.

Layer of peas and carrots on top of the ground beef for shepherds pie

The mashed potatoes come next. You may either make them from scratch or purchase the ones that are already prepared.

I use whichever one I have on hand. Smooth the potatoes out evenly over the vegetables.

Layer of mashed potatoes on top of the shepherds pie

Remember that there are always several methods of assembling most casseroles.

Next, I usually cover the casserole with foil and bake it for about 20-25 minutes to get everything hot.

However, if you like your potatoes browned on top, leave the cover off.

Casserole dish with shepherds pie covered in foil

Finally, I remove the foil cover, add the cheese, and return it to the oven for 5-10 minutes. Once the cheese has melted and started to bubble, remove it from the oven.

Layer of cheese on shepherds pie

A shepherd’s pie is a one-dish meal, so you don’t need anything else. However, it goes well with a salad and crusty bread.

Delicious shepherds pie is easy to make.

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More Recipes

Since life can get pretty crazy for most of us, I thought I’d offer some links to more comfort food. When you want something spicy, try making chicken creole with rice.

You can also try these sesame ginger ribs or this steak hash.

For even more wonderful recipes, check out Full Plate Thursday at Miz Helen’s Country Cottage.

Another dish we enjoy when it’s just the two of us is this Crockpot sausage and black beans dinner for two. If you have more people to feed, simply double or triple the recipe.

Serve any of these dishes with this delicious cornbread from Back to My Southern Roots.

For a fun dessert, try this caramel apple pizza. You can top it with ice cream or whipped cream. Or you can leave it as is.

Yield: 6 servings

Shepherd's Pie

Serving of Shepherd's Pie with ground beef, peas and carrots, mashed potatoes, and cheese

Shepherd's pie is a quick and easy family dinner that is not only a comfort food but is nutritious.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes


  • 1 pound of ground beef
  • 2 cups of mashed potatoes
  • 1-1/2 cups of canned or steamed vegetables
  • 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar or Colby cheese
  • 1/2 cup of beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon of cornstarch


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray the bottom of a casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Brown and drain the ground beef. Pour it into the casserole dish and spread it out evenly across the bottom. Salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Whisk the cornstarch with the beef broth until there are no lumps. Pour this evenly over the ground beef to make a thick gravy.
  4. Pour the vegetables over the ground beef and spread them out evenly.
  5. Top the vegetables with mashed potatoes—either ones you made from scratch or the kind that come in a tub, already prepared. Spread them out evenly over the top.
  6. Cover with foil and bake for 20-25 minutes. If you want the potatoes to be brown on top, you may leave them uncovered.
  7. Remove the foil cover and sprinkle the shredded cheese over the top of the potatoes. Return to the oven and bake for another 5-10 minutes, until the cheese has melted.
  8. Serve hot.

Nutrition Information



Serving Size


Amount Per Serving Calories 420Total Fat 26gSaturated Fat 12gTrans Fat 1gUnsaturated Fat 11gCholesterol 98mgSodium 578mgCarbohydrates 15gFiber 2gSugar 2gProtein 30g

The nutrition information is a product of online calculators. I try to provide true and accurate information, but these numbers are estimates.

Did you make this recipe?

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Miz Helen

Wednesday 13th of November 2019

Your awesome post was featured this week at Full Plate Thursday,457. Thanks so much for sharing it with us and hope you will share with again real soon! Miz Helen


Wednesday 13th of November 2019

Hi Miz Helen, Thank you so much!


Friday 1st of November 2019

Lovely recipe, very similar to the one I use. I make a big batch and freeze for easy dinners.


Friday 1st of November 2019

What a great idea! Now that there are only 2 of us, I should do that more often. We always have way too many leftovers.

Mother of 3

Wednesday 30th of October 2019

I have never added cheese to my Shepherd's pie but I bet that tastes yummy!


Wednesday 30th of October 2019

I've been called out by people who say it's not supposed to have cheese. However, I think cheese makes it better.


Wednesday 30th of October 2019

I have never made Shepherds pie in my life but I am willing to give it a go since it does look so easy and so delicious too.


Wednesday 30th of October 2019

Yes, please make it and let me know how it turns out. I bet it's good. Just remember that you can make a few changes to suit your taste. I usually follow a recipe the first time I make it, and then I swap things out.

Miz Helen

Tuesday 26th of March 2019

Your Shepherds Pie looks so comforting and delicious! Thanks for sharing with us at Full Plate Thursday and have a good week! Miz Helen