Shepherd’s Pie


This best ever Shepherd’s pie or Cottage pie is made with ground beef and vegetables in a rich and flavorful gravy-like sauce and is topped with creamy mashed potatoes, and baked.

While I and my family call this comforting dish Shepherd’s Pie, it is not called that in some places. In the UK or Australia it is known as cottage pie. Shepherd’s pie originally and traditionally is made with ground lamb. In North America, we tend to use ground beef more than ground lamb. Call it whatever you like, but this homey and comforting dish will definitely fit the bill when you are craving a warm meal on those chilly nights when you just want a big serving of something hot and comforting.

This is a recipe that I have made for many years. It started out very basic, but over the years I have tweaked it to the point where it is today. Everyone in my family loves it and it appears in our regular winter rotation. The secret ingredient i think is the addition of horseradish. It adds something to the meat that makes you think of a roast beef dinner.

My daughter who is away at university, makes this comforting meal for herself about once a month. Since this recipe serves 4 she usually has supper one night, and maybe again the next and then she freezes the rest for a couple more meals when she is too busy with her schoolwork to prepare a meal.

She just pulls it out of the freezer in the morning (knowing she’s going to have a busy day) and reheats it in the microwave when she’s ready to eat. Toss a quick salad together and she’s got a hearty and well balanced dinner (something university students often lack). This would also work for a busy family. Double the recipe and make one and freeze the other (before baking). Then on one of those rushed nights you can just bake it while you prepare a salad. Just remember to take it out of the freezer and put it in the fridge to thaw the night before.

You can definitely substitute the more traditional ground lamb for the ground beef for an authentic Shepherd’s pie, or use any other ground meat you want, for example ground chicken or ground turkey would be great in this recipe as well. Keep the spices as close to the same as possible and the result will be very similar to mine, but maybe a bit healthier if you’re avoiding red meat. Although I have never tried it, I am sure a ground meat alternative would also work just fine. If you’re vegetarian, I would definitely give it a try.

Using frozen vegetables right out of the bag, without pre cooking at all, helps make this recipe come together quick enough for a weeknight dinner. If you have a bit of extra time, or want fresh veggies, by all means add them. I usually do a combination of both frozen veggies and at the very least fresh carrots. I do par cook the carrots for a couple of minutes in the microwave (in water), just so that they are cooked through in about the same time as the frozen veggies are (since they are already blanched before being frozen).

If you want to use fresh veggies only, then that’s great too, just remember to cut them to a similar size as you would find in a frozen blend and par cook them a bit, otherwise they will likely be underdone. I would suggest fresh beans, peas, carrots, corn would be great options for fresh veggies.

The best Shepherd's pie

Shepherd’s Pie

A delicious comfort meal for the whole family. This comforting classic know as cottage pie in the UK is a quick and easy weeknight (or weekend) meal that everyone will enjoy.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 4 servings


  • 1 skillet
  • 1 casserole dish
  • 4 mini casserole dishes *Optional, if you want to cook and serve individual portions


  • 2 pounds potatoes 4 or 5 med cut up and boiled, then mashed with butter and milk.
  • 500 g lean ground beef
  • 1 cup chopped onion aprox 1 large onion
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • 1/4 cup All Purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp seasoning salt such as lowry’s
  • ¾-1 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp liquid gravy browner I use Bovril
  • 2 Tbsp horseradish or more to taste
  • 1 Tbsp HP Sauce or other steak sauce
  • cups frozen veggies *you can use fresh as well. If using fresh carrots, cut into slices then cook in your microwave for 2 minutes covered with water to soften, then drain and add to the meat mixture
  • 1 Tbsp Butter or margarine *plus extra for the top before baking
  • 1/2 cup milk for potatoes
  • Salt & Pepper for potatoes
  • Paprika optional for garnish


  • Cook potatoes (salt the water once it comes to a boil) once they are tender, drain and mash with butter, milk (or cream) and salt.
  • Preheat your oven to 350º
  • In a pan, fry ground beef and onion in oil and season with S & P, drain.
  • Sprinkle with flour, seasoning salt, S&P, let the flour cook off for about a minute while stirring.
  • ADD water, stir and heat until boiling and thickened. Reduce heat to simmer. The consistency you are looking for is "stew like". add water as you feel necessary but it should not take more than 1½ cups
  • Add gravy browner, HP sauce, horseradish, veggies (frozen or fresh), stir and taste for seasoning, adjust as necessary. Turn off heat
  • Put meat mixture into an 8×8" pan (or 4 individual ramekins) and cover with the mashed potatoes. Dollop with butter or margarine and sprinkle with paprika if using.
  • Bake , uncovered, for 30 min or until bubbly and lightly browned. Enjoy, serve with a salad.


I have made this recipe many times and It is a family favorite serve with a tossed salad for a complete meal.
Adjust the meat seasonings to your taste (you can even add Worcestershire)
This recipe can easily be doubled to serve more.
If you want to serve individual portions just divide the mixture into your mini pots then top each with mashed potatoes, butter and paprika and bake as per directions.  
Keyword beef, cottage pie, dinner, family friendly, ground beef, shepherds pie, weeknight dinner

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