The Best Classic Shepherd’s Pie is a comfort recipe with cooked meat and vegetables, topped with creamy mashed potatoes (or crispy) potatoes!

Classic Shepherd's Pie

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Shepherd’s pie is a meat and vegetable casserole, sometimes called Cottage Pie. This casserole gets baked in the oven until the the mashed potatoes are golden and slightly crispy on top. 

The Best Classic Shepherd’s Pie

We call this the best classic Shepherd’s Pie because it is comforting and rich, with savory flavors of mushroom, beef, and onion, while hints of brightness come through with the lemon and wine.

BEST Classic Shepherd's Pie

Why I love this recipe

  • It’s an easy dish to make with leftover mashed potatoes.
  • Delicious to serve for St. Patrick’s Day (if you don’t want to serve Corned Beef and Cabbage)
  • Crowd pleaser, and a comfort dish!

BEST Classic Shepherd's Pie Recipe

What is shepherd’s pie?

In England, a hearty shepherd’s pie is made with a ground-lamb filling. Here in the States, people use ground beef, and it might be called a cottage pie. Sauté veggies, beef, and thyme, add flour, then simmer the mixture in stock. It tastes amazing, but the best part of the dish is the mashed potato topping. If you love cheesy sweet potatoes, then try this delicious recipe, Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie with Cheese Recipe.

Irish Shepherd’s Pie

Traditional Irish Shepherd’s Pie would actually call for ground lamb. When we recently traveled to Dublin, our first meal was a classic Irish Shepherd’s Pie at Davy Byrnes. This dish is also popular with the Irish!

EASY Classic Shepherd's Pie

Gather these ingredients

  • Mashed pre-cooked potatoes: use leftovers or you can buy them pre-made in most refrigerator sections on the grocery store
  • Paprika
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Carrots: you can use mixed frozen peas and carrots in place of fresh
  • Celery
  • Crimini mushrooms
  • Fresh or frozen peas
  • Thyme
  • Lemon
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Red wine
  • Beef broth
  • Ground beef: you can also use ground lamb, ground turkey, or ground chicken
  • Butter

Easy Classic Shepherd's Pie Recipe

How do you make Shepherd’s Pie?

  1. Add butter to a large skillet and heat on high; add beef when butter is hot, and begin to brown—add salt and pepper to taste. Cook until browned, and remove from pan, making sure to leave the juices.
  2. Add more butter and brown mushrooms—allow them to sit before mixing. Reduce heat to medium-low and add remaining butter. Pour in chopped onions, garlic, carrots, and celery. Stir and allow to cook and soften. Salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Increase heat to medium and return meat to pan, then add in wine and scrape bits off of the bottom of the pan. Allow liquid to reduce and simmer, then add beef broth, paprika, lemon, thyme, and Worcestershire. Reduce heat to medium-low and stir to incorporate, allowing liquid to reduce further, stirring semi-frequently.
  4. When liquid has reduced, add meat mixture to a 9 x 13 baking dish. Spread into an even layer, then spread mashed potatoes on top. If you’re using cold or leftover mashed potatoes, fluff them with a fork as you pile them on top. When mashed potatoes are spread on the meat mixture, sprinkle additional Parmesan cheese, and a dash of paprika on top. Bake until the top is lightly golden.
  5. Bake until the top is lightly golden.
  6. Remove from the oven and serve warm!

 

Tips and substitutions:

  • Make the mashed potatoes as well as the filling ahead of time (or use leftovers), but assemble right before baking.
  • Does Shepherd’s Pie have to have mashed potatoes on top? Yes! We love to reepurpose leftover mashed potatoes for this recipe, usually after we’ve had a ham or pot roast dinner (with mashed potatoes).
  • Swap out the regular potatoes for mashed sweet potatoes. It’s delish!
  • Fresh peas and carrots: This recipe calls for fresh peas and carrots, but you can opt for frozen.
  • Frozen peas and carrots: If you can’t find frozen mixed peas and carrots, you could use ½ cup frozen peas and ½ cup frozen sliced carrots.

How do you serve Best Shepherd’s Pie?

Today’s Classic Shepherd’s Pie is a great recipe to make if you want host a cozy fall dinner, or a springtime St. Patrick’s Day meal.

Set this on the table, with a salad or two, like Greek Peasant Salad Recipe and Irish Pub Salad, or Lori’s Avocado Pine Nut Salad. You’ll have a great meal for company!

I love cozy dinners, with conversation that might land between small talk and going real deep. You know, the type that could go either way.

As hosts, it’s up to us which direction we want to take it. Right?

Some meals are meant to be light (in calories and conversation), and some might be a little heavier.

The point is that we just do it! Enjoy!

More comfort dishes to try:

Mexican Shepherd’s Pie Recipe

Chicken Pot Pie with Cheesy Drop Biscuits

Sausage Kale Comfort Soup Recipe

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The Best Classic Shepherd’s Pie

This recipe is essential for brisk fall days. It's comforting and rich with savory flavors of mushroom, beef, and onion, while hints of brightness come through with the lemon and wine.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 55 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Yield: 6
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Ingredients
 

  • 6 cups mashed potatoes, pre-cooked
  • 1 tsp paprika, plus some to garnish
  • cup Parmesan cheese
  • 5 carrots, chopped
  • 1 bunch celery, 2 cups, chopped
  • 2 cups crimini mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 1 ½ cup fresh or frozen peas
  • 1 Tbsp thyme
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • cup red wine, a dry variety
  • ½ c beef broth
  • 1 lb ground beef, or a mix of ground beef and ground lamb
  • 4 Tbsp butter

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Add 2 Tbsp butter to a large skillet and heat on high; add beef when butter is hot, and begin to brown—add salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 5-7 minutes, or until browned, and remove from pan, making sure to leave the juices.
  • Add 1 Tbsp more butter and crimini chopped mushrooms. Allow to sit in the butter a few minutes, then reduce heat to medium-low and add remaining 1 Tbsp butter. Pour in chopped onions, garlic, carrots, and celery. Stir and allow to cook and soften for 10 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Increase heat to medium and return meat to pan, then add in wine and scrape bits off of the bottom of the pan. Allow liquid to reduce for 2-3 minutes, then add beef broth, paprika, lemon, thyme, and Worcestershire. Reduce heat to medium-low and stir to incorporate, allowing liquid to reduce further, stirring semi-frequently for 8-10 minutes.
  • When liquid has reduced, add meat mixture to a 9 x 13 baking dish. Spread into an even layer, then spread mashed potatoes on top. If you’re using cold or leftover mashed potatoes, fluff them with a fork as you pile them on top. When mashed potatoes are spread on the meat mixture, sprinkle additional Parmesan cheese, and a dash of paprika on top. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the top is lightly golden.
  • Remove from the oven and serve!

Notes

Reposted from September 2019.
Cuisine: Irish
Course: Main Course
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The Best Classic Shepherd's Pie