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October 27, 2023

Shepherd’s Pie

This traditional English dish is a must-make comfort food. Creamy mashed potatoes top a savory ground meat filling, and are baked together in a casserole dish for ultimate coziness.


a slice of homemade shepherd's pie in a bowl with a fork
Photography by Gayle McLeod

A Classic Meal From Across The Pond

You don’t have to go all the way to England for this comforting pub favorite. We’ve got the inside scoop on how to make an old fashioned shepherd's pie recipe at home. It’s a straightforward meat and potatoes meal, with some vegetables and seasonings, that will warm the belly on the coldest of nights. If you don’t finish it all in one sitting, the leftovers are just as good the next day!

potatoes, ground beef, chopped vegetables, milk, olive oil, spices and other ingredients in bowls to make shepherd's pie

What Is The Difference Between Shepherd's Pie And Cottage Pie?

There’s a variety of savory, meat-filled pies that have long been enjoyed in Ireland and the United Kingdom, amongst them is the famous shepherd’s pie. Why is it called a shepherd pie? The shepherd’s pie was traditionally filled with ground lamb, and cottage pie was filled with ground beef. Today, the terms are used fairly interchangeably, and our easy shepherds pie recipe calls for either ground lamb or beef, according to your preference!

milk being poured into a pot with butter
boiled potatoes that have gone through a potato ricer and added to a pot with butter and milk
garlic powder, salt and pepper added to mashed potatoes in a pot
mashed potatoes being stirred in a pot made with milk, butter, garlic powder, salt and pepper

Shepherd’s Pie Ingredients

Our shepherd’s pie recipe layers browned meat, either ground lamb or beef, and topped with creamy mashed taters. Mashed potatoes call for three pounds of potatoes (russets are our fave), butter, milk, and seasonings. For the filling you’ll need two pounds of ground meat cooked with onion, carrots, fennel, and garlic. The ground meat gets a tasty gravy made with tomato paste, flour, and stock with seasonings. Once the filling is cooked, one cup of frozen peas gets stirred through.

ground beef being cooked in a skillet with olive oil to use for shepherd's pie
flour being added to a skillet with onions, carrots, fennel, salt and garlic that have been cooked in olive oil
beef stock being added to a pot with cooked vegetables, tomato paste, pepper, thyme and rosemary
beef, peas, vegetables, tomato paste and spices all added in a pot together

How To Make Shepherd’s Pie

  1. Make the mashed potatoes in a large pot, using either a ricer or other tool.

  2. Brown the meat in a large skillet.

  3. For this shepherd's pie with gravy, we’ll build a flavorful gravy for the ground meat with cooked veggies, tomato paste, and stock.

  4. Layer the filling in a baking dish, topped with an even layer of mashed potatoes. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

ground beef and vegetable mixture for shepherd's pie being spooned into a 9 x 13 casserole dish
mashed potatoes being spread on top of a ground beef and vegetable mixture for in a casserole dish to make shepherd's pie
a shepherd's pie made with a beef and vegetable mixture topped with mashed potatoes ready to be baked in the oven
homemade shepherd's pie in a casserole dish fresh out of the oven made with ground beef, vegetables and mashed potatoes

A Meal On Its Own, Or With Some Veg On The Side

We wouldn’t complain if we just had a plateful of shepherd’s pie, but we’re always looking for delicious ways to serve a side of vegetables. If you’d like to add a little something to this hearty meal, we love Green Beans with Apples and Sage Butter or Braised Greens with Golden Raisins and Maple. Need a salad on the side? The Kale Salad or a fresh Caesar Salad will add a fresh crunch to a scoop of Shepherd’s Pie.

Tools You’ll Need

More Savory Pies To Make This Season

Whether sealed in a flaky pie crust, topped with puff pastry, or cooked in a skillet we love savory pies! Here’s a few more of our favorites:

homemade shepherd's pie in a casserole dish with a scoop take out made with ground beef, vegetables and mashed potatoes

Share Your Shepherd’s Pie Success

Snap a photo of your homemade shepherd’s pie and maybe even a video of the beautiful people you feed it to. Tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper.

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Shepherd’s Pie

  • Serves: 8
  • Prep Time:  30 min
  • Cook Time:  50 min
  • Calories: 565


For the Potatoes

  • 4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

For the Filling

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 pounds 90/10 ground beef or ground lamb
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 cup finely chopped fennel
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose or gluten-free flour
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cups beef broth or stock
  • ½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, plus more for serving
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme, plus more for serving
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 cup frozen peas


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F with a rack in the center position.

  2. Fill a large pot with water and 3 teaspoons of the salt. Add the potatoes and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until fork tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.

  3. In the same pot, combine the butter and milk over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring, until the butter is melted, about 2 minutes. Using a potato ricer, rice the potatoes over the hot butter mixture. (Alternatively, mash the potatoes directly into the liquid, taking care not to overwork them.) Season with the garlic powder, pepper and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt.

  4. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil is glistening, add the ground beef and season with 1 teaspoon of the salt. Cook, undisturbed, until browned, about 5 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, break up the meat and continue cooking until cooked through, about 5 minutes more. Drain any excess grease and transfer to a plate.

  5. Reduce the heat under the same skillet to medium and add remaining tablespoon of olive oil, onions, carrots, and fennel. Season with remaining ½ teaspoon of salt and cook, stirring often, until vegetables are softened, about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 more minutes more.

  6. Add the flour and tomato paste and cook, stirring continuously, until tomato paste has darkened, about 1 minute. Slowly stir in beef stock, pepper, thyme, and rosemary and bring to a simmer. Add the browned beef and any collected juices and frozen peas and simmer, stirring occasionally until sauce has thickened and liquid is mostly absorbed, about 10 minutes.

  7. Transfer the filling to a 9x13-inch baking dish and spread out evenly. Top with mashed potatoes, and smooth out into an even layer using the back of a spoon. Bake until the filling is bubbling and potatoes are golden brown, about 20 minutes.

  8. Top with freshly cracked pepper and fresh thyme and let cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories565
  • Protein29 g
  • Carbohydrates32 g
  • Total Fat38 g
  • Dietary Fiber4 g
  • Cholesterol133 mg
  • sodium575 mg
  • Total Sugars6 g

Shepherd’s Pie

Questions & Reviews

Join the discussion below.

  • Vi

    Looks yummy.
    Can this Shepherds Pie be frozen?

    You sure can! for best results thaw in the fridge before reheating.

  • Katie

    Can I use fennel seed instead/how much would substitute?

    We'd recommend starting with a pinch and taste the filling and see if you want to up the fennel flavor from there.

  • Kelly

    Can I skip or substitute the Fennel?

    Sure, feel free to leave it out. Hope you enjoy!

  • Rosie

    Which part of the fennel do we use? Just the leaves, or include the stalks?

    You can use both, hope you enjoy Rosie.

  • Rachel

    Is this something that can be made the night before and then "cooked" (the in-the-oven part) the next day?


  • Diana

    Made this tonight - sooo good!! amazing - loved by all!

    Thanks Diana, so happy you love it!

  • Leah

    This is absolutely delicious and was a huge hit with the whole family!

    Thanks Leah! Always nice when a recipe is a win with the whole family, glad you all enjoyed it!

  • Kitty

    This is such a cozy, clean out the fridge meal! I also added a little bit of Worcester sauce which I thought gave some good extra flavor. Loved it!

    Thanks Kitty, so happy you enjoyed it!