Easy Shepherd’s Pie Recipe: A Classic Your Family Will Love (+ pro tips)

4.93 from 13 votes
21 Comments

This post may contain affiliate links. See our disclosure policy.

Easy Shepherd’s Pie is the perfect week-night dinner! Loaded with meat and veggies and topped with potatoes and cheese, this warm dish is the ultimate comfort food.

Serving of Easy Shepherd's Pie on a plate. Baking dish in the background.
Featured with this recipe
  1. Ingredients in Shepherd’s Pie
  2. How to Make Shepherd’s Pie
  3. Shepherd’s Pie Recipe Tips
  4. Reader Reviews of this Recipe
  5. Frequently Asked Questions about Shepherd’s Pie
  6. What to Serve with Shepherd’s Pie
  7. Easy Shepherds Pie Recipe

This easy Shepherd’s Pie recipe was definitely one of those “rotation meals” in our family growing up. My family actually called it “hamburger pie” or “cottage pie” nd I actually didn’t realize everyone else called it “shepherd’s pie” until after I was married. My mom would usually serve it if we had leftover mashed potatoes from Sunday dinner, which made it an even easier weeknight supper.  Shepherd’s Pie was also our go-to meal that my mom would take to people in our neighborhood when someone had a baby, or surgery or was just in need of a warm, comforting meal. It is one of those dinners that hits the spot anytime!

Ingredients in Shepherd’s Pie

The great thing about this recipe is how versatile it is. You can swap out one meat for another, one veggie for another, etc. But here’s what we start with:

Ground beef, potatoes, cheese, green beans, butter, milk, onion and tomato sauce to make Easy Shepherd's Pie.

Mashed Potatoes:

  • Potatoes – Four large russet potatoes makes the perfect amount of mashed potatoes for the top. You can also use a package of instant mashed potatoes or leftover potatoes from another dinner. 
  • If making fresh mashed potatoes, add a couple of tablespoons of butter and about three tablespoons of milk and some salt and pepper. Use a potato masher or hand mixer to get the potatoes your favorite consistency.

Filling:

  • Ground beef – This is an “Americanized” version of what originated in England and northern Ireland. If you want to be more authentic, you can use minced or diced lamb. You can also try ground turkey, spicy Italian ground sausage, chopped roast, pretty much any type of meat you like.
  • Onion – one large yellow onion works great in this recipe.
  • Salt and pepper – to taste
  • Green beans – use one can of French-style green beans, drained. You can also use frozen mixed vegetables, frozen beans, green peas, etc.
  • Tomato sauce – a six-ounce can. If you don’t have tomato sauce, mix some tomato paste with water. You can also use a can of tomato soup for a rich tomato flavor.
  • Cheddar cheese – top the mashed potato layer with some grated sharp cheddar cheese. YUM!

How to Make Shepherd’s Pie

  1. First, make your mashed potatoes by dicing and boiling the potatoes in a large pot until fork tender. Then add butter, milk, salt and pepper and mash until the potatoes are light and fluffy.
  2. Next, brown your ground beef in a skillet with a tablespoon of oil (I like to use olive oil, but vegetable oil works great too) and add the onion. If you want extra flavor, you can season the beef with garlicsalt in addition to salt and pepper.
  3. Then, add a can of drained green beans.
  4. Finally, add the tomato sauce, and let the whole skillet simmer for a few minutes.
  5. Layer the meat mixture in a large casserole dish or in individual ramekin dishes.
  6. Spread the creamy mashed potatoes in an even layer over the top of the meat mixture.
  7. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees.
  8. Remove the dishes and top the mashed potatoes with shredded cheddar cheese.
  9. Finally, bake another five or so minutes until the cheese is bubbly and golden.
Spoon with Easy Shepherd's Pie resting on a plate.

Shepherd’s Pie Recipe Tips

  • Growing up we always topped this with ketchup and to this day I still can’t eat shepherd’s pie without a good helping of ketchup. Judge me if you must. My husband loves it with Sriracha sauce and my cousins love it topped with Ranch dressing. Of course, it tastes delicious just plain too.
  • For a bit of a sweeter, richer tomato flavor, add in a can or two of condensed tomato soup instead of tomato sauce.
  • Garnish with parsley, rosemary, or thyme before serving.
  • Add a dash or two of Worcestershire sauce to the meat mixture for a richer flavor.
  • You can add as many veggies to the mixture as you like. I love green beans but you could also add green peas, diced carrots, corn, celery, or red peppers.

Reader Reviews of this Recipe

“I hadn’t made this in forever and so glad I found your version! I had never added cheese. Delicious!”

Kelly S.

“LOVE the spicy Italian sausage variation – such amazing amped up flavors! Thanks for this easy family recipe!”

Jenn

“I like your idea of using individual ramekins for the recipe. Such a fun idea!”

Lauren K.
Close up view of the layers in the dish of Easy Shepherd's Pie.

Frequently Asked Questions about Shepherd’s Pie

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

Traditional Shepherd’s Pie uses lamb, while Cottage Pie is generally the one that is made with beef. There are a few other differences but mainly it comes down to the meat used.

How do I keep the potatoes from sinking into the meat mixture during baking?

Let your meat mixture cool slightly before adding the layer of mashed potatoes. This should keep the layers nice and even without sinking.

Can I freeze Shepherd’s Pie after baking?

Yes! After baking, let the pan cool to room temperature, cover tightly with foil and freeze. It’ll stay fresh for up to two months. Reheat by baking for about an hour at 350 degrees.

What should I serve with Shepherd’s Pie?

We usually like to serve it with a side salad and dinner roll.

Read More:35+ Easy Dinner Ideas

What to Serve with Shepherd’s Pie

This recipe really is a full meal all in one dish. We usually serve it with a big green salad or a side of fruit but you could try any of these yummy side dishes too:

Hand holding a spoon with Easy Shepherd's Pie.

Easy Shepherds Pie

4.93 from 13 votes
Easy Shepherd's Pie is the perfect week-night dinner! Loaded with meat and veggies and topped with potatoes and cheese, this warm dish is the ultimate comfort food.
Prep Time 25 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 50 mins
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 12

Equipment

  • 9×13 inch pan

Ingredients

For the potatoes:

For the filling:

Instructions

For the potatoes:

  • Peel & dice potatoes. Place in a pot of cold, salted water and place on the stovetop on high heat.
    Peeled and sliced potatoes on a cutting board to make Easy Shepherd's Pie.
  • Bring potatoes to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes or until tender.
    Pot of water with cut up potatoes to make mashed potatoes for Easy Shepherd's Pie.
  • When potatoes are done, drain well, and mash with butter, milk, salt & pepper until smooth.
    Bowl of mashed potatoes to make the top layer for Easy Shepherd's Pie.

For the Filling:

  • Heat oil in a saute pan over medium heat. When oil becomes hot, add onion and saute until onions become clear.
    Diced onions in a skillet to make Easy Shepherd's Pie.
  • Add ground beef and season with salt and pepper. Cook until browned. Drain excess grease, add green beans and cook an additional minute or two.
    Skillet with cooked ground beef and onions for Easy Shepherd's Pie.
  • Stir in tomato sauce and reduce heat to a slight simmer for about 5 minutes.
    Beef mixture in a skillet to make Easy Shepherd's Pie.
  • Spread beef mixture evenly in the bottom of a glass baking dish or casserole dish (or divide evenly between individual ramekin dishes).
    Bottom beef mixture layer for Easy Shepherd's Pie.
  • Top with mashed potatoes and smooth evenly over beef mixture. Bake at 350-degrees for about 20 minutes.
    Top mashed potato layer for Easy Shepherd's Pie.
  • Top with cheese and bake another 5-10 minutes or until cheese begins to bubble up.
    Baked Easy Shepherd's Pie topped with melted cheddar cheese.

Notes

Recipe Tips:

  • For a bit of a sweeter, richer tomato flavor, add in a can or two of condensed tomato soup instead of tomato sauce.
  • Garnish with parsley, rosemary, or thyme before serving.
  • Add a dash or two of Worcestershire sauce to the meat mixture for a richer flavor.
  • You can add as many veggies to the mixture as you like. I love green beans but you could also add green peas, diced carrots, corn, celery, or red peppers.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 266kcalCarbohydrates: 13gProtein: 14gFat: 18gSaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 53mgSodium: 251mgPotassium: 555mgFiber: 3gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 571IUVitamin C: 14mgCalcium: 191mgIron: 4mg

Did you try this recipe?

Share It on Instagram!

Mention @favoritefamilyrecipes or tag #favoritefamilyrecipes!

 

Share This With the World

PinYummly

About the author

Erica Walker

Erica lives in Boise, Idaho with her husband, Jared, an attorney, and her beautiful three girls. Beyond the world of recipes, she loves adventuring with everything from kayaking, to cruising, to snowboarding and taking the family along for the thrill ride.

More about Erica Walker

Similar Recipes

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.

How many stars would you give this recipe?




Comments

  1. i don’t know why but green beans taste Absolutely at their best in Shepherd’s Pie. perfect.
    great recipe thanks

  2. Hi! πŸ™‚ This is going to be my first time making this, can frozen veggies be used in this recipe?

  3. 4 stars
    This is almost exactly how I make mine, except I like using tomato paste so I can control how ‘tomatoey’ it tastes. I had no idea other people made it this way, I thought I made it up, lol!

    1. It serves 5-6 depending on how big of eaters you have! You can use a 9×13 glass dish or a large dutch-oven type dish or casserole

  4. 5 stars
    I tried the recipe and thought it as excellent! It served four people nicely. I think next time I would almost double the mashed potatoes though! However, I thought the potatoes tasted just perfect! Thanks for the post!

  5. We love most every single recipe we’ve tried from your website (Chicken in Basil Cream Sauce is one of our absolute family favorites!!!), but this one missed the mark on the sauce in my opinion. I thought I would try it the way the recipe says but wish I had used my mom’s favorite way of making it which is with a can of tomato soup instead of the tomato sauce. You should try it sometime and see if you like it too. Anyway, just a suggestion πŸ™‚

    1. I am so sorry the sauce missed the mark for you guys! A can of tomato soup is a great idea. That is how we make our sloppy Joes so it makes sense that it would taste great in Hamburger Pie! We will try it next time! Thanks so much for the suggestion and I hope you keep trying more of our recipes!

  6. This is Cottage Pie, because it’s made with beef πŸ™‚ Shepherd’s Pie is made with lamb (hence the name), though it’s only recently I’ve discovered that most of America doesn’t realise the difference lol! But your family were more right with hamburger pie hehe, it’s definitely not Shepherd’s Pie if there isn’t any lamb involved! πŸ™‚

    1. I am glad you said something! I had no idea! My family will always call it hamburger pie.. just so there is no confusion haha

  7. 5 stars
    We love this recipe! …A favorite dish at our home too! (Question: How do you add fun wording/fonts to your photos?)