This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy.
This easy Shepherd’s Pie recipe proves that comfort food can be fast and delicious. Hearty ground beef and veggies are topped with fluffy mashed potatoes and cheese for a gluten-free casserole everyone loves.
Easy Shepherd’s Pie with Ground Beef
Undoubtedly the whole family will love to dig into this comfort food casserole made with ground beef and frozen vegetables, plus fluffy mashed potatoes and cheese. While it might not be the most traditional version of the classic Irish recipe, this dish is easy and delicious. And it’s great to make ahead of time to reheat when you need it. Plus this version is a gluten free shepherd’s pie that everyone can enjoy.
As I mentioned, you’ll notice that this recipe is made with ground beef. For those who may make or are looking for the most classic Shepherd’s Pie recipe, they will say this is incorrect.
But as someone who loves ground beef as a quick and affordable protein for my favorite easy dinner recipes, it is what I use. Especially since my family and I love how it tastes.
But it always seems to beg the question…
Can I Make Shepherd’s Pie without Ground Beef?
Many people say you can’t, and that the only way to make authentic shepherd’s pie is with lamb. However, in the United States, ground beef is easier to find and used more in American households than ground lamb. Therefore, that technically makes this a cottage pie.
What’s the difference? Well, cottage pie is typically a mixture of minced beef and vegetables in gravy, baked in a casserole dish with a cap of mashed potatoes. So it is essentially the same as Shepherd’s Pie, but with ground beef instead of the traditional lamb.
Therefore, since you are just swapping the protein, I think it is totally acceptable to make Shepherds Pie with ground beef instead of lamb. You can always call this recipe “cottage pie” or you can use ground lamb and stick with tradition. I have not claimed this recipe is traditional, I just call it “easy” and it happens to be delicious.
- Ground beef: I prefer to use 90% lean ground beef, but use what you like best. To make this really traditional, you can also use ground lamb.
- Onion: Chopped.
- Garlic: Finely minced.
- Tomato paste: Just one small can.
- Worcestershire sauce: Adds that savory, cooked-all-day flavor.
- Beef broth: I prefer the kind from a carton, or you can use homemade.
- Frozen mixed vegetables: Try to find a mix with corn, peas, carrots, and green beans.
- Salt and Pepper : For seasoning the groubd beef mixture, plus you’ll need some salt for the pottoes.
- Potatoes: White or Russet potatoes will do.
- Greek yogurt or sour cream: Either works fine to help make the mashed potatoes creamy.
- Cheddar cheese: Divided, some will be mixed in with the mashed potatoes and some will go on top of the Shepherd’s Pie.
How to Make Homemade Shepherds Pie
I always thought this was a complicated and time-consuming dish to make. However, if you plan out the steps, it really comes together in no time.
Here’s the basic plan:
- First, pull the frozen veggies out of the freezer and preheat the oven.
- Peel and boil the potatoes.
- During this time, prepare the meat and veggie mixture.
- While the filling simmers, drain and mash the potatoes.
- Finally, add the filling to the casserole dish, top with the potatoes and cheese, and bake.
Now let’s get to the details.
Boil the potatoes: Peel and cut the potatoes into small, 1-inch pieces. Add the potatoes to a pot of cold water, Cover, and bring to boil. Remove cover and boil for 10-12 minutes, until fork-tender.
Make the ground beef filling: While the potatoes cook, brown the ground beef in a skillet with the onion, garlic, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Drain any excess grease, then stir in the tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, and beef broth. Add vegetables, bring to a simmer, and cook for 10-15 minutes or until thickened slightly.
Mash the potatoes: While the meat mixture is simmering, drain the potatoes and return to the pot. Add Greek yogurt or sour cream, milk, cheddar cheese, and salt, then mash with a potato masher or hand mixer until smooth.
Prepare and bake the casserole: Pour the meat mixture into a greased casserole dish, then spread the mashed potatoes over the top and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake at 350°F for 30-35 minutes, or until heated through, and cheese and potatoes are slightly browned.
Make-Ahead & Meal Prep Options
Yes, you can definitely make Shepherd’s Pie in advance, and you have several options.
Just prepare the filling: You can make the meat and vegetable mixture and store it in the refrigerator for a couple of days before preparing the mashed potatoes and baking the dish.
Fully assemble the casserole: Another option is to assemble it and refrigerate or freeze it until you are ready to bake and serve it.
Baked ahead and reheat: Additionally, you can even bake it first and then store it in the fridge or freezer. It is possible to reheat it even after it has been frozen. Be sure to thaw it completely and pop it in the oven at 350°F for about 20 minutes or more until it is heated through. The potatoes might give off a bit extra moisture, but there is no impact on the flavor.
What Size Casserole Dish to Use
I use my Corningware French White Round and Oval Bakeware all the time. From this recipe to Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese and Baked Spaghetti Squash with Spicy Sausage Tomato Cream Sauce or even just reheating a rotisserie chicken from Costco, these baking dishes are in constant rotation.
For this recipe, I used the smaller 1.5-quart casserole dish here and had it on a baking dish to catch any drips. If you don’t mind it not being filled to the top and don’t want it bubbling over a bit, try the 2.5-quart casserole.
Tips for the Best Gluten-Free Shepherd’s Pie
Many traditional recipes are not, as they contain a brown gravy thickened with flour. However, this one does not. So it’s easy to make it as a gluten free casserole.
Just be sure to use Worcestershire sauce that is gluten free (Lea & Perrins is if you buy it in the United States), as well as a gluten free beef broth.
The topping is nothing more than mashed potatoes with cheddar cheese. So there are no gluten-containing ingredients there. Go ahead and enjoy this classic dish as part of your gluten-free St. Patrick’s Day without worry!
The classic dish is meat (typically ground lamb or ground beef, as noted above) and vegetables in gravy, topped with mashed potatoes. But you can put many creative twists on the classic recipe to make it one of your favorite dinner recipes that you can enjoy in many different ways.
- Instead of making mashed potatoes, you can pile the filling into these Shepherd’s Pie Loaded Baked Potatoes.
- Make it mini with Individual Shepherd’s Pies.
- Put it on top of Shepherd’s Pie Loaded French Fries for a super easy version.
- Shepherd’s Pie Stuffed Peppers combines two comfort foods in one.
- With a few simple swaps, you can even cut the carbs to make Keto Shepherd’s Pie.
- Buffalo Chicken Shepherd’s Pie totally changes up the traditional recipe with a spicy kick and sweet potato topping.
This is a hearty casserole that can be a meal by itself. But if you want to serve something with it, try one of these ideas:
- A simple salad with Greek Yogurt Ranch Dressing is a light option for more veggies.
- Bacon Brussels Sprouts Cauliflower Colcannon is a low carb alternative to the classic Irish mashed potatoes recipe.
- Have a slice of Irish Soda Bread (you can even make Gluten Free Irish Soda Bread).
- For dessert, you’ll love a Mini Bailey’s Chocolate Mousse Pie.
How to Store and Reheat Extras
Let your shepherd’s pie cool to room temperature, then either cover it with saran wrap or transfer it to airtight containers. Store in the fridge for up to 4 days. When you are ready to eat some, simply scoop the desired amount onto a microwave-safe plate and warm until heated through.
Can I Freeze This?
Yes, you can freeze shepherd’s pie before it is baked. The filling should be room temperature to avoid condensation building up in the freezer or impacting the temperature of other frozen food.
Spray a large piece of saran wrap with baking spray, then place it sprayed side down on top of the casserole. Wrap the casserole in a few layers of aluminum foil, wrapping the entire thing, not just the top of the casserole dish. Place in the freezer, where it will keep for up to 3 months.
When you are ready to make the casserole, thaw it overnight in the fridge. Then remove the foil and saran wrap and bake as outlined below.
Easy Shepherd’s Pie
- 1 pound white or russet potatoes, peeled and cut into about 1 inch chunks
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1/2 medium onion chopped (roughly 1/2 cup)
- 1 garlic clove, crushed or minced
- 3/4 cup tomato paste (one 6-ounce can)
- 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
- 1 1/2 cups beef broth
- 4 cups frozen mixed vegetables or about two 10 oz. packages frozen vegetable medley, thawed (carrots, peas, corn, and green beans)
- 1/4 cup Greek yogurt or sour cream
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
- Preheat your oven to 350°F and coat a 1.5 quart casserole dish with cooking spray.
- Peel and cut the potatoes into about 1 inch cubes, and place the potatoes and a pinch of salt into a pot of cold water.
- Cover, and bring to boil. Remove cover and boil for 10-12 minutes, until fork tender.
- While the potatoes are cooking, heat a skillet over medium heat.
- Add the ground beef, onion, garlic, and a pinch of salt and pepper to the skillet and cook, breaking up the meat, until it is browned. Drain any excess grease.
- Stir in the tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, and beef broth. Add vegetables, bring to a simmer, and cook for 10-15 minutes or until thickened slightly. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- While the meat mixture is simmering, drain the potatoes and return to the pot.
- Add ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese, Greek yogurt or sour cream, milk, and 1 teaspoon salt to the potatoes. With a potato masher or hand mixer, mash to desired consistency.
- Add the meat mixture to the prepared casserole dish, then top with the mashed potatoes and remaining cheese.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until heated through, and cheese and potatoes are slightly browned.
More Ground Beef Dinner Ideas
- Bacon Cheeseburger Crustless Quiche
- Easy Beefaroni
- Homemade Sloppy Joes
- Egg Roll in a Bowl
- Creamy Skillet Beef and Potatoes
Originally published on Sep 26, 2017.