Best Shepherd’s Pie Recipe with Ground Beef

4.65 from 56 votes
A red circle with the letters FFA red circle with the letters GFA green circle with the letter Q

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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 family-favorite gluten free casserole everyone loves. And this one might just be the best since it is even quick enough to make for dinner on a busy weeknight.

a spoonful of shepherds pie held up over a casserole dish

Originally published on Sep 26, 2017.

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…

A scoop of Shepherds Pie on a green plate

Can you make shepherd’s pie with 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.

Now I’m not sure what shepards pie is, but many people seem to spell it that way.

a bite of shepherds pie on a fork with bits of ground beef, corn, peas, and carrots

Ingredients

  • 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.
  • Milk
  • Cheddar cheese: Divided, some will be mixed in with the mashed potatoes and some will go on top of the Shepherd’s Pie.
Ingredients for chili in white bowls and measuring cups, including ground beef, frozen mixed vegetables, and potatoes

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.

cubed potatoes in a small pot of water

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.

serving spoon just starting to pick up a bit of the shepherd's pie to the edge of the casserole dish

What size casserole dish do you need?

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.

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Gluten Free Shepherd’s Pie Tips

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!

fork digging into a serving of shepherd's pie on a green plate

Variations

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 easy dinner recipes that you can enjoy in many different ways.

Scooping Shepherds Pie out of a baking dish

Side Dishes for Shepherd’s Pie

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:

4.7 from 56 votes

Easy Shepherd’s Pie

This classic meat and vegetable casserole topped with cheesy mashed potatoes is super simple, and always a family-favorite comfort food meal.
Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 45 mins
Total: 55 mins
Servings: 6

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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.
Nutrition Facts
Easy Shepherd's Pie
Amount Per Serving (1 g)
Calories 367 Calories from Fat 99
% Daily Value*
Fat 11g17%
Saturated Fat 5g25%
Cholesterol 67mg22%
Sodium 1226mg51%
Potassium 1333mg38%
Carbohydrates 40g13%
Fiber 7g28%
Sugar 6g7%
Protein 29g58%
Vitamin A 6860IU137%
Vitamin C 26.4mg32%
Calcium 234mg23%
Iron 5.4mg30%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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59 Comments
  1. Deb

    SOOO good! Loved it the first day and leftovers too! I used fresh diced carrots instead of frozen, adding them to the pan while the sauce simmered,

  2. Angie

    Looking forward to making this! However, most worecestershire sauce isn’t gluten free. I just skip this step. Just a heads up! Great recipe!

    1. Hi Angie! That depends on where you are from. Lea & Perrins is gluten free in the United States, but not in all countries, including Canada. But I am glad you enjoy it even skipping that ingredient. It just gives it a little more depth of flavor, so skipping it is fine. You could also get that bit of umami from tamari or coconut aminos.

      1. Alicia

        Thank you for your quick reply! This fish looks delicious..I plan on making it soon!!
        Have a great day & happy cooking!!

  3. Carrie

    We absolutely love this recipe! I make a double batch considering the amount of people in my house and I like to use half tomato paste and half tomato sauce just to make it a little saucier. Otherwise absolutely fabulous and highly recommend!! 👍🏻⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  4. J.J.

    The pic looked & sounded great but honestly became a bit frustrated with the overwhelming amt of ads that I continuously had to “X” in order to even attempt to see the recipe & having to scroll back n forth looking for the ingredients & directions which were not listed together with the recipe while still navigating through other recipes that I was not interested in & “X”-ing through an over abundance of ads was a bit much in comparison to other recipe sites. However, looking forward to making this & will rate at that time. Thank you!

    1. Hi, thank you for your feedback. Like most websites nowadays, ads are how my small business earns an income, and I am in the middle of making some adjustments to my ad layout, so things are in flux. However, I do have a Jump to Recipe button at the top of each post that brings you to the recipe card with the full instructions and details. There you won’t have to scroll, though I do try to provide helpful information and related recipes for different ways to make this dish or what to serve with it. Within the post, I give a quick ingredient list and summary that is there to just give an overview of what you’ll need and how to make it, but I do direct you to the recipe card for all of the quantities and instructions. Google wants me to show them that I know what I am talking about, which is often what drives the content I include, and I always hope that this information is helpful to my readers too.

  5. Denise salas

    I made this for dinner tonight…yummy!! I’ll be making ‘‘tis again and again! Thank you for sharing this recipe!!

  6. Hannah Beth B

    5 stars
    My first time making or even trying Shepards Pie, and this recipe was absolutely delicious. We substituted sweet potatoes and loved it. Will absolutely be adding it to the recipe rotation. Thanks!

  7. Vanessa L

    My 2 kids, husband and I all really enjoyed it and would make it again. Didn’t have sour cream, so just omitted it. I used 5 yellow potatoes. Also used carrots from the fridge cut up, so I added them in with the onions so they weren’t hard. Also used frozen corn and cut up frozen green string beans.

  8. Maia

    5 stars
    This tastes like…. it should have taken more work than it did, lol. Great recipe! Thank you for such a quick and filling meal 🙂 Was even able to cook it with my 1 yr old tugging at my leg half the time 🙂

  9. Yur boi Seth and Lucas

    Me and school partner are going to make this for a practical exam in our class. Do you think we can handle such a potentially delectable recipe???

    1. Melissa N

      5 stars
      I just made it with 4 packages of Idahoan instant potatoes (started with 3, not enough coverage) with a touch to spare – tasted almost as good as classic mashed!

  10. Samm Long

    5 stars
    I just tried this recipe for the first time and it was a total hit with my family. I have 8 year old triplets and a 14 year old girl. The triplets can be picky! They all loved it including my husband. This one is a must in your recipe book!

  11. Tara Serve

    5 stars
    I am a teacher and for a summer school enrichment class we are studying counties – making their flag, playing a game and making a recipe. For England we used your shepherd’s pie recipe and it was a hit! My learners are excited to get the recipe and take it home to prepare for their families!

    I am super grateful to you for the recipe!

  12. Lynn

    5 stars
    This is one if the best shepherds pie recipes I have tried. I was out if worschesire sauce and I bought Lea & Perrins for the 1st time ever and it made such a huge difference in taste, really worth the extra cost!

  13. Carole

    5 stars
    The one thing I didn’t care for and didn’t do was use frozen veggies or canned. I take the time to
    chop and use fresh veggies. I’m an old “duck” and I really think it’s worth it to chew into a good bite of veggie. I’ve been making this for years; when I saw yours it made me feel good that my family old world favorite is your recipe, as well. I like adding a few cloves of roasted garlic into the pool for the mashed potato topping.

    1. Brianne Cupcakes & Kale Chips

      Thank you for your comment and for rating the recipe, Carole. We like to use fresh veggies in most recipes, but for the busy weeks when there’s very little time to cook, frozen veggies are a great option. 🙂

  14. Jessica F

    5 stars
    I’ve made this recipe at least 6 times and it’s become a family favorite. I don’t use all of the worcestershire sauce that the recipe calls for. About 1/8 cup and it’s still noticeable and perfect for our taste. The cheddar in the mashed potatoes gives it something special! Thank you for this recipe!

    1. Brianne Cupcakes & Kale Chips

      I’m so happy to hear that you like the shepherd’s pie, Jessica! It’s a favorite at our house, too. Thank you for rating the recipe!

    1. Brianne Cupcakes & Kale Chips

      Brooklyn, if you don’t want to use beef broth, you can substitute with chicken broth or vegetable broth. I suppose you could even use water, but you won’t have as much flavor in the Shepherd’s pie.

  15. Delilah

    5 stars
    Great recipe for classic Shepherds Pie. The only changes I make is using canned veggies, just our preference and I add fresh mushrooms. I also flip the it is served. I put the potatoes on a plate and put the meat mixture on top of the potatoes. Hubs prefers it that way. Since it’s just two of us now, it makes leftovers easier. If pressed for time I use Idahoan Instant Potatoes

    1. Brianne Cupcakes & Kale Chips

      One of the best things about home cooking is being able to take a recipe and make it your own, Delilah. I’m so happy you found a way to make the Shepherd’s pie the way your family likes it!

  16. Tammy

    This looks delicious! Just a quick question….how strong is the Worcestershire sauce in this….is it strong or subtle? Thanks so much!

    1. Brianne Cupcakes & Kale Chips

      Hi Tammy!
      The flavor of the Worcestershire is noticeable, but not over powering. You can easily reduce the amount or even omit it altogether if you want to.

  17. Sheila

    I love your version of Shepherd Pie. The French Fries version would be awesome since I also don’t like peeling potatoes.

    Thank you for all your tips and suggestions. They’re all brilliant.

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