Healthy Shepherd’s Pie Recipe with Cheesy Low Carb Cauliflower Mash
Low Carb Shepherd’s Pie gives the traditional recipe a lighter makeover when the hearty ground beef and vegetable mixture is topped with a cheesy cauliflower mash. Quick and easy to make, and it is so delicious that you don’t have to tell anyone it is healthy and gluten free too. This lightened-up version of the classic comfort food casserole is sure to be a family favorite dinner at any time of the year.
Disclaimer: This recipe was developed through a sponsored partnership with Cabot Creamery Co-operative. As always, all opinions are my own.
As busy parents, I know we all face a lot of the same challenges.
We want to put a healthy dinner on the table that our kids will actually eat, even on busy weeknights. Maybe we are trying to watch carbs for ourselves, but don’t want to make different meals for every member of the family. Someone in the house might have a food allergy in the house, like me with my gluten intolerance. But again, I don’t have time to be a short-order cook with a separate order for each of us. And it never hurts to sneak some extra veggies into those kiddos.
That’s why I was inspired to take a classic comfort food I know my family likes, and turn it into something they might actually love even more than the original.
Do you want to hear something weird? My husband and I don’t really like mashed potatoes. My little guy doesn’t like mashed much of anything. And my big guy, well, he will take them or leave them. Surprisingly, mashed cauliflower is actually a bigger hit in my house, especially when I make a cheesy mashed cauliflower casserole.
That’s why I created this recipe…
Cheesy Cauliflower Shepherd’s Pie Recipe
My Traditional Shepherd’s Pie recipe is always a hit. In fact, it’s one of the most popular ones on the web with tens of thousands of Pins and over 45,000 people checking out the recipe last month alone. But sometimes I’d still like to indulge in comfort food, but don’t want it to weigh me down. That is why it was time to take the classic and lighten it up a little. And, as I said, a few extra veggies never hurt anyone.
What is Shepherd’s Pie?
Traditional shepherd’s pie is typically a casserole made with a mixture of minced meat, vegetables, and gravy topped with fluffy mashed potatoes. Shepherd’s pie with ground lamb is the most classic way to make the dish since a shepherd raises lambs.
However, since ground beef is typically more common and preferred in the United States, that is what I use in my Shepherd’s Pie. This is often called Cottage Pie as well.
The ground beef is browned and mixed with veggies (often some combination of carrots, pea, green beans, and corn) in a rich gravy. This is put into a ceramic or glass baking dish. Potatoes are boiled and mashed, often with butter or milk or yogurt. Cheddar cheese can be added if desired, and it is spread over the top of the meat mixture. Then it may be topped with more cheese, and it is baked until hot and browned on top.
Low Carb Shepherd’s Pie Recipe
A healthy Shepherd’s Pie with cauliflower mash instead of the usual mashed potatoes. This easy dinner recipe is total comfort food. But it is low carb and packs in the veggies. The ultimate family meal that is easy to make and will be devoured by everyone.
A few simple swaps and adjustments from my original recipe cuts the carbs from over 30 grams per serving to about 11 grams per serving.
- Cauliflower – steamed and mashed, this replaces the traditional potatoes.
- Greek yogurt – makes the mashed cauliflower creamy without excess liquid like milk.
- Egg – helps to bind the cauliflower mash so it isn’t too runny.
- Cheddar cheese
- Ground beef
- Mushrooms and green beans – a lower-carb blend of vegetables compared to the frozen mixed veggies consisting of carrots, peas, green beans, and corn in the original recipe. The mushrooms also add that umami flavor that may be lost from decreasing some of the other ingredients.
- Beef broth
- Tomato paste – reduced from the original recipe, and can even be cut further to make this dish truly keto-friendly.
- Worcestershire sauce – reduced from the original recipe, and can be replaced with coconut aminos to make this dish truly keto-friendly.
- Salt and pepper
What do you need to make Shepherd’s Pie?
Besides the list of ingredients above, there are a few other things that will make this recipe quick, easy, and absolutely perfect.
- Steamer basket or large pot with steamer insert – steaming is best for the cauliflower, as it will absorb too much moisture if you boil it, and then it will be too runny.
- Baking dish – you’ll need to bake it in a heatproof oven-safe glass or ceramic baking dish. I prefer to use a 1.5-quart ceramic casserole dish, as it fills it right to the top. You can use a larger oval dish or even a rectangular glass baking pan. Something in the 1.5-2.5 quart range will work the best.
- Food processor or blender – either will work for pureeing the cauliflower mash, but if you use a blender, I’d recommend one of the high-powered blenders. A regular blender usually needs more liquid in order to puree things smoothly, whereas you can get by with less in a high-powered blender. With either the food processor or blender, you’ll likely have to scrape down the sides a couple of times.
How do you make healthy Shepherd’s Pie?
Here is a brief overview to show you just how simple it is to make, but keep scrolling for all the details in the recipe card at the bottom of the post.
- Place cauliflower florets in a steamer basket over simmering water and steam until very tender.
- While the cauliflower cooks, in a skillet brown the ground beef with onion, garlic, salt, and pepper.
- Add mushrooms and green beans, and cook until tender.
- Stir in beef broth, tomato paste, and Worcestershire sauce (or coconut aminos) and simmer till thickened.
- While the beef simmer, transfer cauliflower to a food processor or blender and puree with Greek yogurt, egg, and cheddar cheese until smooth.
- Transfer the beef mixture to a 1.5 quart casserole dish, and top with the cauliflower mash and more cheddar cheese.
- Bake until hot, bubbly, and golden brown.
Does Shepherd’s Pie have cheese on top?
Some people put cheese on top of Shepherd’s Pie, while others don’t It is truly a personal preference, and neither right nor wrong either way. Personally, I’ll take any opportunity to enjoy more of my favorite Sharp Cheddar Cheese from Cabot Creamery Co-operative. I love that sharp bite against the smooth and creamy cauliflower and the savory beef mixture in this Low Carb Shepherd’s Pie Recipe.
Why do I love Cabot?
Cabot is a co-operative owned by farm families throughout New England and New York and 100% of profits go back to the farmers. They have been making high-quality dairy products since 1919, and with a 100-year history, you know their award-winning cheddars will make this and any recipe extra delicious. You can use your favorite Cabot cheese, from Vermont Sharp to the Legacy Collection Farmhouse Reserve. Whatever cheese you choose, you’ll taste Cabot’s commitment to making the best products in every bite.
Plus Cabot is dedicated to communities, the environment, and volunteers. Learn more about not only the products, but also their B Corporation certification and the Reward Volunteers program by following them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.
RECIPE PRO TIPS:
- After the cauliflower is steamed and tender, remove the steamer basket from the pan and let some of the excess moisture evaporate off of the cauliflower. This will keep the cauliflower mash from being too runny.
- I use frozen green beans to save time. You can use fresh, but you may want to steam them slightly before adding to the ground beef mixture.
- If you want to cut the carbs further and make this a truly keto-friendly dish, you can reduce the tomato paste to 1/4 cup. You’ll have to simmer a little longer to thicken the mixture, but it is still delicious.
- You can also swap the Worcestershire sauce for Coconut Aminos. This affects the taste slightly, so you might need to adjust the salt and pepper a bit.
- Place the casserole dish on a baking sheet to catch anything that may bubble over and avoid a mess in your oven.
- And if you are looking for other ways to eat healthy shepherd’s pie, you could spoon the mixture into individual ramekins like these mini shepherd’s pies. Or use this low carb recipe in Shepherd’s Pie Stuffed Peppers.
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What are more cheesy low carb dinner recipes?
- Cheesy Broccoli Cauliflower Soup
- Skillet Chicken Enchiladas with Cauliflower Rice
- Bacon Cheeseburger Crustless Quiche
- Broccoli Cheese Egg Muffins with Ham
What do you serve with Cauliflower Shepherd’s Pie?
This shepherd’s pie recipe is satisfying enough to be a meal on its own. However, if you would like to serve something with it, you have a number of low carb options.
- Spinach Artichoke Cheesy Cauliflower Breadsticks are a keto-friendly alternative to bread.
- Healthy Ranch Dressing made with Greek yogurt and a salad or some veggies for dipping is a great way to start your meal or serve on the side.
- Balsamic Roasted Vegetables or another simple roast veggies recipe is a simple addition to dinner.
- Low Carb Strawberry Cheesecake Parfaits would be lovely for dessert.
Low Carb Shepherd’s Pie Recipe
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Low Carb Shepherd's Pie with Cauliflower Mash
- 1 head cauliflower (about 2-3 pounds), roughly cut into florets (about 4 cups)
- 1 1/3 pound ground beef
- 1/2 medium onion chopped (roughly 1/2 cup)
- 1 garlic clove, crushed or minced
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 8 oz. white mushrooms, halved and sliced about 1/4-inch thick
- 1 cup frozen cut green beans
- 1 cup beef broth
- 1/2 cup tomato paste (can be reduced to 1/4 cup to make it keto-friendly)
- 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce or Coconut Aminos
- 1/4 cup Greek yogurt or sour cream
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup shredded Cabot Cheddar Cheese (recommended: Extra Sharp or Seriously Sharp), divided
- Preheat your oven to 350°F and coat a 1.5 quart casserole dish with cooking spray.
- Place a steamer basket in a large pot over simmering water. Add the cauliflower florets and stem for 12-15 minutes, until very tender.
- While the cauliflower is cooking, heat a skillet over medium heat.
- Add the ground beef, onion, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper to the skillet and cook, breaking up the meat, until it is browned. Drain any excess grease.
- Add the mushrooms and green beans, and saute for about 5 minutes until the mushrooms are tender.
- Stir in the beef broth tomato paste, and Worcestershire sauce. 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, remove the cauliflower from the pot and allow some of the excess moisture to evaporate.
- Transfer cauliflower to a food processor or blender. Add Greek yogurt, egg, ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese, and 1 teaspoon salt to the potatoes. Blend or puree until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides if needed.
- Add the meat mixture to the prepared casserole dish, then top with the mashed cauliflower and remaining cheese.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until heated through, and cheese is slightly browned.