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A classic comfort food dish is even more fun to eat when you flip that casserole upside-down and make Shepherd’s Pie Loaded Fries. One of the best recipes using frozen French fries and ground beef, this is an easy 30-minute meal that the family is sure to love!
Shepherd’s Pie Loaded Fries – Easy Dinner with Frozen French Fries!
As a busy mom with two busy kids, I rely on having a repertoire of quick and easy dinner recipes. I do like to focus on fresh ingredients and naturally gluten free food, I know that life happens. But sometimes we have to take a shortcut or just have some fun!
When you don’t have time time to peel and mash potatoes try this fast Shepherd’s Pie alternative. Just the rich and meaty beef and veggie filling that is normally under a cap of fluffy mashed potatoes and turn it into a French fries topping. The family is going to love it!
This entire meal is made with just 9 ingredients. And they are all so basic that you might keep them in your pantry and fridge at all times. I know I do. So here is a quick overview of what you’ll need, with the full amounts in the recipe card at the bottom of the post.
- French fries. You can use frozen or homemade. Crinkle-cut fries, steak fries, or another thicker French fry will work the best.
- Ground beef. I like to use 90% lean, but you can use what you prefer. Just be sure to drain the grease so the mixture isn’t oily.
- Beef broth. From a box or can is fine.
- Tomato paste.
- Worcestershire sauce. Make sure your brand is gluten free, if needed. In the United States, Lea & Perrins is a safe option at the time of writing this. You can omit it, but it adds depth of flavor.
- Frozen mixed vegetables. Try a mixture that has carrots, peas, corn, and green beans, like the one from Costco.
- Cheddar cheese. It’s your choice whether you use yellow or white cheddar.
How to Make Shepherd’s Pie Loaded Fries
This easy recipe is ready in about 30 minutes. While the frozen French fries are baking in the oven, you can prepare the easy ground beef topping. Let’s get started.
Make the beef mixture. Brown the beef with onion and garlic, then drain any excess grease. Stir in the tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, and beef broth, followed by the frozen vegetables. Bring it to a simmer and cook until thickened slightly while the fries finish baking.
Top the French fries. When the fries are done, you can either leave them on the baking sheet, or transfer them to a cast-iron skillet or a smaller baking dish. Pour the meat mixture over the fries and top with shredded cheese.
Melt the cheese. Pop the loaded French fries back in the oven or under the broiler for a few minutes until the cheese is melted. Then dig in!
Tips for Success
Choose your fries. The easiest way to make this is to use frozen French fries, but you can also make your own oven fries or air fryer French fries. make your own. Crinkle-cut fries or another thick shape, such as steak fries, will work best. If you are gluten free, read the labels to choose a gluten free brand, such as Ore-Ida.
Change the meat. Because this recipe uses ground beef, some people would say that it is technically a variation of cottage pie, but you can definitely replace the beef with ground lamb. You can also lighten it up with lean ground turkey.
Double the meat mixture. If you double the ground beef mixture, you can freeze half of it to use later to make a classic Shepherd’s Pie or any of these variations:
Storing and Reheating Leftovers
The leftvoer loaded French fries will keep in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days. You can wrap the leftovers in the skillet tightly with plastic wrap so you can just pop it back in the oven to reheat. Or you can transfer them to an airtight container, then just warm individual servings on a plate in the microwave. Do note that the French fries may lose some of their crsipiness, which is also why I would not recommend freezing leftovers.
However, as I mentioned, you can freeze just the filling for up to two months if you want to double the batch or meal prep and make it ahead of time.
Make it a Meal
While this is a full meal, maybe you want to drizzle it with some Ketchup or add some additional veggies. Try some of these family-friendly vegetable side dishes.
- Keep it Irish-inspired. Brussels Sprouts and Bacon Cauliflower Colcannon is a veggie-fied version of an Irish classic, and classic Honey Roasted Carrots are a simple option.
- Use your air fryer. While the fries are in the oven, you can prepare easy sides like Air Fryer Brussels Sprouts or Air Fryer Butternut Squash.
- Toss a salad. Then drizzle on some Creamy Maple Dijon Dressing or Hot Bacon Dressing.
Things You’ll Need
SHEET PANS: The baking sheets from Nordicware are sturdy, easy to clean, and versatile. It’s worth having several of these in your kitchen for baking cookies, roasting veggies, or just baking frozen fries.
STAINLESS STEEL SAUTE PAN: Another piece of cookware that is easy to clean, you’ll find food doesn’t stick, the high sides give it a large capacity, and the heat distributes evenly. It’s an investment that will pay off.
CAST IRON SKILLET: This will be a workhorse in your kitchen because it can go from to stovetop to the oven, and allows you to sear over super high heat. Every home should have at least one.
Shepherd’s Pie Loaded Fries
- 1 32 oz. package frozen Crinkle Cut French Fries
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- ½ medium onion, chopped (roughly ½ cup)
- 1 garlic clove, crushed or minced
- ¾ cup tomato paste (one 6-ounce can)
- ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
- 1 cup beef broth
- 4 cups frozen mixed vegetables (or about two 10 oz. packages)
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (about 4 oz.)
- Preheat oven to 400°F and prepare fries according to package instructions.
- While the fries are baking, heat a skillet over medium heat, add the ground beef, onion, garlic, and a pinch of salt and pepper 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 the vegetables, bring to a simmer, and cook until thickened slightly. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Transfer the fries to an oven-proof baking dish or skillet (I used a cast iron skillet, but you can use a glass or ceramic baking dish).
- Top with the meat mixture and shredded cheese and return to oven for about 5 minutes, or place under the broiler for 2 or 3 minutes, or until cheese is melted and lightly browned.