piece of ground beef shepherd's pie on a plate topped with chopped fresh parsley

RECIPE FOR GROUND BEEF SHEPHERD’S PIE

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This Recipe for Ground Beef Shepherd’s Pie is a delicious twist on a classic dish. It’s the ultimate comfort food, super easy to make, and perfect for feeding large crowds!

Shepherd’s pie can sometimes be a controversial topic as I know some people get all up in arms when it’s made with minced beef instead of minced lamb. The age old question of whether it should be called shepherd’s pie or cottage pie always comes up.

I’m not gonna lie though – I’ve always referred to it as shepherd’s pie regardless of the kind of meat used. I had never even heard of the term cottage pie for over half my life. One thing is for certain though – no matter what you want to call it, I’m sure we can all agree that it’s damn delicious!

shepherd's pie in a casserole dish garnished with fresh chopped parsley

I love shepherd’s pie for so many reasons! You’re really getting the best of both worlds, especially If you’re a meat and potatoes kinda person. You can change it up and make it your own by customizing the topping – using different cheeses, herbs, or even subbing cauliflower for potatoes. The options are endless!

Think of it as a hearty casserole dish that delivers on both taste and comfort. Something you can prep in advance then stick into the oven when you’re ready. A dish you can stock up the freezer with to pull out on nights you really don’t feel like cooking but still want to get something delicious on the table. Something that’ll feed and satisfy everyone all at the same time. I know that’s music to my ears when it comes to dinner time.

I mean, what could be better?!

So, whether you’re cooking for a crowd or just craving a cozy night in, shepherd’s pie is the ultimate crowd pleaser and a go to comfort food for any occasion. I just know you’ll love eating it as much as you love making it!

INGREDIENTS YOU’LL NEED TO MAKE THIS RECIPE FOR GROUND BEEF SHEPHERD’S PIE

ingredients for recipe for ground beef shepherd's pie - ground beef, potatoes, beef broth, oil, milk, butter, cheddar, garlic, veggies, salt, pepper, tomato paste, onions, worcestershire sauce
Complete list of ingredients and amounts can be found in the recipe card below.

Simple ingredients work together to create a delicious and comforting shepherd’s pie with a flavourful ground beef filling and creamy mashed potato topping. Let’s discuss each one in a little bit more detail down below:

FOR THE FILLING

  • Ground Beef: This is the primary protein component of this particular version. Ground beef adds rich flavour and texture to the filling. However, you can go ahead and sub any kind of ground meat you want. While lamb is traditional, ground chicken, turkey, or pork also make delicious options.

  • Onions and Garlic: These aromatics add depth of flavour to the dish. Onions provide sweetness, while garlic adds a pungent and savoury element. Fresh onions and garlic (and not the powders) work best in this recipe.

  • Frozen Veggies: I love using a bag of mixed frozen veggies for this recipe for ground beef shepherd’s pie. It’s quick and convenient and IMHO has the perfect blend of veggies – carrots, peas, corn, and string beans. Veggies contribute sweetness and vibrant colour to the dish. They also add a bit of texture and nutritional value.

  • Tomato Paste: Adds richness, depth, and a hint of acidity to the filling. It helps enhance the savoury flavours of the beef.

  • Beef Broth: Serves as the liquid base of the filling, adding moisture and flavour. It helps create a delicious gravy-like consistency.

  • Worcestershire Sauce: This savoury condiment adds depth of flavour and umami to the filling. It complements the beef and enhances its richness.

  • Salt and Pepper: Essential for enhancing the flavours of the dish. Balances the sweetness of the vegetables and richness of the beef.

  • Oil: Used for cooking the onions, garlic, carrots, and beef. It adds extra flavour, richness and helps prevent sticking. I used extra virgin olive oil in this recipe for ground beef shepherd’s pie. However, you can use a different oil (such as avocado) instead, if you prefer.

FOR THE TOPPING

In this recipe for ground beef shepherd’s pie, I use my simple but delicious mashed potato recipe for the creamy topping. All you need are 5 simple ingredients (and that’s if you’re counting salt and pepper!) Let’s discuss the exact ingredients you’ll need to make the perfect mashed potato topping in a little bit more detail down below:

  • Potatoes: Use either russet or yukon gold potatoes for the best and tastiest results. These starchy potatoes are ideal for making creamy mashed potatoes. Russet potatoes are fluffy and absorbent, while Yukon Gold potatoes have a naturally buttery flavour and smooth texture.

  • Butter: Adds richness, creaminess, and flavour to the mashed potatoes. It helps create a velvety texture and enhances their overall taste.

  • Whole Milk or Heavy Cream: Makes the mashed potatoes creamy and smooth. Whole milk adds richness, while heavy cream results in an even creamier texture.

  • Salt and Pepper: Crucial for flavouring the mashed potatoes. Salt enhances their taste, while pepper adds a subtle kick.

  • Cheddar Cheese: Optional but adds a layer of cheesy deliciousness to the mashed potatoes. Cheddar cheese also adds a vibrant pop of colour to the final dish. However, feel free to use a different kind of cheese (such as mozzarella) instead, if you prefer. Either way, cheese that you grate yourself will give you the freshest and cheesiest results.

  • Parsley: Optional but adds a herby touch of freshness and a vibrant pop of colour to the final dish. Therefore, fresh chopped parsley works best in this recipe.
ground beef shepherd's pie on a plate

HOW TO MAKE SHEPHERD’S PIE WITH GROUND BEEF (KEY TIPS)

forkful of shepherd's pie over a plate with more

You can find full instructions for how to make this recipe for ground beef shepherd’s pie in the recipe card down below, but here are a few quick tips to keep in mind:

  • Choose quality ingredients. Opt for fresh, high quality ingredients, including fresh vegetables, good-quality ground beef, and flavourful beef broth.

  • Make sure to brown the ground beef properly before adding other ingredients. Browning adds flavour and helps develop a rich base for the filling. EXTRA TIP: Be sure to drain excess fat after browning if desired. And use the same pot (without washing) to continue on with the recipe after you finish the searing. This helps keep all those flavours and juices locked in.

  • Don’t skimp on seasoning. Taste the filling before assembling the pie and adjust the seasoning as needed with salt, pepper, and any other desired herbs or spices to ensure a flavourful dish.

  • Simmer the beef and pay attention to the consistency of filling. Aim for a thick and flavourful filling. Simmering the beef mixture allows the flavours to meld and intensify while also reducing excess moisture, resulting in a more cohesive filling that won’t make the pie soggy.

  • Evenly spread layers. When assembling the shepherd’s pie, spread each layer evenly in the baking dish. This ensures that every bite has a balanced combination of meat, vegetables, and mashed potatoes.

  • Creamy mashed potatoes. For creamy mashed potatoes, use Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes and mash them while they’re still warm. Adding butter and milk gradually helps achieve a smooth and creamy texture. Season the mashed potatoes well with salt and pepper for maximum flavour.

  • If you’re team cheese, use cheese that you grate yourself for best and cheesiest results. Pre-packaged grated cheese from the grocery store tends to contain anti-caking agents which prevents it from melting properly in the oven.

  • Cover with foil. If you’re adding cheese to the top of the shepherd’s pie, cover it with foil before baking. This prevents the cheese from burning or becoming overly crispy while allowing the filling to cook evenly.

  • Let it rest. Allow the shepherd’s pie to rest for a few minutes after baking before serving. This allows the flavours to meld together and makes it easier to cut and serve. EXTRA TIP: Garnish with fresh chopped parsley for a vibrant pop of colour!
piece of shepherd's pie on a plate with a fork
FAQ

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

WHAT IS TRADITIONAL SHEPHERD’S PIE MADE OF?

Traditional shepherd’s pie, also known as cottage pie, is a classic British dish made with minced or ground meat, typically lamb in the traditional version, hence the name “shepherd’s” pie. However, variations using beef, such as this one, are also common.

Onions and garlic are commonly used to add flavour to the meat filling. They are sautéed until softened before adding the meat. Carrots and peas are classic vegetable additions to shepherd’s pie. These vegetables are typically mixed into the meat filling, adding both flavour and texture. A small amount of broth or stock is often added to the meat mixture to keep it moist and flavourful. Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, and a combination of herbs such as thyme, rosemary, and parsley are often used to season the meat filling, giving it depth of flavour.

The top layer of shepherd’s pie is traditionally covered with a thick layer of mashed potatoes. The mashed potatoes can be seasoned with butter, milk or cream, and salt and pepper to taste.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A SHEPHERD’S PIE AND A COTTAGE PIE?

The primary difference between shepherd’s pie and cottage pie lies in the type of meat used in the filling. Shepherd’s pie traditionally uses minced or ground lamb, while cottage pie uses minced or ground beef.

This distinction originates from the traditional roles of shepherds and farmers in the United Kingdom, with shepherds tending to sheep (hence the use of lamb in their pie) and farmers raising cattle (hence the use of beef in their pie). Beyond the meat variation, the two pies typically share similar ingredients and cooking methods.

HOW DO YOU KEEP SHEPHERD’S PIE FROM FALLING APART?

To keep shepherd’s pie from falling apart, it’s essential to ensure that the filling has the right consistency and that the mashed potato topping is adequately prepared. Start by making sure the filling is thick and well-bound. Simmering the meat mixture until it thickens helps to reduce excess moisture, preventing the filling from being too runny.

Additionally, make sure to properly drain any excess fat from the cooked ground beef to avoid excess greasiness. When assembling the pie, spread the meat filling evenly in the baking dish, creating a solid base.

Then, gently spread the mashed potatoes over the filling in an even layer. Using a spatula or the back of a spoon can help create a smooth and level surface. Be sure to cover the entire filling with mashed potatoes, sealing the edges to prevent any gaps where the filling might leak out during baking. Finally, allow the shepherd’s pie to cool slightly after baking before serving.

This resting period allows the filling to set, making it easier to slice and serve without falling apart. With these steps, you can enjoy a shepherd’s pie that holds together beautifully with each serving.

WHY IS MY SHEPHERD’S PIE SOGGY?

Several factors could contribute to a shepherd’s pie turning out soggy. One common reason is excess moisture in the filling. This can occur if the vegetables release too much water during cooking or if the meat mixture is too thin. To prevent this, ensure that the vegetables are cooked until they’re just tender and that any excess liquid is drained before assembling the pie. Additionally, simmering the meat mixture until it thickens can help reduce excess moisture.

Another potential reason for a soggy shepherd’s pie is insufficient thickness in the mashed potato topping. If the mashed potatoes are too thin or watery, they may not provide enough structure to support the filling. Aim for a thick and creamy mashed potato layer, and consider adding an egg yolk or grated cheese to help bind the potatoes together.

Finally, allowing the shepherd’s pie to cool slightly before serving can help firm up the filling and prevent it from being overly runny. By addressing these factors, you can achieve a shepherd’s pie with a perfectly balanced texture—creamy mashed potatoes atop a flavourful, hearty filling.

HOW TO STORE LEFTOVER SHEPHERD’S PIE?

To store leftover shepherd’s pie, first, ensure it has cooled completely at room temperature. Transfer any remaining portions into an airtight container or cover the baking dish tightly with foil or plastic wrap. Refrigerate the shepherd’s pie promptly, and it will typically stay fresh for up to 3 to 4 days in the fridge.

When ready to reheat, you can warm individual servings in the microwave or reheat the whole dish in the oven until heated through.

ground beef shepherd's pie on a plate

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piece of ground beef shepherd's pie on a plate topped with chopped fresh parsley

RECIPE FOR GROUND BEEF SHEPHERD'S PIE

Yield: 6 Servings

This Recipe for Ground Beef Shepherd's Pie is a delicious twist on a classic dish. It's the ultimate comfort food, super easy to make and perfect for feeding large crowds!

Ingredients

FOR THE FILLING

  • 1 pound Ground Beef
  • 1 Onion, diced
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 1/4 cups Frozen Mixed Veggies (carrots, peas, corn, green beans)
  • 2 tbsp Tomato Paste
  • 1 cup Beef Broth
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil

FOR THE TOPPING

  • 2 lbs Russet or Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 4 tbsp Unsalted Butter
  • 1/2 cup Whole Milk or Heavy Cream
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup Cheddar Cheese, shredded, optional
  • Fresh Chopped Parsley, for garnish, optional

Instructions

  1. Make the mashed potato topping: Place the potato chunks and a generous pinch of salt in a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer the potatoes until they are fork-tender, about 15-20 minutes. Drain and return them to the pot. Add the butter to the pot and let it melt over low heat. Mash the potatoes and butter together using a potato masher until smooth. Gradually add the milk or heavy cream to the mashed potatoes, stirring continuously, until you reach your desired creamy consistency. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
    mashed potatoes in a pot with a rubber spatula
  2. Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).
  3. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the diced onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
    diced onion cooking in a wok
  4. Add the minced garlic and ground beef to the skillet. Cook until the beef is browned, breaking it apart with a spoon as it cooks.
    diced onions, minced garlic and raw ground beef cooking in a wok
    cooked ground beef with garlic and onions in a wok
  5. Stir in the tomato paste, beef broth, Worcestershire sauce, frozen veggies, salt and pepper. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, until the mixture has thickened slightly.
    frozen veg on top of cooked ground beef and broth in a wok
  6. Transfer the beef mixture to a greased 9x13 inch baking dish, spreading it out evenly.
    browned ground beef, onions and mixed veg in a casserole dish
  7. Spread the mashed potatoes over the beef mixture, smoothing it out with a spatula. If desired, sprinkle the shredded cheddar cheese over the mashed potatoes.
    casserole dish with mashed potatoes
    casserole dish with mashed potatoes and shredded (unmelted) cheddar cheese
  8. Place the baking dish in the preheated oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the mashed potatoes are golden brown and the filling is bubbling around the edges. Remove from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes before serving. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley, if desired.
    casserole dish with potatoes topped with cooked cheddar cheese
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 566Total Fat: 31gSaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 105mgSodium: 477mgCarbohydrates: 43gFiber: 6gSugar: 6gProtein: 29g

Nutrition is only an estimate and calculated using Nutritionix.

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