The best Shepherd’s pie recipe! This traditional British dish is family comfort food at its best, and super easy to make at home.
This classic British Shepherd's pie is super easy to put together with minimum effort.
Simple ingredients like lamb, potatoes, veggies, and fresh herbs combine to make an all-time favorite family meal recipe.
The real star of this dish is the meat, which is slowly cooked with loads of fresh aromatic herbs such as thyme and bay leaves, a few spices, and fresh vegetables.
The potato mash is fluffy, rich, and slightly golden on top, with a fantastic crunchy & soft texture at the same time.
British Shepherd's Pie is the ultimate comfort food, and it's a fantastic weeknight meal option over the colder months.
But you can also turn it into a fancy appetizer for a holiday dinner, and make individual mini pies to serve at your Christmas dinner party or any other special occasion.
Remember, Shepherd's pie is a great dish to make ahead of time and store in the freezer for the future, so check out my freezing tips below.
SHEPHERD'S PIE ORIGIN
Cheap and humble, Shepherd’s pie is an icon of British and Irish cuisine, and it has been around since the late 18th century.
Shepherd's pie is believed to originate from Ireland and the northern parts of England, it was a very cheap dish peasant housewives invented using leftovers from the Sunday roast to avoid food wastage.
The meat was slowly simmered in an onion gravy with vegetables such as carrots, celery, and peas, and then topped with mashed potatoes as a crust.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SHEPHERD'S PIE AND COTTAGE PIE
The only difference between Shepherd's pie and Cottage pie is the meat.
Cottage pie calls for minced lean ground beef as the main ingredient.
Shepherd's pie, on the other hand, uses only ground lamb meat, which gives an extra rich flavor to the pie.
The secret behind the best Shepherd's pie is to choose the best ingredients you can find, this will really make the difference.
- Lamb mince: use ground lamb meat or small soft chunks of meat from the shoulder or from the shank.
- Veggies: carrots, celery, and onion are the base of the meat filling.
- Worcestershire sauce: adds a wonderfully distinctive flavor, don't skip it.
- Thyme and rosemary: fresh herbs provide an extra layer of flavor.
- Tomato paste: substitute with the same amount of pureed tomatoes if necessary.
- Wine: white wine or red wine is fine, you can also substitute it with extra stock.
- Stock: use vegetable, chicken or meat stock, preferably homemade.
- Mashed potatoes: make your own potato mash (better option) or use store-bought.
Veggies: add frozen peas for an extra veggie boost. Mushrooms, corn, leek, and sweet potato chunks, work great too.
HOW TO MAKE SHEPHERD'S PIE
Making this British classic recipe is super easy, doesn't require any particular equipment, and the filling comes together all in one pot.
I use an oven-friendly skillet, but you can use a regular skillet, then transfer the filling to a baking dish before the pie hits the oven.
STEP 1. Saute the carrot, onion, and celery in olive oil. Cook them until softened, then transfer them into a bowl.
STEP 2. Return the skillet (or pot) to heat, add the minced lamb and stir-fry for a few minutes. Pour the wine in and let it evaporate.
STEP 3. Return the veggies to the pan with the meat, and add fresh herbs, tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce. Stir-fry for a couple of minutes.
STEP 4. Pour the stock in, and bring it to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat, and cook over low heat for 30 minutes.
STEP 5. Remove the skillet from the heat, top the meat with mashed potatoes.
Cooking tip: Boil your potatoes while you’re busy with the meat filling. They cook for 15 minutes. Then mash them, and they're ready for the topping.
STEP 6. Bake for 10-15 minutes, then place it under the grill for a further 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve.
Store leftovers in an airtight container, and keep them in the fridge for up to 2 days.
Then transfer into an oven-friendly dish, cover with foil and reheat in a warm oven to 150 C/300 F, until warmed through.
Alternatively, leave it in the skillet and simply cover the dish with foil and refrigerate until needed- this makes reheating the dish so much easier.
Keep the pie covered with foil and warm it up in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until it’s heated all the way through.
Transfer your leftovers in an airtight container and keep them in the freezer for up to 1 month. Let it thaw in the fridge the night before, then transfer in an oven-friendly dish, warm it in a preheated oven to 150C/300F until warmed through.
You can also freeze unbaked Shepherd's pie.
I make the pie in Pyrex containers (glass ovenware, that allows you to move from freezer to oven and oven to freezer safely).
Make sure the pie is completely cold, then cover it well with cling film or with an airtight lid and freeze.
Freeze the pie on the day that you make it.
Defrost in the fridge overnight, then cook as per the recipe.
Alternatively, you can cook it from frozen. Heat the oven to 180C/360F cover the pie with foil, and cook for 1½ hrs.
DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?
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Looking at your pictures always makes me smile *and super hungry*!
The Best Shepherd's Pie
- 2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 carrot, finely cubed
- 1 celery stalk, finely cubed
- 1 golden onion, finely cubed
- 500 g lamb mince
- 60 ml white or red wine
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 sprigs of thyme
- 2 sprigs of rosemary
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 450 ml vegetable stock, or chicken broth
- sea salt and black pepper, to taste
For the mashed potatoes:
- 800 g Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes
- 60 g softened butter
- 60 ml fresh whole milk
- sea salt and black pepper
- Heat a medium (26 cm/10-inch large) oven-friendly skillet with 2 tablespoons of olive oil over low heat. Add in the carrot, celery and onion and cook, stirring often for about 5 minutes, until the veggies have softened. Then tranfer the vegetables into a bowl until needed.
- Return the pot to medium heat, add in the lamb mince and cook, stirring often, until it's browned, pour in the wine and let it evaporate. Then scoop out with a spoon any excess fat.
- Add back in the veggies, then add the Worcestershire sauce, followed by the tomato paste, thyme and rosemary sprigs, and cook, stirring all the ingredients together, for a further 2 minutes.
- Pour the stock into the pot, bring to a gentle boil and simmer, covering the pot with a lid, for 20 minutes. Remove the lid and continue to cook for a further 10 minutes. Discard the thyme sprigs and season with sea salt and freshly-cracked black pepper to taste.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180 C/ fan 160 C/ gas 4.
- Remove the skillet from the heat, and top the meat with prepared mashed potatoes (see method below), then raffle the top with a fork. Alternatively, transfer the mashed potatoes into a piping bag and pipe on top of the meat.
- Transfer the skillet into the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes, then place under the grill for a further 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow the Shepherd's Pie to rest for 5 minutes before serving.
For the mashed potatoes:
- Place the potatoes in a large pot, cover with cold water and add 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil, uncover and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender and cooked through.
- Once the potatoes are ready, drain in a colander and peel whilst still hot. In the meantime, warm up your milk.
- Place the potatoes in a large bowl, add in softened butter and mash with the help of a potato masher.
- Slowly pour the warmed milk in, and continue to mash the potatoes until reaching the desired texture. Season with salt and pepper to taste and a pinch of nutmeg if you like.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.