Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherd's Pie | #recipe #StPatricksDay

While I love putting my creativity to work when St. Patrick’s Day rolls around, and try to whip up some fabulous green-hued, minty, and spiked concoctions for the festivities, I really love spending time reading about and trying traditional Irish foods. Shepherd’s pie has been at the top of my to-try list for quite awhile now, and my interest spiked when I saw a version listed as the “best ever” in my Country Cooking of Ireland cookbook. How can you argue with best-ever? More to the point, how can you argue with anything that’s topped with mashed potatoes?

Shepherd's Pie | #recipe #StPatricksDay

Historically, shepherd’s pie (or cottage pie, as it is also sometimes referred), was any type of dish that used leftover roasted meat and was topped with mashed potatoes. A lot of versions use something similar to stew as the filling, while others use a ground meat of some sort. Almost all recipes call for either beef or lamb; since my Chief Culinary Consultant is a huge lamb lover, and that’s what the “best ever” recipe called for, I thought it would be a winner at our house. And it was, indeed.

A simple mixture of ground lamb and finely diced onions and carrots are simmered together with tomato paste, Dijon mustard and a beef or chicken stock, then topped with my favorite mashed potatoes, and baked until golden brown. If you prefer beef over lamb, I think you could make that substitution without an issue. This is comfort food at its finest, and it’s perfect for this still-brisk time of year.

Shepherd's Pie | #recipe #StPatricksDay

Do you have a favorite traditional Irish dish? I’d love to try more!

One year ago: Guinness Beef Stew and Grasshopper Pie
Two years ago: Guinness Chocolate Cake with Baileys Irish Cream Cheese Frosting and Grasshopper Mint Chocolate Bark
Three years ago: Guinness, Whiskey and Irish Cream Cupcakes
Five years ago: Sour Cream Coffee Cake

Shepherd's Pie

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes

An easy, traditional shepherd's pie recipe made of ground lamb and topped with mashed potatoes.


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large sweet onion, finely chopped
1½ carrots, finely chopped
1½ pounds ground lamb
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 cup beef, lamb or chicken stock, warmed
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 recipe Perfect Mashed Potatoes (or 4 cups prepared mashed potatoes)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and carrots and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until soft but not browned.

3. Increase the heat to high, add the lamb, and cook until it is well-browned. Stir in the tomato paste and mustard, then add the stock. Reduce the heat to low, season with salt and pepper, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the stock is mostly (but not completely) evaporated.

4. Transfer the meat mixture to a 1½-quart casserole dish. Cover with the mashed potatoes. Brush the top of the mashed potatoes with the melted butter. Bake for 50 minutes, or until evenly browned on top. Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.


38 Responses to “Shepherd’s Pie”

  1. Marla on March 13, 2014 at 12:27 am

    What kind of stock did you use with lamb? Looks delicious!


    • Michelle on March 13th, 2014 at 11:06 am

      Hi Marla, I used chicken stock since I had exactly 1 cup leftover from a carton πŸ™‚


  2. The Macadame on March 13, 2014 at 6:08 am

    Love this recipe and that you’ve used lamb! MMMMMMM
    The Macadame. xx


  3. Candace @ Cabot on March 13, 2014 at 6:13 am

    In Maine, it’s the perfect time of year for Shepherd’s Pie. This recipe looks totally yummy!


  4. sam on March 13, 2014 at 6:16 am

    Hello and thank you for your interesting posts, varied recipes and interesting expressions of life and living. The photographs are wonderful as well. Living abroad, your site gives me snippets of ‘home’. Thanks.
    Your ‘Shepherds Pie’ post was most interesting to me this morning, as I heard an explanation at of the differences of Shepherd and Cottage pies just last night. It was new to me. The term Shepherd pie it seems is always used in relationship to lamb (sheep need a shepherd), while Cottage pie is used with other meats. Thank you for this ‘best’ recipe. Off to purchase lamb…..


  5. Jen on March 13, 2014 at 7:14 am

    Ah, this (and cottage pie; they get kind of mixed up) is one of those ultimate childhood comfort things if you’re a Brit I think – if I can suggest a couple of additions though? Try grated (sharp cheddar) cheese sprinkled on top of your mash rather than butter.
    And if you can find it, a dash or so of (Lea & Perrins) Worcestershire sauce added to the gravy (and peas. I love peas in there too) πŸ™‚


  6. Lori on March 13, 2014 at 7:24 am

    Shepherd’s pie is a favorite in our house. Thanks for posting this wonderful recipe.


  7. Tanya on March 13, 2014 at 7:58 am

    I love Sheppard’s Pie but unfortunately I am the only one in my house that does so I rarely make it. This looks very good. I am going to go for it and make sure I double my activity level for the week LOL


  8. nancy k on March 13, 2014 at 8:42 am

    This pie looks great. I love lamb but don’t cook with it very often. This is a good excuse for sure. On another note, there was a wondeful story on Good Morning America today about Golden Retreiver service dog. The 2 year old dog’s owner is a wounder soldier but as a puppy, the dog was pre-trained by another soldier who was suffering from PTSD. It was such a moving story about this dog and how he has bonded these two men together. I imagine you can pull it up on the GMA website. It is worth seeing…so sweet and the dog, Gabe, is so handsome and smart.


  9. Marcia on March 13, 2014 at 8:44 am

    One of my favorite comfort foods and it goes together so quickly. I’ve added a bag of frozen mixed vegetables to mine and it is always a hit. Can’t wait to see what’s next on your blog for us to drool over.


  10. amanda @ fake ginger on March 13, 2014 at 8:51 am

    Shepherd’s Pie is one of my favorites! It looks amazing!


  11. Katy on March 13, 2014 at 8:55 am

    Looks divine! I recently tried the Cook’s Illustrated version of shepherd’s pie and it was pretty spectacular, too (as all of their recipes are). I cheated and made a shepherd’s pie burger this past weekend — you might enjoy it πŸ™‚


  12. Chloe @ foodlikecake on March 13, 2014 at 9:22 am

    Shepherds pie sounds great and yours looks amazing!


  13. Michael R. on March 13, 2014 at 9:50 am

    Thanks for adding the mashed potato recipe – its usually an afterthought (plus yukon golds are my FAV). Good job, Michelle!


  14. Liz @ Tip Top Shape on March 13, 2014 at 9:59 am

    This looks delicious!!


  15. Cate @ Chez CateyLou on March 13, 2014 at 10:48 am

    I can’t argue with anything that is topped with mashed potatoes! This is pure comfort and looks so delicious!!


  16. Angie W. on March 13, 2014 at 10:48 am

    I’d love to try this with sweet potatoes on top! Yum!


  17. MΓ‘ire on March 13, 2014 at 10:58 am

    Delicious recipe and looks very simple too!


  18. Zainab @ Blahnik Baker on March 13, 2014 at 11:11 am

    Shepherd’s pie is always a favorite!! I love the golden brown top πŸ™‚


  19. Lynne on March 13, 2014 at 11:29 am

    My husband calls it “Chinese Pie” although our version includes a layer of corn. My family likes Shepherd’s pie, but I do not care for it, so we don’t have it very often (only if DS wants to make it when I am not going to be home for dinner πŸ™‚ I can’t see using lamb in this because it seems like the flavor of the lamb would be covered up with the tomato and mustard.


    • Michelle on March 13th, 2014 at 1:01 pm

      Hi Lynne, It’s such a small amount of tomato paste and Dijon, the lamb flavor TOTALLY comes through!


  20. Nicole on March 13, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    Oh, I love a good shepherds pie! Pure Comfort Food. This looks fantastic!


  21. Bridget on March 13, 2014 at 2:27 pm

    This similar to my mom’s recipe. Hers is a bit more bland, but she searves it with a savory homemade peach chuckney to keep it interesting.


  22. Laura @ Laura's Culinary Adventures on March 13, 2014 at 4:14 pm

    I haven’t had shepherds pie in forever! This looks like a great recipe! I like the fancy design in your mashed potatoes


  23. Alexis on March 13, 2014 at 6:04 pm

    LOVE that you used the lamb which is traditional (correct) ingredient, not ground beef or ground turkey which many American cooks seem to think is correct. It is “shepherd’s” pie – thus named as sheep were the livestock of choice! I get an even richer tasting pie by carmelizing the onion and celery after giving those a good really long “sweat”. More time consuming and just my taste, not everyone’s. Thank you for a wonderful fabulous blog I read every day!


  24. Alisha on March 13, 2014 at 7:40 pm

    Just curious, does anyone know where ground lamb rates on leanness? For example, ground bison and ground turkey are the leanest, everyone knows beef isn’t particularly lean, but I never did know about lamb.


    • Michelle on March 15th, 2014 at 10:38 am

      Hi Alisha, Lamb is not very lean. I don’t know what the % would be, but it does lean toward the fattier end of the spectrum.


  25. Lisa on March 14, 2014 at 6:46 am

    I enjoy your blog, your recipe looks very tasty. Great pictures


  26. Ozzy on March 16, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    We loved this recipe and it was so easy. Used ground turkey, so I guess it’s a cottage pie, also added about a 1/2 cup of Guinness. Spread about a cup of cheddar on top of mashed potatoes during last 5 min.


  27. Rebecca on March 18, 2014 at 6:39 am

    We just made this last night and my whole family LOVED it! We followed the recipe exact and couldn’t get enough… Will definitely be making again!


  28. Lisa on April 7, 2014 at 11:17 am

    Can you provide some kind of freezing instructions? Would it be best to completely cook before throwing in the freezer, or can I freeze, then bake to perfection? Our oven is down for the next three or so days, and I’m looking for things I can prepare now for when we do get it up and running. We have always been a fan of this, but I have never tried freezing for future baking.


    • Michelle on April 8th, 2014 at 10:49 am

      Hi Lisa, I would prepare it up until brushing the potatoes with butter. Wrap in plastic wrap, then foil and freeze. Brush on the melted butter, then bake. You will likely need to increase the baking time.


  29. Michelle on June 10, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    Made this last night, woke up giddy over leftovers, and counted the hours until I could justify lunchtime. I love finding recipes like that. Thanks!


  30. Kaylie on July 21, 2014 at 4:27 pm

    Where I’m from, we call this cottage pie!


  31. Claire on September 23, 2014 at 5:25 pm

    love the recipe


  32. Tina on November 7, 2014 at 7:31 pm

    This was great! The first time I made as-is but with ground beef, which was all I had. It was fairly bland.

    However, tonight I made it with ground lamb (Whole Foods), and added peas, Worcestershire, garlic and fresh basil. It was the best! As good as the taverns I have been to in Ireland!!!

    Thanks for this great comfort food πŸ™‚


  33. Domenica on February 22, 2015 at 4:38 am

    I made this yesterday using leftover leg of lamb I had roasted a few days earlier. I finely chopped up the lamb and then followed the recipe exactly. It came out great! I will make this again for sure as it was so fast and easy. The only thing is I couldn’t figure out how to make my potatoes look as good as yours lol!


  34. Jessie Allaway on October 18, 2016 at 4:09 pm

    To Candice and Kaylie – the clue is in the name – shepherds look after sheep, so if it doesn’t use lamb, it’s not shepherd’s pie!


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