There is no way to describe Shepherd's Pie other than pure comfort food. This homey casserole has a base of ground beef and veggies in a savory sauce, topped with creamy mashed potatoes. It's made on the stove but ends up in the oven for a crispy finish.
Is it Beef Shepherd's Pie or Cottage Pie?
Growing up in New England, Shepherd's Pie meant one and one thing only: a ground beef casserole. It wasn't until I was in my adult years that I discovered Shepherd's Pie is actually a dish that originated over the pond, and typically includes ground lamb (hence the mention of the shepherd in the title). As it turns out, cottage pie--a similar casserole made with ground beef-- is technically what I had growing up, though my parent's called it "Shepard's Pie".
I was so torn whether or not I should title this recipe as I had always known it. Well, it turns out there is a rift in the recipe development community as to what exactly is the correct title! With that being said, I'm pushing forward with what I've always known this dish to be.
This homey beef casserole is hearty and warm and surely takes the trophy for ultimate comfort food. The correct title aside, this dish is a winner for most everyone and should definitely be on your weekly winter dinner rotation.
Shepherd Pie Ingredients
Here is an overview of the ingredients needed for this recipe. The full recipe is listed below in greater detail.
- ground beef (you can also use ground lamb here)
- veggies: mushrooms, onions, carrots and peas
- yukon gold potatoes
- potato starch or cornstarch
- tomato paste
- worcestershire sauce
- dried thyme
- beef broth
- salt and pepper
Making Shepherd's Pie
This dish has 3 steps to complete, but they aren't difficult or time-consuming. Some can even be done ahead of time. You can make the entire dish up to the point of baking, up to 3 days ahead of time. Or, you can make the two different components ahead of time.
- Step 1: Make Mashed Potatoes (You want the potatoes to be creamy enough to be delicious, but not so thin that they fall apart when scooped.)
- Step 2: Make Beef Filling (This is a simple beef, mushroom and veggie filling that is savory and comforting)
- Step 3: Assemble and Bake (Combine the two components and bake!)
What to Bake It In
You can make the beef filling in an oven-safe skillet, such as an 8" cast-iron skillet, and assemble and bake the dish directly in that skillet. One less dish to wash, after all!
Or you can choose another 8" oven-safe baking dish. I love this cast-iron pie dish for my pot pies or casseroles.
Freezing and Make Ahead Instructions
The good news here is that Shepherd's Pie keeps and freezes really well. The recipe as written makes enough for a family, serving roughly 4-6 portions. This recipe can be doubled if you wish to make enough for now and some for later.
To do so, you can either increase the size of the pan it is made in, or make it in two. This recipe can be made inside of a medium cast iron skillet or baking dish, about 8-10" inches. To double the portions it can be made in a 12" cast iron skillet.
Alternatively, you can assemble and bake it in an oven safe dish. For a single batch, bake in an 8" baking dish or for a double batch bake in a 9" x 13" dish.
If you want to freeze this meal, I recommend assembling and baking it in a disposable aluminum foil container. Let the casserole cool completely before freezing. Wrap well with one tight layer of plastic wrap and a layer of aluminum foil.
More dinner recipes:
- Chicken Pot Pie
- Beef Taco Pie with Masa Crust
- Fresh Corn Pie
- Broccoli Cheddar Quiche
- Butternut Squash, Caramelized Onion and Feta Pie
I am so honored when you make a recipe from my site! If you make this Shepherd's Pie, please leave a comment and a star rating with your experience! If you have any questions about this recipe, feel free to comment here, too!Print
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