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The Best Skillet Shepherd’s Pie

The ultimate comfort food for your family: Traditional Skillet Shepherd’s Pie – aka Cottage Pie made with ground beef (or lamb!). A hearty, delicious filling with a flavorful meat mixture under fluffy layer of mashed potatoes.

The best, simple, easy to make winter dinner — it is one part casserole, one pot meal, and one part meat pie. This recipe for traditional Shepherd’s pie is the perfect comfort food for a chilly day, or of course for St. Patrick’s day.

You can add a shortcut to this recipe by using leftover mashed potatoes, or making my Instant Pot mashers or use the mashed potato recipe included.

Skillet Shepherd's Pie with spoonful of meaty pie being scooped up.

What’s the Difference between Shepherd’s Pie & Cottage Pie?

Traditionally, Shepherd’s pie is always made with ground lamb (sheep-herder = shepherd), so a meat pie made with ground beef (like mine!) is actually a Cottage Pie, but here in the States we know them generically as Shepherd’s pie.

There are also variations on the spellings of Shepherd — Shepards and Sheppard’s pie are a couple; I am not here to debate which is right or wrong — just to provide you with an award winning ground beef pie recipe!

Just wanted to make that clear from the get go!

Top down shot of small skillet filled with Shepherd's pie topped with creamy mashed potatoes.

The Best Skillet Shepherd’s Pie

While we tend to think of and eat Shepherd’s pie around St. Patrick’s day, this is a staple dish in the UK all year long, so think beyond March 17th!

I like my meat pies, casseroles to be thick and hearty, not soupy, the flavors develop in this cast iron skillet shepherd’s pie while simmering on the stovetop, then cooking in the oven. It’s rich, thick, and loaded with flavor!

MEAT PIE KEY INGREDIENTS

Do not be intimidated by the list of ingredients, it all comes together rather quickly, so gather away:

Ingredient shot for Skillet Shepherd's Pie. L-R frozen corn, peas, beef broth, carrots, ground beef, oil, onions, flour, tomato paste, worcestershire sauce, parsley, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper, garlic (not shown).
  • YELLOW ONION | You could also use a sweet or white onion too!
  • LEAN GROUND BEEF | I use locally ranched, grass fed beef, use your favorite blend, mine was 80/20. Also try ground lamb, chicken or turkey
  • DRIED HERBS | parsley, rosemary and thyme
  • WORCESTERSHIRE SAUCE | gives ALL-THE-FLAVOR!
  • GARLIC | more punch of flavor
  • TOMATO PASTE & AP FLOUR | the paste adds depth and richness while thickening, along with the flour
  • BEEF BROTH | Use a good quality broth here, it finishes the intense flavors
  • PEAS & CARROTS | I could not find frozen peas and carrots, so I chopped some carrots and tossed them in with the onions, used fresh peas and tossed those in at the end.
  • FROZEN CORN KERNALS | fresh too if you have them!
Ingredient shot for Mashed Potatoes, L-R Half & Half, cubed potatoes, parmesan cheese, garlic powder, salt & pepper, butter.

MASHED POTATO INGREDIENTS

  • RUSSET POTATOES | You can use other potatoes, maybe yukon gold, but they are creamier and could be runnier as a topping.
  • BUTTER | Yes, the real deal!
  • HALF & HALF | If you don’t have, you can use whole milk or other milk.
  • GARLIC POWDER | Flavor enhancer!
  • PARMESAN CHEESE | More flavor!
  • IRISH SHARP CHEDDAR | Even more, this one is optional, adds a bit of a twice baked potato taste to the topping.

How To Make Shepherd’s Pie

It might seem daunting with all of those ingredients, but it’s really no different than many casseroles or even making your hamburgers; prep your ingredients ahead and it will go so quickly.

  1. Add oil to a large skillet (use your cast iron skillet you will bake in or another), over medium-high heat getting it nice and hot. Saute onions and carrots (if using fresh, wait if using frozen). Stir around for about 5 minutes until caramelized.
  2. Add ground beef (or lamb or other ground meat) and brown (a little red showing is fine)
Process shots for Skillet Shepherd's Pie - 1) sauce onions and carrots 2) brown ground beef.
  1. Pour in Worcestershire sauce and chopped garlic, sauce for 1 minute or so until fragrant.
  2. Add parsley, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper. Stir to combine, cooking for 6-8 minutes until the meat is browned.
Skillet Shepherd's Pie process shots 3) adding garlic and Worcestershire sauce 4) adding herbs and spices.
  1. Stir in tomato paste and flour, until thick and ingredients incorporated.
  2. Add beef broth and stir.
Skillet Shepherd's Pie Process shots 5) adding tomato paste and flour 6) pouring in beef broth.
  1. Toss in peas (frozen or fresh) and frozen corn, stir to combine, increase heat and bring to simmer, reduce heat, simmering for 5 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally.
  2. Set aside, or transfer to 10″ cast iron skillet (<– my favorite) or 9×9 square casserole and allow to cool while you make the mashed potatoes.
Process shots for Skillet Shepherd's Pie 7) mixing in frozen corn and peas 8) in skillet ready for mashed potatoes

Mashed Potato Topping

These fresh garlic and cheese mashed potatoes do not take long, especially if you have your sous chef (i.e. your child or husband) peel and cube the potatoes for you while prepping the meat portion of the pie.

  1. Place potatoes in large pot and cover with water (about an inch above potatoes). Bring water to boil, simmering until they are fork tender, falling apart a bit when you stick a fork in one. About 10-15 minutes sea level, 15-20 at altitude.
  2. Drain potatoes and return to the hot pot, let the potatoes rest for a minute to evaporate any remaining liquid. Then add butter, spices and half and half.
Process shot for Garlic and Cheese Mashed Potatoes 1) potatoes boiling in water 2) adding spices, butter and cream to potatoes
  1. Get the masher out and mash until smooth, careful not to over-mix the potatoes will get gummy.
  2. Stir in parmesan cheese, allow potatoes to cool for 5-10 minutes this will prevent them sinking into the meat mixture.
process shot for skillet shepherd's pie mashed potatoes 2) mashing potatoes 4) adding parmesan cheese
  1. Spread potatoes evenly over meat layer and if desired sprinkle with a little Irish Cheddar Cheese.
  2. Bake in 400 degree oven (uncovered) for 25-30 minutes until bubbly and golden. Allow to sit for 10-15 minutes before serving.
Skillet Shepherd's Pie process shots 5) spreading mashed potatoes on meat mixture 6) skillet filled with meat and potatoes ready for oven.

Are you ready for this golden, savory and delicious Cast Iron Skillet Shepherd’s pie? Grab a big ol’ spoon and dig in!

cast iron pan filled with skillet shepherd's pie with hands bringing up spoonful.

Can I Make Gluten Free Shepherd’s Pie

Yes! I love giving tips on how to convert recipes to gluten free, so here you go:

  • Make sure the Worcestershire sauce is gluten free, I know for a fact that Lee & Perrins is indeed gluten free.
  • Replace the flour (or omit all together) with a good Gluten Free All Purpose Flour.
  • Check labels on mashed potatoes and pre-shredded cheeses if you are using store bought!

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does my Shepherd’s pie fall apart?

This is somewhat the sloppy joe’s of meat pies, it’s not going to stay together perfectly, but allow it to sit and cool for a few minutes before cutting into it will help, as well as making sure you incorporate the tomato paste and flour well, cooking it down bit.

How do I stop my mashed potatoes from sinking into the meat?

The secret is allowing the meat and potato mixture to cool slightly, let them sit for 10 minutes or so before assembling.

Does Shepherd’s pie or Cottage Pie have cheese on top?

The pie is traditionally served with either parmesan or a good cheddar grated on top. This recipe incorporates the parmesan into the mashed potatoes and is finished with grated Irish Sharp Cheddar Cheese on top.

Tips

  • MEAT SUBS | You can make this using traditional ground lamb, or try making a Chicken Shepherd’s pie or even use ground turkey.
  • VEGGIE SUBS | Most recipes call for frozen peas and carrots, but I had fresh on hand, which I prefer, just replace cup for cup frozen peas and carrots.
  • MAKE AHEAD | Yes, you can make it ahead and even freeze this meat pie. Allow to cool completely, freeze or refrigerate. To reheat, thaw overnight and bake as directed. Allow to sit on counter 30 minutes prior to baking.
  • BROTH | If you decide to make a chicken or turkey Shepherd’s pie, then you will probably want to change the broth to chicken or veggie.

What do you serve with Shepherd’s Pie?

This savory meat pie is hearty enough to stand on it’s own, , however; you might consider the following for a delicious St. Patrick’s (or any day) meal!

I sure hope you enjoyed this recipe for traditional shepherd’s pie, if you did, pop down and leave a rating and a comment and be sure to pin.

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Pin for the best easy Shepherd's Pie with image of skillet shepherd's pie with creamy mashed potatoes on top.

Shepherd's meat pie in a cast iron skillet with a spoon dug into the mashed potato topping.
Yield: 6-8 servings

The Best Skillet Shepherd's Pie

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

The ultimate family comfort food: Traditional Skillet Shepherd’s Pie - aka Cottage Pie made with ground beef (or lamb!). A hearty, delicious filling with a flavorful meat mixture under fluffy layer of mashed potatoes. Plus gluten free options.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup yellow onion, chopped (about 1 small or medium)
  • 1- 1 ½ lbs ground beef | or ground lamb, I used 80/20 beef
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1-1 ½ tablespoons Worcestershire sauce (make sure GF if making GF)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour | sub with Gluten free AP Flour
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 cup fresh (or frozen) peas
  • 1 cup carrots, finely chopped (may be replaced with frozen peas and carrots)
  • ½ cup frozen corn

Mashed Potatoes

  • 1 ½ - 2lbs russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 6-8 tablespoons butter (salted or unsalted)
  • ⅓ cup half & half
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • Garnish with Sharp white cheddar cheese on top (optional), try Irish Cheddar!

Instructions

  1. Add oil to a large skillet (use your cast iron skillet you will bake in or another), over medium-high heat getting it nice and hot. Saute onions and carrots (if using fresh, wait if using frozen). Stir around for about 5 minutes until caramelized.
  2. Add ground beef (or lamb or other ground meat) and brown (a little red showing is fine).
  3. Pour in Worcestershire sauce and chopped garlic, sauce for 1 minute or so until fragrant.
    Add parsley, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper. Stir to combine, cooking for 6-8 minutes until the meat is browned.
  4. Stir in tomato paste and flour, until thick and ingredients incorporated.
    Add beef broth and stir.
  5. Toss in peas (frozen or fresh) and frozen corn, stir to combine, increase heat and bring to simmer, reduce heat, simmering for 5 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally.
    Set aside, or transfer to 10" cast iron skillet or 9x9 square casserole and allow to cool while you make the mashed potatoes.

MASHED POTATOES

  1. Place potatoes in large pot and cover with water (about an inch above potatoes). Bring water to boil, simmering until they are fork tender, falling apart a bit when you stick a fork in one. About 10-15 minutes sea level, 15-20 at altitude.
  2. Drain potatoes and return to the hot pot, let the potatoes rest for a minute to evaporate any remaining liquid. Then add butter, spices and half and half. Get the masher out and mash until smooth, careful not to over-mix the potatoes will get gummy.
  3. Stir in parmesan cheese, allow potatoes to cool for 5-10 minutes to prevent them from sinking into the meat mixture.
  4. Spread potatoes evenly over meat layer and if desired sprinkle with a little Irish Cheddar Cheese.
    Bake in 400 degree oven (uncovered) for 25-30 minutes until bubbly and golden. Allow to sit for 10-15 minutes before serving.

Notes

  • MEAT SUBSTITUTIONS | Ground beef is actually for a Cottage Pie, ground lamb is Shepherd's pie, you can also make a Chicken Shepherd's pie by using ground chicken or even turkey.
  • VEGGIE SUBSTITUTIONS | Traditionally, you can make this with frozen peas and carrots, but I prefer fresh instead, replace cup for cup with frozen veggies.
  • MAKE AHEAD |Yes, you can make this ahead! Allow to cool completely, freeze if desired. To reheat, thaw in refrigerator overnight or allow to sit on counter for 30 minutes, then bake as directed, you might need to bake a few minutes longer.
  • CHANGE THE BROTH | If you are not a beef lover, and are planning on making this shepherd's pie with chicken or turkey, replace beef broth with chicken or even veggie broth.
  • MASHED POTATOES | Use leftover mashed potatoes, store-bought potatoes for a shortcut, time saver.

GLUTEN FREE SHEPHERD'S PIE

  • Make sure your Worcestershire sauce is gluten free, I know for a fact that Lee & Perrins is indeed gluten free.
  • Replace the flour (or omit all together) with a good Gluten Free All Purpose Flour.
  • Check labels on mashed potatoes if you are using store bought, or pre-grated or shredded cheese.

STORAGE | This pie will last in the fridge after cooking 5 days, frozen and well packaged up to 3-4 months.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 445Total Fat: 27gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 87mgSodium: 786mgCarbohydrates: 30gFiber: 4gSugar: 5gProtein: 22g

The nutritional information is estimated and may not be entirely accurate, at times it pulls information for suggestions and options which may increase calories, etc. Nutritional information will change based on used ingredients, quantities used, etc.

Did you make this recipe?

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kathleen

ABOUT KATHLEEN

I enjoy sharing easy recipes that are wholesome and delicious. I am fed by my faith, family, friends & food! Welcome to my kitchen! Read more...

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