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Quick And Easy Comfort Food Recipes: Mexican Shepherds Pie

Updated on October 21, 2011


I love recipes that I can throw together in a relatively short period of time.  I also like recipes that I feel are more nutritious than the "regular" recipe.

My kids grew up on my shepherds pie and all its variations.  Come to find out after 30+ years, my Bob didn't ever like the peas that I used on it.....go figure!

So when I saw this recipe some time back emailed to me from (and from Cooking Light Magazine May 2003), I decided I needed to check this one out. 

This is a wonderful blend of an English favorite (shepherds pie) and Hispanic cuisine.  You can eliminate the meat altogether which I've done and have a totally delicious vegetarian version.

There are many things you can change up....see my suggestions below. 

Enjoy a Tex-Mex version of shepherd's pie but then again, come up with your own ideas to improve upon this basic recipe.

from the kitchen of Audrey Kirchner
from the kitchen of Audrey Kirchner



  • 2 cups prepared mashed potatoes (such as Simply Potatoes)
  • 3/4 to 1 pound ground sirloin
  • 3/4 cup picante sauce
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 (15-ounce) can of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup shredded reduced fat cheddar cheese


  1. Cook beef in a large nonstick skillet at medium heat until browned; make sure to crumble beef.
  2. Stir in picante sauce, water, cumin, salt, beans and cumin.
  3. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer until mixture thickens (about 5 minutes).
  4. Remove from heat. Layer mashed potatoes over the meat mixture. Sprinkle with cheese. Cover and let stand for 2 minutes until the cheese melts.

This makes 4 servings about 1 cup each. It clocks in at about 279 calories.



We all know I rarely stick to the program when it comes to recipes. When I read a recipe, I see "how can I make this even better" or "how can I use the ingredients I have on hand?"

I personally don't believe in prepared mashed potatoes. I'm sorry but there is just something wrong with not being able to boil potatoes and mash them.

  • TIP: I cut down on the butter completely...just a hint of butter...I use sour cream or Greek yogurt to make up the difference and cut the fat...and my secret ingredient? Instead of nonfat milk I use low fat buttermilk. I also usually use red potatoes super scrubbed and leave the skins on.

You can use ground anything....ground turkey, ground lamb, ground pork, ground chicken. Or you can eliminate the meat completely and just use more beans.

I decided since it was Tex-Mex to use pinto beans rather than kidney beans but in actuality, any beans would do. I also used twice as many and less meat.

Picante sauce is all about your level of "hot". You can use mild picante or you can use super spicy picante. Heat it up according to your own taste buds.

Cheese is a generic thing. I sometimes like jack cheese instead of cheddar or pepper jack instead of either one. It all depends on what you are trying to create in terms of flavor.

Substitute your own homemade salsa or pico de gallo.

Add a layer of corn kernels if you want to add some veggies to the mix.

I pop my shepherds pie in the oven at 350 degrees to melt the cheese and toast it up a bit for about 10-15 minutes.

You can do just about anything with this great recipe and call it your own. Add green chilies or olives for another twist to it or leave off the cheese and top with more vegetables.

You can even leave off the potatoes and do more veggies.

Shepherds pie reminds me of a layered dip in many ways. It's all about what you put into the layers and the spices that bring out the best flavor for each layer.

Experiment and make your own version of shepherds pie and enjoy comfort food 101.

If you have favorite ingredients for your shepherds pie, please leave them below in the comments section for me to enjoy!


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    • applejuic3 profile image

      applejuic3 6 years ago from San Diego, CA

      i just had shepherds pie for the first time last week and now i'm in love. i will be trying this one next and very soon!

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 7 years ago from Washington

      Good points to make, Springboard!

    • Springboard profile image

      Springboard 7 years ago from Wisconsin

      Two things about the Jestsons present a world I don't want. I want to drive my own car, and I want to cook my own food. If the future is just sitting there and having things already done for me, I can't imagine what kind of world that would be? lol

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 7 years ago from Washington

      Springboard - Thanks for the FABULOUS addition suggestions. Those sound very, very good and as I say, when I cook, I tend to make any recipe 'mine' and it sounds as if you do the same.

      I love the analysis on the potatoes!!! What is wrong with our society that we have to buy everything premade or handled in some way? It makes no sense to me. I worry that one of these days we won't be able to buy anything in the market but boxes and bags of this and that already prepared...or it'll be like the Jetsons, that old cartoon!

      Thanks for your astute comments and for adding so much to the quality of the hub!

    • Springboard profile image

      Springboard 7 years ago from Wisconsin

      When it comes to cooking I ALWAYS love it when something "thinks outside the box." This is certainly one of those things, and it sounds delicious. A few things I'd likely add to the mix. For example, I'd probably throw in onions and garlic and green (or better yet red) peppers. But like you said, "When I read a recipe, I see "how can I make this even better" or "how can I use the ingredients I have on hand?"" You and I are alike on that.

      BTW, I just HAD to throw in my little analysis on your very astute mashed potatoes argument. Yes. Peeling, chopping, and boiling potatoes to mash them yourself really isn't that hard. I agree with you. What I have found, though, more interesting about the mashed potato thing is the COST difference. I have seen people scoff at buying a slab of meat for $5 a pound, yet rush to the shelf to pick off a box of instant mashed potatoes and think nothing of it. Considering the average box of Betty Crocker instant mashed potatoes is about 6 ounces, you are paying over $5 a pound for potatoes. Considering that a 10 lb. bag costs around $4.00 on average, or 40 cents per pound, I'd have to say if you can afford mashed potatoes, you can afford to eat Filet Mignon. Why aren't you? lol.

      Anyway, I digress. Thanks for the great recipe. Spring is here, but I think we've got just enough cooler days left to throw something in the oven yet. This would be a good 'finale' of sorts, would it not?

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 7 years ago from Washington

      Definitely Darski...come on down~!

    • Darlene Sabella profile image

      Darlene Sabella 7 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

      This is a favorite and I must bookmark this recipe, yummie. Thank you for always feeding us so well, I am looking forward for a banquet at your house. Um, maybe a hubpages reunion? Love & peace darski

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 7 years ago from Washington

      Sagebrush mama - Think you'll like...those tamales sound fabulous though!!

    • sagebrush_mama profile image

      sagebrush_mama 7 years ago from The Shadow of Death Valley...Snow Covered Mountain Views Abound!

      Yum! Great way to combine Mexican flavors, and simple foods. I actually had mashed potato burritos once, when I lived in Mexico, and potato gets worked in to tamales,and in other types of burritos. Any kind of filling can be made to work! Why not shepherd's pie?!

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 7 years ago from Washington

      Dolores - Thanks so much and I love a good quick recipe too on days when I've got too much on my plate to put plates on the table!

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 7 years ago from East Coast, United States

      Hi Audrey - I love a quick recipe and sometimes make a 'Mexican lasagna' by layering tortillas, meat, veggies, and beans. Never thought of using potatoes. I love how you suggested tweaking the recipe. It's black beans for me!

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 7 years ago from Washington

      MMP - ANY time is dinnertime at the Kirchner B&B!

      Ibidd54 - You bet - and sure you'll like it!

    • lbidd54 profile image

      lbidd54 7 years ago from The beautiful Jersey Shore

      Thanks for sharing such a versatile recipe....Can't wait to try it.

    • MyMastiffPuppies profile image

      MyMastiffPuppies 7 years ago

      Sounds delicious! What time is dinner?

      Just kidding(sorta), anyway thanks for sharing such a great recipe. Sounds like it could get added to the family favorites! Voted up, useful and awesome...

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 7 years ago from Washington

      Thanks, Prasetio for the vote up and for the read...I do love those recipes!

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 7 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Hi, Audrey. I liked your recipes. It looks delicious...Yummy. Your presentation raises my appetite. Thanks for writing this. As usual, I'll show this recipe to my mom. Rated up!


    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 7 years ago from Washington

      Thanks for the read, Katie!

    • katiem2 profile image

      katiem2 7 years ago from I'm outta here

      Now that's easy and great comfort food, thanks for the mexican shepherds pie. :) Katie

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 7 years ago from Washington

      Susan Starts Now - Thanks for the other great recipe!

      Eiddwen - Glad to post up! Love this version.

      Om - sending you a virtual napkin!

    • Om Paramapoonya profile image

      Om Paramapoonya 7 years ago

      Mmmmm another yummy-sounding recipe to try. Bookmarked, voted up, rated awesome and drooled all over the keyboard! lol

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 7 years ago from Wales

      Another to bookmark into my 'Favourite Recipes'.

      Thank you so much for sharing this one with us.

      it was on my mind to make cottage pie this week but I will use this recipe instead of my regular version.

      I will let you know how it turned out.

      Take care


    • Susan Starts Now profile image

      Susan Starts Now 7 years ago from California

      I have made a version of this for years, but call it tortilla casserole. I add fresh chopped peppers, onions, bell peppers and frozen corn. If I am short on time I add crushed tortilla chips in place of the potatoes then add a shredded Mexican cheese blend on top. Otherwise, I will mix up a batch of cornbread and smooth it over the top of the casserole before baking. Kidney beans work well in a dish like this because they don't get mushy.

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 7 years ago from Washington

      Hanna - Yes, that's why I did it!

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

      Sounds great and a must try it. Oh you are awdul. You just want to get me fatter.

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 7 years ago from Washington

      KKG - I think I like it best too with the kidney beans! Thanks so much for the read.

      Jaye - That actually sounds muy delicioso! Will have to try it your way too. Thanks so much for stopping by.

    • profile image

      JayeWisdom 7 years ago

      Some of your recipes are easy to adapt to my vegan diet/lifestyle by using rice or almond milk versus the dairy variety, as well as vegan margarine, faux ground soy shreds flavored like you-know-what and shredded veggie shreds in a cheese flavor. I could also follow your suggestion to eliminate even the faux "meat" and add more beans. I like combining pintos and black beans. It's really good! JAYE

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Haze 7 years ago from Sunny Florida

      akirchner, my family loves shepards pie. I have to try your version. I will use the pinto beans instead of the kidney beans though. Great hub. Voted up and useful.

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 7 years ago from Washington

      BJ - I believe you are correct on either count....there are actually shepherd jobs available here in Central Oregon. I keep telling Bob he should apply but he is worried he can't grow a beard!

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 7 years ago from south Florida

      Audrey - Just wonderin' - how did Shepherds Pie get its name? Did Vlad Dracula invent it cause he used ground-up shepherds? Or was it named shepherds pie because the ingredients are relatively inexpensive and I've never met any wealthy shepherds. Come to think of it, I don't know ANY shepherds.

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 7 years ago from Washington

      No kidding on the Bobs!

    • Austinstar profile image

      Lela 7 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      Nah, ya just gotta please the "Bobs". And the Dogs!

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 7 years ago from Washington

      I agree, Lela and that's why I went with the Pintos! Black beans are also my other favorite...but you gotta please everyone, right?

    • Austinstar profile image

      Lela 7 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      You almost had me going with the kidney beans. What? Kidney beans???? No self respecting Tex-Mex cook would use anything but Pinto or Black beans. Sounds more like Mexican Pizza!


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