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Shepherd's Pie - The Ultimate Comfort Food?

Updated on March 18, 2019

Is Shepherd's Pie The Ultimate In Comfort Food?

Shepherd's pie is comforting, satisfying and most of all tastes great! My easy shepherd's pie recipe goes down great with my family, they always manage to finish off every last scrap!

A traditional Shepherd's Pie in the UK, is made with minced lamb, a pie made with ground beef is basically made exactly the same way as shepherd's pie but is called a cottage pie. Whatever you want to call them, shepherds pie or cottage pie just has to be the ultimate in comfort food.

The best shepherd's pie is sometimes what I turn to when I have had a bad day, if I'm feeling down, cold, or, just for any reason at all and I need to indulge in some gorgeous comfort food, and you know, a Shepherd's Pie is so easy and satisfying to make, I just love the topping of fluffy, creamy mashed potato covering succulent hot mince, vegetables and gravy, it is so warming and simply oozes with flavour!

Which Shepherds Pie Is The One For You? - Please take our quick poll to indicate which type of shepherds pie you would prefer to eat

Which type of shepherds pie would you prefer?

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Ingredients For My Shepherd's Pie Recipe

1 tbsp sunflower oil and 1 tbsp butter

1 onion, chopped

2 Carrots, finely diced

2 sticks Celery, finely chopped

1 bay leaf

3 sprigs Thyme

2 tbsp Parsley, chopped

675g minced lamb

1 tbsp plain flour

2 tbsp tomato ketchup

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

About 1 pint water (and more if needed)

1 pinch salt and fresh ground black pepper

For The Shepherds Pie You Will Need A Mashed Potato Topping

  • 900g Potatoes, cooked in their skins
  • 60g Butter
  • 150ml Milk
  • Pinch Nutmeg, freshly grated

How To Make The Shepherd's Pie

Follow these instructions to make the perfect Shepherd's Pie

Take a large deep pan and heat half the fat in it.

Then you need to add the vegetables and fry gently, turning frequently until just tinged with brown at the corners.

Scoop the vegetables out onto a plate and set them aside for later.

For the next stage, I like to cook the lamb in two batches so that the meat is well and truly crisply cooked and properly browned first.

Raise the heat under the pan and add half the mince. Pat it down and leave it to fry without for several minutes until it has browned underneath, this will give the cooked mince a good rich brown colour, a lovely deep flavour. Now break up the mince and turn it over. Repeat the browning process, and then lift the mince out of the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Repeat with other half of the mince.

Drain off any excess fat from the pan, then return the mince and vegetables to it. Sprinkle the flour over the mince and vegetable mix and stir for about 30 seconds. Now add the herbs together with the water, tomato ketchup and Worcestershire sauce. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Bring the mixture to the boil, then turn the heat down very low, and leave it to simmer gently for about 50 minutes, checking the pan every now and then, adding a little more water if it needed. When it is cooked, the mixture should be lovely and moist, succulent and thick. If it seems a little bit watery just carry on cooking so that some of the liquid evaporates. Check the seasoning, then tip the mixture into a deep pie dish and leave to cool.

Preheat the oven to 190°C/gas 5. Scoop the potato flesh out of the skins, and mash with 45g butter and enough milk to give the mash a consistency which is fairly soft, but holds its shape. Spoon the mashed potato over the mince, then spread it down lightly in an even layer. I generally use a fork to make wavy lines (or some other interesting pattern) on the surface, then dot the mash with the remaining butter. Bake the Shepherds Pie for around 30 minutes until the mashed potato is crunchy on top and the juices from the meat are bubbling up around the edge.

Cooks Tip

Tie the bay leaf and thyme in a bundle for easy retrieval at the end of the cooking time.

Try These Simple Variations For The Topping For Your Shepherd's Pie Recipe - If you want to vary the taste of the shepherds pie simply try substituting the mash

I stumbled across different toppings for my Shepherd's Pie by accident. Having made the filling for the Shepherd's Pie I discovered that I didn't have enough potatoes to make the topping so I used mashed swede instead, and the result was yummy.

Encouraged by the success of the mashed swede, from time to time, I tried other toppings for my Shepherd's Pie. Perhaps you might like to try out some of them too.

  1. Mashed swede - probably my favourite alternative to mashed potato on top of the shepherds pie.
  2. Sweet potato mash
  3. Butternut squash mash
  4. Mashed pumpkin
  5. Mashed celeriac - If you have ever wondered what to do with this odd looking vegetable, it is quite pleasant when mashed and abked on top of the shepherds pie.

What To Serve With Your Shepherd's Pie

Sometimes it is more than enough to eat the shepherd's pie just it on its own, but, if you absolutely have to be generous and share it with other people, then, because we already have carrots in the shepherds pie itself, I like the contrast of a nice green vegetable served with it, something with a bit of bite, so steamed broccoli, curly kale, green beans or savoy cabbage work for me. Or you can also try serving Brussel sprouts, peas, spinach or cauliflower, they all make great accompaniments to your shepherd's pie.

Can You Have A Beef Shepherd's Pie?

A traditional Shepherd's Pie is made with minced lamb, minced beef is often substituted for the lamb but the dish is then known as Cottage Pie.

Indian Spiced Shepherds Pie Recipe

If you like shepherds pie and you like Indian spices then you have to try this recipe

I had to tell you about this recipe that I simply had to try out!

I came across a recipe for a healthy, low fat Indian Spiced Shepherds Pie and was really pleased with the result. The Shepherds Pie potato topping isn't mashed and the Indian spicing makes a really nice change when you don't want to make the classic Shepherds Pie.

I served the Shepherds Pie as they suggested with Indian Spiced Greens and was told that I can definitely make this again. I can see this variation on Shepherds Pie becoming quite a favourite in our household.

The Ready Made Shepherd's Pie Taste Test - Tesco Finest Classic Shepherds Pie

This is an acceptable enough shepherds pie, but, considering it is from their Finest range I'd expect slightly higher quality.

The lamb used in the shepherds pie is good; it has a nice rich quality, and unlike some of the cheaper shepherds pies, where you can't really tell what the meat is, you can tell that it is lamb. We wouldn't have realised that the gravy was red wine and rosemary though if we hadn't read it on the box.

The main thing that lets this shepherds pie down is the potato topping. It is very smooth, but has quite a synthetic quality to it. If I knew nothing about this shepherds pie, I'd be hard-pressed to believe it was fresh potato.

Our verdict for Tesco Finest Classic Shepherds Pie - 6/10


Don't Miss Out On The Ultimate Comfort Food!

Substitute the lamb mince for Quorn mince and add a vegetable stock cube along with the water when cooking....

Or try my vegetarian shepherds pie recipe below

My Vegetarian Shepherds Pie Recipe

This vegetarian shepherds pie should be enough for 4 generous servings

You may not think that it is possible to make a good shepherds pie without meat but even non-vegetarians will have to agree that this vegetarian shepherds pie tastes great and you will have them coming back for more!

Ingredients for the vegetarian shepherd's pie filling

Ingredients for the shepherd's pie topping

25g butter

1 chopped onion

2 carrots, diced

about 1/2 head of celery, chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

100g chestnut mushrooms, sliced

1 bay leaf

1 tsp dried thyme

250g dried green lentils

50ml red wine (optional)

about 0.9 litres vegetable stock

1 1/2 tbsp tomato puree

1kg potatoes (I like to use King Edwards because they are good for mashing)

45g butter

50ml milk

25g cheddar cheese, grated

Make The Filling For The Vegetarian Shepherds Pie

Gently heat the butter in a saucepan and, over a low heat, fry the onions, garlic, carrots, celery and garlic for about 10 to 15 minutes until they turn soft and golden. At this point, turn up the heat and add the mushrooms, and cook the mixture for another 5 minutes. Add the lentils and herbs to the mixture and stir well. Pour in the stock (and the wine if you are using it) - stir well and simmer gently for 40-50 mins until the lentils are soft. At this point season the lentil mix to taste and stir in the tomato puree and put the mixture to one side.

For The Vegetarian Shepherds Pie Topping

Boil the potatoes until they are nice and tender, drain them well, season with salt and pepper and mash together with the butter and milk.

Put the lentil mixture into an ovenproof dish, top with the mashed potato and scatter the cheese over the top.

Preheat the oven to 190C/fan 170C/gas 5 and bake in the centre of the oven until the top turns a nice golden brown.

Gordon Ramsay Makes Shepherds Pie - See Chef Ramsay make the classic British dish, Shepherds Pie.

See Gordon Ramsay in action making this classic dish, you can also get chef ramsays ingredients and instrucions to make Shepherds Pie.

What Is Your Ultimate Comfort Food? - Shepherds Pie, Ice Cream, Soup?

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    • sara0129 profile image

      Shamim Rajabali 

      5 years ago from Texas

      Its been a while since I made one. Thanks for your recipe.

    • profile image

      Lynn Klobuchar 

      5 years ago

      Delicious in all its variations!

    • waynekat profile image


      5 years ago

      Awesome Lens!

    • bazzar profile image


      6 years ago

      Love Shepherds Pie!.. nice lens

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I love shepherds pie. I grill some cheese on the top of mine. Yummy!

    • Fiorenza profile image


      6 years ago from UK

      Being from the UK, shepherd's pie was a regular childhood family dinner. Will definitely try your varieties, including the vegetarian one.

    • Kimberley Vico profile image

      Kimberley Vico 

      6 years ago

      All the above works for me! Shepherd's Pie is a great hearty meal... something to consider serving for St. Paddy's Day to that of Irish Stew, of course. Great Lens!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      One of my all time favourites. Would you believe even school shepherd's pie was excellent.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I LOVE shepherds pie! I don't get to eat it often enough though!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I do like Shepherd's Pie, but I make my own version of it :) I hardly ever stick to a recipe - I love customizing flavors to suit our family :)

    • Michey LM profile image

      Michey LM 

      6 years ago

      We use to make shepherd pie with beef... as not all the family members eat/like lamb. We thought that it is an irish recipe

      So thanks for your recipe, I'll try yours as well.

    • kabbalah lm profile image

      kabbalah lm 

      6 years ago

      Mrs K makes Shepherds pie with beef. Yummy

    • ViJuvenate profile image


      6 years ago

      This is a fantastic meal, everything all wrapped into one dish and so homey. We raised all our own meats and knowing it's organic and natural is the way to truly enjoy this. I can smell it now..... mmmmmmmm!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I love a good shepherds pie. I prefer mine with beef.

    • craftycollector profile image


      6 years ago

      I like Corned beef in Shepherds pie. My father always made it that way, and somehow, nothing else measures up to it.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Not only is Shepherds Pie a great comfort food it is easy to make, even for those of us who are not as skilled as a cook. I just love it.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Great lens. It's a close run thing, but I think I prefer Shepherd's pie to cottage pie. Lamb mince has more flavour I think.

      My wife uses quorn a lot. It's a healthy alternative to meat - but shepherd's pie is one of a few dishes where I really prefer the traditional meat to quorn.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I made Delia's Waitrose cottage pie last weekend - you know, the one on the telly. Took longer than usual but it was delish! Made it half with mashed potato and half with mashed swede and carrot. Loads of gravy!

    • OUTFOXprevention1 profile image


      6 years ago

      Love the pie but it hasn't reached ultimate status... Need to try the new recipe.

    • chas65 profile image


      6 years ago

      This was a favorite dish for many of our US clents when we brought them to England on antiue buying trips. My hats off to British cooks and chefs knowing how to do lamb dishes better than many Americans. For any Americans visitng England try some of their lamb dishes.

    • TheresaMarkham profile image


      6 years ago

      Really really great work on this lens! I love Shepherd's Pie!

    • kevkev227 lm profile image

      kevkev227 lm 

      6 years ago

      Great lens...thanks for sharing :)

    • ResearchAddict profile image


      7 years ago

      I love shepherds pie! I'll have to try this. Ultimate comfort food for me is bread pudding.

    • DahliaValentine profile image


      7 years ago

      I just looked a frozen shepherd's pie in Trader Joe's yesterday. I might try making my own this week. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Fantastic lens !

    • profile image

      jseven lm 

      7 years ago

      I love shepherd's pie! Yum!

    • LynetteBell profile image


      7 years ago from Christchurch, New Zealand

      I prefer cottage pie to shepherds pie...but really either will do. I just love the crunchie bit on the potato top...yumm

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      You can't beat a good shepherd's pie!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Delicious! Mmm its making me hungry. Great British comfort food :)

    • MelonyVaughan profile image


      7 years ago

      I LOVE Shepherd's pie! There's this one pub I keep going back to and they make their Shepherd's pie with beef and lamb and it's the best Shepherd's pie I've ever had! Every time I go there, the waiters know that I'll be ordering it!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I love Shepherds pie and I agree: it is the ultimate comfort food! I once tried a recipe from a magazine that suggested if you were in a hurry, use tater tots on the top instead of mashed potatoes. The long and short of it: What was I thinking?? It was horrible. Don't mess with the classics!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I always wondered what was in a shepherds pie. now I know

    • jptanabe profile image

      Jennifer P Tanabe 

      7 years ago from Red Hook, NY

      Mmm, made me long for a good Shepherds (or Cottage) Pie! I guess I'll just have to put it on the menu for dinner this week.

    • Dragon 40 profile image

      Ken McVay 

      7 years ago from Nanaimo, British Columbia

      Awesome job! Blessed for making me hungry :-)

    • MrsPotts profile image


      7 years ago

      One of my son's favorite recipe! Thank you for sharing. :-)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Shepherd's Pie is my most requested dinner for the kids!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      One of my favorite foods.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Thanks for the vegetarian recipe. I make cottage pie with beef, but will try the veg version. And lots of grated cheddar on top makes it especially yummy.

    • Mishael A Witty profile image

      Mishael A Witty 

      7 years ago

      We love shepherd's pie at our house - well, actually, cottage pie. Even my husband (one of the pickiest eaters of them all) loves it! :-)

    • flinnie lm profile image

      Gloria Freeman 

      7 years ago from Alabama USA

      Hi my ultimate comfort food has to be ice cream it never fail to comfort.This is a great lens on shepherds pie thanks for all the info.Will have to give your recipe a try.

    • blessedmomto7 profile image


      7 years ago

      I love Shepherd's Pie!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      effin love shepherds pie

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I'm a bit hungry for some shepard's pie after reading this lens! Great work! :)

    • HelpMarcProject profile image

      Forrest McKinnis 

      7 years ago from West Richland

      I love shepherds pie, my all time favorite food. Thanks for sharing this great lens.

    • victoriuh profile image


      7 years ago

      I use ground turkey in mine. I LOVE "shepherd's" pie.

    • TheHealthCabin profile image


      7 years ago

      We always have it with carrots,sweede and potato mashed on top....Yummy! Great lens, made me hungry. Thank you.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Nothing like a good shepherd's pie - though my personal comfort food is pretty much any kind of soup. Great work on this lens!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I can do any type of meat but using lamb would be delicious indeed!

    • Country-Sunshine profile image

      Country Sunshine 

      7 years ago from Texas

      Ice cream is my ultimate comfort food, but I do like Shepherds pie. I haven't made it in quite awhile, and your article has compelled me to cook it soon! Thanks!

    • MartieG profile image

      MartieG aka 'survivoryea' 

      7 years ago from Jersey Shore

      Just had Shepherds Pie for the first time and loved it - thanks for an easy to follow recipe!

    • sarahrk lm profile image

      sarahrk lm 

      7 years ago

      Love shepherd's pie, and this looks really good, every version. I will try it.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      After watching Chef Ramsey's video - my son and I just drooled ! I told him that Shepherd's Pie is coming to a plate near him very soon! I'm gonna make that dish this week ! YUM! Thanks for the great idea - nice lens!

    • desa999 lm profile image

      desa999 lm 

      7 years ago

      Very nice lens on a great food topic. I've always loved shepherds pie!!

    • seashell2 profile image


      7 years ago

      Awesome recipes... I've featured this on my blog, you can view it here!

    • PositiveChristi1 profile image


      7 years ago

      My mother-in-law always feeds us Shepherds pie when we visit. Shepherds pie is one of my favourite meals.

      Great Lens - Angel blessed

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Great lens, loved the videos, the links & the recipe. Blessed by a SquidAngel.

    • caketech profile image


      7 years ago

      Loved seeing the UK version of shepherd's pie! I am hungry for some now. Blessed by a squid angel on my quest for great food ideas!

    • Grasmere Sue profile image

      Sue Dixon 

      7 years ago from Grasmere, Cumbria, UK

      Mmmmm I can just smell that Shepherd's pie in the oven right now! Blessed!

    • tuliprose lm profile image

      tuliprose lm 

      7 years ago

      Well that takes me back to living at home and Mom cooking cottage pie. Great lens.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I love my shepherds pie with mince beef and bovril or oxo .I only get S.pie when my sister visits me in Norway ...maybe I could use your recipe and make my own .....just like a man to think like that :-)

    • cdevries profile image


      8 years ago

      I love Shepard's Pie - and other meat pies too. My Mom makes a great steak and Kidney Pie.

    • Wednesday-Elf profile image


      8 years ago from Savannah, Georgia

      Better late than never... I finally wrote my angel lens recognizing all the terrific stories I found and this one was wonderful. It's now 'featured on' and 'lensrolled to' my "SquidAngel Blessings by an Elf" lens. :-)

    • Sniff It Out profile imageAUTHOR

      Sniff It Out 

      8 years ago

      @Wednesday-Elf: Thank you :)

    • retta719 profile image


      8 years ago from United States

      It's been awhile since we've had Shepherds Pie, and this might just be the perfect rainy chilly weekend to make one! Thanks :)

    • Wednesday-Elf profile image


      8 years ago from Savannah, Georgia

      I enjoyed your story and recipe for Shepherds Pie when I visited last week. This week I find myself with some lovely 'angel dust' and just had to return to tell you more. Your recipe is well done and nicely presented, but, in addition, your page layout and photos are very attractive, making this a real delight to read. Therefore I wanted to leave you my ~~SquidAngel Blessing~~

    • funcook profile image


      8 years ago

      Great photos - I'm a big fan of shepherd's pie and cottage pie.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Every Saturday we have a traditional lamb roast and the leftovers are almost always turned into a traditional shepherds pie. My husband never gets bored with it and I love to take it to work. It heats up beautifully in the microwave. It's always good to read how other people make it.

    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 

      8 years ago from UK

      I love it. Shepherds' Pie and the lens. I make it often but there are a few additional touches here that I am determined to try, thanks

    • Wednesday-Elf profile image


      8 years ago from Savannah, Georgia

      Wow, your English 'Shepherds Pie' is completely different from the American version (which is probably more accurately 'Cottage Pie' since it's made with beef) that I grew up with - a simple casserole made with ground beef, onions, creamed corn and topped with mashed potatoes. But then, I'm not much of a cook :).

      I'm lensrolling this delightful recipe to my "Potholder Soup" lens where I mention 'Shepherd's Pie'.

    • PaulaMorgan profile image

      Paula Morgan 

      8 years ago from Sydney Australia

      I love Shephards pie and I love the images you have used.. Great lense

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Love shepherds pie. My favorite comfort foods are:

      macaroni and cheese


    • Sniff It Out profile imageAUTHOR

      Sniff It Out 

      9 years ago

      That should make a wonderful cottage pie Joan! Let us know how it turns out :) [in reply to Joan]

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Just came across this site as I was looking to see different ways of making cottage pie. I usually make it with ground beef (as the Americans say) or mince beef as the english say. Anyway today I am slow roasting a joint of meat and then will shred it. Hopefully it will be wonderful and will be a great meal for my son to come home to after a day of tryouts for golf. Will let you know how it turns out

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Best Shepherds Pie I ever had was a recipe from Linda McCartney's vegetarian cookbook. Everyone loved it, and no fat.

      Thanks for the lens.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      My fave comfort food would have to be macaroni and cheese -- but only if it's homemade. ;)

      BTW, I make a variation of shepherd's pie using a cooked rice topping. It's a really nice alternative to potatoes!

    • ElizabethJeanAl profile image


      10 years ago

      I haven't had Shepherd's Pie in a long time. I wish I had some now. I'm hungry.

      Great lens



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