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This classic comfort food dish is the perfect antidote to a cold winter’s day (or any season, for that matter). A Simple Shepherd’s Pie recipe that you can make time and time again for the whole family.

This traditional, British recipe is also ideal for batch cooking and freezing for another day’s easy dinner win.

Big cooked shepherd's pie with portion missing.

I love love LOVE it when a dinner can be prepped in advance, makes a spare for the freezer AND squeezes in a pile of vegetables. This is a classic tasty Shepherd’s Pie recipe that does all that and really hits the spot for comfort and indulgence, while staying low cost and relatively healthy. 

I like to make a double batch of this on a weekday or weekend when I have a little more time, and can pop one in the freezer for another day when I need a quick reheat job. But, if you’re putting aside a day for a giant batch cook, this one has GOT to be on the list – your future self will appreciate it! 

Other good make-ahead pie options for the freezer are my Easy Chicken Pie, Cowboy Pie or Easy Fish Pie.


Why you’ll love this No Fuss Shepherd’s Pie

⭐️ Simple and low cost

⭐️ Hearty, rich and comforting

⭐️ Perfect for batch-cooking


Classic, simple Shepherd's Pie straight out of the oven with corner portion missing.

About this Easy Shepherd’s Pie

This humble British classic dates back to the 18th century and was born out of frugal creativity and still stands the test of time today.

A Shepherd’s Pie, named because it’s made with ground lamb, is also wonderfully versatile and robust, allowing you to tweak its ingredients to what you have in stock or prefer. 

This recipe makes enough for six people, or four if hungry, and can easily be made gluten-free by substituting flour for cornflour.

Yes, it is very similar to Cottage Pie recipe (which uses ground beef mince instead), and while we’re on the subject of pies, a Cumberland Pie refers to any type of meat pie that’s topped with mashed potatoes and a layer of breadcrumbs.

While not strictly traditional, a sprinkling of grated cheese over your mash on your Shepherd’s Pie (or Cottage Pie for that matter) is so delicious.

What you’ll need to make the best Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherd's Pie ingredients laid out on a counter.
  • Olive oil – Sunflower or vegetable oil if you prefer
  • Large onion – Fresh or pre-chopped frozen is fine
  • Carrots – Chopped finely
  • Celery – This adds a savoury depth of flavour
  • Lamb mince – Try to get as lean as possible
  • Plain flour – Substitute for cornflour to make gluten-free
  • Dried thyme – Or fresh if you have it
  • Dried sage – Or fresh if you have it
  • Beef stock – From a cube is fine
  • Tomato puree – Buy good quality if you can
  • Worcestershire sauce – Or Henderson’s Relish
  • Salt and pepper – Use plenty in this dish
  • White potatoes – Go for something floury and fluffy in texture like King Edward or Maris Piper. My preference would be Desiree though. 
  • Butter – I like salted

How to make Shepherd’s Pie

Simple Shepherd's Pie Recipe Step 1.

1. Fry the mince until browned over a medium heat, add chopped vegetables and cook (according to the recipe below) then add flour.

Simple Shepherd's Pie Recipe Step 2.

2. Pour in beef stock, tomato puree, Worcestershire sauce and Shepherd’s Pie seasoning. Simmer.

Simple Shepherd's Pie Recipe Step 3.

3. Peel, chop and boil your potatoes, then drain and mash with butter and salt and pepper.

Simple Shepherd's Pie Recipe Step 4.

4. Add the meat mixture to an oven-proof casserole dish, followed by the creamy mashed potatoes. Bake.

Hint: Cooking time for the mince – this will vary depending on the type of pan you are using. I say 30 minutes, by which time the sauce/gravy should be thick, deep brown and very tasty. If it’s not, cook for a further 10 minutes at this point.


Substitutions

  • Vegetables – You can use anything you like in a Shepherd’s Pie, but any veggies that will stay intact (like root veg) while it’s cooking is ideal. Peas work well, as does swede, leeks or sweetcorn.

Leftovers or Make Ahead

A Shepherd’s Pie is the perfect make-ahead food.

In the fridge Cook up to point 11 in the recipe below and you can keep this recipe in the fridge for 2 days. Then bake as normal.

How to freeze this Shepherd’s Pie Once your pie is assembled (point 11 in the recipe below) you can chill and then freeze for up to one month. When you are ready to use the pie, defrost in the fridge over night, then bake as normal from point 12 in the recipe. It may take a little longer than normal to bake, as always, check it is piping hot inside before serving.

Technically, it can also be cooked from frozen – cook at 160C/fan 140C/gas 3 for 1 hr-1 hr 20 mins until piping hot in the centre. I have to say I prefer to defrost overnight first as the pie won’t dry out as much.

Top tips

Baking dishes

If you don’t want a pie dish out of action in the freezer, or you’re cooking a few batches, you can use foil trays with lids, like these ones from Amazon.

This lovely enamelware baking dish is what I use to cook the pies in. I swear by these!

Easy creamy mashed potato

To make life easier, use a ricer-style potato masher to get your mash just right. I think this one is brilliant and makes it so much easier.

Other lamb mince recipes

If you enjoy this, you might like these other easy lamb mince recipes: Easy Lamb Keema, Homemade Doner Kebab and Lamb Koftas.

FAQs

Is this a healthy Shepherd’s Pie recipe?

Because Shepherd’s Pie uses lamb mince, it can be quite high in fat. You can buy lean lamb mince but it’s quite difficult to find.

To reduce the fat content, you could drain some of the fat from the pan when you brown the mince, before adding the other ingredients.

Can I make this Shepherd’s Pie gluten free?

Yes. To make this Shepherd’s Pie recipe gluten free, substitute the plain flour for cornflour (check your packaging to ensure it is gluten free) or any gluten free flour. Check all other ingredients too of course.

What’s the difference between Shepherd’s Pie and Cottage Pie?

They’re similar dishes but a Shepherd’s Pie uses minced lamb (hence the name) and Cottage Pie is made with minced beef, with its name coming from its Victorian-era heritage as a low-cost meal that was popular for farm workers at the time.

Can I use this recipe to make Cottage Pie?

Yes, just swap lamb mince for beef mince and cook as per the instructions.

What should I serve with Shepherd’s Pie?

I like onion gravy, steamed cabbage or braised red cabbage, or the classic – baked beans and brown sauce!

Does Shepherd’s Pie freeze well?

It certainly does, and for that reason it’s a perfect batch-cook, make-ahead recipe. See the box above for instructions on how to do it best.

Can you cook Shepherd’s Pie from frozen?

Yes, you can. Cook it at 160C/fan 140C/gas 3 for 1 hr-1 hr 20 mins until it’s piping hot in the centre. I do believe that for best results, it’s better to defrost it first though if you can.

Is it possible to make a veggie Shepherd’s Pie?

Yes! While this is a different recipe to this one, you could try simply replacing the beef for lentils and beef oxo for vegetable.

Let me know how you got on and what you thought of these recipes. Please rate the recipe using the ⭐️ below.

Also I’d LOVE to see your cooking creations. If you’d like to share yours with me, you can tag me on Instagram (@tamingtwins).

5 from 22 votes

Shepherd’s Pie {Easiest Ever Recipe}

This easy, comforting Simple Shepherd's Pie recipe is the perfect antidote to a cold winter's day. It is also ideal for batch cooking and freezing ahead of time. It's hearty, delicious and perfect for the whole family.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings: 4 People

Ingredients 

For the filling:

  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 500 g Lamb mince, Lean
  • 1 Onion, Chopped
  • 2 Carrots, Finely chopped
  • 2 sticks Celery, Finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp Plain flour
  • 1 tsp Dried thyme , Or fresh if you have it
  • 1 tsp Dried sage, Or fresh if you have it
  • 500 ml Beef stock
  • 2 tbsp Tomato puree
  • 2 tbsp Worcester sauce
  • Salt and pepper, To taste

For the topping:

  • 1 kg White potatoes
  • 2 tbsp Butter
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions 

  • Preheat your oven to 180C.
  • Heat your olive oil in a large, heavy bottomed pan. Add in the mince and fry for 5 minutes on a high heat until browned all over.
  • Add in the chopped vegetables and fry for a further 10 minutes until softened. 
  • Add flour and dried herbs, stir well to coat everything, cook for a further 2-3 minutes. 
  • Pour in beef stock, tomato puree and Worcester sauce. 
  • Season with salt and pepper. This is personal preference but I like to add lots of both in this recipe. 
  • Cover and simmer for 30 mins. (See notes below)
  • Meanwhile peel and chop your potatoes, place in cold water, and bring to the boil for 15-20 minutes, depending on the type of potato. 
  • When the potatoes are ready, drain and mash together with the butter and plenty of salt and pepper. 
  • Put all of your meat into a large ovenproof dish. Spread your mashed potato over the top, ruffle with a fork to give those delicious crunchy bits. (You can also sprinkle some grated cheese on top it you wish).
  • (At this point you can leave to cool and then freeze your pie for up to one month to get ahead with your cooking)
  • Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until the mash is browning and the mince is bubbling at the sides. 
  • Check that it is hot inside. It may take a few minutes longer if you cooked it straight from the fridge. 

Notes

Cooking time for the mince: This will vary depending on the type of pan you are using. I’d say 30 minutes. By this time the sauce/gravy should be thick and deep brown and very tasty. If it’s not, cook for a further 10 minutes at this point.
Gluten-free: Use cornflour rather than plain or any other gluten-free flour. 

Nutrition

Calories: 395kcalCarbohydrates: 29gProtein: 23gFat: 21gSaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 115mgSodium: 415mgPotassium: 1119mgFiber: 5gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 3565IUVitamin C: 23.3mgCalcium: 102mgIron: 7.9mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Family Food
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5 from 22 votes (17 ratings without comment)

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8 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Made this recipe (subbing beef for lamb) this morning in my slow cooker & then pulled it all together this evening using the cheat method of Idaho instant mash with finely diced onion and a scattering of grated cheese! Another ‘hit’ with my FAM! As I say in every recipe review, I can’t thank you enough Sarah for your wonderful recipes!

  2. Made this dish (subbing beef mince for lamb) but did the meat part in my slow cooker this morning and for speed this evening pulled it all together with an extra ‘cheat’ by using Idaho buttery ‘instant mash’ with finely diced onion & a smattering of grated cheese for the topping! Another massive hit with my FAM! As I have said in every review, I cannot thank you enough Sarah for your wonderful recipes! 👍

  3. 5 stars
    This is my go to recipe for shephards pie! Except I use beef mince so cottage pie! It is absolutely delicious. My partner always goes back for seconds and my littles one love it to. I always make it in advance whilst my little ones are napping so I don’t have to stress at dinner time. Thank you for this recipe!

  4. 5 stars
    I made it with extra lean ground beef which I prefer over lamb…. I also add mushrooms peas and corn…. delicious 🙂

  5. I’ve recently started to cook& help my dad, after a terminal cancer diagnosis, i can’t do it daily as i live too far, but would like to batch make him a varied and healthy selection of home made foods, such as Shepard’s pie, i have very limited cooking knowledge/skills, and would be very grateful for any ideas, just like the Shepard’s pie above, thank you

  6. 5 stars
    I made this Shepherds Pie for my family and it was a hit !! There was quite a lot of liquid in the mince, so I kept some back when I popped the meat in the dish and warmed it up later as gravy. The shepherds pie was lovely and moist.

  7. I have been in the U S A for 51 years. I come from Preston, England,although Shepherds pie is very rarely made with Lamb.Due to the cost of meat,it is delicious, but being a Pauper,I am quite content with ground beef and mashed potatoes with a few vegetables mixed in.