HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Shepherd's pie recipe?

Years ago my mother used to make shepherd's pie. We were thinking of having it again for christmas dinner, but nobody can remember where the recipe was from, and since my parents are moving in early Jan, most of the cookbooks are packed up. I think it may have been from one of the Silver Palate cookbooks... and I'm pretty sure it called for grated (cheddar?) cheese to be mixed in with the mashed potatoes... Anybody have any ideas, or a good recipe of your own?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I have been making this recipe for several years and it has great flavor. It is as good as some I have in great Irish pubs.


    13 Replies
    1. re: folprivate

      Looks great. So many recipes I've found ask for cream of mushroom soup and ketchup - yuck! Thanks!

      1. re: folprivate

        No corn? Is that a north American add in?

          1. re: KTinNYC

            The *only* veg to go into Shepherd's pie is corn! That's the way they made it for the school lunchroom when I was in grade school., and that's the I make it today. One of my few "comfort foods." The only modern take is I use real potatoes instead of instant.

            1. re: al b. darned

              "Modern" would be instant: real mashed is the only thing that is thick enough to top this recipe in my book (yes I tried instant once and there is no way it works). Now when I started making Shepherds Pie at my deli (actually Cottage Pie since we used chop meat) one of the owners said the same thing, had to be corn because that's how his mother made it. But plenty of customers told me it had to be peas. Since peas are green, they win ;-}. But Ihave a feeling that in Ireland, there are no extra vegetables added at all, just onion etc.

              1. re: al b. darned

                I had never heard of corn in Shepherd's Pie until I came to Canada, where it is an expected addition, usually made by mixing a can of creamed corn with the ground beef--sort of makes a creamy gravy. It's quite as bad as it sounds, but it isn't my favourite either.

                Cultural note: The French-Canadian translation is "pâté chinois" [Chinese Pâté] for some reason.

                1. re: zamorski

                  EDIT: "It's NOT quite as bad as it sounds, but it isn't my favourite either."

                2. re: al b. darned

                  If the grade school lunchroom is your measuring stick for good recipes than we differ greatly.

                  1. re: KTinNYC

                    This was one of the few lunchroom foods that I remember fondly. No, it's not gourmet, but like I said, it is comfort food. Actually I've never had SP with any veg but corn.

                    Actually, the food in our school wasn't all that bad back then. It wasn't as good as Mom's but usually edible.

            2. re: folprivate

              Sounds good and, with a big roast for Thurs, I'm sure we're going to be needing to use up leftovers.

              A pie made with beef, however, is called a Cottage Pie, I believe. A shepherd's pie should be made with lamb. Not too many shepherds herding cows you know. ;>

              1. re: folprivate

                Used this recipe, with buffalo instead of beef (it's what we had in the freezer), cheddar instead of parmesan, and a pinch of nutmeg added to the potatoes. Delicious - I'll be making this more often I'm sure.

                1. re: folprivate

                  Folprivate, I made your suggested recipe last night and it was dee-licious! Couldn't find fresh Crimini so used baby portabellas. They soaked up the flavours of the veggies, broth and herbs and gave them back when biting into them when served. I used extra lean beef (7% fat) so the additional moisture of the mushrooms took the dish to a higher level. Thanks for recommending this recipe, it is sure to stay in my winter rotation!

                  1. re: ideabaker

                    I am glad you enjoyed it as much as my family and neighbors.

                2. Paul Prudhomme's Cajun Shepherd's Pie is delicious. I've made it several times for large dinner parties, and it's always been a big hit. It's in his "Louisiana Kitchen" cookbook, and you can find it on the internet.


                  1. I was thinking of using this one from epicurious; anyone used it before?

                    1. This one is stupid-easy and my Aussie husband loves it. Pick your ground meat of choice (one or two pounds of beef or lamb). Brown it lightly, and add in a large chopped onion and a few chopped garlic cloves. Toss in a bag of mixed frozen veggies (I use carrots and peas, sometimes a little corn too). Add a jar of Boston Market Beef or Turkey Gravy if you can get it (this one tastes best, I won't use anything else) or find a high quality one you like. Mix in some worchestershire and a little red wine too. Top with premade mashed potatoes (the ones in the green packet in the fresh deli section). I use two packages for lots of taters. Nuke em til they're warm and mix in a little garlic and cheddar cheese. Bake at 350 until its hot and bubbly. While not high on the authenticity meter, it's super easy, got great flavor and my husband (and friends) love it.

                      1. I've got a similar recipe to the Food Network's in my collection (although it's a proper one with lamb, not beef), but I prefer to stick with its original intent, which was to use up leftovers, even if I'm starting more or less from scratch. I don't care to incorporate any tomato in any form; in my view, what I'm doing is packaging up a lamb and vegetable stew, with some of the gravy, under a blanket of mashed potato. Roasted lamb is a good place to start, with gravy made from defatted juices, some beef broth, and a browned butter-and-flour roux. Frozen peas are acceptable, but the carrot should be diced and cooked from fresh, and onion chopped and sautéed, whatever mushrooms you want sliced and sautéed as well. How much of everything is entirely up to you. There should be roughly as much chopped (not ground) meat as vegetable, the mixture should be moist but not soupy, and not more than four inches deep for even cooking. There should be enough potato to cover everything completely, half to three-quarters of an inch thick. For seasoning I would stick with roasting the lamb with rosemary and thyme, then seasoning the stew with salt, pepper, and either Worcestershire sauce or about a tablespoon of anchovy paste. If you just have to have some tomato in there, a small amount of ketchup is actually not a bad choice - tomato sauce is too thin, and I really hate tomato paste, so if you use it just please don't tell me ;-)

                        1. 1 pound duck sausage (subst. ground pork sausage, ground lamb or ground beef)
                          6 ounces fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into half inch pieces
                          ½ cup beef broth
                          1/3 medium onion, chopped
                          4 ounces frozen lima beans
                          7 ounces frozen corn
                          14 ounce can chopped tomatoes
                          2 cloves garlic, chopped
                          2 medium carrots, diced
                          1 tsp fresh lemon juice
                          1/8 tsp cinnamon (if using ground lamb)
                          1 tsp thyme
                          1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
                          1 stalk celery, diced
                          4 cups mashed potatoes
                          ½ stick unsalted butter (melted)
                          1 Tbsp vegetable oil
                          S&P to taste

                          Par boil green beans and carrots until slightly crisp
                          Brown sausage, set aside
                          Heat vegetable oil in pan, add onions and sauté on medium/low until soft and slightly opaque. Add garlic. Cook for 2 -3 minutes until fragrant.
                          Add the browned meat, beans, carrots, corn, Worcestershire sauce, celery, beef broth, spices and tomatoes. Bring to simmer and hold at simmer for 20 minutes.
                          Deposit into baking dish, spread top with mashed potatoes.
                          Drizzle top with melted butter and bake in 375 - 400 degree oven until bubbling and top is lightly browned; about 30 minutes.

                          1. I always mix some white cheddar and a dash of milk into the potatoes, and top all with parmesan and paprika. Also add lots of black pepper to the meat as we like it spicy. Red wine, worchestshire and ketchup to moisten the meat, with thickened beef broth or leftover gravy if I have. I've converted to frozen mixed veggies, makes it more of a complete and easy meal. Also discovered recently lamb is much superior to beef.

                            1. This Nigel Slater recipe is pretty much The Business:


                              The parsnip topping is a great idea, adding to the sweet lamby taste. Personally, I think it works better without the Indian spices - but then I reckon shepherd's pie should be just easy, warm comforting food with no taste challenge. The sort of thing you want to eat when you've just got over the flu.

                              1. Every time we sat down to eat it, my father would say -- "Is that an enemy spy?"
                                And my brother and I would yell out, "No, Daddy, it's a shepherd spy!!" :-D

                                An old Spike Milligan joke -- we'd almost fall off our chairs laughing so hard.

                                1. I have a recipe that is my youngest son's favorite meal. It's not elegant, but just comfort food. I raised 4 children & this was an easy, quick filling & cheap dinner.

                                  Shepherd's Pie

                                  1 1/2 to 2 pounds ground chuck
                                  1 can tomato soup
                                  1 15 oz can of french syle green beans, drained
                                  1 t seasoned salt
                                  4 cups mashed potatoes( I use frozen mashed potatoes_
                                  sliced Velveeta

                                  Saute ground chuck, drain fat. Mix ground chuck, soup, green beans, seasoned salt. Pour into 9/13 casserole, spread potatoes over beef mixture, cover potatoes with sliced Velveeta. Bake at 350 for 25-30, until bubbly.

                                  1. Friends and I were planning to cook some shepherd's pie for a NY Day buffet. However, some of the guys really like the mormon potatoes (Ive eaten them, but not made them). What about topping the meat mixture with mormon potatoes?
                                    This is always our junk food gathering (chili and dogs, nachos, etc.) to counteract all the fancy cooking from the past month.

                                    1. Agreed with the previous comment that if it's ain't lamb, it ain't shepherd's pie. My favourite is Gordon Ramsay's recipe, really unctuous with a lovely gravy, and the tang of the grated parmesan (I use reggiano cuz this is a fancy casserole!) is perfect.


                                      1. pet peeve:

                                        shepherds eat lamb, not beef

                                        1. This is always a *big* hit:

                                          Shepherd’s Cottage Pie

                                          Despite the daunting appearance of the list of ingredients, this can ready in about an hour, and there’s enough comfort food for at least five hungry shepherds. (I realize shepherds eat primarily lamb, but we're urban shepherds.) The garlic/carrot/onion/pepper mixture gives the right lilt and moisture to the meats, the sausage gives good texture, and the olives offer a discernible Mediterranean edge to the many other flavors. Be sure to taste the final mixture for salt before spreading on the mashed potatoes.

                                          3 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, boiled, passed through a ricer, and stirred with cream, butter, and salt to taste
                                          4 cloves garlic, peeled
                                          1 large carrot, peeled and cut into one-inch chunks
                                          1 large yellow onion, peeled and quartered
                                          1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and quartered
                                          3/4 cup pearl onions (frozen are just fine)
                                          3 tablespoons unsalted butter
                                          1 1/2 lbs. ground chuck
                                          1 lb. ground lamb
                                          1 lb. sweet Italian sausage, removed from casing
                                          Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
                                          2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
                                          3 tablespoons finely chopped Italian parsley
                                          1 teaspoon sweet paprika
                                          1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
                                          1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
                                          2 teaspoons dried thyme
                                          3 tablespoons ketchup
                                          1/4 cup chopped green olives stuffed with pimientos
                                          1 teaspoon chopped chives
                                          3/4-1 cup grated Gruyère cheese

                                          Make the mashed potatoes and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

                                          In a large food processor fitted with the metal blade, chop the garlic, then the carrot, then pulse the onion and red pepper until nicely minced, not puréed. Sauté the mixture in 2 tablespoons of the butter in a roomy skillet over medium heat until softened, about 10 minutes. Stir in the pearl onions and heat through. Scrape the mixture into a bowl and set aside.

                                          In the same skillet, sauté the meats in 1 tablespoon of butter until no longer pinky rare, breaking up the sausage with a fork. Drain. Stir in the onion mixture and everything except the cheese and mashed potatoes. Taste for salt. Spread the meat mixture in a lightly greased rectangular 9x13x2’’ ceramic or other roasting pan. Spread the mashed potatoes over the meat, make little peaks and valleys with the tines of a fork, and sprinkle with the cheese. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes, or until potatoes are lightly browned. Run the pan under a hot broiler for a few moments, if you wish, to make the cheese sizzle.

                                          Yield: 5-8 servings

                                          1. Beef Cottage Pie by Linda Lawson (So easy & good, comforting & quick)

                                            Prep Time: 20 minutes
                                            Cook Time: 35 minutes
                                            Total Time: 55 minutes

                                            1 9" unbaked pie crust
                                            1 onion, chopped
                                            2 cloves garlic, minced
                                            1 lb. ground beef
                                            1/4 tsp. pepper
                                            1/4 cup ketchup
                                            2 Tbsp. mustard
                                            2 Tbsp. flour
                                            2 eggs, beaten
                                            1 cup cottage cheese
                                            2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
                                            Brown together onion, garlic, and ground beef in a heavy skillet. Drain any excess fat. Add pepper, ketchup, mustard, and flour to skillet and cook and stir for 3 minutes. Turn this meat mixture into the pie crust lined pan.
                                            Beat eggs and add cottage cheese and Parmesan cheese. Pour this mixture over meat in the pie pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes, or until filling is set, crust is golden, and topping is puffed. 6-8 servings