Recipe for Making the Best Shepherds Pie

Shepherds Pie

I was watching a show called Kitchen Nightmares the other night and in this particular episode, Chef Ramsay was helping out the owners of an Irish Pub in New York. One of the dishes Chef Ramsay cooked on this episode was Shepherds Pie. It looked and sounded absolutely delicious, so I figured I would give it a try.

Shepherds Pie or sometimes spelled Shepards Pie, is a dish that is served at pubs throughout England and Ireland. It is traditionally made with finely chopped or ground lamb topped with mashed potatoes. Ground or chopped beef is often substituted for the lamb. When beef is used, the dish is referred to as “Cottage Pie”.

I am not a big fan of Lamb, so I used ground beef in the recipe that follows. My wife and I absolutely loved this dish and will certainly make it again in the future. The ground beef was excellent, but I think the next time I make this, I will try using a braised beef instead. I am thinking that some left over meat from a pot roast would work wonderfully in this dish.

Well, let’s get on with the recipe shall we? I am quite confident that you and your family will fall in love with this dish and make it again and again.

Please forgive me if any of the measurements in this recipe are not spot on accurate. I rarely follow recipes and tend to taste as I go along. I recommend you do the same and try to use the ingredients below as a guide.

The Mashed Potatoes:

I experimented and used three types of dairy with the potatoes. The result was a very fluffy and creamy mashed potatoes which worked wonderfully with the rest of the ingredients. Again, the ingredients below are a guide. I would add a little of each ingredient at a time and taste as you go. Like it creamier? Then add a bit more cream. Need more salt? Add a bit more. You could add a touch of garlic powder or freshly roasted garlic to these potatoes as well for an exciting variation.

  • About 5 Potatoes (I use Russets) Peeled and Cut Into Cubes
  • 2 Tablespoons Sour Cream
  • 1 Tablespoons Softened Cream Cheese
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter
  • Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Pie Filling:

  • 2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Pound Ground Beef or Lamb
  • 2 Carrots Peeled and Chopped
  • 1 Onion Chopped
  • About 1/2 Cup Frozen Peas


  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 2 Tablespoons All Purpose Flour
  • 1 Cup Beef Stock or Broth
  • A Healthy Squirt Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 Tsp Freshly Chopped Thyme

The Garnish:

  • Paprika
  • Freshly Chopped Parsley Leaves


Get a pot large enough to hold your potatoes with room to spare and fill with cold water. Add a generous pinch of salt to the water and then add your potatoes. Boil the potatoes in the salted water until tender. It should only take about 10-12 minutes. You can check the potatoes for doneness by piercing with a toothpick or fork. Drain the potatoes and add them to a large bowl. Add your sour cream, cream cheese, butter, salt and pepper. Mash the potatoes and stir until smooth. Set Aside.

While the potatoes are cooking, preheat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the oil to the pan, then add the ground beef or lamb. Season the meat with a bit of salt and pepper. Brown the meat, crumbling it as you brown. If you are using meat that is high in fat, try and spoon out some of the drippings as you cook.

Add your chopped carrots and onions to the ground beef. Cook your vegetables with the meat for 5 minutes or so, stirring often. You can then remove from heat.

Now we are going to make our gravy. Grab another skillet and over medium heat cook 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of flour together for a few minutes, stirring often. Make certain to keep an eye on this mixture because it can burn. If it burns, the butter can turn bitter, and you will have to start over. You will only need to cook the butter and flour for a minute or so until it mixes together and is smooth.

Add your beef broth or stock,Worcestershire Sauce, and fresh thyme to the flour and butter mixture. Stir and allow gravy to thicken. It should only take a minute or so.

Add the gravy to your meat and veggies and stir in your frozen peas.

Preheat your oven broiler to high.

Now grab a relatively small round or rectangular baking dish and fill it with your meat and veggie mixture.

Top the mixture with your mashed potatoes and spread evenly over the mixture. Sprinkle some paprika on top and broil around 5 – 6 inches from the heat until the potatoes are evenly browned.

Sprinkle some freshly chopped parsley on top and serve.

The Author:

Ralph Serpe is a passionate home cook.

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