How To Make Shepherd’s Pie


Everywhere on Earth, there’s a dish that people use to hide their leftovers. Sure, you can make it from scratch, but the beauty of these recipes is that you can throw in whatever you’ve got on hand and it’s just as good.

Today I’ve got one that for some reason I don’t do nearly often enough: Shepherd’s Pie. Meat, potatoes, and whatever vegetables you’ve got handy and you’re ready to go.


1 pound ground beef (or turkey, or pork)
4-5 medium potatoes
¼ cup milk
1 medium onion
1 pound diced mixed vegetables (any kind)
½ pound cheddar cheese
salt & pepper


Clean the potatoes. Peel them of you want to, but it’s definitely optional. I prefer to leave them on. Chop into 1-inch pieces and put in a pot of salted, boiling water.

You might notice the water doesn’t seem to be boiling in that picture. Well, I like to take the pot off the heat before dumping in splashy things. Call it a personal quirk of mine.

Cook the potatoes until a fork goes in easily, then drain in a colander.

At this point you’d expect to see directions to mash the potatoes. I was about to grab the masher when I remembered I’ve got a Ninja. I dumped all the potatoes in, added a little milk and some salt and pepper and hit it.

And I finally answered the question, “Is there anything a Ninja can’t do?” Yes. It can’t do mashed potatoes. At least not a whole batch at once. The stuff on the bottom got nice and creamy, but it didn’t turn over enough to draw in what was on top.

So I moved it to a bowl and finished mashing with a rubber spatula. Yes, the potatoes were that soft.

While the potatoes are going, brown the ground beef, breaking it up very well.

I greased the pan with bacon fat. Feel free to use whatever you like to fry with.

Add some onions, salt and pepper and cook until the onions are translucent.

Then add all the vegetables.

I had a bag of frozen mixed vegetables, which you can see in the ingredients picture up top, and a red pepper I found while I was cooking the ground beef. You can use whatever leftover veggies you have, just dice them all nice and small.

Cook just until everything is warmed through, then transfer to a casserole dish.

Cover with the mashed potatoes, making sure they go all the way to the edges.

Then cover with shredded cheese.

Get a block of cheese and shred it yourself. The pre-shredded stuff is coated with corn starch to keep it from sticking in the bag. It also keeps it from melting together nicely.

Cover the casserole and cook at 350° for 30-40 minutes. Then remove the lid and cook for another 10 minutes to let the cheese get a little bubbly on top. If you don’t have children looking over your shoulder asking, “Is it doooooone yeeeeeet?” you might let the cheese get a little browned and crispy around the edges, like a good lasagna. Or, you might just take it out and serve it now.

With fresh-baked skillet dinner rolls that you baked at the same time.

And that’s it.

Shepherd's Pie

Shepherd's Pie


  • ground beef (or turkey, or pork)
  • 4-5 medium potatoes
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 pound diced mixed vegetables (any kind)
  • ½ pound cheddar cheese, shredded
  • salt & pepper


Clean the potatoes and dice into 1-inch pieces. Cook in salted, boiling water until a fork goes in easily. Drain, add salt and a splash of milk and mash until smooth.

Brown the ground beef with salt and pepper. Add the onions and cook until they are translucent. Add all vegetables, diced small. Cook until veggies warmed through.

Transfer the meat/veggie mix to a casserole dish. Cover with the mashed potatoes, smoothed out to the edges. Top with the cheese. Cover and bake at 350° for 30-40 minutes. Then remove the lid and cook for another 10 minutes to let the cheese get a little bubbly on top.


  1. This looks delicious. I had something similar to this in Canada several years ago. It was supposed to be a regional favorite. Do you know what that dish is and do you have a recipe for it?

    • You’re probably talking about Tourtiere Lac St Jean. It’s pretty similar.

      • In Canada Sheppard’s pie has peas & carrots – no cheese, the same thing but with corn instead of peas & carrots is called Chinese Pie or Pâté chinois.

        I had never heard of adding cheese to either until I read an American recipe for sheppard’s pie.

        My Dad always created groves across the top of the mashed potatoes and sprinkled on some paprika.

      • Christi says:

        As a Canadian who makes Pate Chinois all the time, I never saw it with peas and carrots and always layered it. I always put a small amount of spaghetti sauce, or bbq sauce or something saucy in the burger to kind of hold it together for the bottom layer then cream corn (do not use no name brand, splurge for the thicker name brand stuff, it sets way better and doesnt run all thru the meat layer) for next layer, whipped taters on top and always buttered the very top near the end of the cooking and sprinkled with parmesan but thats just cuz im a cheese fiend :)

  2. It’s more commonly called Cottage Pie over here, but it’s good whatever the name. My mom used to make this on a regular basis. If I’m using ground beef or “mince” as the Brits call it, I’ll crumble in a beef stock cube and a good dollop of Worcester sauce. Yum, yum!

  3. I did not know that about packaged shredded cheese. Any other “gotcha’s” like that out there that I missed?

    And BTW, I can usually read these without getting hungry. Not today :(

    • How about this one: Most “heavy whipping cream” has stabilizers like cargeenan in it, so that it will fluff up better when you whip it. If you just need it for an ingredient, like for making ice cream, what do you need the carageenan for?

      Besides which, I’ve whipped just plain cream often enough to know that you don’t need the stabilizers anyway if you keep it cold until you eat it.

      Check the ingredient label on the carton. All you should see is cream.

  4. Hmm, I have never had, or even heard of, Shepherd’s Pie with Cheese and mixed veggies. Growing up my mum would make it with a layer of ground beef, and layer of corn and creamed corn, then top with mashed potatoes.

    This one looks very good too, I may give that a try tonight :)

  5. Just a hint: don’t ever whip potatoes in or with a powered mixer. Also “smash” by hand. Like flour, too much handling will activate the starches which results in a gluey texture. Lots of butter and some cream and a hand masher will make a fluffier dish.

    My Gran always made this when she had leftover roast beef, mincing the beef in the mixer and using only peas as a veg. My mum made this version, but usually left out the cheese. I used to do this version with a sachet of seasoning – yum! – but I’m trying to cut out the processed foods.

  6. Kimberley and Leanne, I thought about doing the more tradition layered assembly. But Every time I’ve had that it falls apart before it gets into your dish. I though mixing the beg with the meat would help it all keep together a little better when serving, which it did. It also gave me a chance to warm up the frozen veg without having to dirty another bowl or pan.

    And Leanne, you’re right about the texture. I wanted a little bit less “fluffy” and a little more structural, again to hold everything together.

  7. RhythmVick says:

    This is very different from our English traditional Shepherd’s Pie, which is always made with lamb (hence the shepherd title). Pies made with beef are Cottage Pie. It’s not traditional to put cheese on top although some people now do. We’d use beef dripping for the fat in a cottage pie and probably veg oil for a Shepherd’s Pie. We would tend only to put onions and carrots in and normally a splash of Worcestershire sauce, which gives it a tang and richer, deeper colour. My mum’s secret was to put a tbsp of chutney or pickle in – it really gives it a lovely edge. And always serve with peas. The choice between brown sauce and tomato ketchup is a personal preference – I vote brown!!

  8. Australia tends to follow the British recipe for shepherd’s pie (lamb) and cottage pie (beef). I brown diced onion, grated carrot and finely chopped celery with the mince, add worcester sauce and tomato sauce (ketchup), salt and pepper. You definitely have peas on the side. There was a case in Britian in the past year or so, about two mates who had a fight over whether to put tomatoes into shepherd’s pie, and it ended up with one bloke stabbing the other!

  9. Masoka, something tells me there was alcohol involved in that discussion.

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