What Is Shepherd’s Pie
Easy shepherd’s pie with real or instant mashed potatoes is a savory dish consisting of ground meat filling topped with creamy mashed potatoes – pure comfort food. It is typically made with lamb or mutton, but can also be made with beef or chicken. The filling is seasoned with herbs and spices and also includes vegetables such as carrots, peas, and onions. A savory gravy is poured over the mixture making it all come together. The mashed potato topping for this classic shepherd’s pie recipe is typically made with butter, milk, and salt.
The best part about shepherd’s pie is that it is a complete meal. And it is so versatile. You can select from pretty much any vegetables or meats that you like or have on hand. It is a great dish to make with leftovers – especially leftover mashed potatoes. Shepherd’s pie is hearty and filling and can be made ahead of time – this makes it the perfect weeknight easy dinner recipe.
Traditional shepherd’s pie is a popular dish in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Australia – sometimes called cottage pie. It is also popular in other parts of the world, such as the United States and Canada.
Real Mashed Potatoes Vs. Instant Potatoes
Both real mashed potatoes and instant potatoes work great for this easy shepherd’s pie recipe. I usually use real potatoes so I can control the sodium level. Pre-packaged and preserved food items tend to have higher sodium and longer ingredient lists.
Real Potatoes –
Real potatoes are an excellent food choice- full of vitamin C, vitamin B6, and potassium. They have NO cholesterol, fat, gluten, or sodium. Potatoes are an affordable choice, readily available, and plant-based. Eating fresh potatoes that you peel yourself is the healthier option because there are no additives or preservatives.
They are pretty easy to make. See here how I make classic mashed potatoes with russet potatoes These can be used for shepherd’s pie, eaten as a side, and other dishes.
Instant Potatoes –
Instant mashed potatoes are a quick and easy way to prepare mashed potatoes. They are made from dehydrated potatoes that have been mashed and then dried. To prepare them, add hot water or milk and stir until the potatoes are smooth. Instant mashed potatoes can be made even more flavorful by adding butter, milk, salt, pepper, or other seasonings.
With the ease of using instant mashed potatoes comes a few drawbacks like higher sodium (and it’s pretty high). The second ingredient in these is vegetable oil along with some other scientific named ingredients. This is a good brand.
Vegetable Choices For Easy Shepherd’s Pie With Real Or Instant Mashed Potatoes
- Green Beans
- Mixed frozen vegetables
- Cauliflower mash (low carb option for a topping)
- Any Fresh Vegetables
- Diced Rutabaga
- Sweet potatoes
- Butternut Squash
Meat Choices For Easy Shepherd’s Pie With Real Or Instant Mashed Potatoes.
I keep a freezer full of prepared or cooked meats to make dinners come together really fast and efficiently. Here are some alternate suggestions:
- Ground Lamb
- Ground Chicken
- Ground Turkey
- Shredded Pork
- Shredded Chicken
- Shredded Beef
- Ground Italian sausage
- Hot and Spicy Sausage
- Diced Ham
Toppings, Spices, And Sauces For Easy Shepherd’s Pie With Real Or Instant Mashed Potatoes
Try some of these add-ins for extra flavor:
- Cheddar cheese
- Parmesan Cheese
- Swiss Cheese
- Mozzarella Cheese
- Seasoned Breadcrumbs
- Creole Seasoning
- Garlic Powder
- Chili Powder
- Curry Powder
- Herbs de Provence
For a rich gravy:
- Tomato Paste
- Cream of Mushroom Soup
- Pre-packaged brown gravy mix, but there is a lot of sodium in it. (gravy packet)
- Philadelphia Neufchatel Cream cheese
- BBQ Sauce
- Tomato Soup
- One cup of Water with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch
Ingredient List For Easy Shepherd’s Pie With Real Or Instant Mashed Potatoes
There are only a handful of simple and readily available ingredients to make this shepherd’s pie recipe. This is how my family enjoys it:
1. 1 pound of ground beef
2. 6-8 medium potatoes, mashed OR an 8-ounce package of instant mashed potatoes, prepared. (roughly 4 cups)
3. 1 medium onion diced
4. 3-4 carrots peeled and diced
5. I cup of frozen green peas
6. 3 tablespoons of butter
7. Seasonings to taste- Salt, Pepper, Oregano, Thyme, and a dash of Worcestershire sauce
8. 15-ounce can of low-sodium beef broth mixed with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch to make a slurry to thicken
-Use whatever you like. Like carrots? Add more. Like Peas – add a bunch. Make this dish to your own taste. Frozen mixed vegetables are a great alternative in place of the other vegetables.
– To make a cornstarch slurry for this dish, use cool or room temperature broth in a separate bowl and add in the cornstarch. Whisk it until there are no lumps and then slowly add it to the meat mixture. Homemade broth is delicious, see how I make it here.
-If using instant mashed potatoes add a little more water than it calls for. This makes it easier to spread.
-Top with cheese if you like!
Instructions For How To Make Easy Shepherd’s Pie With Real Or Instant Mashed Potatoes
1. Dice up the onions and carrots.
2. Prepare the mashed potatoes either real or instant.
4. Turn the burner to medium heat and melt the butter. Add the onions and carrots. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper and saute for 6-8 minutes.
5. Return the ground beef to the pan and stir. Add in the peas and seasonings. Next, add the beef broth cornstarch slurry to the ground beef mixture and combine.
6. Remove from heat and spread the mashed potatoes over the meat and vegetable mixture.
7. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F and bake for about 20-30 minutes until the sides start to bubble and the top is a light golden brown.
8. Let cool for 10 minutes to set and enjoy!
How To Serve, Store, and Reheat Easy Shepherd’s Pie With Real Or Instant Mashed Potatoes
Let the dish sit for about 10 minutes to firm up before slicing into.
To store easy shepherd’s pie with real or instant mashed potatoes let it cool completely. Then transfer to an airtight container (we love Pyrex glass storage containers) or cover tightly with plastic wrap. This dish stays fresh for 4 days in the refrigerator and wrapped up tightly in the freezer for up to 6 months.
To reheat shepherd’s pie use the microwave in a microwave-safe container covered for 60-second intervals until hot. (These silicone lids are amazing!) Or reheat in the oven in an oven-safe baking dish at 350 degrees F until it reaches the desired temperature.
Wrapping Up Easy Shepherd’s Pie With Real Or Instant Mashed Potatoes
This easy ground beef dinner recipe is the perfect weeknight meal. It is fast to make and made with only a handful of common ingredients that can be found at your local grocery store. Making real mashed potatoes might take a little extra prep time but I prefer them because they have much less sodium and a better texture and flavor. Here is my potato recipe.
However instant mashed potatoes are just that – instant. This is a good choice for a busy weeknight, just use less salt in the filling. Whichever way you choose to go this dish is delicious and filling. And it is a one-dish meal- protein, carbohydrate, and vegetable all in one. Try this simple and classic dish – everyone will love it!
Recipe Card For Easy Shepherd’s Pie With Real Or Instant Mashed Potatoes
Easy Shepherd’s Pie with Real Or Instant Mashed Potatoes
- 1 pound of ground beef
- 6-8 medium potatoes mashed OR an 8-ounce package of instant mashed potatoes, prepared
- 1 medium onion diced
- 3-4 carrots peeled and diced
- I cup of frozen green peas
- 3 tablespoons of butter
- Seasonings to taste- Salt Pepper, Oregano, Thyme, and a dash of Worcestershire sauce
- 15- ounce can of low-sodium beef broth mixed with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch to make a slurry to thicken
- 1. Dice up the onions and carrots.
- Prepare the mashed potatoes.
- In a large skillet (cast iron or another oven-safe baking dish)over medium-high heat brown ground beef until thoroughly cooked and drain the grease. (I precook my ground beef)
- Turn the burner to medium heat and melt the butter. Add the onions and carrots. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper and saute for 6-8 minutes.
- Return the ground beef to the pan and stir. Add in the peas and seasonings. Next, add the beef broth cornstarch slurry to the ground beef mixture and combine.
- Remove from heat and spread the mashed potatoes over the meat and vegetable mixture.
- Heat the oven to 350 degrees F and bake for about 20-30 minutes until the sides start to bubble and the top is a light golden brown.
- Let cool for 10 minutes to set and enjoy!