Rustic Shepherd's Pie Recipe

Rustic Shepherd’s Pie

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I remember the first time I had shepherd’s pie—it was during a cozy family gathering at my grandmother’s house. She had a way of making everything feel warm and inviting, especially with her hearty cooking. That shepherd’s pie was a revelation, with its savory meat filling and creamy mashed potato topping. Inspired by those fond memories, I’ve tried to recreate a similar feeling with this Rustic Shepherd’s Pie recipe.

One of the best things about this dish is its versatility. While traditional shepherd’s pie uses lamb, you can easily substitute beef if that’s what you have on hand. The mirepoix—a blend of chopped onions, carrots, and celery—adds a wonderful depth of flavor. Adding a touch of cinnamon and nutmeg might sound unusual, but trust me, it brings a subtle warmth that elevates the dish.

A little tweak I like to make is adding a couple of garlic cloves to the potatoes while they boil. It infuses them with a mild garlic flavor that complements the savory meat filling perfectly. Also, for those who enjoy a bit of a kick, a dash of hot sauce or a sprinkle of crushed red pepper in the meat mixture can add an exciting layer of heat.

The fresh herbs, including rosemary and thyme, not only make the kitchen smell incredible but also impart a fragrant taste that ties all the ingredients together beautifully. The creamy mashed potatoes, enriched with butter, cream cheese, and Irish cheddar, are the ultimate comfort food topping. Finishing it off under the broiler gives it that perfect golden-brown crust.

Whether you’re looking to recreate a beloved family recipe or try something new, this Rustic Shepherd’s Pie is sure to become a favorite in your household. It’s perfect for a cozy night in or a gathering with friends and family. Enjoy!

Making the Rustic Shepherd’s Pie


  • 1 lb ground beef or lamb
  • 1 1/4 cups thawed and drained frozen peas
  • 1 1/4 cups low sodium chicken stock or beef stock
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3 cups chopped mirepoix (carrots, onion, celery in equal parts)
  • 4 ounces shredded Irish cheddar cheese
  • 6 minced garlic cloves
  • 2 lbs peeled Yukon gold potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup half and half or milk at room temperature
  • fresh herbs (a few sprigs of thyme, rosemary, and a bay leaf)


  1. Boil the peeled potatoes in a pot of salted water until they are tender when pierced with a fork. Optionally, add a couple of garlic cloves to the water. Drain and mash the potatoes, then mix in the remaining mashed potato ingredients. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat a large oven-safe pot over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef or lamb, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, and cook until browned, about 4-5 minutes. Drain most of the fat, leaving a small amount in the pot. Add the olive oil and mirepoix, season lightly with salt, and cook until the vegetables are translucent, approximately 7-9 minutes. Stir in the minced garlic and cook for another 30 seconds until fragrant.
  3. Preheat your oven to 425°F. Sprinkle the meat and vegetable mixture with the ground cinnamon, nutmeg, and cornstarch, stirring to combine. Cook for 15 seconds before adding the Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, fresh herbs, bay leaf, and stock. Bring to a simmer, then lower the heat and let it gently simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the herbs and stir in the thawed peas. Season with salt and pepper as needed.
  4. Place large spoonfuls of the mashed potatoes over the meat mixture, smoothing them gently to cover. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. If desired, broil for a few minutes to achieve a golden brown top. Allow the pie to cool for a few minutes before serving.

Serving Rustic Shepherd's Pie


Can I use a different type of meat for the Shepherd’s Pie?

Yes, you can substitute ground lamb or beef with ground turkey or chicken if you prefer a lighter option. Keep in mind that this may slightly alter the flavor and texture of the dish.

What is mirepoix, and can I use frozen vegetables instead?

Mirepoix is a mixture of equal parts chopped onions, carrots, and celery, which forms the base for many dishes. You can use frozen mixed vegetables if you’re short on time, but fresh mirepoix will give a better flavor and texture.

Is there a vegetarian version of this recipe?

Yes, you can make a vegetarian version by replacing the meat with lentils, mushrooms, or a plant-based ground meat substitute. Additionally, use vegetable stock instead of beef or chicken stock.

Can I prepare parts of this dish in advance?

Absolutely! You can make the mashed potatoes and the meat filling a day in advance. Store them separately in the refrigerator and assemble just before baking. This will save you time on the day you plan to serve the dish.

How do I achieve a golden brown top on the Shepherd’s Pie?

To get a golden brown top, bake the Shepherd’s Pie as directed and then place it under the broiler for a few minutes. Keep a close eye on it to prevent burning. Alternatively, you can brush the top with a little melted butter before baking.

Can I freeze leftovers, and how should I reheat them?

Yes, Shepherd’s Pie freezes well. Store leftovers in an airtight container and freeze for up to 2 months. To reheat, thaw in the refrigerator overnight and then bake at 350°F until heated through, about 20-25 minutes.

Rustic Shepherd's Pie Recipe

Shepherd's Pie

Hearty and delicious, this Rustic Shepherd's Pie features a savory meat filling topped with creamy mashed potatoes, perfect for family dinners.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 55 minutes
Servings 4


  • 1 lb ground lamb or beef
  • 3 cups mirepoix equal parts chopped onion, carrots, celery
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • fresh herbs a few sprigs rosemary, thyme, and a bay leaf
  • 1 1/4 cups low sodium beef stock or chicken stock
  • 1 1/4 cup frozen peas thawed and drained
  • 2 lbs Yukon gold potatoes peeled
  • 3 tablespoons softened butter
  • 4 ounces cream cheese softened
  • 4 ounces shredded Irish cheddar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 3/4 cup room-temp half and half or milk


  • POTATOES: Boil the potatoes in a large pot of salted water until fork-tender. Sometimes I throw in a couple of garlic cloves with the potatoes. Drain, mash, and mix in the remaining mashed potato ingredients. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • BEEF FILLING: Heat a large oven-safe pot over medium-high heat. Add the ground lamb and crumble the meat using a wooden spoon. Cook for 4-5 minutes until the meat browns. Drain any excess grease, leaving just a tiny bit. Add the oil and mirepoix, season the veggies with a pinch of salt, and cook until translucent, about 7-9 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds or until fragrant.
  • GRAVY: Preheat the oven to 425°F. Sprinkle the ground meat mixture with cinnamon, nutmeg, and cornstarch. Stir to combine and cook for 15 seconds. Add the Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, herbs, bay leaf, and beef stock. Bring the gravy to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the herbs, stir in the peas, and adjust with salt and pepper as needed.
  • BAKE: Drop large dollops of the prepared mashed potatoes on top of the beef gravy and gently smooth them out. Bake for 15 minutes, then finish under the broiler if you want a golden brown top. Let cool for several minutes before serving.

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