Skillet Shepherd’s Pie Recipe

5 from 1 vote
Jump to Recipe

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.

This shepherd’s pie features a creamy layer of minced meat mixed with carrots, onions, peas, corn, and fresh herbs, topped with a layer of buttery and cheesy mashed potatoes. It’s baked for a perfect golden finish and a slightly crispy top.

Classic Shepherd's pie in a cast iron skillet topped with crispy golden seared mashed potatoes.

Why I Love This Recipe

Shepherd’s pie is a simple, yet classic British dish that is popular around Saint Patrick’s Day. Traditional shepherd’s pie is made with ground lamb, however, ground beef is a very common substitute, which is also known as cottage pie.

This recipe features savory cream cheese mashed potatoes, minced meat, Guinness, and a blend of frozen veggies, spices, and fresh herbs. It’s warming, rich, and everything you need in delicious comfort food.

If you enjoyed this recipe, also try my red wine braised short ribs over mashed potatoes! If you’re looking for more Irish recipes, try my skillet Irish soda bread or my corned beef hash!

Ingredients

  • Russet potatoes: you can also use Yukon gold. You can learn more about my favorite cream cheese mashed potatoes here.
  • Cream cheese: cream cheese adds flavor and contributes to velvety texture. I recommend full-fat cream cheese.
  • Warm cream and butter: use heavy cream and heat so it’s just warm. Using warm butter and cream helps the starches better absorb the fat.
  • Salt: back salting mashed potatoes can be a challenge. It’s really important to get the bulk of the salt content from the salted boiling water. This helps flavor the potatoes throughout.
  • Ground lamb or beef: ground lamb is traditional however ground beef is a very common substitute. Look for 85% lean ground beef if you choose beef.
  • Yellow onion, chopped
  • Carrots: you can use fresh carrots (no need to precook) or you can use frozen. You can usually find frozen peas and carrots mixed together.
  • Corn: you can use frozen or canned however I prefer frozen since it’s fresher.
  • Guinness: I use Guinness in place of beef broth however you can also use beef stock or broth.
  • Worcestershire sauce: Worcestershire sauce adds signature flavor to the meat mixture. I highly recommend you don’t skip this ingredient.
  • Garlic: use a microplane to finely mince the garlic into a puree, this makes mixing easier.
  • All-purpose flour: flour acts as a thickening agent that renders the meat mixture into a creamier texture along with the fat and juices. This process acts similar to a roux, rendering a quick gravy.

See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities below.

How to Make Shepherd’s Pie

Step 1.

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Step 2.

For the mashed potatoes: add potatoes to a large pot and fill with cold water, covering by 2 inches. Generously season water with a big pinch of salt. You should be able to taste the salt in the water.

Step 3.

Cover and bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low. Simmer for 25 minutes or until you can easily pierce potatoes with a fork with no resistance. Do not undercook.

Step 4.

Add cream and butter to a microwaveable safe measuring glass or bowl. Heat for 45 seconds to 1 minute or until the cream is warm and the butter is partially melted.

Step 5.

Remove potatoes from the heat and strain all water. Return potatoes to the same pot (keep off heat). Pour in half the cream/butter and mash together (with a potato masher) until smooth and creamy. Repeat with remaining cream/butter.

QUICK TIP

Use a potato ricer for foolproof potatoes: while a traditional potato masher works, the best way to eliminate ANY lumps with little effort is to use a potato ricer to pulverize the potatoes before adding cream and butter.

Step 6.

Add cream cheese and mash/stir until potatoes are smooth and silky. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste if needed.

Step 7.

For the meat mixture: heat oil in a 12-inch ovenproof skillet on medium heat. Add onion, carrots, and rosemary. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and ground lamb (or beef) and cook until no longer pink, about 5 more minutes. Drain all but about 1-2 tablespoons of fat.

Step 8.

Stir in peas and corn, cooking for 2-3 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add flour evenly over the mixture and stir until fully incorporated. Cook for 1 additional minute before adding Guinness and Worcestershire sauce. Let simmer for about 5 minutes or until the mixture has slightly thickened.

Step 9.

Make sure the meat mixture is evenly distributed throughout the skillet before topping with an even layer of mashed potatoes. It helps to layer in small clumps/sections. It can be hard to spread without the potatoes sticking to the beef. Bake for 20 minutes or until potatoes start to brown on the top. You may need to broil for the last 2-3 minutes to get a nice golden crust. Garnish with rosemary and parsley and serve.

Classic Shepherd's pie in a cast iron skillet with a scoop removed, revealing minced meat, carrots, corn, and a thick layer of golden mashed potatoes.

Expert Tips

  • I recommend making the mashed potatoes first and setting them aside so it’s one less thing to worry about. You can also make them a day ahead if you prefer.
  • The potatoes will easily stick to the beef and won’t spread like you’re frosting a cake. I went around the surface of the dish with large dollops and smoothed it with the back of a spoon.
  • Shepherd’s pie needs to bake for about 20 minutes to crisp the top of the potatoes, however, I recommend you broil on high for the last 2-3 minutes to get a nice golden crust like the picture below.
  • I recommend frozen vegetables over canned ones for this recipe. Frozen vegetables are fresher and have better color. The only exception is canned corn. That can be swapped in place of frozen if you prefer.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between cottage pie and shepherd’s pie?

While essentially the same, shepherd’s pie is made with ground lamb while cottage pie is made with ground beef.

Is Shepherd’s pie supposed to be soupy?

No, the liquid contents of this recipe should be minimal. The gravy should hold the meat contents together.

Can this be made ahead?

Yes, however you should always save the baking portion until right before serving. Build the pie as instructed and store covered in the fridge until ready to bake. Just note, it will take longer to reheat since it’s been chilled (30-40 minutes total)

More Skillet Recipes

Enjoy this recipe? If you made this recipe, please leave a ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ star rating in the recipe card below & a review in the comments!
5 from 1 vote

Skillet Shepherd’s Pie Recipe

Servings: 6
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 1 hour
Total: 1 hour 15 minutes
Shepherd's pie recipe made in a cast-iron skillet with cream cheese mashed potatoes and savory minced meat made with frozen veggies, spices, and a splash of Guinness.

Ingredients 

Mashed Potatoes

  • 4 large russet potatoes, peeled and quartered (about 2 lbs)
  • 6 ounces room temp cream cheese, cubed
  • 1/2 cup warm cream
  • 6 tablespoons butter, cubed and melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste

Meat Filling

  • 1.25-1.5 pounds ground lamb or beef
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, 1 cup, peeled and chopped (or frozen)
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 cup frozen or canned corn
  • 2/3 cup Guinness
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, removed from sprig and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Chopped fresh parsley and rosemary, for garnish
Save this recipe!
We’ll send it to your inbox, plus you’ll get new recipes from us every week!
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 400°F.

For the mashed potatoes

  • Add potatoes to a large pot and fill with cold water, covering by 2 inches. Generously season water with a big pinch of salt. You should be able to taste the salt in the water.
  • Cover and bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low. Simmer for 25 minutes or until you can easily pierce potatoes with a fork with no resistance. Do not undercook.
  • Add cream and butter to a microwaveable safe measuring glass or bowl. Heat for 45 seconds to 1 minute or until the cream is warm and the butter is partially melted.
  • Remove potatoes from the heat and strain all water. Return potatoes to the same pot (keep off heat). Pour in half the cream/butter and mash together (with a potato masher) until smooth and creamy. Repeat with remaining cream/butter.
  • Add cream cheese and mash/stir until potatoes are smooth and silky. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste if needed.

For the meat mixture

  • Heat oil in a 12-inch ovenproof skillet on medium heat. Add onion, carrots and rosemary. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and ground lamb (or beef) and cook until no longer pink, about 5 more minutes. Drain all but about 1-2 tablespoons of fat.
  • Stir in peas and corn, cooking for 2-3 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add flour evenly over the mixture and stir until fully incorporated. Cook for 1 additional minute before adding Guinness and Worcestershire sauce. Let simmer for about 5 minutes or until the mixture has slightly thickened.
  • Make sure minced meat is evenly distributed throughout the skillet before topping with an even layer of mashed potatoes. It helps to layer in small clumps/sections. It can be hard to spread without the potatoes sticking to the beef. Bake for 20 minutes or until potatoes start to brown on the top. You may need to broil for the last 2-3 minutes to get a nice golden crust. Garnish with rosemary and parsley and serve.

Notes

I recommend making the mashed potatoes first and setting them aside so it’s one less thing to worry about. You can also make them a day ahead if you prefer.
The potatoes will easily stick to the beef and won’t spread like you’re frosting a cake. I went around the surface of the dish with large dollops and smoothed it with the back of a spoon.
Shepherd’s pie needs to bake for about 20 minutes to crisp the top of the potatoes, however, I recommend you broil on high for the last 2-3 minutes to get a nice golden crust like the picture below.
I recommend frozen vegetables over canned ones for this recipe. Frozen vegetables are fresher and have better color. The only exception is canned corn. That can be swapped in place of frozen if you prefer.
Use a potato ricer for foolproof potatoes: while a traditional potato masher works, the best way to eliminate ANY lumps with little effort is to use a potato ricer to pulverize the potatoes before adding cream and butter.

Nutrition

Serving: 1pieceCalories: 572kcalCarbohydrates: 57.2gProtein: 30.9gFat: 23.3gSaturated Fat: 12.2gCholesterol: 109mgSodium: 314mgFiber: 9.1gSugar: 8.2g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Dinner
Cuisine: British
Tried this recipe?Mention @kitchenswagger or tag #kitchenswagger!

About Shawn Williams

My name is Shawn, author behind Kitchen Swagger. I'm a food & drink enthusiast bringing you my own simple and delicious restaurant-inspired recipes.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




1 Comment

  1. 5 stars
    a delicious recipe, but it is true Cottage Pie because itis made with mince meat and has vegies in it from the Cottage Garden, thus the name,,, – Traditional German Shepherds Pie is made with “minced Cooked Lamb” using the leftover Roast Lamb and Pickled Lamb minced and mixed with Tomato Sauce and Worcestershire Sauce, a pinch of seasoning and black pepper, topped with mashed potato, the pie is then heated thtough in oven and potato then browned nicely under grill,, there are no vegies in it but boiled carrots, beans and cabbage served with it,, this is a huge difference between the two pies,,,, my German Grandma made this lots of times,, it is delicious, originally made to feed the shepherds using the familys leftovers,, as they were very poor in those days,, so this recipe has been handed down through my German generations,, and we , as kids, in 1940’s loved helping Grandma turn the handle on the mincing machine, it was screwed to the kitchen table,,