This is the best shepherd’s pie recipe if you ask me! It always gets rave reviews! Ground lamb is infused with beer and savoury herbs like rosemary and thyme. The whole lot is topped with creamy horseradish mashed potatoes to make a super comforting, stick-to-ya-ribs traditional shepherd’s pie recipe that you’re gonna love!
Hi friends! Happy Friday! St. Patrick’s Day is pretty popular around here. A lot of people in the city will venture down to George Street (two blocks long and has the most pubs and bars per capita of any street in North America!)
Though I’ve been to George Street in my younger years, these days I don’t particularly care to go out on St. Patrick’s Day to all the crowd filled pubs and drink ma face off. No, I’d rather stay in the comfort of home and quietly have a beer in my comfy clothes. But, whatever makes ya happy, right?
Newfoundland has a lot of Irish influence. Most of the early settlers of Newfoundland were of English and Irish descent. We definitely have a unique accent around here and even within areas of the province, you will find countless dialects.
And don’t even get me started on the wicked fish-n-chips we have around here. Anyhow, shepherd’s pie!! Another comfort food winner! This is a winter comfort food necessity, especially around St. Patrick’s Day!
What’s your plan for St. Patrick’s Day? It’s on a Friday this year. I’m sure there will be a lot of people celebrating and a lot of them wanting comfort food the next day, like shepherd’s pie.
For me, though, my perfect weekend night would be making something good (like this lamb shepherd’s pie), having a beer or glass of vino, curling up on the couch with hubby and furry child and just relaxing!
So, onto this delicious recipe, shall we?
What Is Shepherd’s Pie?
Shepherd’s pie is a traditional Irish recipe made with ground lamb and vegetables cooked in a little gravy-like sauce. It’s topped with mashed potato and baked until bubbling and the top is golden brown.
Even though the word “pie” is in the name, there is no pastry involved here. The carb component of this recipe is mashed potatoes.
How To Make It
Making shepherd’s pie is easy peasy! There’s no intense cooking skills or anything required and the payoff is delicious! It’s one of those dishes that is super comforting and just what you want on a cold day.
Full details are in the recipe card below, but here are the basics:
- Cook onion and garlic in a skillet on the stovetop
- Add carrots, season with salt and pepper. To carrots, add broth and cook until broth is mostly absorbed.
- Next, lamb goes into the skillet. Season and cook.
- Add Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste and herbs. Stir.
- To create a little sauce, sprinkle flour over top, stirring, and pour in beer.
- Peas and corn are added to the mixture.
- Top with mashed potatoes
- Bake until bubbly and top is golden brown
How To Make Horseradish Mashed Potatoes
I know the ground lamb mixture is super delicious and pretty much the major component of this recipe. However, the mash is too! These are delicious!
To make these mashed potatoes the best they could possibly be, I recommend:
- Boil chunks of potato in a pot of salted water until tender.
- Instead of immediately mashing the potatoes, use a ricer to rice them.
- Next, add warm cream, butter and horseradish (hubby’s idea for the horseradish and it works brilliantly). Stir until just combined.
- Scoop the horseradish mash on top of the lamb mixture and spread right to the edge. The key to get those golden brown edgy bits is don’t smooth it out evenly. Those little peaks and valleys are what I love and not only does it taste good, it makes for a more visually appealing shepherd’s pie.
Full details are in the recipe card below.
Difference Between Shepherd’s Pie and Cottage Pie
Like I mentioned, Newfoundland has a lot of Irish influence. So, growing up I ate my fair share of “shepherd’s pie.” But, now I know that it wasn’t exactly shepherd’s pie. It was “cottage pie.”
Ground lamb wasn’t as readily available as it is now and not as budget friendly as beef.
Basically, both recipes are similar, but the difference is that traditional Irish shepherd’s pie is made with ground lamb. Whereas, cottage pie is made with ground beef.
Tips for Making This Recipe
- Not a fan of horseradish? You could totally omit that if that’s not your jam.
- Speaking of horseradish, go for a quality product (keeping with the Irish theme here, from Ireland if you can get it).
- Don’t want to serve in a cast-iron skillet? Try one or two loaf pans instead. Or, alternatively, portion into individual oven-safe serving dishes.
- Whatever you do, when baking, place the skillet on top of a baking sheet to catch any sauce that may bubble over.
- If you prefer less potatoes on top, I suggest cutting the potato portion of the recipe (and it’s components) by about a quarter. You do you, right?
- Don’t have fresh herbs on hand? Use ⅓ less dried. So, use 1 teaspoon of dried rosemary and about ¾ teaspoon of dried thyme.
- Once baked, let it cool for 10 to 15 minutes before devouring.
- If you don’t have lamb, use ground beef (though it will technically be a cottage pie, as mentioned above).
- Don’t want to use beer? No worries! Substitute with broth.
- Want another type of veg? Try adding celery along with the carrot.
- Want to thicken this classic shepherd’s pie without flour? Thicken with a cornstarch slurry instead. Simply mix about 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with equal parts cold water and stir into lamb mixture instead of flour.
- Instead of horseradish, mix in about 6 to 8 ounces (about 1.5 to 2 cups, packed) of shredded cheddar cheese.
Shepherd’s pie can be enjoyed as is or with any of these sides:
- Fries or potato wedges
- Green beans
- Mushy Peas
- Green Salad
More Easy Traditional Recipes you May Enjoy
Hope you think this is the best shepherd’s pie recipe too! We love it around here!
And if you’re looking for a delicious variation, try this vegan shepherd’s pie recipe.
If you make this traditional shepherd’s pie recipe, be sure to leave a comment below!
Traditional Shepherd’s Pie With Lamb
Creamy Horseradish Mashed Potatoes
- 3 to 4 large potatoes (a good mashing potato, like Russets or Yukon Gold), peeled and cut into chunks (about 4 cups, mashed)
- ½ cup heavy cream (whipping cream), warmed
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted (4 tablespoons)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup prepared horseradish
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, peeled and minced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 carrots, peeled and chopped into little pieces
- ¾ teaspoon salt, divided
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
- ½ cup low sodium chicken broth
- 1 pound ground lamb, or use ground beef for "cottage pie"
- 1.5 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves, plus more for optional garnish
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves, plus more for optional garnish
- pinch ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup stout beer, like Guinness (or use chicken broth)
- 1 cup frozen peas
- ½ cup frozen corn
Creamy Horseradish Mashed Potatoes
- Boil potatoes in a pot of salted water until fork-tender, about 15 minutes. Drain. Using a potato ricer, rice potatoes into a bowl. To potatoes, add heavy cream, butter, salt and horseradish. Mash well. Set the mashed potatoes aside.Note: When boiling, there should be an inch or two of water above the potatoes, basically ensuring that they are fully submerged and covered by the water.
Shepherd's Pie Filling
- Heat olive oil in a cast iron skillet (I used a 10-inch) over medium-low heat.
- Add onion and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook for 1 minute.
- To onion/garlic mixture, add carrots and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Season with ¼ teaspoon each of salt and black pepper. Add chicken broth and cook for 5 minutes or until broth is mostly absorbed. Push veggie mixture to one side of the skillet.
- Add lamb to skillet. Season with remaining ½ teaspoon salt and remaining ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Combine lamb with veggies and cook, breaking the lamb into small pieces and stirring occasionally, until the lamb is fully cooked through (the lamb should no longer be pink and be browned all the way through), about 10 minutes.
- To mixture, add Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, rosemary, thyme, nutmeg and crushed red pepper flakes. Stir to combine. From a height, sprinkle flour over lamb, stirring to combine.
- Add beer to lamb and cook for 3 to 5 minutes. Most of the liquid will absorb rather quickly, but you'll still have some moisture there. Add peas and corn and stir to combine.
Assemble the Shepherd's Pie and Bake
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Top lamb mixture with the mashed potatoes (don't smooth out evenly, you want little bumps and dips because they will brown nicely in the oven and add some texture).
- Carefully place the skillet of shepherd's pie onto a baking sheet (to catch any bubbling over, just in case), then transfer to the preheated oven to bake for 45 minutes.
- Once done, garnish with additional rosemary and thyme to taste (optional). Let rest for 10 to 15 minutes before serving. Don't skip this. Enjoy!
A note on times provided: appliances vary, any prep and/or cook times provided are estimates only.
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Tried this recipe?
If you do make this recipe, thank you!! It would mean so much if you could leave a comment below. Love to know how you enjoyed it, and it helps other readers too!
I have made this Shepherds Pie several times and it is fabulous. Last Tuesday, I made it for my daughter and her family and they absolutely loved it.
I’m from Puerto Rico and I didn’t grow up eating shepherds pie, but I love this recipe. Thanks so much.
Dawn - Girl Heart Food
Hi Yolanda! Your comment put a big smile on my face, thank you very much!! So happy you and your family enjoy the recipe!
My bfs favorite dish is shepherds pie. I’ve made this two years in a row and he loves it. This has got to be the tastiest shepherds pie recipe we’ve ever had. He’s tried it at many a restaurant and this is the best! Thanks so much
Dawn - Girl Heart Food
Hi Michelle! Thank you very much, I’m so happy to hear that!!
This is the 3rd year I’ve. made this for St. Patrick’s Day. Hi everyone consuming but worth every minute. House smells amazing and I have no words to describe how incredibly delicious it is. We even look forward to the leftovers and are sad when they are gone. Thanks so much for the Shepherds Pie recipe!
Dawn - Girl Heart Food
I’m so very happy to hear that you all enjoy the recipe so much!! Thank you for the kind words – appreciate it! Hope you have a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day 🙂