Shield yourself against chilly nights with this cozy Shepherd’s Pie recipe. Easily make it vegan, vegetarian or gluten free with a few simple swaps!
My hope for this recipe, above all else, is that it brings you comfort. If you’re reading this at the time of publication, you’re likely in the middle of a very uncertain and stressful time. We’re all here with you, and I hope you’re able to do small things to comfort yourself, like making a delicious meal. The world is a scary place to live in right now, but we’re lucky to live in a time when we can stay so connected, even while we’re far apart.
This shepherd’s pie recipe is classic, warming, and so, so good. You can easily halve it to make a smaller portion if you’re by yourself, or you can pop some in the freezer to enjoy later. I also wanted to offer a few substitutions if you’re running low on groceries and need to use up pantry staples:
Simple Shepherd’s Pie Ingredient Swaps
- Make it vegetarian or vegan. You can make this dish plant-based by using cooked lentils, chopped mushrooms, or even veggie beef crumbles in place of the meat. Swap out the beef stock for vegetable stock and the dairy in the mashed potatoes for vegan options.
- Use up any meat. Shepherd’s pie is actually only shepherd’s pie when it uses ground lamb. This recipe is ~technically~ called cottage pie, but no one really knows that, so shepherd’s pie it is. Anyway. Feel free to use ground lamb, ground turkey, ground bison, ground whatever.
- Switch up your mirepoix. Carrots or celery could be omitted if need be, but I would not recommend omitting both. And whatever you do, don’t omit the onion.
- Skip the wine (or save it for drinking). No wine? No problem. Just add more stock.
- Use any tater. Any potatoes will work here, really, but I love the buttery, creamy flavor that Yukon golds naturally have. But if all you’ve got is a bag of Russets, don’t sweat it. Those will work just fine. (Just peel them first.)
Life has certainly been hard lately, but settling in for the evening over a steaming bowl of something delicious is one of life’s great constants. Once this is all over, come on over to my house and I’ll make you shepherd’s pie. It’ll cheer you right up.
More comforting pantry staple recipes:
Coconut Curry Lentils
Garlic Butter Shrimp Pasta with White Wine Tomato Sauce
Easy 30-Minute Minestrone Soup
IF YOU MAKE THIS SHEPHERD’S PIE, DON’T FORGET TO SNAP A PHOTO AND TAG ME IN IT ON INSTAGRAM @FEELINWHISKY! I LOVE SEEING WHAT YOU DO WITH MY RECIPES!Print
Shield yourself against chilly nights with this cozy Shepherd’s Pie recipe. Vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options!
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 75 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
- Yield: 8 servings 1x
For the shepherd’s pie:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 3 medium carrots, finely diced
- 2 large stalks celery, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup dry red wine (or sub for more stock)
- 1 1/2 cups beef stock (or chicken stock, or vegetable stock)
- 1 cup frozen peas
- Kosher salt + freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
For the mashed potatoes:
- 2.5 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, cubed
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/4 cup half and half or milk, plus more as needed to thin
- Kosher salt + freshly cracked black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Cook the potatoes: Place cubed potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water. Salt the water very generously, then place a lid on the pot and set over high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium. Simmer for 15–20 minutes, or until a knife cuts through the potatoes with no resistance. Drain the potatoes, then immediately return them to the hot pot.
- Dry out the potatoes: Place the pot over medium-low heat and stir the potatoes around for a minute or two to cook off some of the remaining steam. This ensures a fluffy, not-too-wet mash.
- Mash the potatoes: Remove the pot from the heat and mash the potatoes with a masher or potato ricer. Mash in the butter and half and half. Taste and season accordingly (you’ll probably need a lot of salt!).
- Cook the beef: Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. I like to use an oven-safe pan, because I can transfer the whole thing to the oven without dirtying a pie plate. Once the oil is shimmering, add the ground beef and season with salt and pepper. Cook the meat, breaking up any large chunks with your spoon, until browned.
- Add the vegetables: To the browned beef, add the onion, carrots, and celery. Cook for an additional 5–6 minutes, or until the carrots and celery have softened and the onion is soft and translucent. Add the garlic, thyme, rosemary, and bay leaf, and sauté for an additional minute, or until fragrant. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for another minute or two to cook off the raw tomato flavor.
- Make the gravy: Sprinkle the flour over the meat and vegetables, then cook together for a minute or two, or until no raw flour bits remain and a golden fond has started to form at the bottom of the pan. Pour in the wine, if using, and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Stir in the stock and bring the mixture up to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low to maintain a low simmer, and continue cooking for 5–7 minutes. You’ll know the gravy is thickened properly when a spoon dragged through the mixture leaves a trail. Stir in the frozen peas and season the whole mixture to taste.
- Bake the shepherd’s pie: If you didn’t make the gravy in an oven-safe pan, transfer it to a pie plate or baking dish. Dollop the mashed potatoes on top of the gravy, then smooth them across the top using a spatula. Drag a fork across the top of the potatoes in a criss-cross pattern to create lots of craggy nooks and crannies for optimal browning. Place the pie plate on a parchment-lined sheet tray in case of leaks, then transfer the whole thing to the preheated oven for about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven at the 15-minute mark and sprinkle the cheddar cheese evenly across the top, then return to the oven for the remaining 10 minutes.
- Allow the pie to cool for about 5 minutes before digging in.
Make it vegetarian: Use chopped mushrooms or cooked lentils in place of ground beef, and use vegetable stock.
Make it vegan: Use chopped mushrooms or cooked lentils in place of ground beef. Use vegetable stock. Use vegan butter and plant milk in the mashed potatoes. Omit the shredded cheese on top, or use vegan shreds.
Make it gluten free: Use gluten free all-purpose flour.
I’ve taken a break from the blog for several months, but consider this my swift re-entry. As the world scrambles to battle the spread of COVID-19, I’ve found myself searching more and more for anything that makes life feel a little more normal. Cooking has brought me an immeasurable amount of comfort this week, and I hope that it’s done the same for you.
Last night, as I let myself get lost in the methodical chopping and stirring, I realized that all this has brought me closer to my food in the strangest of ways. When all your resources are taken away, they suddenly become infinitely more precious. Things I once took for granted, like fully stocked shelves at my local grocery store, are now frighteningly uncertain.
It feels as though, completely overnight, I was forcefully jarred into remembering what’s important.
The fact of the matter is, I have plenty of food in my house, and that’s a privilege I often forget. I get hung up on missing ingredients, wishing I had fresher greens or a can of this or a jar of that. But being stuck in your house for several weeks has a funny way of making you use what you have. I was able to cobble this shepherd’s pie together without a single trip to the grocery store, and isn’t that something?
I’ve been making my own vegetable stock, getting inventive with dinner plans, and taking a few minutes to appreciate the simple moments that happen in the kitchen. A crisper drawer erupting with greens. The meditative quiet that draws over me as I stand before my cutting board. The smell of an onion, so simple yet somehow nostalgic and complex, rising up out of the pan.
I hope that, during this unprecedented and wildly difficult time, you can find some sense of solace in the small things. The in-between moments, the little pauses that string our lives together, are what will get us through this. Because even for a minute, while life feels like it’s crumbling, there are still tiny glimmers of joy and light in all that we do. Stay hopeful and well, friends.