This Simple Shepherd’s Pie is extremely easy to make, inexpensive, freezable, gluten free, and best of all- you CANNOT mess it up, no matter how hard you try.
It’s one of the first things I learned how to cook and to this day, I make it at least once a month (and much more frequently in the cooler weather).
Plus, you can adapt it to be Paleo/whole30 compliant.
The thing that makes it extra simple: unlike other recipes for shepherd’s pie, this version contains no gravy.
Since the beef is not thickened with flour and beef broth, it makes it gluten free and a bit lighter tasting. And for busy people, it can be assembled on the weekend, kept in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for a few months, and popped in the oven when needed!
I love food and flavors of all kinds, I have a high tolerance for spicy foods, and I love trying anything new.
Sometimes, though, I crave the simplicity of comfort food. As with chicken soup, mac and cheese, and plain ol’ turkey sandwiches, there’s something deliciously bland about it.
This is my mom’s recipe for shepherd’s pie. It’s super easy, warm, comforting, and 100% real and unprocessed. It consists of very few ingredients- a layer of ground beef and onions (turkey can also be used), a layer of frozen peas and/or carrots (corn or green beans can also be used), and a layer of mashed potatoes.
First, put about 1.5 pounds of potatoes in a pot to boil while you are preparing the rest. I used 4 red potatoes.
Leave the skins on. Did you know that the skin of fruits and vegetables is where most of the nutrients and fiber are? Who likes peeling potatoes, anyway? Just give them a good scrub (preferably with a good vegetable brush) before boiling to make sure they’re as clean as possible. They do grow in the dirt, after all.
While potatoes are boiling, brown approximately one pound of ground beef (or turkey) with chopped onions and salt and pepper to taste.
If you used a high fat beef, drain some of the fat off when you’re done (don’t put it down your sink- I usually make a little bowl out of aluminum foil and put it in my sink for this- stick it in the fridge and when it’s solid, throw it out).
Place ground meat and onions in one large or two small casserole dishes.
I currently own two Pyrex 11-cup glass baking dishes. THEY ARE AMAZING. They are the perfect size for a four-serving meal and they come with covers for storage in the fridge or freezer. Usually, when I make this, I’ll make two on the weekend, put one in the fridge to eat later that week, and one in the freezer to save for a couple of months.
Each time we cook one, Zach and I have enough for dinner and lunch the next day. Perfect.
When potatoes can be pierced easily with a fork, it’s time to mash.
Mash the potatoes with salt and pepper to taste, 2 tablespoons of butter and 1/2 cup whole milk (or chicken broth, for a paleo/dairy free version).
Add about 3 cups of frozen peas and carrots (or corn and green beans) on top of the ground beef.
Fresh can also be used. No need to steam or cook in advance- the oven will take care of that.
Add mashed potatoes on top. Now here’s the fun part: use the back of a fork to create a ridged pattern on the top of the mashed potatoes. Just like in a Japanese Zen Garden (only more delicious, because you can lick the fork after).
Why is this important?
After creating the ridged pattern, you’re going to pour some melted butter on top. The butter and the ridges will create a crispy, almost potato chip-like flavor on the top of the pie, making it extra delicious.
At this point, you can cook it, or you can cover and keep in the fridge or freezer to cook at another time. Cook at 400 degrees F for about 30 minutes or until potato layer turns a beautiful golden brown color on top. Yum!
For a healthier, Paleo/whole30 version made with ground turkey and sweet potatoes, you may want to check out my Sweet Potato and Turkey Shepherd’s Pie.
Recipe for Simple Shepherd’s Pie below- enjoy!
Simple Shepherd's Pie
- 1 lb ground beef or turkey
- 1 onion diced
- salt and pepper to taste
- 3 cups frozen peas carrots, corn, and/or green beans
- 4 red potatoes about 1.5 lbs
- 3 tablespoons butter divided
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- Cut potatoes into small pieces (leave skin on), cover with cold water in a medium sized pot, and bring to a boil.
- While potatoes are cooking, brown meat and onions with salt and pepper to taste. If you used high fat ground beef (such as 80/20), drain all but 2 tablespoons of the juices.
- When potatoes are soft enough to pierce easily with a fork, drain, and mash with 2 tablespoons butter and the milk. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Layer ground beef mixture, frozen vegetables, and mashed potatoes in one large or two small casserole dishes.
- Use the back of a fork to "rake" a ridged pattern into the potatoes.
- Melt remaining tablespoon butter and drizzle evenly on top of potatoes.
- Bake at 400° F for approximately 30 minutes, or until potatoes begin to brown.
- You can prepare this ahead of time and keep covered in the fridge for up to a week and in the freezer for a few months. Defrost completely before cooking by transferring from freezer to fridge 2 days before cooking.
- For a Paleo/whole30/dairy free version, make sure to use only carrots and/or green beans for the veggies and use chicken broth instead of milk in the potatoes.
- The provided nutrition information does not include any added sodium from seasoning to taste, any optional ingredients, and it does not take brands into account. Feel free to calculate it yourself using this calculator or by adding the recipe to Yummly.