This Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie with Ground Turkey is a lighter take on the classic, usually made with beef or lamb and mashed white potatoes. It’s easy to make ahead of time, it’s freezable, and it makes a ton, which is great for a crowd or easy leftovers for lunches for the week!
Shepherd’s pie is the ultimate comfort food – warm and hearty, perfect for those harsh cold winter days. This sweet potato and ground turkey version is especially nutrient-dense, and just as cozy and delicious as ever!
A note on semantics: shepherd’s pie is made with ground lamb, cottage pie is made with ground beef. I find most Americans use “shepherd’s pie” interchangeably for any pie with ground meat, so I’ll be calling this shepherd’s pie. There. I’ve addressed this issue so hopefully we can avoid any controversy on wording (you’d be surprised how many strong feelings this evokes!) and just focus on the DELICIOUSNESS!
Normally, I make a shepherd’s (cottage) pie with ground beef and mashed white potatoes. It’s equally simple and comforting. I’ve also made a shepherd’s pie with mashed cauliflower for a lower carb version.
I just LOVE this sweet potato and turkey version, not only because it’s a bit more nutrient-dense, but the sweet flavor of the potatoes makes the flavor completely different from your traditional shepherd’s pie. You’re going to love it!
Ingredients List with Substitutions
- Sweet Potatoes
- Ground Turkey
- Tomato paste – or ketchup works as well.
- Broth – I used beef (from better than bouillon) but any kind will do.
- Cornstarch – this will help thicken the meat mixture; another thickener like arrowroot powder will also work
- Mixed Vegetables – I use a bag of frozen mixed veggies for convenience.
- Milk – cow’s milk or plant-based milk for a dairy free version is fine!
- Butter – or ghee or vegan butter if needed.
How to make Sweet Potato Turkey Shepherd’s Pie
Start by steaming the sweet potatoes. I find steaming rather than boiling softens them enough to mash without water-logging them. After they are done steaming, mix with milk, butter, salt, and pepper, and mash them.
While the sweet potatoes steam, make the meat mixture. Sauté onions, add the ground turkey and cook completely. Add the tomato paste and stir to coat, then pour in the broth. Add a cornstarch slurry, heat until thickened, then stir in the frozen mixed veggies (no need to defrost first!) and season with salt and pepper as needed.
Finally, assemble the shepherd’s pie. Butter a casserole dish, add the meat mixture, and spread the mashed sweet potatoes on top. Pour on some melted butter and bake. Allow to cool for a while before diving in and serving!
Can I make shepherd’s pie ahead and freeze it?
Absolutely! Just assemble the casserole without baking and stick in your refrigerator or freezer. If frozen, defrost it overnight in the fridge before baking. Keep in mind, it might take longer to bake if it’s still cold when it goes in the oven.
Can I make shepherd’s pie dairy free?
Yup! Just use a plant milk in the mashed sweet potatoes and ghee or vegan butter instead of regular butter.
Other comforting casserole recipes
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Sweet Potato and Turkey Shepherd’s Pie
- 2 lbs. sweet potatoes peeled and cut into chunks (about 2 large)
- 6 tablespoons butter divided, plus more for greasing baking dish, see notes
- 1 onion diced
- 1.5 – 2 lbs. ground turkey
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste or ketchup, optional
- 1 cup broth (I used beef better than boullion, see notes)
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with ¼ cup water to make a slurry
- 12-16 oz. mixed frozen veggies
- 1 cup milk
- kosher salt and black pepper to taste
- Cook the sweet potatoes. Place cubed sweet potatoes in a steamer basket fitted over about 1" of water. Cover and steam for about 20 minutes, or until they are tender (the smaller they are in size, the shorter they will take to cook).
- While the sweet potatoes are cooking, melt two tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté the chopped onion for 3-5 minutes until softened and browned. Add the ground turkey and break apart with a wooden spoon, cooking until turkey is browned and cooked through (about 5 minutes). Add the tomato paste (2 tablespoons) or ketchup, if using, stir to coat and heat for another minute or so.
- Pour in the broth (1 cup) and the cornstarch slurry (2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with ¼ cup water). Heat until thickened (1-2 minutes), stirring frequently. Stir in the frozen mixed veggies (straight from the bag, no need to defrost) and continue to cook until heated through. Turn off heat. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.
- When sweet potatoes are done steaming, remove from steamer and mash in a large bowl with a potato masher with 2 tablespoons more butter, the milk (1 cup), and salt pepper to taste.
- Transfer the cooked turkey and veggies mixture to a buttered (or otherwise greased) casserole dish, then top with the mashed sweet potatoes. When spreading out the potatoes, try to create a texture of the surface with a spoon, rather than perfectly smooth it (this will create more crispy parts and rustic texture). Drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, melted.
- Bake at 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes, or until beginning to brown on top and heated completely through. Allow to cool for at least 5-10 minutes before serving, for best results.
- To peel or not peel the sweet potatoes: The peels are completely edible and have nutrients and fiber – if you like, leave them on! I opted for a smoother texture by peeling the sweet potatoes before cutting into chunks.
- To make ahead: assemble the shepherd’s pie and refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze. When ready to cook, defrost overnight in the fridge if frozen, and cook according to directions. The total time may take longer since it will start from cold.
- To make dairy-free: Use a plant-based milk and ghee or vegan butter instead of regular butter.
- To make paleo/whole30: Use broth instead of milk in the mashed sweet potatoes, omit the cornstarch or use arrowroot powder instead, and use ghee instead of butter.
Nutrition Information Disclaimer
The provided nutrition information is my best estimate and does not include any added sodium from seasoning to taste, any optional ingredients, and it does not take brands into account. I use an automatic API to calculate this information. Feel free to calculate it yourself using one of these tools:
This post originally appeared on Bowl of Delicious on October 22, 2015. It has been republished with new photos, improved recipe instructions, and more pertinent information.