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Quick Tips and Top Recipes for Making Amazing Shepherd's Pie

These shepherd's pie recipes run the range from the traditional (featuring ground or minced lamb) to the modestly modified (ground beef instead of lamb) to the more modern and experimental (vegan or paleo shepherd's pies). You can't go wrong with any of these savory one-pot comfort-food casseroles, complete meals that also feature veggies, a savory gravy, and a mashed potato (or a surprise) topping. Along with the recipes, we'll also feature some top tips from the Allrecipes community for making the best shepherd's pies yet.

But before the recipes, let's quickly confront the controversy head on -- and make a ruling while we're at it. As mentioned, shepherd's pie originally called for rich, flavorful lamb -- hence the name, shepherd's pie. These days, many cooks prefer ground beef to lamb, which, in some quarters, technically makes the dish a "cottage" pie. That's fine, call it what you like. But we're not sticklers around here; we'd also accept rancher, wrangler, cowpoke, or buckaroo pie for the beef-based versions. Whatever you call these savory meat and veggie pies, they're sure to be a family favorite.

Sophie's Shepherds Pie

Let's start with a traditional take! "This is a hearty English meal, made with lamb mince," says SophieScott.

"It's so cheap, quick, and easy to make. This is a 'larder cupboard' recipe, which means you can substitute for whatever you have handy in the cupboard," says SophieScott.

"It was amazing!" raves chickysmama. "I used the IKEA meatball gravy mix. The whole family was quiet while gobbling it down."

Sophie's Shepherds Pie

Photo by Ely McIntosh

Chef John's Irish Shepherd's Pie

A shepherd’s pie with just a wee touch of an Irish twist. This one's made the traditional way with ground lamb but features shredded Irish Cheddar cheese (like Dubliner by Kerrygold) mixed into the creamy mashed potato topping.

To top the pie with mashed potatoes, Chef John recommends laying down several large spoonfuls of potatoes on the meat mixture, instead of placing one giant dollop of mashed potatoes in the center and spreading it out with a spatula. See how Chef John does it:

A Scotsman's Shepherd Pie

Before we move on from the British Isles, let's give one last crack to a Scotsman: "Yes, shepherd's pie is predominantly thought of as Irish or British," says Larry Short. "But since I'm Scottish, I thought I'd give it a unique twist to suit my ancestral tastes. The use of lamb, the smoky, heather taste of Guinness Draught (Irish, I admit), and the topping of sharp Cheddar and smoked paprika give this version its unique, smoky-sweet flavor."

A Scotsman's Shepherd Pie

Photo by Katie Ogletree

Moroccan Shepherd's Pie

And we're off to Northern Africa! This shepherd's pie features the traditional minced lamb, but from there the recipe takes things in a sweet-and-savory direction. "This is a Moroccan take on shepherd's pie," says Maryam. "Delicious combinations of savory and sweet, with lamb and turmeric simmered with cinnamon, raisins, and sweet potato. This dish also looks pleasant and each happy eater gets their own ramekin!"

"I used ras al hanout Moroccan spice instead of the spices listed in the recipe," says KMax3050. Ras al hanout is a Moroccan spice. So you get everything in it."

Moroccan Shepherd's Pie

Photo by David Rawlings

Zippy Shepherd's Pie

With this top-rated recipe, we're heading into ground beef territory. Things get kind of zippy with mild curry powder as an ingredient -- add more or less curry as you like. "The ground beef mixture can be made ahead and frozen," says LAURA BELA.

"You can substitute instant potatoes for the real thing if you're in a hurry," says LAURA BELA.

"I especially love using white cheddar in this recipe," says LAURA BELA.

Zippy Shepherd's Pie

Photo by Rock_lobster

Shepherd's Pie VI

An easy ground beef-based shepherd's pie with veggies in a homemade gravy, topped with Cheddar cheese mashed potatoes.

"For something a little different, add cooked barley to the meat mixture," suggests Jacquie.

"TIME SAVING HINTS: to make preparation even faster and easier, use instant mashed potatoes for the topping," says Evie, "although I much prefer fresh mashed potatoes. If you don't have beef broth use brown gravy mixed with one cup of water."

Shepherd's Pie VI

Photo by JustBeachy07

Paleo Shepherd's Pie

What makes it paleo? "This shepherd's pie uses coconut oil and cauliflower mash in lieu of potatoes," explains Lora. "I used grass-fed ground beef. Make the filling early in the day and refrigerate it so that all the spices soak into the beef."

Paleo Shepherd's Pie

Photo by Bibi

Vegan Shepherd's Pie with Sweet Potato

From lamb to beef to totally meatless. "This vegan shepherd's pie is comforting, healthy, delicious and really easy to make," says MyNutriCounter.

"You can also make it in batches to freeze and serve when you don't have much time to cook," says MyNutriCounter.

"We used lentils to make ours, but you could use chickpeas instead, if you'd prefer," says MyNutriCounter.

Vegan Shepherd's Pie with Sweet Potato

Photo by MyNutriCounter

Check out the collection of Shepherd's Pie Recipes.


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Carl Hanson

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