Weeknight Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherd's Pie-1.jpg

A delicious way to recycle Sunday’s pot roast leftovers.

It was an unforgettable adventure for us Herd girls– full of good memories, new friends, scary driving, and traditional English food.   My Aunt Margaret, of Fresh Strawberry Pie fame, is not only a good cook, but also a genealogy expert. She planned the trip for us to visit and explore locations where some of the Herd family use to live near Sedburgh, England.

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A great memory

In addition to fish and chips, we got to sample another British favorite, Shepherd’s Pie. Since then, whenever I have pot roast leftovers, I have trouble deciding if I will make Shepherd’s Pie or Vegetable Beef Soup.  They are both great ways to recycle shredded beef. Although many people use ground beef, I much prefer pot roast or roast beef. Seems more authentic, although in reality, there probably isn’t much about this recipe that is anything like the traditional way Brits would prepare this dish. If you are English, I would love to hear how you make yours.

Please note the recipe below includes instructions for the mashed-potato topping but in real life I usually use mashed potato leftovers.

Shepherd's Pie.jpg

Before adding mashed-potato topping

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Weeknight Shepherd's Pie
Serves: 4-5
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Great way to use leftover pot roast and mashed potatoes
Potato Topping
  • 1.3 pounds potatoes
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon white pepper
Beef Layer
  • ¼ cup chopped, fresh, or frozen onion
  • 4 ounces chopped, fresh, or canned mushrooms
  • 1 cup frozen peas and carrots
  • 1 package (.87 ounce) brown gravy mix mixed with 1 cup water
  • 2-3 cups leftover beef roast, fork-shredded or one package 17 ounce beef roast au jus (My grocery store sells Hormel, which is good.)
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
  • Freshly-ground pepper
  • Paprika
  • Spray butter.
Potato Topping
  1. Cover potatoes with water and boil until tender. Drain.
  2. Mash potatoes until relatively smooth. Heat milk and butter in microwave for 1 minute. Add to potatoes. Season to taste with salt and white pepper.
Beef Layer
  1. Preheat large skillet and spray or brush with thin coating of vegetable oil. Saute onions until soft. Add mushrooms to onions and continue to saute until browned. Add peas and carrots.
  2. In separate bowl, prepare gravy mix and water. Add to skillet along with beef and thyme. Stir and simmer until mixture begins to thicken. Season with freshly ground pepper.
  3. Pour meat mixture into greased 1-1/2 quart casserole dish. Carefully spoon mashed potatoes on top and swirl. Sprinkle with paprika and spray with butter.
  4. Bake in 350 degree F oven for 20-25 minutes or until potatoes are golden on top and beef mixture is bubbly.
If I have lots of leftover gravy, I don't use the brown gravy mix.
Mushrooms are optional but add to the meaty taste and texture.
If you have it, smoked paprika is nice on top or leave it off completely.

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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Sandy May 4, 2016 at 4:23 pm

Just the thing for left over roast beef…that’s what’s for dinner tonight!


Carroll Hanks December 19, 2013 at 2:05 am

I came up with my own version of shepherd’s pie by using corn bread mix instead of mashed potatoes. My family likes it better.


Paula December 20, 2013 at 11:28 am

Interesting variation Carroll. Thanks for sharing.


Connie March 18, 2013 at 12:15 pm

Paula: I have made this Shepherds pie three times now. The last time I made it, my ten year old grandson had six helpings! My husband is from Scotland and I have had “Shepherds Pie” there made with beef. Maybe cottage pie is an English recipe. I happened onto your website quite by accident, and my family says that this shepherds pie is the best yet! I have tripled it with no problem, tastes the same. Thanks a million! Oh, the last time I used the
Hormels beef, it was still delicious.


Paula March 19, 2013 at 9:13 am

I love this kind of comment. I am of English descent but don’t really know much about authentic English food. Just know I like the way this tastes. Glad to have your family’s approval.


`Suzanne February 29, 2012 at 11:45 am

Perfect looking sheperd’s pie, I bought a roast yesterday to try out the roast recipe, now I know what to do with the left overs 🙂


Connie February 27, 2012 at 2:21 pm

Great recipe. It was delicious and the family loved it. I love your blog and thanks for sharing such wonderful recipes.


Paula February 27, 2012 at 10:26 pm

Connie, Love this kind of comment! Appreciate you reporting back.


Yudith @ Blissfully Delicious February 26, 2012 at 7:34 pm

Oh, this looks so delicious and hearty! Perfect for St. Patrick’s Day!


Betty @ scrambled hen fruit February 24, 2012 at 11:02 am

I’d love to take a genealogical jaunt to England! Your shepherd’s pie looks delicious. My boys always loved shepherd’s pie- I usually made it with whatever kind of beef I had on hand. (sometimes ground and sometimes not) They always preferred the NOT ground, however, just like yours. 🙂


The Café Sucré Farine February 23, 2012 at 4:00 pm

Yum, Paula, I just returned from London and your pictures look so familiar. I didn’t have any Shepard Pie this time – but lots of other wonderful British food. Whoever came up with the idea that the British food is not good is crazy – we have had delightful food every time we visit there! Your pie looks amazing and quite authentic!


Paula February 23, 2012 at 8:44 pm

Welcome back Chris. I am always a little envious of your trips to Europe. Looked like you had a great time and wonderful food. Of course, I know the best part is seeing family. pr


Joy February 22, 2012 at 11:28 am

Looks wonderful!!! I am a comfort for addict. I have had it both with ground beef and with roast beef and I much rather have the roast ,especially chuck roast it has so much more flavor.


Piper@GotItCookIt February 21, 2012 at 9:28 pm

Love it, pot roast sheperd’s pie- the ultimate comfort food and something that always, always pleases my family. You took some fantastic pictures too… I know it’s hard to do that.


Paula February 21, 2012 at 1:03 pm

This is the first recipe that I’ve seen using roast beef for Shepherd’s Pie and I’m delighted! I was never a fan of the pie being made with ground beef. Your dish looks delicious.


Gord February 21, 2012 at 8:11 am

While technically a cottage pie rather than a Shepard’s pie (beef-based v lamb-based), the recipe looks delicious and I will have to try it.


Paula February 22, 2012 at 6:27 am

Hi Gord,
Yes, I’ve been informed by another reader that this is technically cottage pie. Makes sense. I looked around on the internet and it looks like most Americans think of them either as interchangeable or else they have never heard of “cottage pie” since they have used the term “Shepherd’s Pie” all their life for beef or lamb. I think lamb is so expensive here and/or not available that it is not a viable choice for most of us. Thanks for taking the time to write.


Karen February 20, 2012 at 10:44 am

This looks delicious. My husband likes Shepherd’s Pie, but the only recipes I can find are the ground beef version and don’t sound nearly as scrumptious as this. I’m printing this off to try. Thanks, Paula.


Paula February 21, 2012 at 5:09 am

Hi Karen,
Good to hear from you. I’ve noticed a lot of recipes with ground beef too. Not the same in my book. pr


Georgia @ The Comfort of Cooking February 20, 2012 at 9:14 am

That is one mouthwatering looking shepherd’s pie, Paula! I can practically taste it from here! Thanks for sharing your recipe. I’d love to try it sometime.


Anna Brown February 20, 2012 at 6:06 am

Mmmn that looks delicious, I think it must be lunchtime…To be honest that looks pretty similar to how I make mine- I just fry up some onions and a little garlic in butter, add the remains of the lamb joint, a little mint sauce, carrots and peas, chopped mushroom, a dash of port wine- and heap some mash on top and a grating of cheese:)


Tracy February 20, 2012 at 5:33 am

I was born in England but moved to the States while I was still very young. “Me Mum”, on the otherhand, was born and raised there so we were raised on those English staples. Sadly, my Mom’s shepherd’s pie doesn’t look…or taste, I imagine, anything like yours does. I hated knowing we were having shepherd’s pie for dinner. Mom only had ground beef, onions and peas with a mash potato topping. It was d-r-y and boring. I’d drown mine in butter to choke it down. I’ve grown to like it more now that I’m older but yours looks divine with that rich gravy! I can’t wait to try your recipe (ssssshhh, but don’t tell my Mom Ü). I do still love her mincemeat pies, lemon curd, pickled onions and red pickled cabbage….yum!


*Just Fran* February 19, 2012 at 8:38 pm

I have always had Shepherd’s Pie with a more tomato-y base. This looks like very good comfort food.


Lorraine February 19, 2012 at 7:40 pm

Abbey has been asking me to make Shepherd’s Pie and I know if it is a Paula recipe it’s going to be wonderful!


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