Mama Shirley Main Dishes




Try This Cheap and Easy Shepherds Pie Recipe

Try This Cheap and Easy Shepherds Pie Recipe

Shepherd’s pie is a meat pie with a mashed potato crust topping. The meat of choice is lamb.

There are some variations on this recipe, but the meat is usually cooked in gravy or sauce with onions and sometimes other vegetables. It is then topped with mashed potato and baked.

The dish originated as a way of using leftover meat. It first appeared in 1854. It’s likely the name came about because it was a cost-effective way to use meat in times of economic struggles, and the job of a shepherd was pretty low when it came to the different classes in society.

Shepherd’s Pie Recipe

The recipe we have for shepherd’s pie is pretty straightforward. It requires two pounds of lamb or ground beef, peas and carrots, thyme, beef broth, pepper, parsley, flour, and extra virgin olive oil.

Some care is taken to caramelize the onions in olive oil. Then the whole thing is topped with mashed potatoes and placed in the oven to bake. If you are looking to vary the recipe, you can also add celery or top the whole thing with cheese.

However, there is no end to how creative you can get when it comes to the preparation of shepherd’s pie. Here are some examples:

  • Individual Shepherd’s Pie: A take-off on the basic recipe, just combine the basic ingredients in a cup to make single size portions.
  • Shepherd’s Pie Baked Potatoes: To make this variation, take out the meat of the potatoes and fill the skin with the ingredients, adding the potato meat to the filling.
  • Easier Shepherd’s Pie with Roasted Potatoes: No one says shepherd’s pie has to come in the form of pie. This deconstructed recipe features the meat and vegetables served with roasted potatoes.
  • Vegan and Gluten-Free Shepherd’s Pie: Substitute the meat with lentils for a shepherd’s pie the vegans in your house are sure to savor.
  • Shepherd’s Pie Stuffed Peppers: Vibrant bell peppers make a great shell for your shepherd’s pie dish. Just cut off the top and put the ingredients inside.

Shepherd’s Pie vs. Cottage Pie

If you love shepherd’s pie, it’s likely you have also heard of its close relative, cottage pie. The main difference between the two is that cottage pie uses ground beef, whereas shepherd’s pie uses lamb. Cottage pie also traditionally has sliced potatoes on the top while shepherd’s pie uses mashed potatoes.

Cottage pie predates shepherd’s pie by a bit. It was introduced in 1791 while shepherd’s pie didn’t come about until 1854. However, both dishes were created as a money-saving way to use leftover meat.

Shepherd’s pie was so named due to the lowly station shepherds have when it comes to class rankings. Cottage pie had similar origins and was so named because the cottage was considered a modest dwelling for rural workers.

Despite the differences between cottage and shepherd’s pie that was established early on, the two names are now used interchangeably to refer to similar dishes. However, shepherd’s pie is used more often. Today, it is often used to refer to pies that contain minced beef, lamb, chicken, turkey, and more.

However, when white meat is substituted, the name of the meat will often be included in the title. So you can expect to get red meat in your pie at any restaurant unless it is specifically listed as ‘chicken shepherd’s pie’, ‘turkey shepherd’s pie’, and so on.

Shepherd’s pie has a combination of ingredients that make it a hearty meal. It is well-liked and has standard ingredients that are pleasing to even the fussiest of eaters. How will you be preparing it when you serve it to your hungry crew?

Other Economic Dinners to Try

With groceries being as expensive as they are, it's important to find recipes that are cheap and easy to make. Being able to stretch your grocery budget as much as possible will help your family make it through even the toughest of times. Here are a few cheap dinner ideas to try.

Swiss steak is often seen as an economic meal because it uses a cheap cut of meat. When making this dinner, it's important to tenderize the meat properly. Since you're using a cheaper cut, it will be quite tough if it isn't tenderized properly. We have a great Swiss steak recipe on our site, so be sure to check it out.

Beans and weenies is always a great option. Hot dogs may not be the healthiest option out there, but when times are tough it's certainly an affordable one. Grab your favorite can of beans and some hot dogs, and you've got a filling meal for everyone.

Simply throwing some cheese on some chicken and baking it can make for a great meal. Chicken can be somewhat expensive depending on where you live, but sometimes you can find discounted meat that is close to its sell-by date. If you manage to grab some, make it for dinner that evening for a cost-effective meal that everyone will enjoy.

If you enjoyed this recipe, make sure to check out our Ham and Potato Casserole Recipe and our Mexican Shepherds Pie Recipe.

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Shepherds Pie Recipe

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  • Author: Moms Who Think
  • Total Time: 45 Minutes


The recipe we have for shepherd’s pie is pretty straightforward. It requires 2 lbs of lamb or ground beef, peas and carrots, thyme, beef broth, pepper, parsley, flour, and extra virgin olive oil.


Units Scale

For Caramelized Onions:

  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • 2 1/2 cups chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup water

For Filling:

  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 lbs. lean ground beef or lamb
  • 1 small package frozen peas and carrots
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 3/4 cup beef broth, or as needed
  • 1 Tablespoon flour, or as needed

For Potato Topping: 6 large potatoes, cooked and mashed


  1. To make the caramelized onions: heat olive oil and butter in a large frying pan over medium heat.
  2. Add onion and salt and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes.
  3. Reduce heat to low, add water, cover and cook another 5 minutes, checking occasionally to be sure onions are not catching on bottom of pan.
  4. Remove cover, turn heat to medium, and stir with wooden spoon. Continue cooking until water is completely evaporated and onion is golden brown. Remove to a bowl and set aside.
  5. Set the oven rack to the middle position. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a 9 inch by 13 inch ovenproof glass baking dish with vegetable spray.
  6. To make the filling: add olive oil to frying pan and heat over medium heat. Add ground beef or lamb and cook until no longer pink. Drain excess fat. Add caramelized onions, thyme, pepper, parsley, and beef stock. Stir with wooden spoon to combine.
  7. Add frozen peas and carrots, mix well.
  8. Add flour, reduce heat to low, and cook, stirring, until flour is absorbed and mixture thickens, approximately 3 to 5 minutes. Adjust consistency of gravy to your taste, adding more stock or flour as needed. Scrape mixture into prepared dish.
  9. Spread the mashed potatoes over top of pie until it is completely covered.
  10. Bake 25 minutes, or until potatoes are golden brown. Cover with foil if potatoes brown too quickly.
  11. Serve immediately. Cover leftover shepherd’s pie with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator.
  • Prep Time: 15 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 Minutes
  • Category: Main Course
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: British

Keywords: shepherd's pie recipe, shepherd's pie vs cottage pie

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