This easy Shepherd’s pie has only five ingredients! It is made American-style with ground beef in a savory gravy (AKA Cottage Pie). It’s layered with tender vegetables, creamy mashed potatoes, and topped off with cheddar cheese.
This is my twist on the classic shepherd’s pie recipe. It does not use ground lamb or the traditional sauce, although you could make this with lamb if you would like. Instead, the ground beef is mixed with gravy and topped with sharp cheddar cheese.
It’s called cottage pie when it’s made with ground beef. However, here in America, it is still referred to as Shepherd’s pie.
This easy shepherd’s pie is one of my favorite go-to ground beef recipes because it’s budget-friendly, flavorful, simple, and hearty. It’s also a great comfort food on cozy fall and winter nights.
It only requires five ingredients and takes less than 30 minutes to bake, so it’s perfect for a quick and easy dinner recipe for busy weeknights.
What Goes Into This Recipe
- mashed potatoes – I used instant mashed potatoes and followed the directions on the back of the package to make them. However, I replaced the water in the recipe with milk and a small amount of heavy cream and added a few tablespoons of butter. You don’t need to do this, but it does add extra flavor to the potatoes.
- gravy – I used a brown gravy packet (McCormick) and followed the directions on the back of the package to make it. You can also make gravy from scratch or use a jar of premade gravy if you are short on time.
- mixed vegetables – a bag of mixed frozen vegetables is used in this recipe. However, you may use fresh or canned vegetables as well. Be sure to cook the fresh vegetables first. If you are using canned, you don’t need to cook them, but be sure to drain them well so your pie won’t be runny.
Customize Your Shepherd’s Pie
The best thing about this Sheperd’s pie is that it is easily customizable to you and your family’s preferences.
You can add different vegetables such as corn, carrots, peas, green beans, or just a bag of frozen vegetables.
Depending on your preferences, you can use store-bought, instant, or homemade mashed potatoes with Yukon, Russet, or Sweet Potatoes. When making mashed potatoes, I add butter, garlic powder, cream, milk, salt, pepper, and a glob of sour cream for extra flavor.
You can make the brown gravy from scratch, a jar of gravy, or a gravy packet. The choice is up to you. You can also substitute the brown gravy for onion, beef, mushroom, or pork if that’s what you have on hand. I’ve also made it without any gravy and it still tastes good!
You can even switch up the cheeses. Some suitable substitutes are Colby Jack, mild cheddar, triple cheddar, or a mix of cheeses…The possibilities are endless!
For a low-carb option, you can substitute the mashed potatoes with cauliflower mash and use lower-carb vegetables like green beans.
If you want to make it healthier, use lean ground beef or ground turkey, mashed sweet potato or cauliflower mash, load it with extra vegetables, and omit the cheese or use a smaller amount of low-fat cheese.
How to Make This Shepherd’s Pie
Preheat the oven to 425°F and spray a 9×13 inch glass baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
Cooking the Ground Beef
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook the ground beef, breaking it up with a spatula.
Season with salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder.
Once the beef is browned and cooked through, drain any excess grease from the skillet.
Preparing the Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
Prepare your mashed potatoes and gravy according to their respective instructions.
Assembling the Shepherd’s Pie
Mix the gravy into the cooked ground beef.
Transfer the beef-gravy mixture into the prepared casserole dish, spreading it evenly.
Layer the vegetables evenly over the beef mixture.
Spread the mashed potatoes on top of the vegetables, smoothing them out with a spatula.
Sprinkle shredded cheese evenly over the mashed potatoes for the final layer.
Bake the casserole, uncovered, for 15 minutes or until bubbly and the cheese is lightly browned.
How to Make Ahead and Freeze
This is one of those leftover recipes where it’s just as good the second time around! You can store it in the fridge for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months. Be sure to store it in an airtight container. This recipe can also be made ahead of time and keep it in the fridge until you are ready to bake it.
What to Serve with This Easy Shepherd’s Pie
This casserole is a complete meal, but you can add:
- a side salad
- buttered dinner rolls
- garlic bread
- brussel sprouts
- glazed carrots
- Irish soda bread
FAQs and Expert Tips
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5 Ingredient Easy Shepherd’s Pie
- 1 lb lean ground beef
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- 10 oz frozen mixed vegetables thawed
- 8 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 3 cups prepared mashed potatoes
- 1 cup brown gravy
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 425 and spray a 9×13 casserole-inch glass baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
- Add ground beef to a medium sized skillet and cook on medium-high heat, breaking up the meat with a spatula as you cook it. Season the meat with salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder.
- After it is browned and cooked through, drain any excess grease from the skillet, if there is any.
- Make your mashed potatoes and gravy according to directions.
- Add the gravy to the ground beef and transfer ground beef mixture into a casserole dish.
- Spread the vegetables evenly over the top of the ground beef.
- Add the mashed potatoes on top of the vegetables. Use a spatula to smooth mashed potatoes evenly over the vegetables.
- Top the casserole with the shredded cheese for the final layer.
- Bake, uncovered, for 15 mintues until it is bubbly and the cheese is lightly browned.