This Easy Shepherd’s Pie With Ground Beef is a perfect dinner for two or three people. The ground beef filling, made completely from scratch, is rich and a little tangy, with a hint of sweetness from the carrots and the onions. It’s so good that you’ll want to eat it with a spoon before it even goes into the oven. And the potato topping is buttery and creamy and glorious.
One of the perks of running a food blog is that my job makes it super easy to score bonus points with friends and family since I am constantly feeding them the food I make to the site. People love good food, and they love you a little more if you’re the one giving it to them. 😉
And I hit the mother lode of bonus points with my dad for today’s recipe, Easy Shepherd’s Pie With Ground Beef.
My dad loves Shepherd’s Pie so leftovers from my test version went straight to him, and that single 7×5-inch dish of food immediately catapulted me to #1-favorite-daughter status.
And I feel like I totally earned that position because this is some really excellent Shepherd’s Pie I’m sharing with you today. The ground beef filling, which is made completely from scratch, is rich and a little tangy, with a hint of sweetness from the carrots and the onions. It’s so good that you’ll want to eat it with a spoon before it even goes into the oven. And the potato topping is buttery and creamy and glorious.
My dad has already requested this for Father’s Day (replacing his traditional feast of Chicken Curry), and I don’t know what better recommendation there is for this dish than that.
And before I get a million messages about this, I want to pause and say, I know that this pie is technically a Cottage Pie.
Shepherds Pie vs Cottage Pie
For those who don’t know the difference, both Shepherd’s and Cottage Pies are made with meat, gravy, and usually vegetables, and covered with potatoes. Generally, Shepherd’s Pie is made with lamb, Cottage Pie with beef. Though the term “Cottage Pie” was used as a blanket term for all meat/potato pies for about 100 years before people started calling the version with lamb “Shepherd’s Pie.”
That said, I don’t think most people make that distinction here in America. Every Shepherd’s Pie I’ve ever been served, except those I’ve had in the UK, have been made with beef, and when I was doing research for this post, no one I asked had any idea what Cottage Pie was.
And since I’d like the people in the US who enjoy Shepherd’s Pie to be able to find this “Shepherd’s Pie,” that’s what I’m going with. (Sorry, fellow pedants. It hurts my heart too.)
How to Make Shepherd’s Pie
Shepherd’s Pie is actually an incredibly easy dinner to make, and if you cook your potatoes and filling simultaneously, the active cooking time is only about 20 minutes before the whole thing goes into the oven. The potato topping is just your standard easy mashed potatoes with an egg yolk whisked in at the end (the yolk helps with browning and gives the topping a little extra richness).
And the filling comes together quickly. While your potatoes are cooking, you brown a bit of hamburger and then cook some onions, carrots, and garlic in the same pan. Stir in some ketchup or tomato paste, which adds a great depth of flavor, and flour to thicken the mixture, along with broth and Worcestershire sauce. That simmers for a couple minutes to thicken, and then you just stir together your meat and gravy and peas, layer your pie and bake.
Dinner’s done when the top is a lovely golden brown, which will take about 25 minutes, just enough time to clean up and pour yourself a glass of wine.
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- This recipe makes two huge servings or three more reasonable ones. If you’d like to double the recipe, it doubles with no preparation changes and can be made in an 8×8-inch baking dish.
- You can omit the peas completely if you don’t like them or replace them with corn. You can also add corn to the peas if you just really like corn.
- To make a true Shepherd’s Pie, ground lamb can be substituted for the ground beef.
- Looking for more comfort food for two? Try my Pesto Chicken Pasta, Homemade Spaghettios, and Deluxe Mac and Cheese.
Easy Shepherd's Pie With Ground Beef (Dinner for Two)
- 1 large russet potato* chopped
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons (1oz) butter
- 1 tablespoon milk or cream
- 1 large egg yolk
Ground Beef Filling
- 1/2 pound ground beef
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1/2 medium onion diced (about 1/2 cup)
- 1 medium carrot diced
- 1 garlic clove pressed or minced
- 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon (8g) all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons ketchup or tomato paste
- 3/4 cup chicken broth
- 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 cup frozen peas
- Preheat your oven to 400°F and lightly grease a 7x5-inch baking dish. Set aside.
Start Your Potatoes
- Place chopped potatoes in a medium pot and cover with cold water. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bring potatoes to a simmer and cook until fork-tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain, cover, and set aside.
Make the Filling
- While your potatoes cook, in a medium skillet over medium heat, cook ground beef until well-browned, breaking up the meat as you go. Drain fat and transfer hamburger to a plate.
- Return the pan to the stove and heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and carrot and cook until the onions begin to soften and turn translucent around the edges, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and thyme and cook for 30 seconds.
- Stir in flour and ketchup/tomato paste and cook for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the chicken broth and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a simmer and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until thickened. Remove from heat and salt and pepper to taste. Stir in hamburger and peas. Transfer the mixture into your prepared baking dish, smooth into an even layer, and set aside.
- Use a fork or potato masher to mash potatoes until smooth. Add butter and stir until butter is completely incorporated. Repeat with the milk/cream. Salt and pepper to taste. Finally, add the egg yolk and stir until well-combined. Spoon potatoes over your meat mixture and spread evenly over the top. If your dish is very full, place it on a baking sheet to catch any drips while it cooks.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the potatoes are lightly golden. Allow to cool for 10 to 15 minutes before serving, and enjoy!
Recipe Adapted From The Best One-Dish Suppers