This healthy shepherd’s pie is a big favorite in our house, filled with ground lamb (or beef), lots of veggies and a topping of fluffy olive oil mashed potatoes. It’s so rich tasting and flavorful nobody will believe this comforting casserole is dairy-free, gluten-free and guilt-free.
Shepherd’s pie is one of the most irresistible dishes I know. My husband and kids and I go crazy for it.
I’ve tried many a shepherd’s pie recipe and this one is my absolute favorite because it’s packed with flavor and way lower in fat and calories than the norm. So no need to hold back. Feel free to go back for seconds or even thirds!
What is Shepherd’s Pie and who invented it?
Shepherd’s pie is a savory pie with meat filling and mashed potato crust. The recipe originated in Britain in the mid 1800’s as an affordable dish for the poor.
Back in the day shepherd’s pie was a practical recipe, a way to make use of leftover cooked meat. The meat was topped with potatoes, which were a reliable and affordable crop.
When made with beef, it was called “cottage pie” named for the small cottages the poor folks lived in. When lamb was used, it was, fittingly, called “shepherd’s pie.”
Flash forward a couple of centuries and these once-lowly meat pies are now craved and adored across the globe. They’re even served even in royal palaces. (More on that later).
How To Make Shepherd’s Pie
The recipe is easily manageable for a weeknight – especially if you use a food processor to chop the vegetables. Just sauté meat and veggies, mix in spices and tomato paste, top with mashed potatoes, bake, and dinner is ready!
- Make the Mashed Potatoes: Boil potatoes for 15 minutes or until just tender. Drain and mash with ¾ cup chicken broth, 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1½ teaspoons salt and black pepper to taste.
- Sauté the Meat and Vegetables: While the potatoes are boiling preheat the oven to 400ºF and sauté the ground lamb (or beef or turkey) until it loses its pink color. Transfer it to a bowl and add the onions, carrots and bell peppers to the skillet. Cook the veggies for a few minutes, add the garlic and zucchini and cook for another minute or two. Return the lamb to the skillet along with broth, tomato paste, herbs and spices. Simmer for 5 minutes and stir in the corn and peas.
- Assemble and Bake the Casserole: If you’re using a cast iron skillet for sautéing, simply spread the mashed potatoes over the filling and pop the skillet in the oven. Otherwise transfer the filling to a casserole dish and add mashed potatoes to the top. Bake for 25 minutes, or until heated through. You’ll see the gravy bubbling around the edges when it’s done.
- Let the casserole rest for ten minutes and then cut it into squares and enjoy!
TIME SAVING TIPS
- Use a food processor to chop the vegetables. I love using the food processor to chop veggies! With just a few pulses you can chop all the veggies in this shepherd’s pie in a matter of minutes.
- Use an immersion blender to puree the potatoes right in the same pot you use to boil them.
- Use a large cast iron skillet to sauté the meat and vegetables and then just pile the mashed potatoes right on top and pop the skillet it in the oven to bake.
Why you will love this Shepherd’s pie:
- It’s healthy: While most shepherd’s pie recipes add flour to the gravy and cream, butter and sour cream to the potatoes, this shepherd’s pie recipe has no flour and no added saturated fats.
- It’s heavy on the veggies: In addition to the traditional carrots, corn and peas, this shepherd’s pie has a whole red bell pepper, two zucchinis and extra carrots. There are enough vegetables in the mix to make this a whole balanced meal in one pot.
- It’s got loads of flavor plus a spicy kick: Plenty of onions and garlic give this shepherd’s pie a great flavor base. Salt, pepper, thyme and bay leaves infuse even more flavor. But it’s the pinch of cayenne that gives this shepherd’s pie a spicy kick. You won’t find it too hot, just exciting!
Other wonderful casserole recipes from around the world
- Tachin Joojeh: Persian Layered Chicken and Rice with Yogurt
- Indian Lamb Biryani
- Spaetzle with Caramelized Onions, Wilted Greens and Gruyere
- No Noodle Eggplant Lasagna
- Boboti: South African Meatloaf
- Swiss Rosti: Shredded Potato Casserole with Ham and Eggs
Prince William’s Favorite Cottage Pie Recipe
According to longtime royal cook Darren McGrady, shepherd’s pie has been a lifelong favorite food of Prince William, who began eating it as a puree when he was just a baby. Here’s the royal recipe for cottage pie – the way Prince William likes it.
Here’s the recipe for Healthy Shepherd’s Pie. If you try this recipe I hope you’ll come back to leave a star rating and a comment. I’d love to know what you think!Print
Healthy Shepherd’s Pie
A healthier version of Classic Shepherd’s Pie, deliciously spiced with extra veggies and olive oil mashed potatoes. Gluten free and dairy free.
- Prep Time: 25 mins
- Cook Time: 50 mins
- Total Time: 1 hour 15 mins
- Yield: 4-5 1x
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Bake
- Cuisine: British
For the Mashed Potatoes
- 2 ½ pounds russet (baking) potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 -to 1 ½ inch chunks
- ¾ cup low salt chicken broth (plus you’ll need another cup of broth for the casserole)
- 3 tablespoons good quality olive oil
- 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
- Several grinds of fresh black pepper, to taste
For the Vegetables and Meat
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 pound ground lamb (substitute beef, chicken or turkey, if you prefer)
- 3 carrots, peeled and chopped (1 ½ cups chopped)
- 1 large onion, peeled and chopped (about 1 ½ cups chopped)
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded, ribs removed, chopped
- 2 small or 1 large zucchini, chopped or finely diced (1 ½ cups)
- 3 medium garlic cloves, minced (1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon)
- 1 cup low-salt chicken broth (I recommend Swanson’s low salt)
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste (I recommend organic or San Marzano)
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (depending on how hot you like it)
- Several grinds of black pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ cup frozen petit peas, thawed
- ½ cup frozen sweet corn, thawed (I recommend organic)
Equipment: A large (12-inch) cast iron skillet or a standard casserole dish.
- Cover potatoes with cold water in a large pot and add 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil and cook for 15 minutes or until just tender. Drain and mash with ¾ cup broth, 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1½ teaspoons salt and several grinds of black pepper, to taste.
- While potatoes are cooking, preheat oven to 400ºF. Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a large (preferably cast iron) skillet, over medium heat. Cook lamb (or other ground meat), stirring, until it loses its pinkness. With a slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl and pour off fat from the skillet.
- Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to the skillet. Cook onions, carrots and bell pepper over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until fairly dry and starting to brown, 5-7 minutes. Add garlic and zucchini and cook, stirring, for a minute or so. Return lamb to the skillet. Add 1 cup broth, 3 tablespoons tomato paste, ½ teaspoon thyme, 2 teaspoons salt, black pepper and cayenne to taste, and bay leaf. Simmer over medium-low heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the corn and peas and remove from heat.
- To assemble the pie, use a spatula to smooth out the meat filling in the bottom of the skillet or casserole. Spread the mashed potatoes out evenly on top and use the tines of a fork to make swirly patterns in the potatoes, if you like.
- Bake, uncovered, in the top third of the oven for 25 minutes, or until heated through and golden brown in spots. Rest casserole for 10-15 minutes. Slice into pieces and serve.
Time Saving Tips:
- Make this recipe in a cast iron skillet. Use it to sauté the meat and vegetables and to assemble and bake your shepherd’s pie.
- Use a food processor to chop the carrots, onion, pepper, zucchini and garlic, with just a few pulses.
- Use an immersion blender to mash the potatoes right in the same pot you use to cook them.
Reheating Instructions: This shepherd’s pie is delicious the next day. Store it in the fridge covered and reheat, covered with foil, in a 325ºF oven, until heated through, about 40 minutes.
Nutrition Information: The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator and is not a substitute for the advice of a professional nutritionist.
Keywords: Cottage pie, shepherds pie, spicy shepherd's pie, dairy free shepherd's pie, gluten free shepherd's pie