How to Make a Shepherd’s Pie

shepherd's pie with potato, meat and vegetables
Copyright: zakiroff
If there us one dish that England is known for then it’s shepherd’s pie. It is very traditional and made with lamb but in past times was commonly made with mutton. A similar dish is cottage pie which is made with minced beef or ground beef as it’s often termed in the USA.
The pie is constructed by making a casserole of cooked lamb with vegetables which is covered with a layer of mashed potato. The whole lot is baked in the oven until you see the potato mash is well browned. In some shepherd’s pies the topping includes slices of potato.
Use tomato sauce or Worcestershire sauce as fits your taste. Whilst we’ve given amounts as a guide it really does depend on taste and you only know this when you have made a few. Worcestershire sauce seems ideal but we’ve used HP Brown sauce too.

Preparing Shepherd’s Pie In Advance

You can make the mashed potato topping and the filling up to 2 days in advance. We suggest making it fresh on the day.

Serves 4 (large helpings) or 5 (yes- smaller helpings)

Preparation Time:  20 minutes

Cooking Time: 40 minutes


[1] Meat casserole

  • 1.5 tablespoon olive oil
  • 750g lean lamb mince
  • 1 beef or lamb stock cube
  • ¼ teaspoon thyme
  • 300g carrots, peeled and chopped or sliced thinly
  • 1 or 2 white onions, peeled and chopped
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves (optional)
  • 150ml Heinz tomato ketchup and/or 50ml Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

[2] Potato Topping:

  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 700-800g Maris Piper or any other starchy potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 100ml  milk
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard or 1/2 teaspoon of English mustard
  • 100g grated cheddar  cheese
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon cornflour


  1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC, fan 180ºC, gas mark 6.
  2. Heat the oil in a frying pan/sauté pan and brown the mince.
  3. Add between 300ml and 400ml water, then crumble in the  stock cube, add any herbs like thyme and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add the chopped carrots and onion, and continue cooking for a further 15 minutes to soften the onion in particular, or until the mince is tender.
  5. Stir in the tomato ketchup and Worcestershire sauce, then simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Meanwhile, cook the potatoes in boiling water until soft (10-15 minutes). Drain and mash with the milk, mustard and grated cheese, reserving a third of the cheese. Season to taste.
  7. Add the cornflour to a little water and mix into the mince to thicken slightly, then season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  8. Spoon the mince and vegetables into an ovenproof dish. Top with the mashed and sliced  potatoes.
  9. Sprinkle the top with the remaining cheese. Cook for 15-20 minutes or until the potato is golden.
  10. Serve with leafy greens and fresh broad beans and peas.

If you need to keep leftovers, just place any remaining pie in a plastic dish and seal firmly.

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