Shepherd’s pie is a delicious, savory meal that packs a powerful punch and can be whipped up quickly. With its layers of meat, colorful vegetables, and creamy mashed potatoes, you won’t be able to stop yourself from going back for seconds, or even thirds (hey, we don't judge)!
Shepherd’s pie is one of those meals that takes you back to your childhood. The blend of all your favorite (and maybe not so favorite) foods, harmonizing into a delectable dish. Whether it’s a tried and true family recipe, or you’re being a crafty shelf cooker, shepherd’s pie needs to be added to your busy night arsenal.
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Throw together a few leftover items from your fridge or freezer to make an easy shepherd’s pie that's sure to be a favorite for everyone come dinner time. Don’t believe us? See just how easy and versatile it can be! Even the pickiest of eaters will love it!
HOW TO MAKE SHEPHERD'S PIE
One of the beautiful things about this dish is that it's easy to make. Not only can you customize what goes into your pie using what you have on hand, but you can also choose how you want to cook it! Let's go over your endless options real quick before we get to the delicious shepherd's pie recipe.
DIFFERENT MEATS YOU CAN USE
There are so many different types of meats you can use in a shepherd's pie! From the classics to some not-so-traditional, we promise that you won't be disappointed no matter what you use. Here are some of our favorites:
- Beef – Ground beef is the most common meat that the recipe will call for and you can never go wrong with it! We like to precook a bunch of ground beef and freeze it into meal-sized portions to make recipes like this a breeze. It's also a great way to use up those smaller amounts of beef, like steak or meatballs, that won't feed everybody on their own.
- Pork – Pulled pork is a fun twist that's full of sweet flavor and melds all the aromas into one tasty dish that will leave you wanting more. Trust us on this one! Ground pork or chopped up leftover pork chops also taste really good in a shepherd's pie.
- Chicken – Chicken is the universal protein that is good in any meal. Use a leftover rotisserie chicken, ground chicken, or pre-cooked, frozen shredded chicken in your shepherd’s pie. Try out different spices or herbs for a completely different taste that is sure to please your taste buds!
- Turkey – This is a great lean option that carries a lot of flavors. Feel free to use both ground turkey or leftover turkey.
- Sausage – All types of sausage are welcome here! Ground, diced up links, breakfast, you name it. Just season your shepherd's pie according to what flavor profile your meat is.
- Meatless – This is a great option for those who don’t eat meat or don’t have time to pull some out of the freezer and defrost. Even without the meat, your shepherd's pie is guaranteed to be hearty and delicious!
Pro Tip: Any and all types of meat will work for this easy recipe, as long as it's been cooked! Chop any large cuts of meat up before adding them to your shepherd's pie and they'll blend in amazingly well.
ALL ABOUT THE VEGGIES
Some people believe that certain vegetables shouldn’t be used in a shepherd’s pie…we’re not those people! Have some pathetic-looking spinach? Toss it in! Mushrooms? Peppers? Squash? Zucchini? Beans? Corn? They can all go in, along with just about any other vegetable you can find at home. This is your chance to get creative and repurpose any veggies that you have on hand.
An easy shepherd’s pie is a great way to sneak extra veggies into your family’s diet without them noticing. Be sure to thaw any frozen veggies that you may use before adding them to the recipe or it'll make the pie watery when it's cooking.
POTATO TOPPINGS FOR A CLASSIC SHEPHERD'S PIE
Most shepherd’s pie recipes will call for some sort of mashed potatoes on top to create the crust. Leftover mashed potatoes are the perfect way to have a quick and easy meal on the table in no time. Don’t have leftover mashed potatoes to use? Don’t fret, we have a few other options that you can use instead!
- Baked Potatoes – Have some leftover baked potatoes that you need to use up? They'll go perfectly on top of your shepherd's pie! Mash them all together, add a little bit of milk and melted butter, and you've got the perfect topping.
- Instant Potatoes – In a pinch, grab a bag or box of instant potatoes from your pantry and mix up enough to cover your dish before popping it into the oven. Instant potatoes are great to use when you don’t have leftovers because they are quick and easy (hello weeknight dinner!), and can add a variety of flavors depending on the type of potatoes you have.
- Tater Tots – Add some golden, crispy goodness on top of your shepherd's pie! Tater tots are cheap and easy to always have on hand in the freezer. Hash browns would also work!
- Sweet Potatoes – Instead of using traditional mashed potatoes, try using sweet potatoes instead! Similar in texture, but hearty and oh-so-delicious. Take your shepherd’s pie up a notch by substituting this sweet, savory, orange goodness to top off your dish.
- Cauliflower – Yet another good alternative would be to use mashed cauliflower! It's a healthier option and it's a great way to use up that cauliflower that might be taking up precious real estate in your fridge or freezer.
Pro Tip: Don't be afraid to mix and match if you don't have enough of one type to cover your shepherd's pie. Do half mashed potatoes and half sweet potatoes or whatever works for you!
Not only do you have complete freedom over what goes into your shepherd’s pie, but you also have the choice of how you want to cook your creation. The most common and easiest way is to place all your ingredients into a casserole dish and pop it in the oven.
Here are some other ways to cook a shepherd's pie:
- Dutch Oven – Who doesn’t love anything cooked in a Dutch oven?! The flavors that come out are hard to beat, especially when you’re making a staple like a shepherd’s pie. Just be aware that you might need to plan extra time (especially if cooking over a fire or using coals), and you might need to add in some extra liquids to keep your potatoes from drying out.
- Slow Cooker – Summer is the perfect time to break out your slow cooker instead of heating up your entire house with the oven. Add everything into the slow cooker, set the timer, and walk away…our favorite kind of dinner!
- Instant Pot – Perfect for those nights where you are crunched for time, but still want to have a filling meal for your family. Cook your meat and vegetables all in one pot (hello, easy cleanup!), and let your Instant Pot do all the work.
Pro Tip: Easily prep your shepherd's pie the night before! Add it to your dish, cover with plastic wrap, and store in the fridge until you're ready to heat that baby up.
THE EASIEST SHEPHERD'S PIE RECIPE
Let's get on to your new fav recipe and use up those leftovers!
Easy Shepherd's Pie
- 1-2 lbs cooked meat
- 1-2 cups cooked vegetables
- 2-3 lbs mashed potatoes
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Additional seasonings, optional
- Mixed cheese, optional
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- In a greased casserole dish, layer meat, vegetables, mashed potatoes, salt, pepper, and cheese (optional).
- Bake for 30-45 minutes, or until brown and bubbling.
Don't you love how versatile it is?? So. stinkin'. good.
DOUBLE AND FREEZE FOR LATER
Shepherd’s pie is one of those dishes that freeze extremely well, so we suggest you take advantage of your time in the kitchen and double the recipe! Once it cools, add it to a pan (disposable works great), wrap with aluminum foil 3 times, write the details on top, and stick it in the freezer for later.
Prior to reheating, pull your pie out of the freezer and let it thaw for 24-48 hours in the refrigerator. Preheat the oven and cook your pie as you normally would.
HOW TO REHEAT THE LEFTOVERS
With a meal this delicious, we doubt you’ll have any leftovers! But on the off chance you do, here are a few tips to help you reheat your shepherd’s pie.
- Stove Top – Start by melting some butter in a pan on the stove. Add in the shepherd’s pie and seasonings, then leave it alone to crisp up the potatoes and heat through. Feel free to add some cheese if you want to add another layer of flavor to your leftovers!
- Oven – Add your leftovers to an oven-safe dish. Bake at 400°F until the potatoes crisp up and the shepherd’s pie is completely heated through.
- Microwave – Use a microwave-safe dish, cover, and heat up until it's completely warmed through. Don't be afraid to stir it all together to make sure it's heating evenly.
Alright, well there you have it! Shepherd’s pie is one of our favorite meals that uses up a wide variety of leftovers and items that need to be used. With the ability to mix and match what you have on hand, shepherd’s pie is the epitome of shelf cooking!
Give it a try and let us know your favorite combination in the comments.
Looking for more?
- Learn how to cook up a big batch of ground beef and freeze it for later!
- Use these great ideas to repurpose your leftovers into something different.
- We've got 40 quick and easy dinner ideas for you that you don't wanna miss out on!