Easy Cheesy Shepherd’s Pie (aka Cottage pie)

This Shepherd’s pie is made with a saucy ground beef and vegetable base, topped with creamy and cheesy mashed potatoes, making a homemade comfort food meal in one that is great for meal prep and more! Traditional Shepherd’s pie is made with ground lamb, which is why this recipe is technically more of a cottage pie than Shepherd’s pie. Here in America we simply call it Shepherd’s pie, perhaps because that is the name everyone is more familiar with. If you love hearty casseroles, you may also enjoy my recipes for Amish Sausage and Cabbage Casserole, Rice and Beef Casserole with Cracker Topping or Slow cooker Dairy Casserole.

See below the recipe card for notes on making this Shephard’s pie dairy free.

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Shephard's pie with mashed potatoes and beef

Easy Cheesy Shepherd’s Pie (cottage pie)

This easy, homemade Shepherd's pie is a classic comfort food that is both filling and delicious! Perfect for meal prepping, feeding the family, potlucks and more!
4 from 4 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Irish
Servings 8


  • Saucepan (linked below)
  • hand mixer (linked below)
  • Potato masher (linked below)
  • Skillet (linked below)
  • 9 by 13 inch baking dish (linked below)


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup diced onions
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 cup thinly sliced carrots
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 2 cups marinara or pasta sauce
  • 3/4 teaspoon Season all (Lawry's salt) or to taste

Mashed potato topping:

  • 5 medium potatoes baking potatoes such as Russet or Idaho
  • 4 oz. cream cheese *see note
  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder optional
  • 1/4-1/2 cup whole milk *see note


  • Shredded cheddar or Colby cheese


Preheat oven to 350.

  • Peel the potatoes and remove blemishes, then cube and place into a med-large sauce pan. Cover with water and season generously with salt, then bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat and allow to cook (uncovered) for 30-40 minutes until the potatoes have softened. Once the potatoes are soft, remove from heat and drain. Add cream cheese, butter and garlic powder, then mash with a potato masher or hand mixer, adding milk as needed to get the consistency smooth and creamy. If needed, add additional salt and mix to incorporate.
  • While the potatoes are cooking, place the ground beef, garlic and onions in a large skillet lightly oiled with a tablespoon or two of olive oil or canola oil. Season with salt and pepper, then cook over medium heat until the beef is browned and the onions and garlic have softened.
  • Add the carrots and peas, then cook and stir the mixture for a few additional minutes. Add tomato sauce and season all (can be added to taste), then cover and allow the sauce and beef mixture to continue cooking for an additional 5-10 minutes (stirring occasionally), until the sauce has thickened a bit.
  • Spread the ground beef mixture into the bottom of a 13 by 9 inch baking dish, then spread the mashed potatoes or top. Sprinkle shredded cheese over the potatoes, then bake the Shepherd's pie in the preheated oven for 20-30 minutes until bubbling and heated through. Turn the broiler to 500, then broil the Shepherd's pie for 30-60 seconds to brown the cheese on top (optional). Cool slightly and enjoy!


If you wish to make this Shepherd’s pie dairy free, you can use dairy free substitutes for the cream cheese, butter and milk. More notes on this below. 
The amount of milk added to the potatoes may vary due to the size of the potatoes. I generally make my mashed potatoes for my Shepherd’s pie a bit stiffer than if I were making mashed potatoes as a dish on its own. 
Additional notes and step by step photos below. 
Keyword Shephard’s pie, ground beef, easy, baked, cottage pie
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Some Equipment needed for this Cheesy Shepherd’s Pie:

  • Saucepan I prefer to use my 2 quart Farberware saucepan (not an ad) for the amount of potatoes needed for this Shepherd’s pie.
  • Hand mixer Using a hand mixer makes the potatoes very nice and creamy, and is also easier than mashing them by hand.
  • Potato masher I generally use a potato masher first (to mash the potatoes, cream cheese and butter together), then I switch to a hand mixer to mix in the milk and reduce the remaining lumps.
  • Skillet A large skillet is needed to cook the saucy ground beef and veggie mixture in.
  • 13 by 9 inch baking dish To bake the Shepherd’s pie, a 9 by 13 inch baking dish is needed.

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Ingredients needed for this Easy Shepherd’s pie: Potatoes, carrots, peas, ground beef, shredded cheese, cream cheese, onion, garlic, garlic powder, season all (Lawry’s salt), milk, butter, marinara or pasta sauce, and salt and pepper (not shown).


We prefer to use a homemade marinara sauce for this Shepherd’s pie. My homemade marinara is slightly thicker than store bought marinara or pasta sauce, so I generally add a little water to the sauce. If the beef and sauce mixture looks too dry after being cooked, you can add additional sauce or a little water to the mixture.

Dairy free alternatives:

When my daughter was a baby, she developed a dairy allergy. We often had Shepherd’s pie with ground turkey, because it is easy to substitute in dairy free alternatives for milk, butter and cream cheese in the mashed potato topping. We liked to use oat milk for cooking, because it has more of a mild flavor than almond milk. Dairy free cream cheese (I usually went for the Daiya brand) and butter (Country crock was our favorite) can be found at most Walmarts or larger grocery stores.

Step 1: Peel the potatoes and remove blemishes, then cube and cover with water. Season generously with salt, then bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat and allow to cook (uncovered) for 30-40 minutes until the potatoes have softened. Drain the potatoes and add cream cheese, butter, and garlic powder. Mash/mix, adding milk as needed until the potatoes are smooth and creamy.

Step 2-3: Brown the beef along with onions and garlic over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper, then add peas and carrots. Saute the peas and carrots with the beef mixture for a few minutes, then add sauce and season all. Cook for an additional 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened a bit.

Step 4: Spread the ground beef and sauce mixture into the bottom of a 13 by 9 inch pan. Smoothing with a spatula to get an even base layer.

Step 4 continued: Spread the mashed potatoes over the sauce and beef mixture, then top with shredded cheese. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-30 minutes until heated through and bubbly. Optional: Broil the Shepherd’s pie for 30-60 seconds to for a crust on top and get the cheese nicely browned.

Cool slightly, then serve and enjoy!

We enjoyed our Shepherd’s pie with Homemade Whole Wheat Bread and Amish Peanut Butter Spread, as well as apple sauce and steamed green beans.

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1 thought on “Easy Cheesy Shepherd’s Pie (aka Cottage pie)”

  1. 5 stars
    This was fantastic, simple to make yet tasty. I made the potatoes without adding cream cheese, although i did add additional milk. Still delicious!

    Note: onion is missing from the ingredients list. 🙂

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