Rich Shepherd’s Pie

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This Rich Shepherd’s Pie is such a hearty meal. Shepherd’s Pie originates in the UK, though there is a French dish which is very similar. In the past the dish would have been made with lamb leftover from a sunday roast. But these days it is very common to use uncooked minced lamb.

Although I have seen some recipes that use beef, rather than lamb, for me that really makes it a cottage pie. So, since shepherd’s are known as the custodians of sheep, lamb is what I use.

My recipe makes enough for 8 good portions of Shepherd’s Pie. In my video I use two dishes to make two pies. But if you have a large dish, of about 12 inches(30 cm) by about 10 inches(25cm) that will make one very large pie. The main reason for using two dishes was that I was giving one pie to my niece. So, in the recipe below I will detail using one or two dishes. You can also easily halve the recipe to serve just 4, in a single dish.

Rich Shepherd's Pie

Ingredients for Rich Shepherd’s Pie

There are a lot of ingredients in the pie so, for ease, I will group some together in this explanation.

Minced Lamb – this is the heart of the dish. You can use uncooked minced lamb but also cooked lamb diced or minced.

Vegetables – the vegetable for the rich lamb sauce can include whatever you might like. But the basis should be onions and carrots. I also include celery and peas.

Seasonings – Thyme and Rosemary are the herbs I use. Thyme is very common in the dish, but since rosemary often goes with lamb I include that too. Garlic, tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce also give a lovely flavour to the sauce. Salt and pepper, to taste. There is also some flour for thickening the sauce.

Liquids – Red wine and stock. The red wine gives a richness to the dish, but it can be replaced by more stock. The stock can be lamb, beef or chicken stock, whichever you prefer to have on hand.

Mashed Potatoes – Potatoes are the base. Butter and Milk add a creaminess to the mash. Cheese, a hard variety, such as parmesan, pecorino or even semi hard like gruyere or cheddar on the top add additional flavour.


Rich Shepherd's Pie

Although the recipe takes a couple of hours to make it is quite straightforward. Firstly make the lamb mixture. To do that cook off/brown the lamb in a little oil. Set the lamb aside and strain off excess fat. Then gently cook the onions and carrots for about 8 minutes, adding the celery after a couple of minutes. When those vegetables have soften somewhat stir in the tomato paste, garlic and the herbs. Next stir in the flour and cook for about a minute.

Add the liquids starting the red wine and Worcestershire sauce and stir that until it thickens a little and cooks off the alcohol. Then pour in the stock as well and stir it through. Cover the pot and simmer for about 25 minutes.

Next add the peas and stir through. Taste the sauce and season with salt and pepper. Then cover the pot and leave it off the heat until required.

Boil the potatoes in salted water, until they are tender. Drain them and leave them until the steam has dissipated leaving the potatoes dry on the exterior. Mash the potatoes – I use my potato ricer for this. Stir in the butter and enough of the milk to make a creamy and fluffy mash.

Then it is tie to assemble the pie. Spoon the lamb into a large ovenproof dish(or two smaller ones). Cover the lamb with the mashed potato, spreading it to the edge. Lightly fork it with a pattern. Sprinkle over some grated cheese, if you are using.

Cook the pie in the oven, preheated to 180C/160C Fan/350F, for about 40 minutes until it is piping hot and the top has brown nicely.

Allow the pie to rest for about 10 minutes before serving, as it will be very, very, hot.

My Pie

After 40 minutes my pies were nicely brown on the top. I immediately took one around to my hungry niece. By the time I was back home the remaining pie was ready to serve. So I took a portion and tasted it. The lamb and vegetables were just perfectly cooked, in that rich sauce. The potato top was so creamy and with just the hint of cheese. It was a perfect dinner.

Rich Shepherd’s Pie – Video

Another great recipe for dinner is Chicken In Mushroom Sauce.

Rich Shepherd’s Pie

Recipe by geoffcooCourse: Stove top/SavouryCuisine: BritishDifficulty: Medium


Prep time


Cooking time






  • Lamb & Sauce
  • 1.5kg(3.3 lbs) minced lamb

  • 300g(3 cups) finely chopped onions

  • 400g(2 1/2 cups) finely chopped carrots

  • 220g(1 cup) finely chopped celery

  • 120g(1 cup) frozen peas

  • 750ml(3 cups) chicken, or other, stock

  • 240ml(1 cup) red wine

  • 13g(1 tbsp) finely chopped garlic

  • 5g(1 tbsp) finely chopped fresh thyme -see note below

  • 8g(1 tbsp) finely chopped fresh rosemary – see note below

  • 15ml(1 tbsp) Worcestershire Sauce

  • 30ml(2 tbsp) tomato paste

  • 30g(3 tbsp) plain flour

  • 30ml(2 tbsp) olive oil

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • Potatoes
  • 2kg(4.4 lbs) potatoes for boiling, peeled and cut into equal pieces

  • salt for boiling the potatoes

  • 100g(7 tbsp) butter

  • 90ml(6 tbsp) milk

  • grated cheese for sprinking, such as parmesan, pecorino(Optional)


  • Using a little of the oil and more, if and, as necessary to fry off/brown the lamb in batches, in a large pot.
  • Drain the browned lamb and set it aside.
  • Strain off any excess fat from the pot and then add the onions and carrots, gently cooking them for 8 minutes, adding in the celery after about two minutes.
  • Stir in the tomato paste and the herbs and cook for one minute.
  • Add the garlic and stir through.
  • Sprinkle the flour over the and stir it in, cooking for one minute.
  • Pour in the red wine and the Worcestershire sauce, and cook off the alcohol as you stir the sauce.
  • Add the stock and stir again. Bring the sauce to a boil.
  • Reduce the heat so the sauce is simmering, then cover the pot and cook for 25 minutes.
  • Put the potatoes into a large saucepan of cold water, salted.
  • Bring the saucepan to a boil, covered, and cook the poatoes until they are tender and a knife slides easily into them.
  • Turn the heat off the sauce and stir in the peas.
  • Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Then cover the pot and leave until required.
  • Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/350F.
  • Drain the cooked potatoes and leave them exposed to allow the steam to dissipate.
  • Mash, or rice, the potatoes.
  • Add the butter and beat into the potatoes.
  • Add the milk a little at a time until you have a lovely creamy but not too wet mash.
  • Spoon the lamb and vegetables into a large, or two smaller, dishes. Level it off.
  • Carefully add the creamy potatoes on the top and spread to level. Then fork the top as you wish.
  • If desired sprinkle grated cheese over the top.
  • Place the shepherd’s pie into the oven and cook for 40 to 45 minutes, until it is piping hot and has browned on the top.
  • Leave to rest for at least 10 minutes before serving.


  • If using dried herbs only use 1 teaspoon of each, since dried herbs are much stronger than fresh.

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