Budget Meals: Shepherd's Pie is also known as cottage pie. It's the simplest way to use up leftovers after a big family meal. | #groundbeef #casseroles

How to Make Comfort Food: Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherd’s pie is one of my favourite comfort foods. It’s a meat-based pie with a mashed potato topping instead of a crust. In Quebec, where I lived for a good part of my life, it starts with a bottom layer of ground beef and a healthy amount of creamed corn.

In Quebec French, the dish is called “pâté chinois” – literally “Chinese pie.” In Scotland, where it probably originated in the 18th century or so, the meat would have been chunks of mutton or lamb – otherwise it would be called “cottage pie.” No matter what you call it or what ingredients are used, it’s good, honest peasant food.

Shepherd’s Pie Recipe

This recipe is an adaptation of the shepherd’s pie that a friend’s mother used to make. The carrots give colour and extra nutrients to the dish and make it just a little sweet.


2 lbs ground beef
2 medium onions, chopped finely
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
4-6 carrots, sliced into discs and boiled until just barely tender*
5-6 potatoes, mashed with butter and milk
1 400 ml can (about 14 oz) creamed corn
1-1/2 cups frozen corn
a few pats of butter to dot the top
salt and pepper, or paprika to season the crust

* Save the water from boiling your carrots to make your own broth!


1) Brown the beef with the onion and Worcestershire sauce, breaking it up into fine bits.

2) Place the meat in the bottom of a 9″ x 13″ baking pan, pressing down lightly. If you plan on freezing this dish, use either a baking dish that has a snap-on lid, or a foil pan with a lid. Label the pan with the name of the dish, instructions, and the date. The pie should be eaten within 2-3 months.

3) Layer the carrots on top of the meat. (When you drain them, you can reserve the cooking liquid for making broth.)

4) Mix the two types of corn in a bowl and then spread the corn on top of the carrots.

5) Spread the mashed potatoes over the whole dish. Dust with a little salt and pepper, or some paprika. If you are preparing the casserole for eating right away, preheat the oven to 400ºF (200ºC, or gas mark 6) and dot the casserole with a little butter. If you aren’t going to serve right away, cover tightly and freeze or refrigerate.

6) Place the baking dish in a hot oven with a cookie sheet underneath to catch any drips. Bake until bubbling, about 40 minutes. Broil for a few minutes if necessary to brown. If the pie has been in the freezer, thaw for 1-2 days in the fridge before baking.

Serves six generously.


Shepherd's pie is an easy, affordable family meal that you can make ahead - 24 Carrot Diet

Healthier Options:

  1. Replace the ground beef with leftover lean meat, or buy ground turkey or chicken if that’s affordable where you live;
  2. Add a cruciferous vegetable like broccoli to boost the antioxidant content of this casserole;
  3. Opt for mashed sweet potato instead of regular mashed potatoes to boost the vitamin A content of your dinner;
  4. Replace the mashed potato with mashed cauliflower – this will reduce the overall carbs and calories and significantly boost the vitamin C content of your shepherd’s pie;
  5. For the feel of mashed potato with a huge fibre boost and added protein, cook up some giant Lima beans with a little garlic and mash them for your topping.

Corn is a high-fibre, whole grain source of protein
Don’t let anyone tell you corn is not healthy
( Graphic made in Canva using a public domain image by Pixabay user paulmerino)

Nutrition and Corn

With all the flap over high fructose corn syrup and genetically modified corn, this vegetable isn’t exactly the first one that comes to mind when thinking of healthy foods. At more than 600 calories per cup, corn is also not a low-calorie vegetable. But if you enjoy eating corn, please don’t eliminate it completely from your diet. You just want to enjoy it in moderation and keep in mind the higher calorie count, compared to other vegetables.

Yellow corn is a source of lutein and zeaxanthin, two carotenoids that are associated with eye health. The American Optometric Association says these antioxidants are linked to a reduced risk of some chronic eye diseases, including cataracts and macular degeneration.

You may have been told that corn is essentially an empty-calorie food, but this is simply not true. One cup of yellow corn supplies more iron than the same amount of steak and about two-thirds the protein – with only half the fat and no cholesterol. Corn is also a source of vitamin A. Plus it supplies roughly half the vitamin B6, magnesium, and fibre you need for a whole day.

So splurge a little from time to time! Buy your corn from a local farmer who grows organic or GMO-free corn, if you can. And try to balance the calorie count for the rest of your day when you indulge in corn. But don’t write it off completely. It is still part of a healthy, balanced diet.


Shepherd's pie is a low-budget comfort food that supplies a surprising amount of nutrients. This recipe from 24 Carrot Diet includes low-carb options too.
Shepherd’s pie is a great way to use up leftovers – in fact, you can plan it that way!



Original content © 2009-2017 Kyla Matton Osborne, aka #RubyWriter

Graphics adapted from a photo by cyclonebill/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

This recipe was originally published by me on Bubblews, and was inspired by an earlier article I wrote for the now defunct Yahoo Voices site.

This article was published on my food blog, 24 Carrot Diet. If you are reading this content anywhere else, it has probably been stolen. Please report it to me so I can address any copyright infringements. Thank you!


52 thoughts on “How to Make Comfort Food: Shepherd’s Pie”

    1. It’s a wonderful cold weather meal, Lucicoo! It uses root vegetables that are in season during the fall months. And it will really fill you up 🙂


  1. Shepherd’s Pie is also a very popular comfort food enjoyed by many in the UK. Over the years, people have adapted the classic recipe to include all sorts of variations including all veggie versions.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think most Canadians tend to stick fairly closely to the ground beef-corn-mashed potato combination. But I have seen all sorts of little additions to the classic shepherd’s pie. My mother went through a phase where she added red peppers. I love bell peppers but I found they didn’t stand up to the longer cook time. They got soggy, which is never pleasant….


    1. That’s interesting. I thought most people used creamed corn in their shepherd’s pie. It just holds together better 🙂


    1. Shepherd’s pie was the meal I made when I welcomed my first dinner guest to my first apartment, 30 some years ago. I can identify with that pride 🙂


    1. It’s a wonderful meal. And you can make so many substitutions. Use whatever you like and whatever is on hand!


    1. This recipe is a bit different from how most people make it because of the carrots. That adds a lot of nutrients! I hope you try it and that your family likes shepherd’s pie as much as mine does 🙂


    1. We really love it too! I’d never had shepherd’s pie with anything but corn in it until my friend told me about his mother’s recipe, I guess about 25 years ago. I’ve added carrots to mine ever since. It doesn’t seem complete without them 🙂


    1. Thanks so much, Hannah! I’ll come by and check out your blog too. I love to network with bloggers from all over and find out about their families and gardens, and what foods they like to eat!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. You know, I rarely make shepherd’s pie with leftovers – unless it’s the mashed potatoes. We are a big family, so a large casserole like this usually necessitates making from scratch.


    1. Yes, it’s one of my favourite fall foods. It’s good any time of the year. But there’s something about eating it in the fall when the weather gets cold. It’s the perfect way to warm up!


    1. You can easily substitute ground chicken or turkey, if that’s accessible and affordable where you live. Or you can cook some boneless chicken breast until you can pull it apart with two forks. Just use enough chicken to line the bottom of your pan.


  2. I’ve made vegan versions of Shepherd’s Pie. This really hits the spot as the temperatures cool. (Well, anything with mashed potatoes! LOL)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you’re enjoying them, Brenda. Thanks so much for stopping by to read and comment 🙂


    1. I will have to try that when cauliflower is in season here. Maybe someone at the farmer’s market will have them this year. It tends to be a very expensive vegetable here, even when it is in season. And often, the ones in our grocery store are puny and not terribly fresh 😦


Please add your comments below

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s