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Easy Weeknight Shepherd’s Pie Recipe with Leftover Beef

This easy recipe for Weeknight Shepherd’s Pie might be even better than the original pot roast and potatoes that started it. Cut up leftover pot roast or buy roast beef, add vegetables and seasonings, then top with mashed potatoes and bake.

Updated in March 2020.

individual serving of Shepherd's pie on a plate with a flork

Is it called Shepherd’s Pie or Cottage Pie? According to Jamie Oliver, make this recipe with lamb and call it Shepherd’s Pie. Make it with beef and call it Cottage Pie. Oops! This recipe calls for beef, however, I called it Shepherd’s Pie. My mistake.

But it’s too late to teach Google a new trick. Anyway, I think most Americans call this dish Shepherd’s Pie no matter what kind of meat they use.

Pot Roast Leftovers?

Did you make pot roast and have lots of leftovers? I called this a”Weeknight” recipe because we usually have pot roast on Sunday. That means we have this easy leftover beef recipe during the following week.

Whenever I have this dilemma, I have trouble deciding if I want to make this Weeknight Shepherd’s Pie recipe, Vegetable Beef Soup, or Steak and Mushroom Soup. They are all great ways to recycle leftover beef. I’ve been known to forbid seconds on my pot roast so there will be plenty of leftovers for one of these recipes the next day.

Shepherd's Pie-in serving bowl with serving spoon

If you don’t have leftovers, you can buy pot roast or use sliced roast beef from the deli counter. More about that in the recipe.

Finished Shepherd's Pie garnished with fresh thyme and smoked paprika

It seems like every time I publish a recipe, people ask questions about substitutions.

So here you go…

Substitutions

#1

Ground beef for pot roast

It’s worth noting that many people substitute one pound of ground beef for the pot roast or roast beef. You could also substitute lamb if you prefer.

Roast beef layer of Shepherd's Pie
Meat layer using shredded beef before topping with mashed potatoes

#2

Leftover mashed potatoes

The recipe below includes instructions for the mashed-potato topping if you don’t have leftovers. Personally, I try to make plenty of potatoes and gravy, too. That way I don’t have to make them again for this recipe.

#3

Mashed cauliflower for potatoes

Counting carbs? Substitute mashed cauliflower for the potatoes. It’s also scrumptious. Bet your family will be hard-pressed to tell the difference.

#4

Mushrooms, corn, or green beans

Mushrooms not your thing? No worries. Leave them out.

If you want more veggies, I have subbed corn or green beans in the past, and it didn’t hurt the recipe one bit.

Easy Shepherd's Pie in a skillet, garnished with fresh thyme

How To Make the Mashed Potato Topping

The directions call for cooking 3 peeled potatoes in water. When tender, drain well.

I cook potatoes in the Instant Pot by adding 1-1/2 cup water to the pot along with the peeled and chopped (large chunks) potatoes. Set pot to high pressure for 10 minutes. Release pressure immediately and check to see if potatoes are tender. Drain well and allow to sit in the hot pan for a few minutes to dry out.

mashing potatoes

Mash with a potato masher until lumps disappear.

adding salt for mashed potato layer

Season with salt and pepper.

How To Assemble the Meat Layer

softening onions in a skillet

Sauté chopped onions in oil until softened.

adding mushrooms to onions

If using, add fresh chopped mushrooms or canned mushrooms that are well-drained.

adding peas to mushrooms

Next, throw in some frozen peas and carrots. (Or just add peas if you had carrots leftover with your roast.)

adding leftover beef to vegetables

Cut cooked beef into bite-sized pieces and stir into vegetables.

adding gravy to roast beef mixture

Add leftover gravy, or use brown gravy mix you have already made according to the directions.

seasoning pie with thyme

Sprinkle with dried thyme.

warming leftover beef, vegetables, and gravy

Stir together and warm meat and vegetables on top of the stove.

How To Assemble Shepherd’s Pie

Distributing mashed potato topping over meat layer of Shepherd's pie

Distribute mashed potatoes over the top of meat and vegetables. I like to use a spring-loaded ice cream scoop because it can be difficult to spread the potatoes like you would frosting on a cake.

smoothing potato layer

Use a spatula to gently smooth potatoes.

pouring butter over mashed potato layer

Pour melted butter over the top of potatoes. Sprinkle with paprika or smoked paprika if you like. Bake in 350˚F oven until potato tips are golden brown and the beef layer is bubbly.

Baked Shepherd's Pie in a skillet

Garnish with fresh thyme or parsley if you have it.


More ideas for comfort food junkies...

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If you have a question or tip to share, please leave it in the regular comments after the recipe so I can answer back. Or, email me privately: paula at saladinajar.com.

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Paula


Shepherd's Pie

Easy Weeknight Shepherd's Pie

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes

Roast beef and vegetables (peas and carrots) in a rich beef gravy covered with a layer of seasoned mashed potatoes

Ingredients

Mashed Potato Topping:

  • 3 medium potatoes
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper

Meat Layer:

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped, fresh, or frozen onion
  • 4 ounces fresh mushrooms, chopped, (or 2 oz. canned mushrooms, sliced)
  • 1 cup frozen peas and carrots
  • 1 package 17-ounce beef roast au jus (2-3 cups leftover beef roast, fork-shredded or cut in chunks)
  • 1 package (.87 ounce) brown gravy mix mixed with 1 cup water (See notes)
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Freshly-ground pepper
  • Paprika
  • Thin slices of 1-2 tablespoons butter

Instructions

Mashed Potato Topping

  1. Cover peeled potatoes with water and boil until tender. Drain.
  2. Mash potatoes until relatively smooth. Heat milk and butter in microwave for 1 minute. Add to potatoes. Season to taste with salt and white pepper.

Beef Layer

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

  1. Preheat large skillet and add vegetable oil. Sauté onions in skillet until soft. Add mushrooms to onions and continue to sauté until browned. Add peas and carrots.
  2. In separate bowl, prepare gravy mix and water. Add to skillet along with beef and thyme. Stir and simmer until mixture begins to thicken. Season with freshly-ground pepper.
  3. Pour meat mixture into greased 1-1/2 quart casserole dish. Carefully spoon mashed potatoes on top and swirl. Sprinkle with paprika if desired and thin slices of butter.
  4. Bake in 350 degrees F oven for 20-25 minutes or until potatoes are golden on top and beef mixture is bubbly.

Notes

If I have lots of leftover gravy, I don't use the brown gravy mix. If you prefer to make your own gravy, here's a good beef gravy recipe you can put together from scratch.

Mushrooms are optional but add to the meaty taste and texture.

If you have it, smoked paprika is nice on top or leave it off completely.

Potatoes can be cooked in an Instant Pot. 10 minutes on high pressure with quick release.

Recommended Products

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. But don't worry. This doesn't change the price you pay.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 servings Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 606Total Fat: 35gSaturated Fat: 15gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 192mgSodium: 515mgCarbohydrates: 23gFiber: 3gSugar: 3gProtein: 48g

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TINA B PFEIFER

Sunday 13th of January 2019

mine if leftover chunk of prime rib.. How do i get it to shred??

Paula

Monday 14th of January 2019

Hi Tina, Prime rib? Hmmm. I would go for chop. I'm not a meat expert, but can't imagine "shreds" of prime rib. You don't want to cook it long or it will be tough. Here's what I do with leftover prime rib.

Sandy

Wednesday 4th of May 2016

Just the thing for left over roast beef...that's what's for dinner tonight!

Carroll Hanks

Thursday 19th of December 2013

I came up with my own version of shepherd's pie by using corn bread mix instead of mashed potatoes. My family likes it better.

Paula

Friday 20th of December 2013

Interesting variation Carroll. Thanks for sharing.

Connie

Monday 18th of March 2013

Paula: I have made this Shepherds pie three times now. The last time I made it, my ten year old grandson had six helpings! My husband is from Scotland and I have had "Shepherds Pie" there made with beef. Maybe cottage pie is an English recipe. I happened onto your website quite by accident, and my family says that this shepherds pie is the best yet! I have tripled it with no problem, tastes the same. Thanks a million! Oh, the last time I used the Hormels beef, it was still delicious.

Paula

Tuesday 19th of March 2013

Connie, I love this kind of comment. I am of English descent but don't really know much about authentic English food. Just know I like the way this tastes. Glad to have your family's approval.

`Suzanne

Wednesday 29th of February 2012

Perfect looking sheperd's pie, I bought a roast yesterday to try out the roast recipe, now I know what to do with the left overs :)