This easy recipe for Weeknight Shepherd’s Pie might be even better than the original pot roast and potatoes that started it. Cut up
Weeknight Shepherd’s Pie was first published in 2012. This post was updated in March 2020.
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.
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.
It seems like every time I publish a recipe, people ask questions about substitutions.
So here you go…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Mash with a potato masher until lumps disappear.
Season with salt and pepper.
How to assemble the meat layer
Sauté chopped onions in oil until softened.
If using, add fresh chopped mushrooms or canned mushrooms that are well-drained.
Next, throw in some frozen peas and carrots. (Or just add peas if you had carrots leftover with your roast.)
Cut cooked beef into bite-sized pieces and stir into vegetables.
Add leftover gravy, or use brown gravy mix you have already made according to the directions.
Sprinkle with dried thyme.
Stir together and warm meat and vegetables on top of the stove.
How to assemble Weeknight 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.
Use a spatula to gently smooth potatoes.
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.
Garnish with fresh thyme or parsley if you have it.
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Mashed Potato Topping:
- 3 medium potatoes
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
- 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
- Thin slices of 1-2 tablespoons butter
Mashed Potato Topping
- Cover peeled potatoes with water and boil until tender. Drain.
- 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.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Bake in 350 degrees F oven for 20-25 minutes or until potatoes are golden on top and beef mixture is bubbly.
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.
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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