Traditional shepherd's pie also referred to as cottage pie, is made with ground lamb, vegetables, and mashed potato. Shepherd's pie is the ultimate comfort food for a weeknight meal. My Easy Shepherd's Pie Recipe With Instant Mashed Potatoes is a complete meal in a casserole dish! You have protein from beef, vitamins and minerals from vegetables, and starch from instant potatoes.
My spouse described his childhood shepherd's pie with cheddar cheese, and I have not looked back in 25 years. The cheese adds so much flavor and a gooey texture to my easy shepherd's pie recipe. There are lots of shepherd's pie recipes but none are as easy as this amazing recipe.
Why You'll Enjoy This
- Budget-conscious? My calculated cost for this dish is only $2.31 per serving, coming in well below our cheap meal category of dishes under $3.00 per person!!
- This recipe is perfect for meal preppers and planners. Make ahead and bake when ready!
- If you are cooking for two, make the full recipe for four, assemble two casseroles, and freeze one, unbaked.
- It is just as good the next time you bake and serve it.
- It is an easy dinner recipe with ingredients you probably have on hand.
- It is a comforting meal that everyone will enjoy.
- Ground Beef - Feel free to substitute any ground meat you chose, be it ground turkey, lamb, pork, or chicken.
- Instant Mashed Potatoes - You can also use leftover mashed potatoes, packaged mashed potatoes, or mash some potatoes just for this dish. You can even use mashed sweet potatoes!
- Frozen Vegetables - I use frozen vegetables because I always have them in the freezer. Any vegetable you like will work. Mixed vegetables with green beans are popular. You can also use fresh vegetables. If you use fresh, make sure to cut them to sizes that will cook for the same amount of time. I always blanch and par-cook fresh vegetables so that they will be fully cooked by the time the casserole is baked. Canned vegetables will work too, but might become mushy since they are already fully cooked.
- Gravy Mix - We love the richness brown gravy gives the dish when it bubbles up over the creamy mashed potatoes. I use a gravy packet and mix it with water, but jarred gravy works well too. You can also use beef broth and a thickener like cornstarch to make your own gravy. You can even omit the gravy entirely and add a pat of butter over the hot mashed potatoes when the dish comes out of the oven.
- Cheese - I use whatever cheese I have in the fridge. My preference is cheddar cheese for its flavor, but any grated cheese will work. If you like a traditional shepherd's pie, you can omit the cheese. I encourage you to try it once though. Got kids? They love it.
Full ingredients list & measurements are provided in the recipe card.
Brown ground beef in a skillet over medium-high heat.
If serving four, add the ground beef to the bottom of a small casserole dish.
If serving two, add the ground beef to two smaller casserole dishes.
Prepare the brown gravy according to the package directions.
Spoon the gravy over the ground beef. Do not cover the meat. Save the rest.
Place frozen vegetables in an even layer over the ground meat mixture.
Top the vegetables with grated cheese in an even layer.
Prepare the instant mashed potatoes according to the package directions.
Place the mashed potatoes over the cheese to just over the top of the baking dish.
If freezing one, cover it tightly with plastic wrap, then cover it with aluminum foil.
Label with name and date and freeze for up to two months.
Bake the remaining casserole for 30 mins. on medium heat, 350 degrees f.
- If you like Worcestershire in your shepherd's pie, add it to the gravy.
- If you like garlic powder in your shepherd's pie, I would add it to the meat as you are browning it, or to the gravy.
- If you like tomato-based gravy, add 2 tablespoons of tomato paste to a cup of boiling water. Reduce it a bit over high heat, and add it over the ground meat in place of the brown gravy.
- Add sour cream to your mashed potatoes to add a little tang to an otherwise rich dish.
Looking for More Yummy Casseroles?
Food Storage Tips
To freeze for later use, allow the casserole to come to room temperature to make sure the ingredients are not still hot. Then cover the casserole tightly with plastic wrap followed by aluminum foil to create an airtight container. Label with the name of the dish and the date. Freeze for up to two months for the best results. Then when ready to eat, allow the casserole to thaw in the refrigerator for several hours before baking.
Easy Shepherd's Pie Recipe With Instant Mashed Potatoes
- One medium or two small baking dishes.
- Small skillet
- Small pot
- 8 ounces ground beef or other ground meat
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup brown gravy
- 1.5 cups vegetables fresh or frozen
- 1 cup cheese
- 1.5 cups mashed potatoes
- 1 tablespoon butter optional
- Brown ground beef in a skillet over medium-high heat.
- If serving four, add the ground beef to the bottom of one small casserole dish. If serving two, add the ground beef to two smaller casserole dishes to eat one now and freeze one for later.
- Prepare the brown gravy according to the package directions.
- Spoon the gravy over the ground beef. Do not cover the meat. The gravy should come to just under the top of the meat. Save the remainder to serve tableside if desired.
- Place the frozen vegetables in an even layer over the ground meat mixture.
- Top the vegetables with grated cheese in an even layer.
- Prepare the instant mashed potatoes according to the package directions.
- Place the mashed potatoes over the cheese to just over the top of the baking dish.
- If freezing one, cover it tightly with plastic wrap, then cover it with aluminum foil.
- Bake the remaining casserole for 30 mins at 350 degrees f.
- Enjoy this dish piping hot, with a pat of (optional) butter on top, right from the oven.
Approximate nutrition information is provided as a convenience and courtesy only. You are encouraged to do your own calculations if precise data is required.
We take every effort to ensure that the estimated meal cost per serving is accurate. We use a meal cost analysis application that estimates the cost of a recipe based on groceries purchased at a Walmart store in my geographical area, northern California.