Our best shepherds pie recipe makes an authentic traditional shepherd’s pie, which means that it’s made with ground lamb and mashed potatoes. If you want to use beef mince, then you’ll be making cottage pie. They are equally as delicious and comforting, but they are not the same pies. In fact, they’re not really pies, but hearty casseroles. Perfect winter comfort food.
The surprisingly cool wet weather here calls for comfort food and I’ve been craving endearingly old-fashioned dishes like shepherds pie. Searching our recipe archives, I realise we’d only posted a cottage pie recipe, which was a good excuse to share our best shepherds pie recipe.
Of course, our best shepherds pie recipe wasn’t our recipe to begin with, but was adapted from Scottish-born Gordon Ramsay’s shepherds pie recipe. Terence first cooked shepherds pie in Edinburgh way back in January 2011 on the last month of the yearlong global grand tour that launched Grantourismo.
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Now let me tell you all about our best shepherds pie recipe.
Best Shepherds Pie Recipe for an Authentic Traditional Shepherd’s Pie
It’s cool and unexpectedly rainy here in Siem Reap – so cool that Cambodians are wearing long sleeved jackets and scarves. It never rains in the winter dry reason, yet it’s been drizzling all day and night and we woke up to mist.
At first I assumed it was smoke from our neighbour’s place or the hotel across the road had mosquito-bombed their grounds. But neither are January activities – locals burn off in March-April and the mozzies won’t return until monsoon – so I went onto the balcony, felt the dampness in the air, and realised it was raining. Crazy.
Of course I thought of a traditional shepherd’s pie – a casserole of layered lamb mince and mashed potatoes. There are few things more comforting, but it’s probably the last thing you’d expect an expat in Cambodia to be cooking, even if it is winter. But we make Southeast Asian food all the time and winter is a good excuse to cook the food of other climes.
Terence first cooked what was for me the best shepherds pie recipe ever for his series The Dish on the quintessential dishes of places we’d settled into. It was made with local lamb minced by butcher George Bower in Stockbridge near our elegant apartment rental.
After a year of globetrotting for the project, moving destinations every two weeks we were both exhausted and I was also very ill, so Terence’s traditional shepherds pie was the comfort food I’d desperately needed at the time and it was the best shepherd’s pie I’d ever tucked into.
But after consulting Scottish chefs and Edinburgh locals in person and on Twitter for their suggestions on quintessentially Scottish dishes to cook for The Dish, the advice was fairly unanimous on haggis or cullen skink among other things, so Terence’s shepherds pie recipe didn’t get published.
The cold weather was as good an excuse as any to share our best shepherds pie recipe – but remember, shepherd’s pie is made with lamb, because, ahem… shepherd’s herd sheep and lambs not cows. So if you only have beef mince on hand, you’re going to want to make our Irish cottage pie recipe. Link above.
Tips to Making Our Best Shepherds Pie Recipe
Just a few quick tips to making our best shepherds pie recipe, as it’s really very straightforward – an authentic traditional shepherd’s pie recipe calls for layers of lamb mince and mashed potatoes.
As we said, above, if you’ve got beef mince, click through to our cottage pie recipe, as it’s not a shepherd’s pie if it’s made with beef. Shepherds herd sheep and lambs, not cows and that’s the easiest way to appreciate the difference.
You must use ground lamb in a traditional shepherd’s pie – not only because that’s what a shepherd’s pie is made from, but also because the herbs used in a shepherd’s pie are best matched with lamb and not beef.
Don’t use tinned tomatoes in the minced lamb mixture, thinking you can pad it out, as it will result in a minced meat mixture that is too loose and will be too runny. You really need to use tomato paste for a rich ground mince filling.
Make sure to cook off the wine and stock so that they reduce. Again, if you don’t, you’ll end up with a loose, watery minced filling, which you definitely do not want.
Lastly, there are no vegetables in an authentic traditional shepherd’s pie recipe – the vegetables are served on the side. Shepherds pie recipes that include a layer of vegetables or veggies combined with the mince aren’t shepherd’s pies… I guess they’re vegetable mince pies. Names are important.
Best Shepherds Pie Recipe
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 750 g lamb mince
- 1 carrot - large, grated
- 1 onion - large, grated
- 4 cloves garlic - grated
- 2 sprigs rosemary - fresh, chopped
- 2 sprigs thyme - fresh, chopped
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce - more to taste
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 125 ml red wine
- 125 ml chicken stock
- salt - to taste
- pepper - to taste
- 750 g potatoes - mashing
- 60 ml milk
- 3 tbsp butter
- ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
- salt - to taste
- pepper - to taste
- Boil the potatoes to make the mash.
- Add olive oil to a pan and heat to medium high. Add the lamb mince, break apart and stir. As it colours, break apart the mince with a metal whisk if it clumps.
- Once the mince has good colour, add the salt and pepper taste. Remember to taste again before finishing the dish.
- Add the grated carrot and onion to the pan and when they soften, add the garlic, rosemary and thyme.
- Once this all has a little more colour, add the Worcestershire sauce and stir to combine.
- Add the tomato paste and stir to combine. When this is fully combined, add the red wine and reduce.
- When the red wine has evaporated, add the chicken stock and cook out for several minutes until you have a thickened mince base. Test and adjust seasoning as necessary.
- When the potatoes are cooked mash in a potato ricer, place in a saucepan over low heat and evaporate any extra water from the potatoes. Warm the milk and add to the mash. When fully incorporated, add the butter in small pieces and combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C.
- Spread your mince base evenly in a deep casserole dish. Spoon the mash mixture over the top in an even layer. To get a more crispy surface on the pie, run a fork around the mash to create little peaks of mash. Finely grate the Parmesan cheese over the top and place in the oven for 18-20 minutes. The pie should have little golden brown peaks when ready.
- Serve with baked vegetables such as baby carrots.
Please do let us know if you make our best shepherds pie recipe, as we’d love to know how it turns out for you.