British Recipe for Shepherd’s Pie

A lot of people find this British recipe for shepherd’s pie perfect for the colder months, and I fall into that group. Really, is there anything more comforting or delicious than shepherd’s pie when the nights are getting cooler?

Shepherd’s pie is often confused with cottage pie, but shepherd’s pie is made with ground lamb not ground beef. Think about it – shepherds have sheep not cows! If you want to use ground beef, then that’s also tasty but it’s technically cottage pie. Our British recipe for shepherd’s pie is made with lamb.

We are making this in the British style, using bay leaves, thyme and Worcestershire sauce for flavor, along with meaty stock, an anchovy (that might sound like a strange ingredient but honestly it really complements the dish) and onion. The result is a fantastic British recipe for shepherd’s pie dish which the whole family will go crazy for. This is nice served by itself or you can have some carrots, broccoli, peas or another vegetable on the side.

Optional Ingredients in this British Recipe for Shepherd’s Pie

Some people like to finely chop the veggies and put those into the shepherd’s pie, which you can do. I sometimes add a small can of baked beans in there too (white beans in tomato sauce) and I know some people add peas, finely chopped carrots or a drained small can of corn. Any of those works. If you want to add anything else, consider 1 or 2 minced cloves of garlic. Garlic seems to agree with pretty much every kind of main course. If you are curious how to make a British recipe for shepherd’s pie on the stove, click here to see that recipe instead.

British Recipe for Shepherd's Pie
Ground lamb is flavored with tomato, herbs, Worcestershire sauce and more. It is then topped with wonderful, creamy mashed potatoes, and baked in the oven, for a perfect, authentic shepherd's pie.
Cuisine: British
Recipe type: Entree
Serves: 4
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 1 oz (25g) dripping (bacon grease or similar)
  • 1 finely chopped yellow onion
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 lb 2 oz (500g) ground lamb
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 finely chopped anchovy (optional)
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 14 oz (400g) canned chopped tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 16 fl oz (450 ml) lamb, beef or chicken bouillon
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley, for garnish (optional)
For the Mashed Potatoes
  • 1½ lbs (700g) peeled, chopped potatoes
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 fl oz (55ml) milk
  • 3 oz (75g) butter
  1. Heat the drippings in a pot, then sauté the onion in there for 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat some oil in a skillet and fry the ground lamb, stirring often, until browned.
  3. Break up any lumps of meat using a wooden spoon.
  4. Stir the onions then add the flour and stir again.
  5. Add the anchovy (if using), thyme and bay leaves.
  6. Stir again, then add the tomatoes, all but 2 tablespoons of the bouillon and the Worcestershire sauce.
  7. Add the browned ground lamb and then pour the bouillon mixture into the empty lamb pan, scraping up any stuck-on bits.
  8. Pour the rest of the bouillon in the pan with the sauce and bring it to a boil.
  9. Grind in some salt and black pepper.
  10. Let the mixture simmer for 30 minutes, stirring often.
  11. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
  12. Cook the mixture for a further 15 minutes.
  13. Meanwhile, boil the potatoes for 15 minutes or until tender, then drain and add the butter, egg yolk and milk.
  14. Season with salt and black pepper.
  15. Transfer the meat into a 2½ pint (1½ liter) ovenproof dish and spread the mashed potatoes on top.
  16. Bake for 25 minutes or until the surface is golden brown.
  17. Sprinkle some parsley over the finished shepherd's pie before serving if liked.
You can make this in individual dishes rather than one big one if you like.

Photo by Wendy, on Flickr

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