Don't forget to check out the Tips & FAQ section in the post!
This shepherd’s pie with instant mashed potato topping is super quick and easy to make plus it tastes like you spent hours in the kitchen making it.
If you’re looking for a simple, fast and comforting dinner, this is it. It’s the perfect family-friendly dinner and can even be made on a weeknight.
Table of Contents:
This shepherd’s pie uses instant mashed potatoes for the topping which saves you so much time because you don’t have to make mashed potatoes from scratch.
Shepherd’s pie (or cottage pie as some call it) is warm comfort food for the soul. It’s the perfect easy dinner for cool fall or chilly winter days.
Now let’s talk a little about just some of the ingredients in this shepherd’s pie. (The printable list of all ingredients are in the recipe card below.)
Ground beef: Ground beef is really the main ingredient here and it’s best to get good quality ground beef and not the super fatty kind.
Beef stew seasoning mix: This recipe calls for a beef stew mix and it adds a lot of flavor to the beef. It’s really the flavor-maker in this recipe.
Using the stew mix makes it easy and inexpensive because you don’t have to have a lot of different spices to add to it. It’s all in the stew mix.
Worcestershire sauce: I love using this in almost any beef casserole because it just compliments the beef so much and really enhances the flavor.
Tomato paste: Using tomato paste adds a small amount of tomato flavor, but not too much. Using paste instead of sauce adds flavor without thinning out the gravy.
Brown gravy mix: This recipe calls for a brown gravy mix. It helps create the ‘gravy’ in the shepherd’s pie and adds flavor.
Using a mix makes it super easy because you don’t need to worry about making your own gravy for it.
Frozen mixed vegetables: Classic shepherd’s pie does contain vegetables and this recipe makes things easier on you since it calls for frozen vegetables, so there’s no chopping necessary.
Instant mashed potatoes: Making homemade, from-scratch potatoes, is pretty time-consuming. Using instant mashed potatoes makes this casserole super quick and easy to put together.
(Make sure to check out the FAQ section below in this post for ingredient and substitution questions.)
How to make this casserole:
Let’s talk a little about how to make an easy shepherd’s pie. (The printable instructions are in the recipe card below.)
Make sure to preheat the oven to 375 degrees F before you start making the filling.
For the filling, cook the ground beef, onion, beef seasoning and 1/4 cup water in a large skillet until the meat is browned and cooked through, then drain the grease.
Add the Worcestershire sauce, garlic and tomato paste and stir well for about a minute.
Next, add the gravy packet, 1 1/2 cups water and the frozen mixed vegetables, cover and simmer for about 5-7 minutes, or until the frozen vegetables are cooked.
Also make sure to let the water cook down a bit, then set the meat mixture to the side.
Next, you’ll want to make the topping. Just mix up the mashed potatoes according to the package instructions.
Now you’ll assemble the shepherd’s pie. Add the meat mixture to a 7×11 or 13×9 inch casserole dish and spread it evenly.
Then spoon the mashed potatoes over the meat mixture and spread evenly.
Now, you’ll bake uncovered for approximately 10 minutes. Once it’s heated well, take the casserole out of the oven and sprinkle with shredded cheese.
Put it back into the oven for another 5 minutes until the cheese is melted.
Next, let it cool for just a bit, so it’s not scalding hot, then serve.
(Remember that the instructions will also be in the recipe card below.)
Easy Shepherd’s Pie with Instant Mashed Potato Topping
For the filling:
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 cup chopped yellow onion
- 1 (1.5 ounce) packet beef stew seasoning mix (or use your favorite ground beef seasonings)
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 (.87 ounce) packet brown gravy mix (the gravy packet needs to be the size that makes 1 cup)
- 1 3/4 cup water (1/4 cup water will be for browning the beef)
- 1 1/2 cup frozen mixed vegetables such as carrots, peas, corn etc.
For the potato topping:
- 4 cups boiling water
- 1 (8 ounce) packet family-sized mashed potato mix (make sure you're using the family sized packet)
- 2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
For the filling:
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F while you make the filling and topping.
- In a large skillet, cook the ground beef, onion, beef seasoning and 1/4 cup water until the meat is browned and cooked through. (Don't add salt yet as the seasoning packets will contain salt and you may not need to add any. Test after the filling is made.)
- Drain the grease.
- Add the Worcestershire sauce, garlic and tomato paste and stir well for about a minute.
- Add the gravy packet, 1 1/2 cups water and the frozen mixed vegetables, cover and simmer for about 5-7 minutes, or until the frozen vegetables are cooked. Remove the lid and let the water cook down a little more if any is left in the skillet.
- Taste test it and add salt and pepper if needed. (The seasoning packets add a good amount of salt, so you may not need any.)
- Set the beef mixture aside while you make the topping.
For the topping:
- Make the mashed potatoes according to the package instructions. Make sure you use a family-size mashed potato mix and that they're not too thick or they won't spread easily on top of the beef mixture.
Assembling the Shepherd’s Pie:
- Add the meat mixture to a 7×11 or 13×9 inch casserole dish and spread evenly. Spoon the mashed potatoes over the meat mixture and spread evenly.
- You can bake it immediately at this point, or cover and bake later that same day or the next day.
- Bake uncovered for approximately 10 minutes. (If it's been chilled, it will need to bake longer to heat fully.) Once heated well, take the casserole out of the oven and sprinkle with shredded cheese. Put the casserole back into the oven for another 5 minutes until the cheese is melted.
- Cool for a bit before serving.
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Tips & FAQs:
No, you can use whatever beef seasonings you prefer. I can’t guarantee it will turn out as flavorful, but just make sure to taste the beef once it’s cooked and see if you like the flavor or if you need to add more seasonings.
No, you can omit it if you don’t have it. I think it really makes the beef flavorful, but it won’t destroy the recipe if you can’t add it.
I haven’t tried this recipe without the gravy packet The gravy packet is what makes the ‘gravy’ for this casserole and without it, it would be too watery.
No, you can just add them frozen.
No, feel free to omit the vegetables if you don’t like the idea of mixing them in. You could even add other vegetables that you like instead.
No, you can use homemade or scratch mashed potatoes if you have those or you can use leftover mashed potatoes, but if you want to save time, you can certainly use instant or premade mashed potatoes instead.
Wait to add salt until the beef mixture is made because the beef stew seasoning packet and the gravy packet will add a good amount of salt and it may be salty enough without adding any extra.
If you add salt to the ground beef when you’re cooking it, the end product may turn out a little too salty.
This shepherd’s pie should be stored covered, in the refrigerator and can last up to 3 days.
Serve this pie warm. If cold, place slices into the microwave to heat. This pie is also good served with a side salad and baked crescent rolls or biscuits.
Feel free to serve this shepherd’s pie with baked crescent rolls, biscuits and/or a side salad.
Feel free to add in sliced carrots, mushrooms, chopped green and red peppers, etc.
This meal is wonderful in chilly weather, but you can make it any time you feel a craving for it.
Supplies used for this recipe:
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