Easy Shepherd’s Pie with Instant Mashed Potato Topping

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.

Hey there! Before you scroll, there are lots of helpful things in this post…including an FAQ section, which may answer any questions you might have about this recipe. Enjoy!

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.

A helping of shepherds pie on a white plate with a fork and text that says easiest shepherd's pie.

Ingredient Notes:

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.)

Large slice of beef and gravy casserole with potato topping on a white plate.

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.)

Step 1:

Make sure to preheat the oven to 375 degrees F before you start making the filling.

Step 2:

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.

Beef and onion mixture in a large skillet.

Step 3:

Add the Worcestershire sauce, garlic and tomato paste and stir well for about a minute.

Cooked beef mixture with spices in a large skillet.

Step 4:

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.

Cooked beef mixture with tomatoes in a large skillet.

Step 5:

Next, you’ll want to make the topping. Just mix up the mashed potatoes according to the package instructions.

Instant mashed potatoes in a green bowl with a wooden spoon.

Step 6:

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.

Beef mixture with gravy and vegetables in a white casserole dish.

Then spoon the mashed potatoes over the meat mixture and spread evenly.

White casserole dish with shepherds pie filling and mashed potatoes spread onto the top.

Step 7:

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.

Cheese sprinkled over the top of a cottage meat pie in a white casserole dish.

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.

Top view of baked easy shepherds pie with instant mashed potato topping.

(Remember that the instructions will also be in the recipe card below.)

Tips & FAQs:

Do I have to use the beef stew mix?

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.

I don’t have Worcestershire sauce, do I have to use it?

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.

Do I have to add the gravy mix packet?

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.

Should I defrost the frozen vegetables before making this?

No, you can just add them frozen.

Do I have to add the vegetables?

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.

Do I have to use instant mashed potatoes?

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.

Tip for salting the ground beef:

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.

How do I store this shepherd’s pie and how long does it last?

This shepherd’s pie should be stored covered, in the refrigerator and can last up to 3 days.

What’s the best way to serve/eat this shepherd’s pie?

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.

What can I serve with this shepherd’s pie?

Feel free to serve this shepherd’s pie with baked crescent rolls, biscuits and/or a side salad.

What can be added to shepherd’s pie?

Feel free to add in sliced carrots, mushrooms, chopped green and red peppers, etc.

When is the best time to make shepherd’s pie?

This meal is wonderful in chilly weather, but you can make it any time you feel a craving for it.

Large casserole dish with cottage pie ingredients and a large spoon.

Supplies used for this recipe:

This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. 

Video:

Large helping of shepherds pie with potato topping on a white plate with a fork.

Easy Shepherd’s Pie with Instant Mashed Potato Topping

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.
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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: shepherd’s pie
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 20 servings
Calories: 118kcal
Author: Kara @ Quick and Easy Baking

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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.

Notes

How to store: This shepherd’s pie should be stored covered, in the refrigerator and can last up to 3 days.
How to serve: 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.
Make sure to check out the TIPS & FAQs for this recipe in the blog post, which may answer any questions you may have.
Nutritional values are an estimate.
*This recipe card may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Nutrition

Calories: 118kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 27mg | Sodium: 120mg | Potassium: 131mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 826IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 94mg | Iron: 1mg
Baking at higher elevation?You’ll need to make adjustments for high elevations. This website does not specialize in that type of baking. Please take time to research high elevation baking websites for adjustments that should be made.
DislaimersTo see food safety, allergy & nutrition disclaimers, go here: Disclaimers!

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An image collage of shepherds pie on a plate and in a baking dish with text that says easiest ever shepherds pie.

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