You won’t find a better comfort food than Slow Cooker Shepherd’s Pie. Full of ground beef, vegetables, savory gravy, and topped with fluffy mashed potatoes – it’s the perfect all-in-one dish for a hot, delicious meal ready in the slow cooker. For times when you want to have a homemade dinner waiting for you, prep ahead early in the day and enjoy the results of your labor in a classic, nourishing dish.
What Is Shepherd’s Pie?
Shepherd’s pie is a centuries-old recipe that was commonly made in the United Kingdom and France. It typically contains a filling of ground meat – usually beef or lamb – and sometimes includes chunks of roast or other stew-like meat. It includes a combination of vegetables in the filling along with a flavorful gravy to bring all the ingredients together.
To top off the “pie,” it is covered with a mashed potato faux-crust layer and sometimes broiled for extra crispiness.
Depending on who you ask, some chefs may call a pie made with beef a “cottage pie” since a “shepherd’s pie” uses lamb only. Either way, this satisfying combination will leave you savoring every bite!
Ingredients Needed For Slow Cooker Shepherd’s Pie
This recipe can be divided into 2 key components – the filling and the potato topping.
To prepare the filling, you’ll need beef, veggies, and elements for the gravy.
- Ground beef – This is the traditional mincemeat variety from some of the oldest shepherd’s pie recipes around! Beef provides a rich flavor, but you could also substitute it with ground turkey or shredded chicken.
- Beef broth – for a tasty, rich gravy
- Tomato paste – a tangy flavor to thicken the gravy
- Worcestershire sauce – a distinct salty taste
- Chopped yellow onion – About ½ of an onion will bring texture and flavor alongside the mixed vegetables
- Frozen mixed veggies – use any combination (I used a mix of peas, corn, and carrots)
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons water – to thicken the gravy
Season the filling with these flavors:
- homemade Italian dressing mix – a perfectly pre-mixed combination of herbs
- Salt and pepper
Top off the slow cooker dish with potatoes and cheese.
- Leftover mashed potatoes – You can use any variation of leftover mashed potatoes, but I recommend the exceptional creaminess and flavor in these slow cooker creamy garlic mashed potatoes. Make the day before for dinner and save some for the next day’s shepherd’s pie.
- Parmesan cheese – fresh grated parmesan adds one more layer of flavor to this complete dish
How To Make Shepherds Pie In The Slow Cooker
While this recipe requires a bit more prep work than most of my slow cooker recipes, it is a wonderful option for a warm, comforting meal that can be made ahead. Get the bulk of your cooking done early and enjoy a delicious meal after a busy day!
To begin, brown the ground beef in a large skillet over medium-high heat and drain any excess grease. Next, stir in beef broth, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, chopped onion, frozen veggies, seasoning, and cornstarch slurry (cornstarch mixed with water).
Bring the skillet mixture to a simmer and let it continue for 5 minutes until the sauce thickens slightly.
Transfer the skillet mixture to the slow cooker. Top the beef and veggies with scoops of mashed potatoes, and then sprinkle parmesan cheese across the potatoes.
Cover and cook on high for 2-3 hours or low for 4-6 hours.
Note: If you would like to simplify the prep for this recipe on the day of cooking, you can prepare the beef and veggie filling in the skillet by following all the steps prior to placing it in the slow cooker. Then, let the filling cool and store in the freezer until you are ready to defrost and prep the meal in the slow cooker.
What Should You Serve With Shepherd’s Pie?
Shepherd’s pie is one of those perfect all-in-one dishes since it includes such rich, filling ingredients.
A dish like this would go well with the contrasting textures of a fresh garden salad and a toasty dinner roll or biscuit with butter. To follow your complete meal, serve a sweet and tangy dessert like Slow Cooker Peach and Cherry Cobbler with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Tips For Making The Best Shepherd’s Pie
With a slow cooker dish like this one, you can tweak many elements to make it the most satisfying dish you desire! Here are a few tips for any customizations:
- Try preparing mashed potatoes a day ahead so you have leftovers ready and can reduce a step when preparing this meal.
- Alter the mashed potatoes any way you like – such as using more or less garlic, or by using dairy-free ingredients.
- Additionally, to keep the whole dish dairy-free, leave out the parmesan cheese.
- Use alternate meats for the filling like ground turkey or previously cooked shredded chicken. Venture into the most traditional variety of this dish and try ground lamb meat!
- You could always use fresh, finely chopped vegetables instead of frozen (but it helps to save a step here!).
- Use a slow cooker that is wide enough to spread the potatoes evenly across the filling.
- If the gravy is still too runny for your liking, continue to add up to 3-4 tablespoons of cornstarch in a slurry to the skillet mix. Keep in mind that it will continue to thicken once it is in the slow cooker.
- For a lower-carb version of this recipe, you could use cauliflower mashed potatoes (Bonus – these are also dairy-free!).
Slow Cooker Shepherd’s Pie
- Slow Cooker
- 1 pound ground beef
- 3/4 cup beef broth
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- ½ cup chopped yellow onion
- 10 oz frozen mixed veggies
- 2 teaspoons homemade Italian dressing mix
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons water
- 2 – 3 cups leftover creamy garlic mashed potatoes
- ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
- Brown ground beef in large skillet over medium-high heat and drain any excess grease
- Stir in broth, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, chopped onion, veggies, seasoning, and cornstarch slurry
- Bring to a simmer for 5 minutes until sauce thickens slightly
- Transfer to slow cooker
- Top with mashed potatoes
- Top potatoes with parmesan cheese
- Cover and cook on high for 2-3 hours or low for 4-6 hours
- Store in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- To freeze leftovers, I suggest freezing individual portions in airtight containers and removing as much air as possible before sealing. Thaw before reheating for best results.
- Make filling ahead of time and freeze for an easy-prep meal! Reheat in microwave or oven.