Slow-Cooked Shepherd’s Pie Recipe photo by Taste of Home
Total Time
Prep: 35 min. Cook: 5-1/4 hours
We make creamy mashed potatoes and a rich gravy from scratch for this comforting slow-cooker shepherd’s pie. And if you'd rather make your shepherd’s pie in the oven, we have a version for that, too.

Updated: Feb. 07, 2024

Slow-cooker shepherd’s pie is the savior of busy weeknight dinners. This recipe captures all the flavor of a classic shepherd’s pie, but the slow cooker makes it so much more convenient. Simply prepare the layers, then “set it and forget it” until the aromas of savory beef and rich gravy waft out of the kitchen.

Making a shepherd’s pie in a slow cooker is also great for meal prep. You can make all the components ahead of time. Mash the potatoes, and cook the ground beef and vegetables in the rich gravy. Then, when you’re ready to cook, simply layer everything in your slow cooker, and let it work its magic.

Ingredients for Slow-Cooker Shepherd’s Pie

  • Mashed potatoes: This rich, creamy mashed potato topping gets its flavor from Yukon Gold potatoes, which taste naturally buttery. If you have leftover mashed potatoes on hand, feel free to use them.
  • Ground beef: We know that shepherd’s pie is traditionally made with ground lamb, and that, technically, using ground beef makes this recipe a cottage pie. That said, we use ground beef because it’s a family favorite (it’s also cheaper and easier to find than ground lamb!). Beef lends a familiar flavor to the dish, and even the pickiest eaters in the house will enjoy it.
  • Gravy: Our slow-cooker shepherd’s pie features a savory gravy made with garlic, tomato paste, beef broth, white wine, Worcestershire sauce and thyme.
  • Shepherd’s pie vegetables: You could use all frozen vegetables in this recipe, but they can get a little mushy in the slow cooker. Fresh onions, mushrooms and carrots, however, lend a tender texture to our slow-cooker shepherd’s pie.
  • Monterey Jack cheese: Cheesy shepherd’s pie is the best, so we top the mashed potatoes with shredded Monterey Jack cheese. You can use any cheese here, though, like cheddar or Parmesan.

Directions

Step 1: Make the mashed potatoes

Potatoes cooking in saucepanTMB Studio

Place the potatoes in a large saucepan, and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, and cook, covered, for 10 to 15 minutes, until tender. Drain the potatoes, and return them to the saucepan. Cook over low heat, shaking the potatoes, for one minute to dry.

Mash the potatoes, gradually adding the butter and enough milk to reach the desired consistency. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Mashing Potatoes in Saucepan over Induction stoveTMB Studio

Step 2: Brown the beef

Minced meat and onions cooking in skilletTMB Studio

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook the ground beef, onion and garlic over medium heat until the meat is no longer pink. Drain and discard the grease.

Step 3: Prepare the beef mixture

Tomato paste added in meat mixture in skilletTMB Studio

Add the tomato paste to the skillet, and cook for two minutes.

Carrots, Mushrooms and wine added in meat mixture cooking in skilletTMB Studio

Add the mushrooms, carrots, broth, wine, Worcestershire sauce and thyme.

Peas added to meat mixture TMB Studio

Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat, and simmer, uncovered, until most of the liquid is evaporated. Stir in the peas, and season the mixture with the remaining salt and pepper.

Step 4: Slow-cook the shepherd’s pie

Meat mixture transferred to slow cookerTMB Studio

Transfer the beef mixture to a greased 4-quart slow cooker.

Editor’s Tip: If desired, you can use a liner insert for the slow cooker instead of greasing it. This will make cleanup much easier later.

Spreading mashed potatoes over meat mixture in slow cookerTMB Studio

Spread the mashed potatoes over top. Cover and cook on low for five to six hours, until bubbly.

Step 5: Add the cheese

Spreading Cheese over meat mixture in slow cookerTMB Studio

Sprinkle the mashed potatoes with cheese. Cover and cook 10 minutes longer, until the cheese is melted.

Crockpot Shepherd's Pie garnished with parsley served on plateTMB Studio

Just before serving, sprinkle the shepherd’s pie with parsley.

How to Make Slow-Cooker Shepherd’s Pie in the Oven

If you don’t want to make shepherd’s pie in a slow cooker, you can use the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F, and grab your favorite 8-inch square baking dish. Lightly grease the dish, and add the cooked beef mixture. Spread the mashed potatoes over top, and sprinkle it with cheese. Bake, uncovered, for 30 to 40 minutes, until the filling is bubbly and the topping is lightly browned.

Recipe Variations

  • Swap in another ground meat: Instead of ground beef, use the classic choice: ground lamb. Other ground meats (like ground turkey or chicken) also work well.
  • Use refrigerated or instant mashed potatoes: Take a shortcut, and make an easy shepherd’s pie with already-prepared mashed potatoes. Prepare the potatoes according to the package directions.
  • Skip the potatoes: To give the dish a fun twist, top the beef mixture with another pureed starchy vegetable like mashed sweet potatoes, mashed cauliflower or pureed parsnips.
  • Change up the vegetables: Swap in your favorite vegetables to customize our slow-cooker shepherd’s pie to your personal preferences. Root vegetables like parsnips, rutabagas or turnips work well, as would frozen vegetables like corn or green beans.

Can you make slow-cooker shepherd’s pie ahead of time?

To make slow-cooker shepherd’s pie ahead of time, prepare the beef mixture and mashed potatoes the day before. Store each in a separate airtight container in the refrigerator. The next day, layer the ingredients in the slow cooker, and slow-cook as directed.

How to Store Slow-Cooker Shepherd’s Pie

Store shepherd’s pie in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days. Reheat the leftovers in a 350° oven or the microwave until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°.

Can you freeze slow-cooker shepherd’s pie?

To freeze easy shepherd’s pie, let it cool completely. Transfer it to an airtight container, and freeze for up to three months. Thaw in the refrigerator before reheating.

Slow-Cooker Shepherd’s Pie Tips

Crockpot Shepherd's Pie garnished with parsley served on plateTMB Studio

Can you put raw ground beef in the slow cooker?

You can cook raw ground beef in the slow cooker, but we don’t recommend it. We know that browning the meat requires an extra pan, but it’s worth it. The process caramelizes the beef and adds a rich, bold flavor to the dish. Most ground beef slow-cooker recipes also include this step so the dish doesn’t turn out too greasy. After browning the meat, you can drain the excess grease before transferring it to the slow cooker. If you do decide to put raw ground beef in the slow cooker, make sure to adjust the cooking time to ensure the meat reaches food-safe cooking temperatures.

What is shepherd’s pie?

Shepherd’s pie is a hearty dish made with minced meat and vegetables simmered in a savory gravy. They were once topped with a pastry shell to create the “pie,” but modern-day versions cover the casserole with mashed potatoes instead. Some say the dish hails from Scotland, while others maintain that shepherd’s pie is Irish or British. Its origins are debatable, but one thing is agreed upon: True shepherd’s pie is made with ground lamb or mutton. Versions that contain ground beef are referred to as “cottage pie.”

Slow-Cooker Shepherd's Pie

Prep Time 35 min
Cook Time 315 min
Yield 5 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup 2% milk
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper, divided
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1-3/4 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/3 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley

Directions

  1. Place potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and cook for 10-15 minutes or until tender. Drain, then shake potatoes over low heat for 1 minute to dry. Mash potatoes, gradually adding butter and enough milk to reach desired consistency. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook the beef, onion, and garlic over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain.
  3. Add tomato paste; cook for 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms, carrots, broth, wine, Worcestershire sauce and thyme. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, until most of the liquid is evaporated. Stir in peas. Season with remaining salt and pepper.
  4. Transfer beef mixture to a greased 4-qt. slow cooker. Spread mashed potatoes over top. Cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours or until bubbly. Sprinkle with cheese. Cover and cook 10 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Just before serving, sprinkle with parsley.

Nutrition Facts

1-1/2 cups: 483 calories, 19g fat (9g saturated fat), 79mg cholesterol, 748mg sodium, 50g carbohydrate (9g sugars, 5g fiber), 26g protein.

Shepherd's pie is to the British as meat loaf is to Americans, so when I was a young child living in the U.K., I had it almost once a week. This is my go-to recipe when I'm longing for the sights and smells of my mother's kitchen. Turns out people here love it just as much! —Mari Sitkiewicz, Downers Grove, Illinois
Recipe Creator