Shepherd’s pie is a classic for a reason. Perfectly seasoned ground meat and vegetables layered beneath a cloud of mashed potatoes is the ultimate winter comfort food. For an update on the classic, try a sweet potato shepherd’s pie. You’ll love the pop of color, hint of sweetness and boost of nutrients from the sweet potatoes.
In this recipe, mashed sweet potatoes take the place of white potatoes in a traditional shepherd’s pie, covering the meat-and-vegetable filling in a blanket of fluffy goodness. A few dashes of warm, autumnal spices complement the sweet earthiness of sweet potatoes, giving this dish a truly cozy, wintry vibe. Here’s how to make it at home, plus plenty of ideas for variation.
Ingredients for Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie
- Sweet potato: Sweet potatoes add extra nutrients and a touch of sweetness that complement the rich, savory meat filling. When it comes to yams vs. sweet potatoes, sweet potatoes are the more common in the United States. You’ll often see sweet potatoes labeled as “yams” at the store. True yams, however, are a starchier vegetable from a different plant family. They’re often used in African, South American and Caribbean cuisine.
- Ground beef: The base of the pie is lean ground beef. We like to use 90% lean meat for great flavor without too much grease.
- Tomato sauce: Rather than calling for plain canned tomatoes, this recipe calls for tomato sauce, which is pre-seasoned and already nice and smooth, so it easily incorporates into the beef.
- Milk and butter: Dairy products enrich the mashed sweet potato topping. To make a dairy-free topping, you may substitute your favorite nondairy milk and vegan butter.
Step 1: Cook the sweet potato
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Scrub the sweet potato well, and pierce it all over with a fork. Place on a microwave-safe plate. Microwave, uncovered, on high for 10 to 12 minutes or until tender, turning once.
Editor’s Tip: You may also boil the whole, scrubbed sweet potato until tender, or scrub, slice and steam the sweet potato.
Step 2: Cook the meat
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook the beef and onion until the meat is no longer pink. Drain excess fat.
TMB StudioStir in the corn, tomato sauce, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg. Coat a 1-quart baking dish with cooking spray. Spoon the beef mixture into the baking dish.
Step 3: Mash the sweet potato
When the sweet potato is cool enough to handle, cut it in half. Scoop out the flesh, and place in a small bowl. Use a fork to mash the sweet potato with the butter, milk, salt and pepper.
Using a spoon or two, spread the sweet potato mash evenly over the meat mixture.
Step 4: Bake
Bake the pie, uncovered, for 25 to 30 minutes or until heated through.
Recipe Variations for Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie
- Change up the vegetables: While corn is a simple, mild veggie for this pie’s filling, you can also use peas, chopped mushrooms, sliced carrots or green beans. Frozen, canned or fresh vegetables all work well.
- Use a different meat: Turn up the heat by replacing some of the ground beef with sausage. Or use ground turkey or chicken for a lighter shepherd’s pie.
- Go vegetarian: Our top-rated meatless shepherd’s pie calls for portobello mushrooms and vegetarian meat crumbles.
- Add herbs: Fresh herbs like parsley, rosemary and thyme will enhance the savory flavor of this shepherd’s pie.
- Change up the topping: You can swap the sweet potato mash for a traditional plain potato mash, or use a combination of pureed vegetables, as in this butternut squash and cauliflower shepherd’s pie.
- Add cheese: Sprinkle shredded cheese over the top of the pie for an extra dose of savory flavor.
How to Store Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie
Sweet potato shepherd’s pie should be kept in the refrigerator. Store it in the baking dish, tightly covered, or transfer to an airtight container. The pie will keep for up to four days.
How to Freeze Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie
Sweet potato shepherd’s pie freezes well! You may freeze a fully prepared shepherd’s pie, or freeze the unbaked pie.
- To freeze an unbaked shepherd’s pie: Prepare the shepherd’s pie through Step 3. Wrap tightly, and freeze for up to three months. Before reheating, let the casserole thaw in the refrigerator overnight, and bake according to directions in Step 4.
- To freeze a baked shepherd’s pie: Allow the baked pie to cool completely. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil, and freeze for up to three months. Reheat in the oven directly from frozen, or allow to defrost overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie Tips
Can you make a low-carb version of shepherd’s pie?
To make a lower-carb version of this recipe, replace the mashed sweet potatoes with mashed cauliflower. Omitting the corn will also cut down on carbs.
What to serve with sweet potato shepherd’s pie?
Many side dishes taste great alongside shepherd’s pie. Classic roasted vegetables like Brussels sprouts, carrots, asparagus and green beans are great choices. Classic winter side dishes also make for a cozy supper.