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Alton Brown’s shepherd’s pie


If comfort food is calling your name, we recommend answering with our Alton Brown-inspired shepherd’s pie — a scrumptious, filling meat pie topped with a billowy mashed-potato crust.

True shepherd’s pies are made with lamb meat, while similar mashed-potato topped pies made with beef are called cottage pies. Both versions of this dish are drop-to-your-knees good, but the distinct flavor of lamb gives shepherd’s pie something special.

ALSO TRY: Thyme mashed potatoes with mascarpone cheese

Alton Brown’s rendition of shepherd’s pie features a delectable ground lamb filling made with onion, carrots, corn, peas and garlic. Rich mashed potatoes top it all off, along with shredded cheddar cheese for an extra layer of soul-satisfying goodness.

You’ll start by making the mashed potatoes, with half-and-half and the butter for some serious richness. Then you’ll mash in the cheese and egg yolk. Save yourself some time and start cooking the meat mixture while your potatoes are boiling in the pot.

Next, you’ll sauté the veggies and lamb, to which you’ll add the seasonings for a mouthwatering umami quality. Stir in the corn and peas, put the filling in the baking dish, and dollop the mashed potatoes on top of it all.

Bake this riot of meat and potato goodness for 25 minutes or until the topping is lightly browned. Let it rest for 15 minutes (if you can resist that long), then dig into the most comforting comfort food you’ve ever had.

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Add chopped potatoes to pot

potatoes put into pot

Add butter and half-and-half to cooked potatoes

add butter and half and half to potatoes

Place egg yolk in mashed potato mixture

add egg yolk to potatoes

Begin to sauté carrots and onions

stir carrot and onion mixture

Add ground lamb to mixture

add lamb to carrots and onion

Stir mixture while waiting for it to cook

simmering shepherd's pie is stirred

Place mashed potatoes on top of filling in casserole dish

mashed potatoes are added to casserole

Fully cooked shepherd’s pie looks great out of the oven

sheperds pie is browned in oven

The lamb filling is just as good as the potatoes on top!

finished shepherds pie

Don’t these crispy brown mashed potaotes look delicious?

finished shepherds pie

The perfect serving of shepherd’s pie

serving of shepherds pie

Alton Brown's shepherd's pie

Yield 8 servings


Mashed potatoes:

  • 1-1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1/4 cup half-and-half
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 egg yolk, whisked

Meat filling:

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced finely
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-1/2 pounds ground lamb
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons freshly chopped rosemary leaves
  • 1 teaspoon freshly chopped thyme leaves
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen English peas


For potatoes:

  1. Place diced potatoes in large pot and cover with cold water. Set pan over high heat, cover and bring to boil. 
  2. Once water is boiling, uncover pot, and decrease heat to maintain simmer. Cook potatoes for 10 to 15 minutes or until tender and easily crushed with fork. (While potatoes are cooking, prepare meat filling, below.)
  3. Place half-and-half and butter in small saucepan over low heat. Warm, stirring occasionally, until butter is melted.
  4. Drain potatoes in colander, then return to hot pot. Using potato masher, coarsely mash potatoes.
  5. Add half-and-half, butter, salt and pepper; continue to mash until smooth.
  6. Stir in cheese and egg yolk until well-combined.

For filling:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F and spray 10-by-8-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Heat oil in 12-inch sauté pan set over medium-high heat.
  3. When oil shimmers, add onion and carrots; sauté for 3 to 4 minutes or just until lightly brown. Add garlic and stir to combine.
  4. Add lamb, salt and pepper to onion mixture. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes or until lamb is browned and cooked through. Drain off some fat.
  5. Sprinkle lamb mixture with flour and toss to coat, continuing to cook for another minute.
  6. Add tomato paste, chicken broth, Worcestershire, rosemary and thyme, stirring to combine. Bring to boil.
  7. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer slowly for 10 to 12 minutes or until sauce is thickened slightly.
  8. Add corn and peas to lamb mixture and spread evenly into prepared baking dish.
  9. Top lamb mixture with mashed potatoes, starting around inside edges of dish, then covering lamb mixture in center. This creates seal to prevent mixture from bubbling up over potatoes when cooking.
  10. Smooth potatoes with rubber spatula.
  11. Place baking dish on parchment-lined sheet pan on middle rack of oven. Bake for 25 minutes or until potatoes begin to brown.
  12. Transfer baking dish to wire rack and cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Courses Main course

Finished shepherd's pie in casserole dish

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