Recipe: Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potato Topping

Casserole Recipes, Dinner Recipes, Pork + Beef Recipes

By: Deborah Murphy, MS, RD, LDN


There’s nothing more cozy on a cold or rainy day than a dish of this healthy sweet potato shepherd’s pie that is chock full of veggies and seasoned ground beef. We think it will quickly become a favorite hearty meal for the whole family.

This healthier version of shepherd’s pie with sweet potato topping is so tasty, it’s almost too good to be true. This paleo-friendly version of the classic comfort food dish is still just as delicious as the original and made with simple ingredients. It’s a complete meal in one pan! 

We love the sweet potato mash topping and prefer it over the mashed potato topping that is used in a traditional shepherd’s pie recipe. The slight sweetness from the sweet potatoes complements the herbs in the meaty filling well. This easy shepherd’s pie freezes really well, and makes the perfect weeknight dinner meal when you don’t feel like cooking.

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    Table of contents

    What is Shepherd’s Pie?

    Shepherd’s pie is a classic British dish made with mashed potatoes, ground lamb, and vegetables. Cookbooks dating back to the 18th century include a recipe that is similar for “cottage pie” that makes use of leftovers. Originally, the top and bottom were lined with sliced potatoes, but has since been replaced with mashed potatoes.

    Ingredients You’ll Need

    • Ground beef (or lamb): use lean ground beef if you want to lower the calories and fat in this recipe. Lamb is the traditional meat used in shepherd’s pie so that can be used in this recipe if you prefer. Lean ground turkey or chicken are also easy swaps you can use. 
    • Veggies (onion, garlic, frozen mixed vegetables): add lots of filling fiber and extra antioxidants by lading up your shepherd’s pie with lots of veggies. We use some onion and garlic for flavor and then frozen mixed vegetables (peas, carrots, corn) in the filling. 
    • Herbs (rosemary & thyme): this combination of dried herbs compliments the flavor of the beef and veggies in this healthy shepherd’s pie recipe. If you need a substitution, you can also use dried Italian seasoning. Fresh herbs are also delicious in this recipe. 
    • Worcestershire Sauce: adds rich and savory flavor to the meat filling. If you don’t have worcestershire sauce, you can substitute with soy sauce. 
    • Tomato Paste: the subtle tomato flavor pairs well with beef and herbs in the filling for this pie. 
    • Mashed Sweet Potatoes: in this recipe, we used sweet potatoes instead of white russet potatoes used for a classic shepherds pie. Sweet potatoes are a good source of fiber and loaded with vitamin A and vitamin C. 
    • Butter: adds a bit of flavor to the whipped sweet potatoes. You can substitute with olive oil, coconut oil or ghee.

    Variations

    • Low Carb/Keto: use mashed cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes for the topping to make a low carb or keto version of this recipe. 
    • Dairy-Free: use a dairy-free or vegan butter in place of the regular butter in the mashed potatoes. 
    • Paleo/Whole 30: make this recipe as written! 
    • Vegan/Vegetarian: Use a plant-based ground meat like Beyond Meat instead of beef for this filling and a vegan butter in the mashed potato topping to make a vegan sweet potato shepherd’s pie.

    How to Make Healthy Shepherd’s Pie

    two images side by side, left side pan with shepherd's pie filling, right side showing mixed sweet potato topping
    • Bake the Sweet Potatoes: preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and bake the potatoes on a sheet pan until fork tender, about 45-50 minutes. 
    • Make this Filling: While the potatoes are baking, make the filling by browning the ground beef with the garlic and onion in an oven-safe skillet over medium heat. Stir in the herbs, tomato paste, and worcestershire sauce and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add the frozen vegetables and broth and bring to a simmer then turn off the heat. 
    • Mash the Potatoes: once cool enough to handle, remove the skin from the potatoes, add to a bowl with the butter and mash with a fork or potato masher. You can also puree in a food processor or the bowl of a stand mixer
    • Bake the Pie: if using an oven-safe skillet, simply spread the mashed potatoes evenly over the top of the filling and bake for 10 minutes. (If you don’t have an oven-safe skillet, transfer the filling to an 8×8 inch casserole dish and top with potatoes and then bake.) Allow to cool for about 5 minutes before serving.

    Is Shepherd’s Pie Good for You?

    This lightened up sweet potato shepherd’s pie recipe is full of protein and fiber making it a great option if you are looking to eat a little healthier. Many recipes load up the mashed potato topping with lots of butter, but when using sweet potatoes, a lot less butter is needed for fluffy potatoes.

    single serve sweet potato shepherd's pie in white dish with glass of wine and salt topping on white counter background

    More Comfort Food Dishes You’ll Love



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      Total Time: 40 minutes

      Yield: 4 serving(s)

      Ingredients

      • Shepherd's Pie Filling
      • 1 pound lean ground beef or lamb
      • 1 small yellow onion, diced
      • 4 cloves garlic, minced
      • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
      • 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
      • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
      • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
      • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt or to taste
      • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
      • 2 cups frozen mixed vegetables (peas, carrots, corn)
      • ¾ to 1 cup water/broth
      • Sweet Potato Topping
      • 2-3 large sweet potatoes (about 20 ounces total)
      • 2 tablespoons butter
      • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt

      Directions

      1. Preheat oven to 400℉. Bake the sweet potatoes until fork tender, 45 to 60 minutes. Alternatively, you can steam peeled and diced sweet potatoes until tender.
      2. In a medium 10-inch oven safe skillet over medium-high heat, saute the ground beef and onion until the beef is no longer pink.
      3. Stir in the garlic, tomato paste, worcestershire sauce, rosemary, and thyme. Cook another 1-2 minutes. Stir in the salt, pepper, vegetables, and broth. Bring to a simmer and then turn off the heat.
      4. To make the topping: Place the peeled and baked/steamed sweet potato, butter, and salt in a food processor (or stand mixer) and process until smooth.
      5. Top the meat filling with the sweet potato mash. If you’re not using an oven-safe skillet, transfer the meat filling to a casserole dish or 9×9 inch baking dish and top the meat filling with the sweet potato mash.
      6. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with some flakey sea salt and chopped fresh parsley and serve.

      Nutrition Information Per Serving

      Calories: 411

      Protein: 31 gram(s)

      Fat: 12 gram(s)

      Carbohydrates: 47 gram(s)

      Fiber: 8 gram(s)

      Sugar: 10 gram(s)

      Rate this Recipe

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      27 Comments


      on Reply

      Just made for dinner tonight. Very delicious!


      on Reply

      I’m good prepping for after our new baby comes has anyone tried freezing this?


      on Reply

      I've bake the sweet potatoes in the oven at 375 for 20 mins and they are still hard. How long should it take?


        on Reply

        Hi Nakala - typically sweet potatoes take about 45-60 minutes in the oven!


      on Reply

      Is it ground or whole flax meal?


        on Reply

        Hi Abby - we always use ground - however the creators of the recipe have even updated it to remove the flax entirely as they found that the egg white/flax gel is not necessary which means one less ingredient! You can definitely still keep it for the health benefits if you'd like though!


      on Reply

      What is the purpose of the flax seed meal? If it has something to do work paleo diet, i apologize. I don't know what paleo is, but I know it has something to do with gluten free.


        on Reply

        Hi Tiffany - the flax seed meal helps to hold everything together. Flax works as a great substitute for eggs because when mixed with water it creates a gel like substance. Feel free to omit the flax or egg white altogether. The Pie will still turn out delicious!


      on Reply

      Chris, I made the Shepherd's pie today and it came out fabulous!!!! I just substituted the ground beef for ground turkey and my kids (who are not too fond of sweet potatoes) had seconds. They simply loved it! Thanks for the recipe. Next time, I shall try it with the ground beef.


        on Reply

        Happy to hear that, Rosa! So glad you enjoyed :)


          on Reply

          I'm not able to click the green circle for the instructions how to make. Help Chris?


            on Reply

            Hi Tina - I just re-loaded the link. Why don't you try again? I believe it should be working now. Sorry about that and let me know if you have any more issues. Enjoy the recipe - it's a good one!


      on Reply

      Love this recipe! It's a really good! We are making it again this week for lunches :)


      on Reply

      Hi Chris! I am trying to make this tonight but the website is down. Any chance you could send me the recipe? Please!!! Thank you!! :)


      on Reply

      I can't get through to the recipe, the green circle link does not work and if I use the Url above it will not allow me to enter the site Help please!!


        on Reply

        Hi Eden - sorry to hear that! I'm not sure why it's not working for you, as I just clicked on it and it worked for me, but here's the direct link in case you can get it from here: https://therealfoodrds.com/shepherds-pie/. Thanks!


      on Reply

      This recipe was delicious! I've made the sweet potato meatloaf previously, but I liked this twist on the standard shepards pie and the sweet potatoes paired very well with the savory sautéed meat and veggie combo.




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