In honor of St. Patrick’s Day next week, I thought I would share a comforting dish that’s inspired by an Irish favorite. This dairy-free shepherd’s pie beckons to tradition, but has some regional options to suit a range of tastes. It’s hearty, flavorful, satisfying, and a great way to use up leftovers and different vegetables.
This Dairy-Free Shepherd’s Pie is Classic Comfort Food
One of the wonderful things about shepherd’s pie is that it’s so affordable and versatile. You can clean out the fridge for the filling, and even use last night’s mashed potatoes. I have a few more options outlined in the recipe FAQs below.
Is it Dairy-Free Shepherd’s Pie or Cottage Pie?
This recipe can be either! Both are casseroles consisting of meat topped with mashed potatoes and baked. Many argue that shepherd’s pie uses lamb, while cottage pie uses beef. Why do so many shepherd’s pie recipes use beef? As the story goes, lamb was an inexpensive meat in Ireland. But when Irish immigrants landed in the U.S., they found beef to be more readily available. So they modified their shepherd’s pie recipes to be made with beef, instead of lamb. In the U.K., the term cottage pie is reportedly used more often for the beef version.
Can I Use Other Vegetables?
Of course! If you aren’t a fan of carrots, peas, or corn, simply swap them out. We like mushrooms, parsnips, and spinach in this dairy-free shepherd’s pie, too! Share your favorites if you try other vegetables.
Will Ground Turkey or Chicken Work?
Technically, yes. But these are leaner, dryer meats. They won’t provide as much richness. You might want to add a little more oil, for best results. I would also use chicken broth or stock instead of beef.
How Can I Make this into a Vegan Shepherd’s Pie?
You could substitute vegetable broth and faux meat, and skip the egg. But instead, I recommend enjoying this Mushroom Shepherd’s Pie. It’s naturally vegan and very plant based.
What Can I Use Instead of Buttery Spread?
If you don’t have any butter alternative on hand, stick with olive oil in the mashed potatoes. You can use the full amount, 1/4 cup, or reduce it to 3 tablespoons, if desired.
Can I Use Different Potatoes?
We also like Yukon gold or yellow potatoes for mashed potatoes. Or you can use sweet potatoes instead. Sweet potatoes add a contrasting but complementary flavor to beef.
Special Diet Notes: Shepherd’s Pie
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, optionally egg-free, optionally gluten-free, nut-free, peanut-free, and soy-free.
- 2 pounds Russet potatoes, peeled and diced
- ¼ cup dairy-free buttery spread or stick (1/2 stick)
- ¼ cup unsweetened dairy-free milk beverage or chicken broth, or as needed
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, plus additional to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 3 carrots, diced
- 1 large onion, diced or minced
- 1 pound ground beef or lamb
- 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, minced (can sub 1 teaspoon dried thyme or rosemary)
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup peas
- ½ cup corn kernels
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (can sub gluten-free all-purpose flour)
- ½ cup beer or red wine (can sub more broth or stock)
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 cup beef or chicken broth or stock
- Salt, as needed
- 1 egg, beaten (sub 2 tablespoons oil for egg-free)
- Place the potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer until the potato chunks are fork tender, about 5 to 7 minutes.
- Drain the potatoes and return them to the pot. Mash them with a potato masher.
- Add the butter alternative, milk alternative or broth, and salt, and mash or mix until the ingredients are combined. Taste, and add more salt, as needed.
- Preheat your oven to 400°F.
- Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add the carrots and sauté for about 5 minutes, or until they start to become tender. Add the onion, and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the meat and sprinkle on the thyme and pepper. Cook and stir, breaking the meat up, until browned.
- Drain the fat and excess liquid from the meat. Add the peas and corn, remaining 1 tablespoon oil, and flour. Stir to distribute the flour and oil, cooking for a minute.
- Add the wine or beer, tomato paste, and Worcestershire sauce and stir to combine. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until the liquid has reduced and thickened a little.
- Slowly pour in the broth or stock, while stirring. Cook until it has reduced to thick gravy, about 5 minutes. Taste, and add salt as needed.
- Pour the mixture into a 9x13-inch or similar size casserole dish.
- Spoon or pipe the mashed potatoes over top of the meat mixture to evenly cover. Brush with the egg or oil.
- Bake the shepherd’s pie for 20 minutes, or until the potato is slightly golden on top.