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How to Make Shepherd's Pie: Quick & Easy Canadian Recipe

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Sherri is an online writer with years of experience writing about cooking and recipe writing.

Shepherd's pie, beautifully browned and Piping hot out of the oven.

Shepherd's pie, beautifully browned and Piping hot out of the oven.

About the Recipe

Shepherd's pie, sometimes called cottage pie, is a classic English dish. But great food knows no boundaries. Shepherd's pie is as diverse a dish as we are people.

This wonderful recipe comes from my French Canadian friend, who made it for me during her recent visit to my home.

Shepherd's Pie or Cottage Pie?

The dish is called shepherd's pie when made with lamb or mutton, and cottage pie when made with beef. Both pies include vegetables and are topped with mashed potatoes.

Traditionally, cooks minced the meat left over from a previous evening's meal to make the pies. With the advent of commercial food processing, making the dish starting with raw, ground meat became popular.

About the Meat

I am lucky to have an old-world German meat purveyor who selects, prepares, and sells the finest meats. If you have this fine meat provider, then that's wonderful. But you can find a ground combination of veal, beef, and pork, commonly sold as "meatloaf mix," in any supermarket.

About the Vegetables

This recipe calls for canned whole kernels of corn and canned creamed corn. If you would like to prepare corn from scratch, that's even better.

Buy fresh garlic and fresh onions. Don't rely on garlic powder or salt, or dried onions. Only when you cook the fresh onions and garlic with the meat will you have the essence of this delectable dish.

The Ingredients

  • 1 Pound "meatloaf mix" (equal portions of ground veal, pork, and beef) or 1 pound of ground beef
  • 2 Pounds of red-skinned potatoes
  • 1 Envelope Lipton's Onion Soup Mix
  • 1 Large white onion, diced finely
  • 5 or 6 Cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 13-ounce can of creamed corn
  • 1 13-ounce can of whole kernel corn, drained
  • ¼ Cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons butter


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Lightly grease or spray an 11x9-inch or 10-inch square baking dish.
  3. Wash the potatoes and cut them into pieces about an inch and a half square, leaving the skin on.
  4. Boil the water for the potatoes.
  5. Add the potatoes to the boiling water, turn the heat a little lower, and boil gently for about 20 minutes until the pieces break apart when poked with a fork. When the potato pieces are done, drain them, and mash or whip them with whatever butter, milk, and salt you would normally use when making mashed potatoes. Set aside.
  6. In a frying pan on the top of the stove over low-medium heat, melt the 2 tablespoons of butter and add the diced onion. Stir occasionally until the onion is translucent.
  7. Add the minced garlic and up the heat just a bit.
  8. Add the ground meat and brown it. Be very careful that the garlic does not burn! (After the meat is browned, you may want to drain the grease from the pan; this is your dietary choice.)
  9. When the meat is browned, stir in the dry onion soup mix and the Worcestershire sauce. Simmer for a minute or two, turn off the heat, and cover.

Cooking for One?

Don't hesitate to make this recipe, even if you're just cooking for yourself. Those frozen, thawed, and heated smaller portions make for a convenient and hearty breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Putting the Shepherd's Pie Together

Place the meat and its seasonings from the frying pan into the baking dish.

Add the whole-kernel corn and spread it around.

Add the creamed corn, and spread it around, too.

Top with mashed potatoes.

Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes, uncovered.

Individual servings to eat on the spot or to freeze for later

Individual servings to eat on the spot or to freeze for later

Plan Ahead: Double the Recipe and Freeze Half

I like to double the recipe, serving half for the evening's meal and dividing the other half into 4 to 6 small oven-proof dishes.

While the large pan is baking in the oven, layer the ingredients in the small dishes just as you did for the large baking pan. Seal the unbaked smaller dishes with plastic wrap, gently pressing the wrap into the potatoes to prevent freezer burn. Cover again with aluminum foil, seal tightly, and freeze.

To thaw and bake the frozen dish, remove it from the freezer the night before you want to eat it and place it in the refrigerator. The next day, about an hour before your meal, remove the dish from the refrigerator and let it sit on the kitchen counter. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, remove the plastic wrap and foil, and then bake for 25 minutes to an hour, depending on the size of your dish.

Serving Suggestions

When the weather is warm, serve with a fresh garden salad topped with Russian dressing and add a side of a fresh steamed green vegetable such as green beans, snow peas, or sugar snaps.

When the weather is cooler, serve with hot honey-glazed carrots and steamed broccoli.

Ode to Shepherd's Pie

Yellow as the sun in morn

Tender corn


Whilst spuds' white clouds tinged red


Beneath, succulent meat sleeps.

Pray telleth me this shepherd's name

Whose tongue, whose nose, brought on this fame?