Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie is a delicious dish made with a mixture of ground beef and lamb, onions, mushrooms, peas, and an herby, gravy-like broth, all topped with creamy mashed sweet potatoes. It’s the perfect comfort meal, and is super easy to make!
First, What Is Shepherd’s Pie (aka Shephard’s Pie)
Traditional shepherd's pie is made with a mixture of lamb and veggies, is covered in a flavorful gravy sauce, and uses white potatoes as its creamy topping. It’s sometimes confused with another dish called cottage pie, which uses all beef. Shepherd’s pie and cottage pie are essentially the same, except for the meat that is used.
This version of Shepherd’s Pie uses a mixture of lamb and beef, and subs out the white potatoes for sweet potatoes for a delicious take on a timeless classic.
Why You’ll Love This Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie
- This is an easy shepherd’s pie recipe. Making this dish is not difficult and only requires sauteeing some meat and veggies together, adding a few ingredients to make the gravy, and spreading the mashed sweet potatoes over the top to bake. Overall it takes about an hour and 10 minutes.
- Everything cooks in one skillet! Except for boiling the sweet potatoes, you can make this entire dish in one skillet, making cleaning up a breeze.
- Great make-ahead dish. Don’t have an hour and 10 minutes to spare? No problem! This dish is a fabulous make-ahead option. You can assemble everything, cover it, place it in the refrigerator, and then just heat it in the oven when you’re ready to eat it!
- So healthy. Tons of veggies, lots of vitamin-A-rich sweet potatoes, and protein-packed meat make this dish not just filling but fairly healthy too.
- Freezer-friendly. This dish freezes really well. Again, you can assemble everything, then freeze it, or you can bake it and freeze leftovers for another time. It will keep for about 2 months in the freezer.
- Perfect for a cold winter night. This Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie is comfort food at its finest. And, it goes great with a big glass of red wine
- A family favorite and a crowd-pleaser. My family loves this delicious Shepherd’s Pie recipe. (And I love that I’m sneaking in some extra veggies into their diets!). And, this dish is casual enough for a small get-together but fancy enough for a dinner party.
- It’s super customizable. Shepherds pie is a totally customizable dish and you can adjust the recipe to what you have on hand in your fridge. Only have beef and no lamb? No problem, just use beef. Want to mix up the veggies, or use all veggies and no meat? It’s completely fine. Only have white potatoes? That works great too!
- Diet-friendly. You can easily adapt this dish depending on what type of diet you’re on. (whole 30/paleo/keto/gluten-free/vegetarian)
Key Ingredients & Substitutions
Lamb+ground beef. This sweet potato shepherd’s pie uses a combination of lamb and ground beef for extra flavor. Lamb is typically a fatty meat so I used a fairly lean ground beef (90%/10%) to balance out the fat. If you can’t find lamb or don’t want to use it, you can use all ground beef in this recipe with great results. Just make sure that if you go the all-beef route you use ground beef with a slightly higher fat content. And, if you’re looking to omit the meat altogether, you can sub in lentils, or extra mushrooms to make this a vegetarian shepherd’s pie. (Just make sure you also omit the Worcestershire sauce too if you want to make it vegetarian!)
Veggies. Traditional Shepherds Pie uses onion, carrots, and celery to make a sofrito, an Italian term that means “slightly fried” and a mix that is often used to add depth of flavor to a dish. I omitted the celery here but added in hearty mushrooms to add a deep earthy flavor, and also frozen peas for a pop of color.
Fresh Herbs. Rosemary, thyme, and parsley help make this aromatic dish divine.
Broth. The broth helps make the gravy. I used beef broth here but mushroom broth would be a good sub if you’re trying to make this vegetarian.
Sweet Potatoes! The sweet and creamy mashed sweet potato topping completes the dish!
How To Make Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie
The most time-consuming thing about making this shepherd’s pie is preparing the veggies. But once that’s done things come together pretty easily. (You can also always prep the veggies in advance to save time on a busy weeknight.)
Start by making your sweet potato mash.
Peel the sweet potatoes and chop them into large, evenly-sized cubes. Then, toss them in some salt water and boil them for about 20 minutes until they are very soft and a knife can easily cut through them. Drain the potatoes and return them to the pot.
Allow the boiled sweet potatoes to cool for a couple of minutes before adding your butter and whole milk. Allowing some of the steam to evaporate off the sweet potatoes will help to make them less watery.
Add the butter and milk, and mash the potatoes until everything is well blended and the potatoes are creamy and smooth. (Note: a smoother sweet potato mash will make for easier spreading when the time comes to assemble the pie.)
Make the meat and veggie filling.
While your potatoes are boiling, brown the lamb and beef, skimming all but ⅛ cup of the fat off the top when it’s done. Remove the meat from the skillet, add some butter, then sautee the chopped onions until they are soft and translucent. Add in the chopped carrots and mushrooms and cook for a few more minutes, until the carrots are tender. (You’ll wait to add the peas until the end to ensure they don’t get mushy.)
Next, season the veggie mix with your fresh thyme and rosemary and cook for a couple more minutes. Add the beef and lamb mixture back to the pan, then mix in the Worcestershire sauce and tomato paste.
Sprinkle the flour over the top of the mixture and cook for about a minute before adding your beef broth. (The flour is what helps thicken the “gravy”.)
Cook the filling for about 10 minutes until the liquid has reduced and the mixture has thickened to a nice consistency. Then, add the parsley and frozen peas and remove the skillet from heat. Let the mixture sit for 5-10 minutes to allow it to continue to thicken. This will make it easier to spread the sweet potato mixture over the top.
Assemble your pie!
Add spoonfuls of the mashed sweet potatoes to the top of the mixture, then carefully spread the sweet potatoes across the top of the filling until the entire surface is covered. (Note - make sure your sweet potatoes are still warm when spreading them. Cold potatoes are difficult to spread!)
Transfer the entire skillet to the oven, and place a foil-lined sheet pan underneath it to catch any spills. Bake the pie for 20 minutes, then broil on high for 1-2 minutes. Your sweet potatoes should be slightly browned a the edges. (Watch this closely to ensure they don’t burn!)
Remove the skillet from the oven and allow the shepherd’s pie to cool for about 15-20 minutes before serving. The cooling time will help the pie continue to thicken and will ensure that you don’t have a runny mess when you cut into it. Top the pie with chopped parsley if desired and serve.
Can I Prep This Ahead Of Time?
Yes! The easiest way to do this is to make the filling and potatoes, assemble the pie, then just cover it and store it in the refrigerator until you're ready to bake it. When you’re ready to bake it, remove it from the fridge, uncover it and bake for about 30 minutes in a 380-degree oven, or until the dish is completely warmed through.
Can I Freeze & Reheat This Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie?
Sure can! Prepare the meat and veggie mixture and the sweet potato mash.
Place the filling in a freezer-safe container, and spread the sweet potato mash over the top.
Allow it to cool, cover it tightly, and freeze. It should keep for about 2 months in the freezer.
When you’re ready to use it, you can either thaw it overnight in the refrigerator and then reheat it in a 380-degree oven for about 30 minutes. Or, if you want to cook it from frozen, cover it with foil and reheat it at 380 for 40 minutes. Then remove the foil and continue cooking for an additional 20 minutes.
What To Serve With Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie
This shepherd’s pie is a hearty dish, but light side salads and crusty bread complement it nicely (and serve as a great vessel for soaking up the leftover gravy in your bowl!) Here are some great additions to serve along with your shepherd’s pie:
If you try this Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie, please let me know what you think in the comments. And please tag me with a pic on Instagram @frontrangefed so I can see your masterpiece!
More Hearty Main Dishes!
- Weeknight Mushroom Ragout
- Quick & Easy Polenta Recipe
- Pumpkin Mac N Cheese
- Hoppin John
- Tuscan Pasta
- Easy Veggie Lasagna
Easy Sweet Potato Shepherd's Pie
- 1 lb ground lamb
- 1 lb lean ground beef
- 2 lbs sweet potatoes (about 6 cups, or 4 medium sized sweet potatoes)
- 4 tbsp butter
- ½ cup whole milk
- 2 large carrots, peeled and sliced
- 8 oz mushrooms, chopped
- 2 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
- 2 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 tbsp flour
- 1 cup beef broth (can also use mushroom broth)
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1 cup chopped parsley
- salt and pepper to taste
Make the Sweet Potato Mash Topping
- Peel sweet potatoes, chop into large cubes, and boil in salted water for about 20 minutes until soft and a knife can cut through easily. Drain potatoes, return them to the pot, and allow them to steam dry for a minute or two so that they are not too watery.. Add 2 tablespoons of the butter and ½ cup of whole milk and mash the sweet potatoes until everything is blended and the potatoes are nice and creamy/smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Make The Filling
- While your potatoes are boiling, cook the beef and lamb by adding them to a large skillet over medium heat. Break up the meat and continue cooking until it is browned. Remove the meat from the pan and set aside, reserving about ⅛ cup of the fat, and discard the rest.
- Add 2 tblsp butter to the same skillet, then the chopped onions. Cook the onions for about 7-8 minutes, until they are soft and translucent. Add the chopped carrots and mushrooms and cook for 10 minutes more, until carrots are tender.
- Add the thyme and rosemary and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes. Add the beef and lamb mixture back to the pan. Then and the worcestershire sauce to the skillet and combine well.
- Add in the tomato paste and mix to combine. Then, sprinkle flour over the top of the mixture and cook for 1 minute more.
- Add the beef broth, and cook until the liquid has reduced and the mixture has thickened, about 5-10 minutes. Add the parsley and frozen peas and season with salt and peppe to taste.
Assemble & Bake!
- Spread the sweet potato mixture over the top of the filling, then transfer the entire skillet to the oven. (be sure to place a foil-lined baking sheet under your pan to catch any boil-over liquid or drippings.
- Bake the pie for 20 minutes at 380, then broil on high for 2 minutes until potatoes have begun to brown at the edges.
- Allow the sweet potatoe shepherd’s pie to sit for 15-20 minutes to set and thicken. (otherwise you end up with a runny mess!)
- Let your sweet potatoes cool for a few minutes after boiling to allow some of the liquid to evaporate off them. This will help ensure they are not too watery when mashed.
- Allow your filling to set for several minutes to let it thicken up and make it easier to spread the mashed sweet potato mixture over the top.
- Make sure your sweet potatoes are mashed to a creamy consistency and are warm prior to spreading to make this process easier.
- If using a combo of lamb and beef, use leaner ground beef to compensate for the extra fat in the lamb. If using all beef, use one with a slightly higher fat content for added flavor.
- Don’t add the peas with the other veggies - wait until the filling has finished cooking to add them. This will ensure that they don’t cook for too long and become mushy.
- When baking this sweet potato shepherd's pie, place a foil-lined sheet pan under the skillet to catch any spillovers.
- Make this vegetarian by subbing in lentils or additional mushrooms for the meat and omitting the Worcestershire sauce.
- Allow the cooked sweet potato shepherd’s pie to cool for 15-20 minutes. This will allow it to thicken up even more and help you avoid a runny mess when cutting into it.
- If making ahead, prepare everything up to the point of putting the pie in the oven. Cover the skillet and store in the refrigerator until ready to bake. Then bake it at 380 degrees for 30 minutes.
- To freeze, place in an airtight container. Will keep for 2 months.
- To reheat from frozen: 1. Thaw overnight, then heat in the oven at 380 degrees for 30 minutes. Or, 2. Head directly from frozen by covering with foil and baking at 380 degrees for 40 minutes. Then remove the foil and bake for an additional 20 minutes until heated through.