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Easy Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potatoes

Easy Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potatoes makes for an amazingly comforting meal! If you love meat and potatoes, you’ll go wild over this recipe!

Easy Shepherd's Pie with Sweet Potatoes - a goof-proof recipe that comes together quickly and easily!

The first time I made Shepherd’s Pie, it took me in excess of 2.75 hours, no joke.

I was in my early 20’s, my cooking experience was about a .287 on a scale of 1 to infinity, and I was trying to impress this guy I was dating who has a very, very distant Irish lineage (and a girlfriend). So of course, I figured I would try to impress him with Shepherd’s Pie…naturally.

Up until that point, my cooking accolades consisted of partially-burned quesadillas and successfully buttering and jamming toast.

Whatever recipe I was following led me in all sorts of directions that required many-a-phone-a-friend, and after I turned him down for help countless times, we inevitably ended up eating dinner at 10 pm. 

This to say, I’m not going to do that to you.

If you can mash a potato, you can make this easy shepherd’s pie recipe.

All it requires is boiling and mashing sweet potatoes and sautéing up some ground beef with vegetables. You mishmash these two elements together in a casserole dish, bake it up casserole-style for some bubbly action, and you’re DONE.

Don’t forget the Irish Soda Bread

You don’t need to make gravy, add anything fancy to the mashed potatoes, and everything on the ingredient list is something you’ve already heard of. 

But before we get carried away..

Easy Shepherd's Pie recipe with sweet potatoes - a healthy, quick version of Shepherd's pie with ground beef or lamb

What is Shepherd’s Pie?:

Shepherd’s Pie originates from the UK and is a large casserole of ground meat in a rich gravy sauce with vegetables and a layer of mashed potatoes on top.

We often refer to Shepherd’s Pie and Cottage Pie interchangeably in the U.S., but traditionally, cottage pie contains ground beef and shepherd’s pie contains ground lamb.

There are many approaches to Shepherd’s pie, but the classic recipe is ground lamb with onions, garlic, carrots, corn, and peas in a rich gravy (or roux) sauce. Some folks add onion, garlic, cream and/or cheese to the mashed potatoes to liven them up.

No matter how you slice it, the combination of delicious meat and vegetables in combination with potatoes is so comforting and satiating. 

The creative liberties I took upon the original is using sweet potatoes instead of regular potatoes, omitting corn, adding baby spinach, and skipping the gravy altogether. Don’t worry, I have included the instructions for how to take a more traditional approach in the Recipe Adaptations section below.

Why Sweet Potatoes?

This easy shepherd’s pie recipe includes a sweet potato mash rather than white mashed potatoes for some added spunk. I find white potatoes to be pretty bland and void of nutrition (except for carbs), so using sweet potatoes adds a great deal of flavor to the dish. The sweetness provides a nice offset to the savory meat. Trust me, it works!

Sweet potatoes are high in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber, and are an excellent source of complex carbohydrates. In this sense, I like to look at this recipe as a healthier excuse to enjoy the classic meal. 😉

This recipe is paleo and whole30 friendly as long as you omit the peas.

St. Patrick’s Day doesn’t have to be upon us in order to enjoy Shepherd’s pie…in fact, every time I make it, I make a mental note to prepare it more frequently. I see it as incredible sharable food for guests and also particularly amazing during the cold weather months.

How to Make Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potatoes:

Boil and Mash the Potatoes:

Chop the sweet potatoes into rounds that are about 2 inches thick and place them in a pot. Fill the pot with water, then bring it to a boil on the stove top. Boil the potatoes until very soft when poked with a fork, about 20 to 30 minutes. Note: you can prepare the rest of the recipe while the potatoes are cooking.

Boil the sweet potatoes in a large pot until tender

Drain the water from the potatoes and allow them to cool enough to handle. Once cool, remove the skins from the potatoes and mash until creamy.

Mash the sweet potatoes until creamy

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and spray or lightly oil a large casserole dish.

Cook the Meat & Vegetables:

Add the avocado oil to a large non-stick skillet and add the chopped onion. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until onion begins to brown, about 5 to 8 minutes.

Move the onions off to one side and add the ground meat, leaving it in its square hunk form. Allow the meat to brown on one side for 2 to 3 minutes, then flip it to the other side and brown for another 2 to 3 minutes. Use a spatula to break up the meat into smaller chunks and stir well.

Add the carrots, garlic, vinegar, liquid aminos, and water, and cover the skillet with a lid for a few minutes to allow the mixture to cook.

Remove the lid and stir in the peas, spinach and sea salt. Continue cooking uncovered for a few minutes to allow the sauce around the solids to thicken slightly.

Sauté the meat and vegetables in a skillet

Make the Casserole:

Transfer the meat and vegetable mixture to a large casserole dish. Spread the mashed sweet potatoes over the meat mixture.

Transfer the meat and vegetables to a casserole dish and top with mashed sweet potatoes

Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until everything is hot and slightly bubbly.

Serve and enjoy!

How to make easy Shepherd's Pie with minimal ingredients and sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes.

Recipe Adaptations:

  • Use yukon gold potatoes instead of sweet potatoes if desired. If you go this route, I recommend adding onion, garlic, milk, cream, and/or cheese to the potatoes to give them more flavor. You can replace the sweet potatoes with a half batch of Colcannon if you’d like!
  • Use either ground beef or ground lamb.
  • Incorporate your favorite vegetables. Broccoli, cauliflower, and/or corn are all great options. You can also omit the spinach if you aren’t a fan.
  • Replace the liquid aminos with soy sauce or Worcestershire. 
  • Use cider vinegar or balsamic vinegar instead of rice vinegar.

Serve it up with Kombucha Irish Soda Bread! Also check out my Instant Pot Corned Beef and Cabbage recipe for more Irish inspiration.

Easy Shepherd's Pie with Sweet Potatoes - a goof-proof recipe that comes together quickly and easily!

Easy Shepherd's Pie with Sweet Potatoes

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

A goof-proof method to making an amazing meat and potato casserole! This is an impressive meal for guests!

Ingredients

  • 2.5 lbs sweet potatoes, boiled and mashed (about 4 large)
  • 3 Tbsp avocado oil
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 5 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 large carrots, chopped
  • 2 lbs ground ground lamb or beef
  • 2 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp liquid aminos
  • ⅓ cup water or beef broth
  • 1 cup green peas
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 1 tsp sea salt, to taste

Instructions

  1. Chop the sweet potatoes into rounds that are about 2 inches thick and place them in a pot. Fill the pot with water, then bring it to a boil on the stove top. Boil the potatoes until very soft when poked with a fork, about 20 to 30 minutes. Note: you can prepare the rest of the recipe while the potatoes are cooking. Drain the water from the potatoes and allow them to cool enough to handle. Once cool, remove the skins from the potatoes and mash until creamy.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  3. Add the avocado oil to a large non-stick skillet and add the chopped onion. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until onion begins to brown, about 5 to 8 minutes.
  4. Move the onions off to one side and add the ground meat, leaving it in its square hunk form. Allow the meat to brown on one side for 2 to 3 minutes, then flip it to the other side and brown for another 2 to 3 minutes. Use a spatula to break up the meat into smaller chunks and stir well. Add the carrots, garlic, vinegar, liquid aminos, and water, and cover the skillet with a lid for a few minutes to allow the mixture to cook.
  5. Remove the lid and stir in the peas, spinach and sea salt. Continue cooking uncovered for a few minutes to allow the sauce around the solids to thicken slightly.
  6. Transfer the meat and vegetable mixture to a large casserole dish. Spread the mashed sweet potatoes over the meat mixture.
  7. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until everything is hot and slightly bubbly.
Nutrition Information
Yield 6 servings Serving Size 1 of 6
Amount Per Serving Calories 439Total Fat 19gCarbohydrates 28gNet Carbohydrates 25gFiber 3gSugar 3gProtein 33g

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Lynne

Monday 5th of April 2021

Julia this recipe is so good. Have made it twice and served it for Easter brunch yesterday and was loved by all. As others have said, the flavors are all wonderful together. Thank you

Julia

Monday 5th of April 2021

I'm so thrilled to hear it, Lynne! Thanks so much for letting me know! Much love to you and your family :D xoxoxo

Nancy

Tuesday 16th of March 2021

Tried this tonight. It is delicious. I used balsamic vinegar and also coconut aminos. The sweet potatoes give the dish so much flavor! Love so many of your recipes.

Julia

Friday 19th of March 2021

I'm so happy you like it, Nancy! Thanks so much for the sweet note! xoxo

C.B.

Wednesday 10th of March 2021

That's story is so funny! I was about 13 when my mom showed me the basic "Québec, Canada" shepherd's pie (which we call "pâté chinois" (Chinese pie) for some reason) which is essentially ground beef, corn and mashed potatoes on top. It was my job to make this meal on the one night a month she worked late when I was a teenager. So by the time I left home at 19, I was pretty much an expert Shepherd's pie maker and would often experiment with different veggies and switch it up with mashed sweet potatoes. Since my spouse hates regular mash potatoes (I know.....he's messed up), the only way I am "allowed" to make shepherd's pie in the house is if I use sweet potato mash so I'm always in for a new twist :) And what a great idea for St-Patrick's day

Julia

Wednesday 10th of March 2021

This made me laugh out loud! Too funny! I wish I had your level of expertise way back then, ha! I'm actually super on board with your husband! Regular mashed potatoes just need so much love - cream, cheese, sauteed onion and garlic - in order to taste good in my opinion. ;) Anyway, so happy you liked my story and cheers to sweet potato shepherd's pie!! xoxoxo

Shirley

Tuesday 9th of March 2021

I love that you kept the skins in the mashed sweet potatoes. Comforting is a great description for this dish. It has a little of everything and is so tasty.

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