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Individual Cottage Pies (Shepherd’s Pie With Beef)

These easy Individual Cottage Pies (shepherd’s pie made with beef instead of lamb) are the perfect all-in-one-bowl dinner that the whole family will love!

Ground beef, onions, and mixed vegetables in a rich and flavorful gravy topped with a creamy mashed potato “crust”… Oh, yes, it’s every bit as delicious as it sounds!

We can thank our friends over in the United Kingdom and Ireland for this wonderful dish that is hearty, comforting, and exactly what you need to warm you up on these cold winter nights.

The only difference between cottage pie and shepherd’s pie is the meat used. Cottage pie (the original) is made with ground beef, whereas shepherd’s pie is made with ground lamb.

These days, the names are often used interchangeably, with shepherd’s pie seeming to be the most popular. Most people call any dish with meat (or even no meat!), vegetables and gravy topped with mashed potatoes a shepherd’s pie.

Hey, whatever you want to call it, it’s absolutely delicious!

It took me a long time to get this cottage pie recipe exactly where I wanted it to be. I tried so many recipes over the years that were disappointing (I had so many fails that poor David used to cringe every time I’d try a new one).

I wanted a cottage pie with a rich and super tasty filling of both meat and lots of veggies along with smooth, creamy, flavorful mashed potatoes on top. I also wanted individual servings (because it’s more fun that way!). And it had to be easy!

Well, the search is over! I finally got it, and I’m so excited to share the recipe with you today. We make these individual cottage pies often, and we look forward to them every time!

top-down view of 4 individual cottage pies with spoons on the side

Ingredients you need:

  • Russet potatoes
  • Butter
  • Milk
  • Ground beef
  • Onion
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Dried thyme
  • Tomato paste
  • Frozen mixed vegetables
  • Beef stock or broth (I use a mixture of water and roasted beef base, such as Better Than Bouillon)
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Cornstarch
  • Water
  • Salt and pepper
  • Paprika
  • Fresh chopped parsley (optional, for garnish)

Special equipment needed:

  • 4 (2 cups each) oven-safe (up to at least 350°F) bowls/ramekins

Here’s a look at how to make Individual Cottage Pies (Shepherd’s Pie With Beef):

2 images; one a graphic of an oven with text that says preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit; the other of potatoes boiling in a pot on the stove with text that says boil potatoes in salted water until fork tender
2 images; one of cooked potatoes in a pot with text that says drain potatoes, return to pot so excess water can evaporate; the other of potatoes being mashed in the pot with text that says add butter and milk, mash until smooth and creamy, set aside
2 images; one of ground beef and onions cooking in a pan with text that says meanwhile cook ground beef and onions, drain excess grease; the other of vegetables and seasonings added to the pan with text that says stir in seasonings, tomato paste, and mixed vegetables
2 images; one of broth and Worcestershire sauce added to the pan with text that says add beef stock/broth and Worcestershire sauce, stir; the other of a cornstarch slurry being added to the pan with text that says stir together the cornstarch and cold water, add to filling
2 images; one of a closeup of a spoonful of the filling with thickened sauce with text that says bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until thickened; the other of bowls on a sheet pan with the filling in them with text that says place bowls on baking sheet, divide filling among bowls
2 images; one of the bowls on the sheet pan topped with mashed potatoes with text that says top with the mashed potatoes; the other of the mashed potatoes sprinkled with paprika with text that says sprinkle with paprika
2 images; one a graphic of an oven with text that says 350 degrees Fahrenheit, bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until...; the other of the finished cottage pies on the baking sheet with text that says ...filling is bubbly and potatoes are lightly golden, enjoy

Tips & Tidbits:

  • Sometimes I add a little sharp cheddar cheese to the mashed potatoes for even more deliciousness!
  • To make shepherd’s pie, use ground lamb instead of beef.
  • Use a flavorful beef broth/stock so that your gravy tastes really good!
  • If you’re not into the mixed vegetables, you can use 2 cups of frozen peas and carrots instead.
  • This recipe will give you 4 very generous individual servings. If you’d rather make 8 smaller servings, use 1-cup oven-safe bowls/ramekins (you may not need to bake them quite as long).
  • If you don’t have any individual-sized oven-safe bowls, you can make this in a deep 9-inch pie dish or a 9×9-inch baking dish. Put all of the filling in the dish and then top with all of the potatoes and bake.
  • Or, as long as you use an oven-safe skillet (up to 350°F), you could leave the filling right in the skillet, spread the mashed potatoes on top, and bake.
  • Store leftovers in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 3 to 4 days. Reheat in a 325°F oven, loosely covered in foil (this will help prevent the potatoes from drying out), until heated through. Let them sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes first to take the chill off before putting in the oven.
close-up of a spoonful of cottage pie being taken out of the bowl

The best thing is you don’t even have to prepare or serve any side dishes with this meal because it’s already got your meat, vegetables, and potatoes. But you certainly could…a side salad or some dinner rolls (or both) would go very nicely with it!

I hope you try this recipe for Individual Cottage Pies (Shepherd’s Pie With Beef) and love it as much as I do. Thanks for visiting today!

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individual cottage pie with a spoonful being taken out

Individual Cottage Pies (Shepherd’s Pie With Beef)

These easy Individual Cottage Pies (shepherd's pie made with beef instead of lamb) are the perfect all-in-one-bowl dinner that the whole family will love!
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Author: Michelle / Now Cook This!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 4 (very generous)
Estimated Calories: 639

Ingredients

Mashed Potato Topping:

  • 2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1" pieces
  • ½ tablespoon kosher salt, or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup milk, plus more if needed

Beef and Vegetable Filling:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 cups chopped onion, about ¼" pieces
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cups frozen mixed vegetables (peas, carrots, corn, green beans, and lima beans)
  • 2 cups beef stock or broth, I use 2 cups water mixed with 2 teaspoons roasted beef base such as Better Than Bouillon
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons cold water
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • chopped fresh parsley, for garnish (optional)

Special Equipment

  • 4 (2 cups each) oven-safe bowls (up to at least 350°F)

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Make the Mashed Potato Topping:

  • Place the chopped potatoes in a medium sauce pot (I use a 3-quart pot) with ½ tablespoon of kosher salt (or the amount of salt you desire) and cover the potatoes by an inch with cold water.
  • Bring to a boil over high heat; cook for 10 to 12 minutes or until the potatoes are fork-tender.
    Note: To save on time, start cooking the filling while the potatoes are cooking.
  • Drain the potatoes and place them back in the hot pot (make sure the stove burner is turned off); let them sit in the pot for a few minutes until any excess moisture has evaporated from the potatoes.
  • Add the butter. Using a potato masher, mash the potatoes and butter until there are no large pieces of potato remaining.
  • Add the milk and continue mashing just until the potatoes are smooth (add more milk if needed to reach your desired consistency). Taste the potatoes and, if needed, add more salt.

Make the Beef and Vegetable Filling:

  • Place the ground beef and onions in a large skillet (I use a 12" skillet) over medium-high heat. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally and breaking up the meat as you go, until the beef is cooked through and the onions have softened, about 6 to 8 minutes. If needed, drain off any excess grease.
  • Add the garlic powder, onion powder, dried thyme, tomato paste, and mixed vegetables; stir until everything is well-combined.
  • Add the beef stock and Worcestershire sauce; stir to combine.
  • In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch and cold water until the cornstarch has completely dissolved. Add the cornstarch slurry to the beef mixture; stir to combine.
  • Bring the filling to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer just until the sauce has thickened, about 2 to 3 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

Assemble and Bake:

  • Place 4 oven-safe bowls (2 cups each) on a large baking sheet (the baking sheet will catch any small spills in the event the filling bubbles over a bit; it also makes transporting the bowls to and from the oven easier).
  • Divide the beef and vegetable filling mixture evenly among the bowls.
  • Divide the mashed potatoes evenly over the filling in each bowl, spreading them out to the edges of the bowl.
  • Sprinkle the potatoes with paprika.
  • Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until the filling is hot and bubbly and the potatoes are lightly golden.
  • Sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley, if desired; Enjoy!

Notes

  • To make shepherd’s pie, use ground lamb instead of beef.
  • Use a flavorful beef broth/stock so that your gravy tastes really good!
  • If you’re not into the mixed vegetables, you can use 2 cups of frozen peas and carrots instead.
  • If you don’t have any individual-sized oven-safe bowls, you can make this in a deep 9-inch pie dish or a 9×9-inch baking dish. Put all of the filling in the dish and then top with all of the potatoes and bake.
  • Store leftovers in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 3 to 4 days. Reheat in a 325°F oven, loosely covered in foil (this will help prevent the potatoes from drying out), until heated through. Let them sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes first to take the chill off before putting in the oven.
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