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Shepherd's pie
Homerton College - Shepherd's pie
Shepherd's pie
Shepherd's pie
Type Meat pie
Place of origin United Kingdom
Main ingredients Beef
Lamb and mutton
Mashed potatoes
Variations Cumberland pie, Shepherdess pie

Shepherd's pie (made with minced lamb or mutton) or cottage pie (made with minced beef) is a meat pie with a topping of mashed potato.

The dish can vary widely within its basic definition, whether as a home recipe or on a restaurant menu. The defining ingredients are minced meat (beef for cottage pie, lamb or mutton for shepherd's pie) cooked in a gravy with onions and sometimes vegetables, such as peas, celery or carrots, and topped with mashed potato. Whilst not traditional, a common addition to either pie is to top the mashed potato with grated cheese.


Granville Island Market - Shepherds pie
Shepherd's pie in a market

The term cottage pie was in use by 1791, when the potato was being introduced as an edible crop affordable for the poor (cf. "cottage" meaning a modest dwelling for rural workers). The term shepherd's pie did not appear until 1854, and is sometimes used synonymously with cottage pie, regardless of whether the principal ingredient is beef or mutton. In the United Kingdom, the term shepherd's pie is typically used when the meat is lamb.


In early cookery books, the dish was a means of using leftover roasted meat of any kind, and the pie dish was lined with mashed potato as well as having a mashed potato crust on top.


Other mashed-potato-topped pies include:

  • The Shepherdess pie is a variation made without meat (vegetarian) or without dairy (vegan).
  • The modern Cumberland pie is a version with either beef or lamb, and a layer of breadcrumbs and cheese on top. In medieval times (and modern-day Cumbria) the crust was pastry, and the filling was meat with fruits and spices.
  • A St. Stephen's Day pie is made using turkey and ham.
  • In Brazil, escondidinho is a similar dish. Besides beef, other possible fillings include chicken, jerked beef and salted cod. Topping with puréed manioc instead of mashed potatoes is common.

& In The Netherlands, a similar dish, sometimes with apples, is called a 'Filosoof' (Philosofer).

  • A fish pie is an English dish of fish and seafood in sauce topped with mashed potato.
  • In Quebec, a variation of the dish is called Pâté chinois. It is made with ground beef on the bottom layer, canned corn in the middle, and mashed potato on top.

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