Sautéed veggies and meat in a light and easy gravy, topped with hearty mashed potatoes and cheese… an epic meal that also reheats great the next day!
Turkey Shepherd’s Pie or Cottage Pie?
Classic shepherd’s pie is made with ground lamb, while cottage pie uses ground beef or turkey. That said, the name Shepherd’s pie is used interchangeably today since lamb isn’t as commonly used (in the US, anyway).
What Goes in Turkey Shepherd’s Pie?
Shepherd’s pie is made of ground meat cooked down with vegetables and spices then topped with a hearty dose of cheesy mashed potatoes.
Here’s a breakdown of the ingredients you’ll need to make it:
- Russet potatoes: since they are high in starch, they yield a smooth, creamy texture. Yukon Gold potatoes also make a great swap.
- Butter: both for tasty mashed potatoes and for cooking the meat.
- Milk: adds a great consistency to the mashed potatoes.
- Grated cheese: I use Parmesan to make it super cheesy.
- Salt and pepper: for seasoning.
- Ground turkey: do you have leftover roasted turkey? Cube it or shred it, and you can use it too! More on this below.
- Aromatic veggies: onion, carrots, and garlic.
- Tomato paste: adds a rich tomato flavor.
- Worcestershire sauce: adds salt and more delicious flavor.
- All-purpose flour, corn starch, or tapioca starch: combined with liquid, helps to thicken the filling.
- Chicken broth: mixed with the starch to create a “slurry”. You can also use water.
- Green peas: more veggies! Thawed before adding them.
- Dried thyme: adds a delicious flavor. Poultry seasoning also works!
- Fresh chives: for garnish.
For the ingredient measurements, check the recipe card below.
If you want to reduce the carbs, you can swap the potatoes for a batch of mashed cauliflower. That recipe is in my grain-free cookbook, The Best Homemade Grain-Free Meals on the Planet. It tastes incredible, and no one even misses the potatoes!
As the seasons change, so does our craving for certain flavors and foods. This Shepherd’s Pie is the epitome of a healthy comfort food meal you want to warm up with during cooler weather.
I’m a big fan of making seasonal dishes we can enjoy for everyday meals, and that’s something I like to carry over into my family meal plans.
You’ll find the weekly recipes are centered around what’s in season and the time of year. Soups and salads in the summer, stews and heartier fairs in the winter. It’s a simple way to learn how to make incredible meals with the freshest ingredients year-round.
How to Make Ground Turkey Shepherd’s Pie
Compared to other recipes, this shepherd’s pie is prepared a little differently. Instead of baking for an additional 30 minutes, the pie is topped with the mashed potatoes and cheese, then simmered long enough for the cheese the melt.
With this method, the flavors are still the same, and dinner is ready in a fraction of the time. Here’s how to make it:
- Boil the potatoes
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the potatoes and cook for 15 minutes or until tender.
- Brown the meat
While the potatoes boil, melt the butter in a large skillet. Add the turkey and onion. Brown for 6 minutes, breaking up the meat with a spatula as it cooks.
- Add the veggies
To the browned meat, add carrots, tomato paste, Worcestershire, and garlic. Season with salt and cook until the carrots are tender.
- Make a slurry
In a small bowl, whisk the flour or tapioca starch with the broth until it’s dissolved. Add the mixture to the meat and veggies along with the green peas and thyme. Stir to combine and simmer until thickened.
- Mash the potatoes
Drain the potatoes, then add the milk, 3 tablespoons butter, cheese, salt, and black pepper. Mash to combine and set aside.
*Since no baking is involved, you want the potatoes to be starchier. Use only enough milk to help the potatoes mash and bind, about ½ cup.
- Top it off!
Spread the mashed potatoes over the meat and veggie mixture, top with cheese, and simmer on medium heat for 3 minutes or until the potatoes are heated through. Remove from heat, top with chives, and serve.
If you’d prefer for the cheese to be browned and slightly crispy, you can broil the entire dish in the oven for 3 minutes if using an oven-safe skillet.
Watch this quick recipe video to see the magic happen!
This entire dish can also be pre-assembled. Just cook the meat and veggies as directed, prepare the mashed potatoes, and refrigerate both separately for up to 2 days. When you’re ready to serve, assemble and reheat on the stove-top.
Leftover Turkey Shepherd’s Pie
If you’re making this shepherd’s pie around the holidays, you can also use leftover roasted turkey that’s been cubed or shredded in place of ground meat. Of course, the texture is different from ground turkey, but the roasted turkey flavor fits right in with the rest of the ingredients, and it’s easy to add.
Here’s how to substitute roasted turkey for ground turkey in this shepherd’s pie:
- Skip browning the meat.
- Sauté the carrots and garlic in 1 tablespoon butter for 2 minutes. Add the tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and cook until the carrots are tender.
- In a small bowl, whisk the flour or tapioca starch with the broth until it’s dissolved.
- Add the mixture to the veggies along with the green peas, thyme, and roasted turkey. Stir to combine and simmer for 5 minutes or until the turkey is heated through.
- Top with mashed potatoes and proceed with the recipe.
You can also use the same method above with leftover beef roast or stew meat.
How to Reheat Turkey Shepherd’s Pie
When it comes to reheating turkey shepherd’s pie you can use three options: the oven, stove-top, or microwave.
If making a single-serving, go for the microwave. Add a portion to a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high for 2 minutes or until heated through.
If you’re reheating the entire skillet, you can bake it in a 375F oven for 10 minutes (if you made it in an oven-safe skillet) or reheat it on the stove-top for 10 minutes or until the potatoes and ground turkey are piping hot.
Ground Turkey Shepherd’s Pie
For the Mashed Potatoes:
- 6 medium russet baking potatoes, washed and quartered
- 3 tablespoons butter
- ½ to ¾ cup milk
- ⅓ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
For the Shepherd's Pie:
- 1 tablespoons butter
- 1 pound ground turkey
- 1 small onion, chopped (about ½ cup)
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into ¼-inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon tapioca starch or 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- ½ cup chicken broth
- 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme or poultry seasoning
- Chives, for garnish
- Over medium-high heat, bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the potatoes and let cook for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are fork-tender.
- Drain and add ½ cup milk, 3 tablespoons butter, ⅓ cup Parmesan cheese, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Mash to combine and set aside.
- While the potatoes cook, in a large skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the turkey and onion. Cook for 6 minutes, breaking up the meat with a spatula as it cooks.
- Add the carrots, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, and remaining salt to the meat. Cook for 9 minutes or until the carrots are softened.
- In a small bowl, whisk the flour or tapioca starch with the chicken broth until the starch is dissolved to create a “slurry”.
- Add the slurry to the skillet, along with the peas and dried thyme. Stir to combine and reduce the heat to low. Bring to a simmer and cook for an additional 3 minutes.
- Spread the mashed potatoes over the turkey mixture and top with the remaining Parmesan cheese. Simmer for 3 to 5 minutes or until the potatoes are heated through.
- Remove from heat, top with chives, and serve.