This easy ground lamb shepherd’s pie is one of those classic family favorite comfort foods. This is my Mediterranean spin on shepherd's pie, with a crispy, melty cheesy top, creamy cardamom mashed potato layer, and the best part: the super flavorful ground lamb and vegetable layer that’s flavored with a signature Syrian flavor: pomegranate molasses. You’re gonna be making this for cozy family dinners, dish parties, lunch gatherings, you name it.
I used to make this for my friends when we were all living at our university’s dorms, and we never had any leftovers because everyone always went for seconds (and thirds!).
What I Love About This Recipe
Mediterranean shepherd’s pie is SO easy to make, and it’s such a time saver. You cook the meat and veggies while the potatoes boil, then all you have to do is mash the potatoes (which you can also prep the day before), assemble your layers, and bake! It makes this dish perfect for those busy weeknights.
- Potatoes: Any potatoes will do, but the secret to fluffy, creamy mashed potatoes are potatoes that are high in starch like Russets or Yukon Golds.
- Milk: I find full fat milk to be the best in this recipe. You can use non-dairy milk, skimmed, or half and half as well.
- Butter: I love a buttery mashed potato layer in my shepherd's pie, but I've also made this with olive oil and it tastes just as delicious.
- Cheese: I always make this easy shepherd's pie with fresh grated mozzarella on top, but feel free to replace it with any melting cheese you like (Cheddar, Colby, Gouda, Emmental, etc.)
- Minced ground meat: I always use lamb because it's what's most common in Syrian and Mediterranean dishes. Ground beef also works great.
- Mixed Vegetables: Any frozen mixed vegetables will do. I like to add peas and carrots, but you can also add corn, zucchini, or whatever else you have laying around in your freezer.
- 7 spice: This is a combination of 7 spices mixed together, and it's commonly used in Syrian and Middle Eastern cooking. If you don't have any on hand, substitute with allspice.
- Pomegranate molasses: You can find this ingredient at your local Middle Eastern market, or you can make your own with just 3 ingredients. It adds a sweet, tangy depth of flavor.
See the recipe at the bottom of the card for quantities.
How To Make Ground Lamb Shepherd's Pie
Peel and quarter the potatoes and place them in a medium-sized pot. Cover with cold water and add a teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover the pot until potatoes are tender and can easily be pierced with a fork(after about 20 to 25 minutes).
While the potatoes are cooking, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan on medium heat. Add the onions and cook until tender, then add the ground meat. Cook until no longer pink.
Add in the spices, frozen vegetables, garlic, tomato paste, and broth. Bring to a simmer and reduce the heat to low. Cook uncovered for 10 minutes, adding more broth if needed so the meat doesn’t dry out. In the end, add in the pomegranate molasses.
Mash the cooked potatoes along with the garlic, butter, milk, and ground cardamom. Adjust salt and pepper to your liking while your oven preheats.
Set the oven to 400 ℉ (200 ℃).
Assemble the shepherd's pie by sprinkling the breadcrumbs onto the bottom of the casserole dish (9x13 or similar). Spread about ¼ to ⅓ of the mashed potatoes on top of the breadcrumbs (you just want a thin layer to cover the bottom of your dish). Evenly distribute the ground lamb mixture on top of the bottom layer of mashed potatoes.
Spread the rest of the mashed potatoes in an even layer on top of the meat, followed by the shredded cheese. The spiced ground lamb will be sandwiched in between a bottom mashed potato layer and a top mashed potato layer.
Bake for 20-25 minutes at 400 ℉ (200 ℃) or until the cheese has melted and slightly browned. Serve.
Tips and Tricks
The main tip for this easy shepherd's pie casserole is in the ground meat. You want to have just the right amount of broth so that it's not too dry nor is it too watery. You want a nice, juicy layer of meat and vegetables in the center of the dish.
Another important tip: spread the mashed potatoes lightly with a rubber spatula or a large spoon. In order for it to stay fluffy, you don't want to pack it in too densely.
Variations and Substitutions
- Use any cheese you like for the topping.
- Add chili flakes into the ground meat mixture for some spice.
- Use ground beef instead of ground lamb.
- Make this dish vegetarian by using a plant-based ground meat, or ground tofu.
This savory pie originates in Ireland and was most famous in areas where there were farmlands and people lived in cottages. A lot of their diet was made of potatoes and lamb since most farmers were also shepherds. Hence the name shepherd's pie.
This easy shepherd's pie is the perfect make-ahead meal. Assemble your pie and freeze for up to two months. You can thaw it out and follow the same cooking time, or cook it from frozen and increase the cooking time by a bit.
Your freshly baked shepherd's pie will be perfectly fine in an airtight container or container sealed with plastic wrap for 3-5 days.