This Ground Turkey Shepherd's Pie is made in a cast iron skillet with tender ground turkey, flavorful vegetables, and fresh herbs for the best tasting shepherd's pie you'll ever try.
Cozy, comforting, and classic, shepherd's pie is one of my favorite home-cooked meals.
While traditionally made with lamb, this ground turkey shepherd's pie is a delicious twist on the classic dish. The rich and hearty meat filling is topped with creamy mashed potatoes for a satisfying dinner that can't be beat.
I love making this dish in my cast iron skillet for easy cleanup. Plus, the cast iron skillet makes for an impressive presentation if you're serving it to family and friends on St. Patrick's Day.
So, whether you're looking for a family-friendly meal or a cozy dish to enjoy on a chilly winter evening, this ground turkey shepherd's pie is sure to hit the spot.
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Why You'll Love This Recipe
- Made from Scratch- A perfectly seasoned filling of fresh vegetables, herbs, and lean ground turkey, topped with creamy homemade mashed potatoes. Comfort food at its finest.
- Flavorful- This mouthwatering shepherd's pie with ground turkey will have you coming back for seconds (and maybe even thirds!).
- Easy Cleanup- Cooking the filling in a cast iron skillet and then baking the whole dish in the same skillet makes for easy cleanup and allows for a seamless transition from stovetop to oven.
Here are some notes on the key ingredients. For the full list of ingredients, check out the recipe card below.
- Ground Turkey- I used 93% lean ground turkey as I find it has the best balance between flavor, texture, and leanness.
- Russet Potatoes- Starchy potatoes like russets are the best potato for mashed potatoes.
- Vegetables- A mixture of onion, carrots, corn, and peas. I typically use fresh peas and corn while they're in season and frozen peas and corn when they're not.
- Herbs- Fresh thyme and rosemary really add something special to this dish.
- Garlic- A few cloves of garlic are cooked with the potatoes to make garlic mashed potatoes. And a few more cloves are added to the filling for flavor.
- Butter- Used in both the mashed potatoes and the filling, butter gives this dish such a rich and delicious flavor.
- Half and Half- I like to use half and half in my mashed potatoes because it's creamy without being too heavy.
- Chicken Stock- Homemade chicken stock is best, but low-sodium chicken stock from the store works as well.
- Flour- Just a tablespoon of flour helps the filling thicken up and hold together better after baking.
- Tomato Paste- Adds a savory umami flavor to the filling without an overwhelming tomato flavor.
- Soy Sauce- For seasoning and umami flavor.
Substitutions and Variations
Here are a few ways you can try customizing this ground turkey shepherd's pie recipe to fit your diet and taste preferences.
- Ground Turkey- Substitute ground turkey for ground lamb, beef, or pork.
- Russet Potatoes- Swap russet potatoes for Yukon gold potatoes, red potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes, or even mashed cauliflower for a low-carb option.
- Vegetables- Use frozen mixed vegetables or leftover vegetables in place of fresh vegetables if preferred.
- Herbs- Replace 1 teaspoon of chopped fresh rosemary with ½ teaspoon of dried rosemary. And replace 2 teaspoons of fresh thyme leaves with 1 teaspoon of dried thyme leaves.
- Garlic- Substitute each clove of garlic with ¼ teaspoon of garlic powder.
- Butter- In the mashed potatoes, swap the butter for cream cheese, olive oil, sour cream, or Greek yogurt. For the filling, butter can be replaced with olive oil or any other neutral-flavored cooking oil.
- Half and Half- Skim milk, whole milk, heavy cream, or even chicken stock can be used in place of half and half.
- Chicken Stock- Replace chicken stock with chicken broth, vegetable broth, beef broth, turkey stock, or water.
- Flour- Swap the flour for ½ tablespoon of cornstarch or mash a few of the cooked potato cubes into the filling to act as a thickener.
- Tomato Paste- Substitute tomato paste for ketchup, tomato sauce, or tomato puree. Alternatively, leave the tomato paste out entirely.
- Soy Sauce- Use Worcestershire sauce, tamari, or liquid aminos in place of soy sauce.
Quick Tip: Ground turkey shepherd's pie is a great way to use leftover mashed potatoes and vegetables and reduce food waste.
- Gluten-Free- Use tamari or liquid aminos in place of soy sauce and swap all-purpose flour for cornstarch to make this dish gluten-free.
- Dairy-Free- Swap the butter for olive oil or dairy-free butter and the half and half with dairy-free milk.
- Low-Carb- Make cauliflower mashed potatoes by substituting some or all of the russet potato for cauliflower.
- Mexican-Style- Swap the peas and carrots for black beans and jalapeños. And the fresh herbs for chili powder, cumin, and cayenne pepper.
Here are some notes on any special equipment I used to make this recipe.
- Cast Iron Skillet- I used my 10-inch cast iron skillet to cook the filling and to bake this shepherd's pie with turkey. It works really well and makes for a beautiful presentation. However, feel free to use a baking dish or casserole dish if you don't have a cast iron skillet.
Step by Step Instructions
Here is how to make this cast iron skillet shepherd's pie with ground turkey.
Step 1: Cook the potatoes. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Add diced potatoes and crushed garlic cloves to a pot and cover them with cold water. Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat and boil the potatoes for 10 minutes or until they're fork tender. Remove from heat and drain completely.
Step 2: Make the mashed potato topping. Transfer the drained potatoes and garlic back into the cooking pot and add butter, salt, and pepper. Mash until smooth using a potato masher or fork. Stir in half and half until well combined. Set aside.
Step 3: Sauté the vegetables. Melt butter in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the diced onion, carrot, peas, and corn and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-7 minutes or until softened and beginning to brown. Add the garlic, herbs, salt, and pepper and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.
Step 4: Brown the turkey. Push the vegetables aside in the skillet and add the ground turkey. Cook the turkey, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until most of the liquid has evaporated and the turkey is no longer pink.
Step 5: Finish the filling. Add the flour, tomato paste, and soy sauce to the ground turkey mixture and stir well to combine. Pour in the chicken stock and simmer until slightly thickened. Remove the skillet from the heat. If using a casserole dish, transfer the filling to the casserole dish.
Step 6: Top with potatoes and bake. Dump the mashed potatoes on top of the filling and use a fork to spread them out evenly. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the filling is bubbly and the mashed potatoes are golden-brown. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.
Tips for Success
- Use ground turkey with at least 7% fat. Extra-lean ground turkey tends to be too dry and chewy when cooked.
- Use a deep skillet or baking dish. Before you begin, make sure your cast iron skillet is deep enough for both layers. Otherwise, use a 9-inch by 13-inch baking dish.
- Place a baking sheet underneath. If you're worried about the shepherd's pie bubbling over into your oven, place the cast iron skillet or casserole dish on a baking tray to catch any spills.
- Let it rest. For shepherd's pie that holds together well, it's important to let it rest for 15 minutes after baking.
What to Serve With Ground Turkey Shepherd's Pie
Ground turkey shepherd's pie is a hearty and satisfying dish that pairs well with a variety of sides. Here are some of my favorites:
- Kale Crunch Salad
- Oven-Roasted Asparagus and Carrots
- Roasted Carrots and Green Beans
- Maple Balsamic Brussels Sprouts
- Sautéed Butternut Squash or Sautéed Sweet Potatoes
- Irish Soda Bread (for a St. Patrick's Day feast!)
- Jalapeño Cheddar Sourdough Bread
- Brown Butter Cornbread
Storage and Reheating
How to Store
- Refrigerator- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
- Freezer- Leftover shepherd's pie freezes well and will maintain best quality for up to 6 months in the freezer.
Quick Tip: Freeze leftover shepherd's pie in individual portion sizes for easier and more convenient reheating.
How to Reheat
If your leftover ground turkey cottage pie is frozen, I recommend thawing it overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
- Oven- Preheat oven to 350°F. Place individual portions of leftover shepherd's pie on a baking sheet and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Bake for 10 minutes or until fully warmed through.
- Microwave- Place an individual portion of ground turkey shepherd's pie on a microwave-safe plate. Microwave on HIGH for one minute. Stir and continue microwaving in 30-second intervals until fully heated.
- Air Fryer- Preheat air fryer to 350°F. Place an individual portion of leftover shepherd's pie on a piece of aluminum foil or parchment paper. Transfer the shepherd's pie on the aluminum foil to the air fryer basket. Heat for 4-5 minutes or until fully warmed through.
Shepherd's pie can easily be made up to 2 days in advance and reheated in the oven for a freshly cooked flavor.
For the best results, prepare both the mashed potatoes and the filling and store them separately in the refrigerator. Then, assemble just before baking. Bake at 400°F for 35-40 minutes.
Alternatively, assemble the whole dish and store it in the refrigerator until ready to bake.
Frequently Asked Questions
If your shepherd's pie is soupy when you cut into it, you may not have reduced and thickened the filling enough. If you were light on the flour, next time add a little more to see if that helps.
Since shepherd's pie doesn't have a bottom crust, it can be hard to keep the filling from falling apart. To hold the filling together better, allow the pie to rest for 15 minutes after baking, and make sure your filling is sufficiently thickened before baking.
Baking shepherd's pie helps the ingredients hold together better, creates more tender meat, and makes the mashed potato topping lightly crispy and golden brown.
Traditional shepherd's pie is made with ground lamb or mutton.
The biggest difference between shepherd's pie and cottage pie is the meat used in the filling. Shepherd's pie is traditionally made with ground lamb while cottage pie is usually made with ground beef.
More Ground Turkey Recipes
Ground Turkey Shepherd's Pie
For the Mashed Potato Topping
- 2 large russet potatoes peeled and diced into 1-inch cubes
- 2 cloves garlic crushed and roughly chopped
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- ½ cup half and half
For the Ground Turkey Shepherd's Pie
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ½ large yellow onion diced
- 2 large carrots diced
- 1 cup sweet corn fresh or frozen
- ½ cup green peas fresh or frozen
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
- 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary chopped
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 ¼ pounds ground turkey 93% lean
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce
- ½ cup chicken stock preferably homemade
Make the Mashed Potato Topping
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Add diced potatoes and crushed garlic cloves to a pot and cover them with cold water. Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat and boil the potatoes for 10 minutes or until they're fork tender. Remove from heat and drain completely.2 large russet potatoes, 2 cloves garlic
- Transfer the drained potatoes and garlic back into the cooking pot and add butter, salt, and pepper. Mash until smooth using a potato masher or fork. Stir in half and half until well combined. Set aside.4 tablespoons unsalted butter, 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper, ½ cup half and half
Make the Ground Turkey Shepherd's Pie
- Melt butter in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the diced onion, carrot, peas, and corn and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-7 minutes or until softened and beginning to brown. Add the garlic, herbs, salt, and pepper and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.2 tablespoons unsalted butter, ½ large yellow onion, 2 large carrots, 1 cup sweet corn, ½ cup green peas, 3 cloves garlic, 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper
- Push the vegetables aside in the skillet and add the ground turkey. Cook the turkey, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until most of the liquid has evaporated and the turkey is no longer pink.1 ¼ pounds ground turkey
- Add the flour, tomato paste, and soy sauce to the ground turkey mixture and stir well to combine. Pour in the chicken stock and simmer until slightly thickened. Remove the skillet from the heat. If using a casserole dish, transfer the filling to the casserole dish.1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon tomato paste, 1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce, ½ cup chicken stock
- Dump the mashed potatoes on top of the filling and use a fork to spread them out evenly. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the filling is bubbly and the mashed potatoes are golden-brown. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.
- Quick Tip: If you're worried about the shepherd's pie bubbling over into your oven, place the cast iron skillet or casserole dish on a baking tray to catch any spills.
- Storage: Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days in the refrigerator or up to 3 months in the freezer.
- Make Ahead: Assemble the shepherd's pie and store it in the refrigerator for up to 2 days before baking. Then, bake for 10-15 minutes longer than the recipe cook time.