This easy Guinness Shepherd’s Pie For Two recipe is a comforting meat and potatoes dish made with ground lamb or beef, mashed potatoes, and Guinness stout beer. Serve it as a dinner for two for St. Patrick’s Day.
Do you have that one recipe where no matter how many times you make it, you know everybody will be happy? The one you rely on when you don’t know what else to make?
That, for me, is Guinness Shepherd’s Pie. There’s just something comforting about meat, creamy mashed potatoes, and beer.
I remember one time when my parents and brother were visiting and I was planning the menu.
First I asked Mom what she wanted. Shepherd’s pie. Then I asked Dad. Shepherd’s pie.
Looks like I was making shepherd’s pie (again).
Even though I’ve been making this recipe for years, I’ve never actually shared it until now (mainly because it’s a tough dish to photograph).
Usually if I’m cooking for my family, I make a large shepherd’s pie. However, that’s only when they visit.
When I’m cooking for myself, I make this scaled down Guinness Shepherd’s Pie For Two recipe. You can make it in two mini casserole dishes, one 6×2 round cake pan, or a 1 quart casserole dish.
Serve it with Irish Soda Bread for a hearty St. Patrick’s Day dinner for two.
I remember when Dad and I traveled to Nashville in 2009. There was an Irish pub just up the hill from our hotel (which is now closed).
Now I’ve been looking for an Irish cider called Bulmers ever since I returned from Ireland in 2007 and was hoping they’d serve it.
For dinner Dad ordered shepherd’s pie while I ordered fish and chips. Unfortunately no Bulmers.
Now when I think of shepherd’s pie, I don’t think of anything special. I don’t even think I ate it in Ireland.
However, Dad fell in love with his dish and kept talking about it.
Do you know how to make this? Can you make this? When are you going to make this? What do you need to make this?
So, I went to my best friend Google and searched for a recipe. The squeaky wheel gets the shepherd’s pie.
This isn’t meant to be a copycat version from that pub. In fact I couldn’t tell you anything about the pie Dad ate that night.
All I know is I found this version with Guinness and have adjusted it to make it my own over the past few years.
If my family had a list of top five dishes to eat for dinner, this recipe is definitely up there.
What do you put in shepherd’s pie?
The ingredients for shepherd’s pie are ground meat, vegetables in a tomato sauce, and a mashed potato topping.
I’m not sure which exact vegetables are in traditional shepherd’s pie, so I went with carrots, corn, peas, and green beans.
As you can see by the comments below, my version is technically a cottage pie. The difference between a shepherd’s pie and a cottage pie is a shepherd’s pie uses ground lamb while a cottage pie uses ground beef.
The best way to remember this is a shepherd looks after sheep, hence lamb in shepherd’s pie.
I stuck with the name shepherd’s pie even though I used beef because nobody in the US knows what a cottage pie is. I don’t think I’ve ever seen cottage pie on a menu; I’ve always seen shepherd’s pie made with beef.
I hate the name isn’t 100 percent accurate, but I’m going with the majority on this one.
If you are a purist, use ground lamb. If you don’t care, use ground beef. Whichever meat you choose, it’s still going to be delicious.
How To Make Shepherd’s Pie
There are two parts to making shepherd’s pie: the filling and the mashed potatoes.
First, put your cubed potatoes into a large pot of salted water then bring to a boil. This will cook while you make the filling.
Next, in a large skillet make your meat filling. Brown the meat until no longer pink then drain off the grease.
After the meat is cooked, make the tomato sauce. The sauce is thickened by reducing the liquid by half rather than adding flour. This allows the alcohol to cook off while leaving behind its delicious stout flavor.
Meanwhile, the potatoes should be done. Drain then make mashed potatoes.
When you’re ready to assemble, add the filling to your dish then top with mashed potatoes.
Making Shepherd’s Pie In Advance
Shepherd’s pie can take awhile to make and bake. Luckily you can cut down on prep time by preparing it in advance.
You can make and refrigerate the meat filling ahead of time then prepare the mashed potatoes right before baking.
Or you can assemble the dish fully but don’t bake it. Instead, wrap it in plastic wrap then refrigerate up to a few days prior to eating. You may need to add some extra bake time to make up for the dish being cold.
How To Make Shepherd’s Pie Without Guinness
One question I get often is: Can I make shepherd’s pie without the beer? The answer is yes!
Guinness adds a special flavor to the beef and most of the alcohol does cook off, but it’s still comforting and delicious without it. Here’s how you make shepherd’s pie without beer.
Substitute an extra 1/2 cup beef broth or stock. When the directions say to add the beer and reduce, skip that part. Add the Worcestershire sauce and thyme to the beef broth then reduce until thickened.
I actually posted the non-alcoholic version in my Shepherd’s Pie Twice Baked Potatoes recipe if you want to refer to it.
How To Bake Shepherd’s Pie
As you can see, I scaled this version down for two people. Because I cook alone, I eat one for dinner and the other for lunch the next day.
I bought the mini casserole dishes in the photos from a thrift store. However, after moving multiple times since, I no longer own them.
I retested the recipe and confirmed you can also bake shepherd’s pie for two in a 1-quart casserole dish, one 6×2 inch round cake pan, or two 14-ounce ramekins.
What To Serve With Shepherd’s Pie
Now that your main dish is in the oven, what do you serve with shepherd’s pie?
Since shepherd’s pie is a heavy dish, you can also serve it with something lighter like Really Good Freekeh Salad.
Recipes Using Leftover Guinness Beer
Because you will have leftover beer after making this recipe, here are some ways to use it all up:
*To make shepherd's pie without beer, substitute an extra 1/2 cup beef broth or stock. Skip reducing the beer and add the Worcestershire sauce, thyme, and salt to the broth. Reduce broth as directed. **To make shepherd's pie ahead of time, fully assemble the dish right before baking. Cover and refrigerate for up to a few days before serving. Bake as directed, adding extra time if needed.
*To make shepherd's pie without beer, substitute an extra 1/2 cup beef broth or stock. Skip reducing the beer and add the Worcestershire sauce, thyme, and salt to the broth. Reduce broth as directed.
**To make shepherd's pie ahead of time, fully assemble the dish right before baking. Cover and refrigerate for up to a few days before serving. Bake as directed, adding extra time if needed.