This easy Guinness Shepherd’s Pie For Two recipe is a comforting gluten free meat and potatoes dish made with ground lamb or beef, mashed potatoes, and stout beer. Serve it for St. Patrick’s Day dinner.

Shepherd's Pie with bite taken out of it
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.

If my family had a list of top five dishes to eat for dinner, this easy shepherd’s pie recipe is definitely up there.

Even though I’ve been making this shepherd’s pie for two for years, it took me forever to share it here (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 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 Mini Irish Soda Bread and Mini Chocolate Guinness Cake for a hearty St. Patrick’s Day dinner for two.

Two mini shepherd's pies with forks

Ingredients For Guinness Shepherd’s Pie

The ingredients for gluten free shepherd’s pie are:

  • Russet potatoes: Russet potatoes are the best variety for making mashed potatoes. However, you can use yellow or red potato if that’s what you have on hand.
  • Ground lamb or beef: Traditional shepherd’s pie uses ground lamb while its cousin cottage pie uses ground beef. I almost always use beef since that’s what I usually have in my freezer.
  • Onion and garlic: Both are aromatics that make the meat tastier.
  • Canned tomato sauce: Helps build flavor for the sauce, which then cooks down into a delicious filling. This also means you don’t need flour to thicken your sauce.
  • Beef broth or stock: Also used to make the sauce. Homemade beef stock will always be better, but I usually use boxed/canned broth to help save time.
  • Guinness: Although traditional shepherd’s pie isn’t made with beer, Guinness adds an extra layer of flavor.
  • Frozen vegetable medley: I used a bag of frozen vegetables to make prep even easier, which usually contains carrots, peas, corn, and green beans. Sometimes if I only have frozen peas and corn, I’ll add fresh chopped carrot (which you then cook with the onion).
  • Worcestershire sauce: Hard to pronounce yet brings so much flavor. This is what chefs love to call umami.
  • Thyme: Using thyme adds a bit of freshness to the dish. You can also use rosemary or leave it out completely.
  • Butter, milk, and cheese: You can’t make the best mashed potatoes on top if you don’t add flavor.

Is Guinness gluten free?

This shepherd’s pie for two is gluten free because it doesn’t use flour to thicken the filling. However, the Guinness brand specifically is not gluten free.

You can easily substitute any stout beer brand that is gluten free. Or leave the alcohol out altogether and use more beef broth.

You’ll also want to double check your Worcestershire sauce. Some brands are gluten free while others are not.

What is the difference between cottage pie and shepherd’s pie?

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 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.

Guinness Shepherd's Pie For Two

How To Make Shepherd’s Pie For Two

There are two parts to making Guinness shepherd’s pie: the filling and the mashed potatoes.

  1. Add potatoes to a large pot of salted water then bring to a boil. This will cook while you make the filling.
  2. In a large skillet, brown the meat until no longer pink then drain off the grease.
  3. Add the tomato sauce, broth, beer, vegetables, and Worcestershire sauce then bring to a boil.
  4. Cook until the sauce is reduced by half. This allows the sauce to thicken without flour and the alcohol to cook off while leaving behind its delicious stout flavor.
  5. Drain your potatoes then make mashed potatoes using a potato masher or mixer.
  6. Add the filling to your dish then top with mashed potatoes. Bake at 350F for 30-45 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.

Close up of shepherd's pie

Making Shepherd’s Pie For Two In Advance

Guinness 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 cook 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 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.

To make shepherd’s pie without beer, substitute an extra 1/2 cup beef broth or stock.

I posted the non-alcoholic version in my Shepherd’s Pie Twice Baked Potatoes recipe if you want to refer to it.

Which pan do I use for Shepherd’s Pie For Two?

As you can see, I scaled my gluten free shepherd’s pie 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 it 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 it?

If you want to stick with the St. Patrick’s Day theme, serve it with Irish Soda Bread Muffins.

Since shepherd’s pie is a heavy dish, you can also serve it with something lighter like Freekeh Salad or Green Onion Salad.

Recipes Using Leftover Guinness

Because you will have leftover beer after making this recipe, here are some ways to use it all up:

Don’t want shepherd’s pie? You can also cook Corned Beef and Cabbage On Stove Top or Baked Fish And Chips for St. Patrick’s Day.

Guinness Shepherd's Pie For Two

Guinness Shepherd's Pie For Two

Yield: 2-4 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Easy Guinness Shepherd’s Pie For Two recipe is a comforting gluten free meat and potatoes dish made with ground lamb or beef, mashed potatoes, and beer.


  • 1 pound Russet potatoes, peeled and cubed (roughly 3-4 small or 2 large potatoes)
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 pound (8 ounces) ground beef or ground lamb
  • 1/2 cup chopped white or yellow onion
  • Salt, to taste (preferably kosher salt)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • One 8-ounce canned tomato sauce (roughly 1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup beef broth or stock
  • 1/2 cup stout beer, such as Guinness* (or more broth for non alcoholic)
  • 2 cups frozen vegetable medley (carrots, peas, corn, and green beans)
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (double check label for gluten free)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons or 2 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese


  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Have two 12 or 14-ounce ramekins, one 6x2inch round cake pan, or one 1-quart casserole dish ready.
  2. Add potatoes to a large pot with a handful of salt. Bring to a boil. Let this heat up while you cook the meat filling.
  3. Heat the oil in large 12 inch skillet until hot. Once hot, add the meat, onion, and a big pinch of salt. Cook until the beef is browned, about 5-8 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute. Drain off the grease.
  5. Add the tomato sauce, stock, beer, vegetables, Worcestershire sauce, and thyme. Bring to a boil.
  6. Turn the heat down to a simmer and cook until the liquid has reduced by half and thickened, stirring occasionally, about 10-15 minutes. Taste and adjust for salt.
  7. By now the water for the potatoes should be boiling. Turn the water down to a simmer and cook until fork tender, about 8-10 minutes. Drain and cool.
  8. Mash the potatoes either by hand with a potato masher or with a mixer. If using a stand mixer, do not overbeat. Add the butter, milk, 1/2 cup cheese, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Taste and adjust for salt.
  9. Once the meat mixture is done cooking and the potatoes are mashed, add the meat to the dish/pan you're using. Top with mashed potatoes then top with the remaining 1/4 cup cheese.
  10. Bake for 30-45 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly. Let cool for 15 minutes then serve warm.


  • *Guinness isn't gluten free, but you can easily substitute any gluten free stout beer.
  • 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.
  • Complete your meal with Mini Irish Soda Bread or Irish Soda Bread Muffins.

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Originally posted March 12, 2014