This Lightened Up Shepherd’s Pie recipe has swapped mashed potatoes for a fluffy, cauliflower mash, veggies, and lean beef to make it a comfort food that won’t weigh you down. It’s perfect for a guilt-free indulgence or a satisfying weeknight meal!
This Shepherd’s Pie recipe still has the same great flavor traditional recipes are known for only it is much easier on your waistline. We’ve switched out the mashed potato topping for a lighter, healthier cauliflower topping. We’ve also used lean ground beef to make it an even lighter comfort food recipe.
This recipe is an excellent choice for meal preppers too. You can me it at the beginning of the week to reheat later or prep it and then freeze for up to 3 month!
Why You Will Love This Recipe
- Healthy. That’s right. This Lightened Up Shepherd’s Pie is a much healthier version of the traditional recipe that is lower in calories, carbs, and fat!
- Budget-friendly. This recipe requires a handful of ingredients, but they are all common, inexpensive pantry staples.
- Great for meal prep. This is a great recipe to make ahead of time whether you choose to store in the refrigerator for a few days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
What is Shepherd’s Pie?
The specific country responsible for the creation of Shepherd’s pie is disputed. However, it is safe to say it originated in the British Isles. This recipe is basically a casserole with cooked meat and vegetables topped with mashed potatoes. In the states, ground beef is the most common meat used with this recipe, but in the British Isles this would be called a “cottage pie” while a Shepherd’s pie uses ground lamb.
While this recipe traditionally uses a mashed potato topping, we will use a cauliflower topping for this version. There are thousands of traditional Shepherd’s pie recipes out there, but we wanted to create a version that had the same great taste but with much fewer calories and carbs.
Here’s a quick overview of what you’ll need for this recipe! For exact measurements, keep scrolling down to the printable recipe card near the bottom of the page.
- Avocado oil: We prefer avocado oil for this recipe but olive oil or any neutral oil will work.
- Vegetables: For this recipe we are loading up on tons of fresh veggies including onion, garlic cloves, frozen peas, cauliflower and carrots.
- Lean ground beef: at least 90% lean, you can also use ground turkey or chicken in this recipe.
- Beef broth and tomato paste: a high quality broth makes a noticeable difference in the flavor
- Worcestershire sauce: key component of Shepherd’s pie flavor
- Herbs and Spices: Fresh rosemary, thyme and parsley. Spices include garlic powder, salt and pepper.
- Unsalted butter: Adds flavor and thickens the topping. You can also use salted if that is all you have on hand, you may want to reduce the salt the recipe calls for to accommodate.
- Grated parmesan cheese: Adds flavor and thickens the topping.
How to Make Healthy Shepherd’s Pie
Aside from the ingredients listed above you will need a large skillet or dutch oven and a pot. You will also need a cutting board and knife. Follow the step-by-step directions below or scroll to the recipe card.
Heat the oil over medium heat in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the onion and saute until translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and saute another minute. The onions will continue to cook with the ground beef, so it is okay if they are not all the way soft yet.
Brown the Ground Beef
Add the ground beef to the skillet and brown, breaking it up as you go. If you used a cut of ground beef with a higher fat content and need to drain off the grease do so when the meat has been cooked through.
Add the beef broth, Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste and stir until combined and no lumps remain. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the sauce has reduced and thickened. Then add the frozen vegetables, herbs and spices. Stir until combined. Then set aside. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Make the cauliflower topping
Make the cauliflower topping by bringing a pot of water to a boil, then steaming the cauliflower with a steamer basket for about 10-15 minutes, or until fork mashable. Drain and transfer the cauliflower to a large bowl, blender, or food processor, and add the butter, grated parmesan cheese, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Use an immersion blender, blender, or food processor to blend until smooth.
Pour the meat mixture into a greased 8×8 casserole dish. Top with the mashed cauliflower, spreading it evenly over the meat mixture. Place the baking dish on a baking sheet (to prevent spills) and bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes. Allow to cool slightly, then serve!
Allow the casserole to sit for 5-10 minutes before you cut into it. This allows for the sauce to cool and thicken. I find this to be a complete and hearty meal because it has tons of protein and vegetables, but if you’d like to stretch things further it would pair nicely with any of these side dishes:
- Sweet and Spicy Green Beans– This easy recipe is ready in just 20 minutes and has just 5 net carbs per serving.
- Keto Dinner Rolls– This homemade dinner roll recipe is the perfect addition to your dinner table and only takes 30 minutes.
- Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad– A delicious, no-cook, meal prep dish! This healthy, easy salad is perfect for lunch, potlucks, holiday parties, and more!
- Keto Cheddar Garlic Biscuits– You will love these easy Cheddar Garlic Keto Biscuits! They are a perfect low carb Red Lobster Biscuit copycat! Only 2 net carbs each and loaded with flavor!
- Air Fryer Brussels Sprouts– These crispy Air Fryer Brussels Sprouts are ready in only 10 minutes.
Storage and Reheating Instructions
- Reheating Instructions: This recipe reheats well in the microwave. You can reheat in 30-second increments until heated to your desired level.
- Refrigerator Storage: Allow to cool completely. Then you can store this recipe in an airtight container for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.
- Freezer Storage: This recipe does store well in the freezer. You can freeze this recipe for up to 3 months in a freezer safe container. This recipe can be cooked then leftovers frozen or you can freeze prior to baking.
Easy Shepherd’s Pie FAQ
Yes, this recipe is gluten free if prepared as described. Ensure your Worcestershire sauce is labeled gluten free.
Yes, you can freeze this recipe. Follow the instructions listed above.
Yes, lamb is the traditional meat used for this recipe. Ground turkey would also work.
Other Comfort Food Recipes
- Slow Cooker Potato Soup– This Slow Cooker Potato Soup is a lightened up version of a classic! This potato soup recipe only requires a couple simple steps before simmering all day in a crockpot. You’d never guess this recipe is packed with veggies!
- Cabbage and Sausage Soup– This soup is the perfect way to warm up on a chilly night! This soup is rich, comforting and about 5 net carbs a bowl!
- Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli Casserole with Cauliflower Rice– This low-carb dinner casserole is a comfort food favorite! It is creamy, cheesy, and loaded with vegetables. At only 8 net carbs per serving this keto meal will be everyone’s favorite.
- Chicken Poppy Seed Casserole– This is a hearty, creamy chicken and rice casserole that is a perfect family-friendly dinner recipe! It is a great casserole to prepare ahead of time for those busy weeknights!
- Queso Soup– This deliciously creamy Queso Soup is one of our favorite comfort foods!
Lightened Up Shepherd’s Pie
- 2 tbsp avocado oil
- 1 yellow onion diced
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 1 lbs lean ground beef at least 90% lean
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- 3/4 cup beef broth
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 ½ cups frozen peas & carrots
- 1 tbsp minced fresh rosemary
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
- 2 lbs cauliflower florets
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 tbsps grated parmesan cheese
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- Heat the oil over medium heat in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the onion and saute until translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and saute another minute.
- Add the ground beef and crumble as it cooks. Season with salt and pepper and cook until browned. If you have any grease in your skillet, go ahead and drain it off now.
- Add the beef broth, Worcestershire sauce, and tomato paste and stir until combined and no lumps remain. Bring to a simmer, and simmer for 10-15 minutes until the sauce has reduced and thickened.
- Add the frozen vegetables and fresh herbs. Stir until combined, then set aside. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Make the cauliflower topping by bringing a pot of water to a boil, then steaming the cauliflower with a steamer basket for about 10-15 minutes, or until fork mashable.
- Drain and transfer the cauliflower to a large bowl, blender, or food processor, and add the butter, grated parmesan cheese, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Use an immersion blender, blender, or food processor to blend until smooth.
- Pour the meat mixture into a greased 8×8 baking dish.
- Top with the mashed cauliflower, spreading it evenly over the meat mixture. Place the baking dish on a baking sheet (to prevent spills) and bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes. Allow to cool slightly, then serve!
- This is one of the most flavorful shepherd’s pies I’ve ever eaten. Full of herb flavor, and not a huge cauliflower taste, either.
- To keep this as “light” as possible, I used 93% lean ground beef. I would suggest using at least 90% lean ground beef if not leaner to keep it from being too oily.
- Leftovers keep in the fridge for up to 3 days. This also would make a great freezer meal!
- This recipe makes 6 servings, and each slice measures about 4″ x 2.6″ in the 8×8 pan. Each slice has 9.5 net carbs.