Curried Shepherd’s Pie Recipe (2024)

By Craig Claiborne and Pierre Franey

Curried Shepherd’s Pie Recipe (1)

Total Time
1 hour 15 minutes
Read community notes

This spiced version of the traditional English dish was developed in 1984 by Pierre Franey and Craig Claiborne for an article about budget-friendly meals. Here, the ground beef base is laced with curry powder, cumin and coriander then topped with a pile of fluffy, mashed potatoes dotted with green peas.


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Yield:6 to 8 servings

  • 6Russet potatoes, about 2 pounds, peeled and cut into 1½-inch cubes
  • Salt to taste, if desired
  • 1tablespoon peanut, vegetable or corn oil
  • ¾cup finely chopped onions
  • 1tablespoon finely minced garlic
  • 1tablespoon curry powder
  • 1teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2pounds ground lean beef
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1cup crushed, canned imported tomatoes
  • ½cup fresh or canned chicken broth
  • 1teaspoon sugar
  • 2cups cooked fresh or frozen green peas
  • ½cup hot milk
  • 3tablespoons butter

Ingredient Substitution Guide

Nutritional analysis per serving (8 servings)

321 calories; 12 grams fat; 5 grams saturated fat; 0 grams trans fat; 4 grams monounsaturated fat; 2 grams polyunsaturated fat; 26 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams dietary fiber; 5 grams sugars; 30 grams protein; 787 milligrams sodium

Note: The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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Curried Shepherd’s Pie Recipe (2)


  1. Step


    Put the potatoes into a pot and add water to cover and salt to taste. Bring to the boil and cook 10 to 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork.

  2. Step


    As the potatoes cook, heat the oil in a skillet and add the onions and garlic over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until they are wilted. Add the curry powder, cumin and coriander and cook briefly, stirring.

  3. Add the meat and cook, stirring down with the side of a heavy kitchen spoon to break up the lumps. Add salt, pepper, the tomatoes, broth and sugar. Cook, stirring occasionally, about 20 to 30 minutes.

  4. Step


    Meanwhile, preheat the broiler.

  5. Step


    Drain the potatoes and put them through a food mill or a potato ricer back into the pot. Stir in the peas and cook briefly.

  6. Step


    Add the hot milk, two tablespoons of the butter and pepper, preferably white, beating with a wooden spoon.

  7. Step


    Heat an eight-cup baking dish (a souffle dish works well) and spoon the piping-hot curried meat into it. Top with the hot mashed potatoes. Smooth over the top. Dot with the remaining tablespoon of butter.

  8. Step


    Run the mixture under the broiler until the top is golden brown. Serve immediately.



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Cooking Notes

Kathy Walling

Instead of stirring peas into the mashed potatoes, I put them as a layer above the meat and then put the potatoes on top of them. Beautiful looking and delicious!


Very tasty once I doubled the amount of spices in the ground beef.


This was great. I used more curry, turmeric and cumin than suggested and added some grated sharp cheddar cheese to the top.


I have made this cottage pie twice but it was better the second time with these modifications: a) used a mix of ground beef, ground veal, sage sausage, b) reduced and thickened meat sauce by simmering longer and adding 1 T tomato paste, c) adding whisked egg to potatoes, d) topped casserole with dabs of butter and 1-2 T grated parmesan, e) baked 25 mins at 375 until top lightly golden and casserole piping hot. Much more enthusiastic reception second time around.


I find myself beginning to resent recipes that call for "imported tomatoes". Aside from the fact that they don't specify a provenance (Timbuktu, anyone?) I can't imagine that in a recipe such as this (or any other, really) domestic tomatoes wouldn't serve as well.

Brian Hamman

I made this with Pierre Franey's Pureéd Cauliflower ( in place of the mashed potatoes. It tasted comfortably olde timey. Great winter dish. I wimped out and used 1 tablespoon of curry but might up it to one and a half next time.


Very nice flavor with the spices and tomatoes. However, next time I think I'll cook 3 T of flour in with the onions and garlic before I add the ground beef and broth for some thickening. And perhaps cook in an egg yolk with the potato topping. But we will make this again. In my supermarket 2 pounds of Russet potatoes was 3 potatoes. Go with the weight--the proportions between meat underneath and potatoes on top was just right.


Very tasty. The spices, in spite of the quantities, were not at all intrusive -- in fact I might add more hot curry. The peas in the mash were a great addition for color, taste and texture. Will do this with all future shepherd's and cottage pies. For two a half recipe made two pies -- one to eat with leftover lunch portion and one to freeze.


Double the spices regardless of your heat tolerance. It's far too bland when made with the posted amount. Turmeric makes a nice addition. A few pinches of paprika on top presents nicely.


As written, everything is hot when you put it in the casserole so you just want a bit of color on the top. You can dot with butter, or brush with melted butter (my preference) and pop it in a very hot oven ~400 for 10 minutes or so until the top is to your liking. Hope this helps.

david shepherd

Re the flour add; instead, try just letting the beef/tomato mixture simmer a while longer to reduce and thicken. This intensifies the flavor of the jus the preparation results in.


I made this with half the beef, a carrot, a celery stalk and garam masala in place of the spices. Used pureed rutabaga to top. It was delicious!


The original Shepherd's (leftover roast lamb) and Cottage (leftover roast beef) pie calls for the addition of HP or A1 sauce instead of the curry flavor. Taste it as you add until you have the flavor you like. Not like curry at all, so it should satisfy the curry hater in your house.


This was so tasty! I did the meat in my cast iron skillet and once the potatoes were ready I simply added them atop the meat and into the oven it went, which saved a dish. Will definitely be making this again. I shared some with a neighbor and he said “holy traditional English dinner Batman”


That would just be a regular Shepard's pie. Look up any recipe.


Overall really good, could be a little better. Perfect to use up leftover mashed potatoes, alternated blobs of potato with mashed butternut squash. I did increase the spices but still needed a little something. Next time I'll add a little tomato paste for depth of flavor and cook the meat mixture longer, it was a little watery.


I really enjoyed this and think it's an excellent basic recipe. I also think there are a ton of edits that could be made to this. There was too much liquid, and I had to drain it a bit. The spices are too mild, even for the most delicate palate. This makes about 10 servings. Plan to do some garlic/tomato/onion sauce to top it with, so we'll see.


Made this tonight. After reading all the notes, added some carrot and celery with the onion, doubled the spices, and added tomato paste with the beef. Also mixed the peas in with the meat because it sounded better. This was incredible! The entire family went for seconds including my 7 year old. And even with the seconds we have enough leftovers for another dinner Will be adding to our saved recipes for sure!

heather markey



I used only one pound of beef, about double the amount of onion, and more spices. Delicious.


I’ve made this recipe a few times and it’s always a huge hit! I do basically double the amount spices as some other commenters mentioned. Overall very delicious


Add tomato pasteCarrotExtra spices


Use more aromatic veggies

Rigo Rodriguez

This is cottage pie. Shepherds tend to sheep, not cattle.


I’m another one of those annoying comments, sorry. Added tomato paste, deglazed with beer & beef stock, added two blocks of Japanese curry roux instead of the curry powder, added white cheddar and double butter to the potatoes. Dynamite.


I used less beef and subbed in about a pound of cooked lentils. Added tomato paste with the crushed tomatoes. The beef mix definitely benefits from very generous spicing and a longer cook time to help amplify its flavors. Delicious, easy, filling, and relatively inexpensive. Will be making again.

Kathy G

Update: sweet potatoes overpowered the dish. Couldn’t taste the meat filling. Sorry , wish I could edit my post. I was overconfident. Cooking can be very humbling.

Kathy G

Thanks for suggestions! Twists and hacks: Increased spices to 1.5-2x recipe. Made a sofrito using onion and sweet red pepper, then spices, then ground turkey. Added golden raisins with the peas. Made a sweet potato and 1/3 mashed potato custard with 2 eggs, 3/4 milk, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, agave syrup, not too sweet. Baked at 350 for 40-45 minutes. Raving ridiculous. Show stopping.


Vegan Version:Used Beyond Beef. Also doubled the spices and garlic, as well as added 1 Tsp black pepper, 3/4 Tsp turmeric, TBS tomato paste, red wine instead of chicken stock. In place of butter and milk I used 1/2 cup vegan “butter” in the potatoes, layered peas on top of “meat,” and dusted top with paprika.Everyone LOVED it, even the carnivores!


I love this recipe. I followed it to the letter, except that I the substituted vanilla ice cream for the mashed potatoes and Oreo cookies for all the other ingredients! I never knew shepherd’s pie could be so good! Super yummy! 😋

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Curried Shepherd’s Pie Recipe (2024)
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