shepherd’s pie with potato cauliflower top

healthier shepherd's pie

This classic shepherd’s pie with potato cauliflower top is a new family favorite in our house! Made with lean ground beef, red wine, rosemary, and topped with a potato cauliflower mash this dish is the ultimate comfort food.

Shepherd’s pie was invented as a way to use up leftover roasts. In the United Kingdom, traditional Shepherd’s pie is made with ground lamb and pies made with ground beef are called cottage pie. This ground beef version is super accessible, inexpensive, and delicious!

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shepherd's pie with cauliflower potato top

In true Sep Cooks fashion, I’ve lightened up the calories by replacing half of the potatoes with cauliflower and thickening the gravy with a small amount of flour in lieu of cream. Thanks to a trick I learned from America’s Test Kitchen, I treat the ground beef with baking soda before cooking. This helps the beef brown faster and prevents excessive loss of juices. The baking soda, along with a long simmer time, also helps create a rich flavor that is irresistible!

I know your family will love this recipe as much as we do! Happy feasting and don’t forget to connect with sepcooks on instagram and facebook for new recipes and cooking stories!


shepherd’s pie with potato cauliflower top

Slow simmered ground beef, red wine, and aromatic herbs make an unbelievable family favorite!

  • Author: Sep Campos


  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • Salt and pepper
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 pounds 85% lean ground beef
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion (finely diced)
  • 3 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup Red wine (cabernet sauvignon or merlot will work best)
  • 4 carrots, peeled chopped into large pieces
  • 10 ounces Cremini mushrooms (sliced)
  • 2 Tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 2 ½ cups water or low sodium beef broth
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 3 medium russet potatoes (peeled and diced)
  • 1 head cauliflower (cored and chopped into florets)
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • ½ Cup half and half
  • ¼ Cup asiago cheese (grated)


  1. Combine water, 1 ½ teaspoon salt, and baking soda in a large bowl. Add the raw ground beef to the baking soda mixture and turn to coat the beef with the liquid. Let the beef sit in the baking soda mixture for 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in an oven-proof sautee pan over medium-high heat.
  3. Add the onion and ½ teaspoon salt. Cook the onions, stirring with a wooden spoon until translucent and starting to brown, 8-10 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 2-3 minutes.
  5. Add the ground beef, cook over high heat using a wooden spoon to break the beef into small pieces. Cook until fully browned and the water has evaporated, 12-14 minutes.
  6. Add the thyme and oregano to the beef and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  7. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring frequently, for 2-3 minutes until the paste turns brick red.
  8. Add the wine and cook, scraping up browned pieces from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Cook until the wine has evaporated.
  9. Add the carrots and mushrooms and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  10. Sprinkle flour over the top of the meat and vegetable and cook, stirring frequently, until everything is covered with flour, about 3 minutes.
  11. Add the water and sprigs of rosemary, bring to a simmer and cook for 45-60 minutes over medium heat until thickened. Add black pepper and frozen peas and red wine vinegar. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Taste and add more salt if necessary.
  12. While the beef is simmering, make the potato and cauliflower mash.
  13. Place the diced potatoes in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water and 1 Tablespoon salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Once the potatoes are boiling, add the cauliflower and boil until the vegetables are soft enough to easily pierce with a fork, 15-20 minutes.
  14. Drain the cauliflower and potatoes and return the vegetables to the saucepan. Add the butter, half and half, and asiago to the potatoes and smash with a potato masher. Taste and add salt and black pepper as desired.
  15. Spread the vegetable mash over the top of the beef mixture, heat the casserole under the broiler until browned, 5-10 minutes.
  16. Let the shepherd’s pie sit at room temperature for at least 10 minutes before serving.
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