A Spicy Perspective

Slow Cooker Shepherd’s Pie Recipe

Slow Cooker Shepherd’s Pie – This rich and savory dish offers all of the comfort and flavors of a classic shepherd’s pie recipe, yet can simmer all day in the crock pot while you are working away.

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To me, Saint Patrick’s Day signifies the beginning of spring. Here in the Blue Ridge, we usually see fresh green buds making their first appearance around that time… and I’ve worn short sleeves at least a time or two by March 17th as well.

Even though these are small accomplishments (if they can be called accomplishments at all) I always feel I have extra cause to celebrate on Saint Paddy’s Day.

Lt. Dan and I have a standing lunch date on Saint Patrick’s Day at a local Irish Pub… We’ve held our lunch date tradition for over 20 years. We nibble on corned beef and cabbage and laugh about Saint Paddy’s Day memories from the past. Then we come home and enjoy a hearty Irish-inspired dinner with the whole family.

One of our favorite meals, that we are able to throw together before ever leaving the house, is this Slow Cooker Shepherd’s Pie recipe.

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The Easiest Slow Cooker Shepherd’s Pie Recipe

Shepherd’s Pie is a classic Irish dish that I can never get enough of.

I’ll admit, the traditional cooking method can seem daunting, because there are numerous steps and ingredients. However, our Slow Cooker Shepherd’s Pie Recipe cuts out quite a few steps, letting you “set and forget” dinner until much later in the day.

When making this recipe, I combine all of the “stew” ingredients in a crock pot, and then just let the slow cooker work its magic.

The secret to easy Shepherd’s Pie is that I top the stew with pre-made mashed potatoes. Usually I reserve some mashed potatoes from a meal earlier in the week, so I don’t have to make them before layering the pie. Yet in a pinch, good quality store-bought mashed potatoes will do the trick.

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What Ingredients You Need

I love how simple this crock pot Shepherd’s Pie recipe is, and many of these ingredients are pantry staples – aside from the lamb, obviously.

Prep only takes a matter of minutes, and then you’re ready to let the slow cooker do the work.

Here’s everything you need:

  • Lamb roast – or beef stew meat, cubed
  • Onion – peeled and chopped
  • Garlic – peeled and minced
  • Carrots – peeled and chopped
  • Frozen peas
  • Frozen corn
  • Stout beer
  • Tomato paste
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Corn starch
  • Whole grain mustard
  • Beef base
  • Dried thyme
  • Mashed potatoes – either homemade or store bought
  • Shredded cheese

Substituting dark, robust stout beer – like Guinness – for the wine or broth in most recipes will provide a rich depth and Irish appeal.

The alcohol does cook off in the Shepherd’s Pie, but if you’d prefer not to use any alcohol you can simply substitute with more beef broth.

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How to Make Shepherd’s Pie in the Slow Cooker

1. Brown the bite-sized pieces of lamb or beef on all sides in a deep skillet over medium high heat. Add chopped onions, and cook for several minutes until soft.

2. Excluding the mashed potatoes, pour the lamb or beef and all remaining ingredients into the slow cooker. Season with salt and pepper and stir well.

3. Wipe the sides of the slow cooker with a paper towel to remove any moisture. Next, top with pre-made mashed potatoes and spread evenly to the edges of the crock.

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4. The most important step in this Slow Cooker Shepherd’s Pie Recipe is to place a long sheet of paper towel over the slow cooker before covering with the lid. The paper towel absorbs most of the condensation from the lid and keeps the potatoes from getting runny.

5. Cook on HIGH for 4-5 hours or LOW for 8-10 hours.

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When we’re ready to eat, I sprinkle sharp cheddar or Dubliner cheese over the top of the hot potatoes, and let it melt.

Each hearty spoonful of our Slow Cooker Shepherd’s Pie Recipe is pure Irish bliss!

Our Slow Cooker Shepherd’s Pie Recipe with Guinness is perfect to serve on Saint Patrick’s Day this year. I’d bet after trying it once, it will become a new tradition in your family!

Get the Complete (Printable) Slow Cooker Shepherd’s Pie Recipe Below. Enjoy!

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Can I Substitute Beef for the Lamb?

Lamb is traditional in shepherds pie. (Shepherd, as in sheep.) Yet you definitely can use beef. I recommend using chunks of beef rather than ground beef if you do choose to swap. Ground beef would require stirring, which might not be an option if you are leaving your slow cooker for the day.

How Can I Make this a Low Carb Recipe?

If you are a fan of mashed cauliflower you could use a pre-made cauliflower mash as a topping in place of the mashed potatoes; however, as cauliflower can be a bit watery, you might want to wait until later in the cooking process to add to your Shepherd’s Pie.

Is it Possible to Make this Crock Pot Shepherd’s Pie Recipe in the Oven?

Definitely! Check out the recipe card below for notes on making in the oven using just one heavy-duty skillet.

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Slow Cooker Shepherd's Pie Recipe

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 20 minutes
Slow Cooker Shepherd's Pie with Guinness - This rich and savory dish offers all the comfort and flavors of a classic shepherd pie recipe, yet can simmer all day in the crockpot while you are working away.
Servings: 8


  • 1 1/2 - 2 pounds lamb roast or "beef stew meat"
  • 1 large onion peeled and chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic peeled and minced
  • 3 large carrots peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1/3 cup stout beer
  • 3 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch
  • 2 teaspoons whole grain mustard
  • 1 teaspoon beef base
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 5 cups thick mashed potatoes homemade or store-bought
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar or Dubliner cheese


  • Cut the lamb into small bite-size pieces. Place the meat in an oven-safe non-stick skillet (or cast iron skillet) and set over medium heat. Brown the lamb on all sides. Then push to the side of the pan and add the onions. Soften for 5-6 minutes.
  • Pour the lamb, onions, and all remaining ingredients, excluding the mashed potatoes and cheese, into a 6-quart slow cooker. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and stir well. Wipe down the sides of the slow cooker with a dry paper towel. Then spread the mashed potatoes over the top of the beef mixture all the way to the edges of the crock to seal in the ingredients below.
  • Place a long piece of paper towel over the slow cooker to absorb the steam, and cover with the lid. Turn on high for 4-5 hours, or low for 8-10 hours.
  • When ready to serve, sprinkle the cheese over the top of the potatoes and place the lid back on for 5 minutes to melt the cheese. Serve hot and garnish with extra herbs if you have them.


Runny Potatoes: Homemade mashed potatoes are usually thicker than store-bought potatoes. If using pre-packaged mashed potatoes, you may want to press the top firmly with paper towels to absorb as much extra moisture as possible, before spreading them on the top of the meat mixture.
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Set a large 12-14 inch deep-dish cast iron skillet over medium heat. Brown the lamb and onions (as described in the instructions above.)
  2. Then add all remaining ingredients, except the mashed potatoes and cheese. Stir well and turn off the heat.
  3. Cover with a heavy lid (or with tight foil) and bake for 90 minutes.
  4. Spread the mahed potatoes over the top. Bake, uncovered, another 20 minutes. Then sprinkle the cheese over the top and bake for 3-5 more minutes. 


Serving: 1g, Calories: 616kcal, Carbohydrates: 45g, Protein: 47g, Fat: 28g, Saturated Fat: 13g, Cholesterol: 152mg, Sodium: 470mg, Potassium: 1382mg, Fiber: 5g, Sugar: 5g, Vitamin A: 4220IU, Vitamin C: 43.7mg, Calcium: 172mg, Iron: 5.7mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, English, Irish
Author: Sommer Collier

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52 comments on “Slow Cooker Shepherd’s Pie Recipe”

  1. I didn’t put the mashed potatoes in until 1 hour b4 meat was tender. Also had to add 12 oz beef stock about half way through the 8 hours on low. It could be my crock pot being too hot.

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  4. Normally when I try a new recipe and it isn’t good, I just toss it an go on. This, however, is so awful, I have to comment. Where is the liquid to keep this from burning? The potatoes were completely burned, as was the round steak. It was a terrible tasting gloppy, burned mess. The recipe was followed to a T, as well as the cooking time, and the potatoes were added in a very dry state. What a horrible waste of ingredients and time. BTW, I’m an ex Home Economics teacher who cooks 100% of our meals from scratch and totally appreciates good food/recipes. I’m not even sure how to get this stuck-on crap out of the crockpot.

    • I find it difficult to believe you’re a Home Economics teacher who doesn’t realize that in many cases, it is not at all necessary to add liquid to every slow cooker recipe. There is a lot less evaporation in a slow cooker than say the oven. You WILL get water from meat, veggies, etc. In this case, you could potentially get water from the meat, and the frozen veggies. Not to mention the recipe DOES call for 1/3 cup of liquid (the beer). Adding too much liquid to a slow cooker meal is actually a common mistake people make. It’s better to add less liquid, because–most times–the ingredients provide the moisture you need.

      As an avid, and experienced cook–this recipe, as written, looks like it offers just the right amount of liquid for a successful slow cooker recipe.

  5. I cannot wait to make this recipe! Sounds super yummy! 

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  8. What on Earth is corn doing in a shepherd’s pie?!

  9. This was so yummy! Forgot to buy peas and didn’t put corn in it. Instead, I used almost a full package of white mushrooms, sliced. These didn’t make the recipe too watery, as I feared. Husband raved about the dish. It was awesome! Thanks!!

  10. Delicious recipe shared by you dear, it’s a must try one.

  11. it so yummy

  12. it looks yummy, I will try to make exactly let see

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  14. very nice tastey recipe thanku for sharing with us

  15. I followed this recipe to the letter. Although the taste was fantastic, and everyone loved it, the mashed potatoes kind of got absorbed somewhat in the stew below. I would try Josh’s suggestion of adding the potatoes later, or even finishing the stew in the slow cooker, then putting it in an oven dish with the mash on top to brown on broil and add the Dubliner (great touch, everyone loved that!) at the end. Thanks for a great recipe, Sommer!

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  19. Just found this recipe… A little confused do you actually just put the small beef chunks in the crackpot without cooking them first?

    All other recipes I seecyoy have to precook the meat. Thanks- Patty

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  21. should I mix all the ingredients or layer them in the order specified?

    • Hi Josh! Just mix up everything in the slow cooker, withholding the potatoes for later. :)

      • Thank you Sommer. That is what I ended up doing and your recipe was a huge hit with our family.

        I actually ended up adding the mashed potatoes only once the rest of the recipe was finished and it still turned out wonderful, in case anyone else is thinking of doing the same.

  22. Hi Grace – Oh no! So sorry about that! Hmmm… I wonder if your slow cooker runs a little on the hot side. (They all vary. I have three slow cookers and try to base recipes on the most moderate.) Have you noticed other dishes cooking faster than suggested?

  23. Can i use ground beef instead of stew meat for this recipe and can i put the ground beef in the slow cooker raw and mix with the rest of the ingredients? Would you adjust the cook time for low?

    • Hi Liz, I wouldn’t go with ground beef… it would clump while cooking because usually no one is around to stir while slow cooking. Small chunks of beef work much better.

  24. Has anyone tried this with cauliflower mash?

    • I made this over the weekend, and I did use cauli mash — it worked well! The cauliflower mash even browned on the sides. Thanks for sharing!

  25. This is my kind of comfort food, especially the ease of cooking it in the slow cooker!

  26. Thanks for posting this with plenty of reaction time before 3/17.

    I’m betting we’re wearing either flip-flops or Sorels on St Pat’s this year. No in-between. That’s the kind of winter we’re having.

  27. This looks so yummy! I am craving this now!

  28. This is SO great! Can’t wait to give it a try.

  29. You took a fantastic classic comfort food recipe and made it super easy! I LOVE this!

    • What size slow cooker are you using for this recipe? I need to make as much as possible without overloading my slow cooker. Thank you!

  30. Shepherd pie is one of my all time favorite comfort food. And the slow cooker is my very good friend. This is a wonderful recipe.

  31. My slow cooker lid screws on (it doubles as a pressure cooker), how would I utilize the paper towel?


    • Hi Katie! Hmmm…. I’ve never seen one like that! Does it have to screw on, or could you just set the lid loosely on top? You could probably lay the paper towel over the slow cooker, then place a baking sheet over the top if needed.

      • Thanks for getting back to me! I’ll try that, I also might try screwing it on with the paper towel in place as instructed. Excited to try this, sounds great!!

    • The size is there. I missed it before. Sorry to bother you, my mistake

  32. Slow Cookers are the best! This looks delish! !

  33. Love this, Sommer. I’ve made a similar recipe – perfect for the Irish :) Even though Paul says he ate too many potatoes growing up! LOL XO

  34. Comfort food made easy – yes, please!

  35. Holy cow Sommer- major comfort food!!

  36. I am all over this slow cooker version!

  37. Wow, I love this way to make shepherd’s pie!!

  38. This is definitely an easy and beautiful way to make Shepherd’s Pie. I love it.

  39. Yum! love this take on shepherds pie!

  40. So much to love here! The slow cooker method and adding that paper towel is genius! And I’m really loving the addition of Guinness, yum!

  41. YUM! How lovely! I love the paper towel tip and they way you can make this dish look SO gorgeous on a plate.

  42. Loooving this Sommer! Great idea in the slow cooker!!