Shepherd’s Pie with Healthier Mashed Potatoes That Actually Taste Good


Shepherd’s Pie with Healthier Mashed Potatoes (That Actually Taste Good!) will fool even the most die-hard mashed potato lover!


Another one of Ben’s and my favorite games to play is “guess the ingredients,” where whoever has cooked the meal makes the other one try and, well, guess all the ingredients in the dish.

It’s all very complicated.

A component of tonight’s supper was Ben’s #1 all-time favorite food ever, mashed potatoes, but I added a little somethin’ somethin’ to ’em and wanted to see if he could figure out what it was, so I challenged him to a round of GTI when he got home from work today.


Here, let me just stick my entire tongue in the extra mashed potatoes to try and figure out what’s in there. What? Do I have something on my face?

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Ok, let’s see…potatoes?




Salt? Pepper? Milk?

Right, to all those things.

I think that’s it then?! Maybe sour cream?!


Ahem, sorry! The secret ingredient I added, which the mashed potato connoisseur himself could not even detect, was cauliflower! I am so jazzed over this lower-carb mashed potato recipe, which tastes just like the real thing. You heard it here first, folks!


Now, I’ve made mashed cauliflower before trying to “trick” my brain into believing it was mashed potatoes, but no amount of whipping, butter, salt or pepper could help me get past the slightly wet and grainy texture. Sure it’s low-carb and healthier than mashed potatoes – but at what cost, I ask you?


The recipe I used to sit atop the St. Patrick’s Day inspired supper of Shepherd’s Pie I made tonight doesn’t eliminate the potatoes, rather it cuts them in half. Half potatoes, half cauliflower, with a little bit of milk, butter, salt & pepper. So easy. So satisfying!


Start by making the Healthier Mashed Potatoes that Actually Taste Good. Wash then chop 2 large potatoes into 2″ cubes then place them inside a steamer basket in a large pot and steam for 5 minutes. If you don’t have a steamer basket you can boil the potatoes. Also, you can peel the potatoes if you like – I forgot/am lazy/don’t mind peels.

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After 5 minutes add 1 small head chopped cauliflower on top then steam for 10 more minutes, or until the potatoes and cauliflower are very tender.

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Place the steamed veggies in a large food processor with a whipping blade, which is an unsharp blade used to mix up cake batters and mashed potatoes. Alternatively you could use the regular blade, or just use a handheld mixer (which is how my Mom has always made her mashed potatoes!)


Add warm milk, butter, salt and pepper…

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Then let ‘er rip!


Scrape down the sides a couple times, and just keep going until your mixture is nice and smooth. YAY! Ok, set the Healthier Mashed Potatoes to the side for a bit while you work on the Shepherd’s Pie filling you’re going to slather them on top of.

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Start by browning ground beef with onion, garlic, salt, and pepper.


Tip: I didn’t end up having to chop the onion because I found a bag of pre-chopped onions in my freezer. I always do this with my leftover onions and it is SUCH a time saver!


Drain the meat if there’s a lot of fat in the pan, then sprinkle in the flour and cook for 1 minute.


Next add tomato paste, soy sauce and worchestershire sauce.

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Tip #2 – I freeze my leftover tomato sauce sectioned off in plastic baggies so I can just snap one off the next time I have a recipe that calls for it.


Next add 1 can chicken broth.


Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until the sauce is thick, about 5-6 minutes, then add in frozen vegetables.


Pour the mixture into a casserole dish and top with the healthifier mashed potatoes.

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Since we saved some cals by using half cauliflower, I felt it was only necessary to dot the top with a little more butter, salt, and pepper.

Into the oven for 30 minutes.


Heck yes!


Let the Shepherd’s Pie cool for 5 minutes, then dish it on up.


Shepherd’s Pie with Healthier Mashed Potatoes That Actually Taste Good

serves 6-8


Shepherd's Pie with Healthier Mashed Potatoes (That Actually Taste Good!) will fool even the most die-hard mashed potato lover!


  • For the Healthier Mashed Potatoes
    • 2 large potatoes (1-1/2lbs,) peeled then chopped into 2 inch pieces
    • 1 small head cauliflower, chopped into 2 inch pieces
    • 2/3 cup milk
    • 3 Tablespoons butter, divided
    • salt and pepper
  • For the Shepherd's Pie filling
    • 1lb ground beef
    • 1/2 onion
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced
    • salt and pepper
    • 3 Tablespoons gluten-free or all-purpose flour
    • 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
    • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
    • 1 Tablespoon gluten-free Tamari or soy sauce
    • 15oz can chicken broth
    • 2 cups frozen vegetable medley


  1. For the Healthier Mashed Potatoes: Bring a few inches of water to a boil in a large soup pot then drop a steamer basket into the pot. Add potatoes, place a lid on top, turn heat down to medium, and then steam potatoes for 5 minutes.
  2. Add cauliflower florets on top of the potatoes, place lid back on top, then steam for another 10 minutes or until cauliflower and potatoes are very tender. Transfer to a large food processor fitted with the whipping blade.
  3. Meanwhile, warm milk and 2 Tablespoons butter in a small saucepan then add to food processor with salt and pepper. Process until very smooth then set aside.
  4. For the Shepherd's Pie filling: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brown ground beef, onions, garlic, salt, and pepper in a large skillet over medium-high heat then drain, and return to the skillet. Sprinkle in flour then stir well and cook for 1 minute.
  5. Add tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, gluten-free Tamari or soy sauce, and chicken broth to the skillet then bring to a boil. Lower heat then simmer until sauce has thickened, 5-6 minutes. Add frozen vegetables then more salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Pour mixture into a large, oven-proof casserole dish then top with healthier mashed potatoes and dot the top with remaining Tablespoon butter, salt, and pepper. Place casserole dish on top of a baking sheet (in case the sauce overflows) and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until top is golden brown.

This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats,


You will want seconds, thirds and fourths of this dish. It is comforting, creamy and hearty, but light too. Great for saving plenty of room for green beer on St. Patrick’s Day!




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  1. Lindsey 03.15.2012

    Yum! Shepherd’s pie is my all time favorite comfort food, no question, and I love any and all cauliflower, so I can only imagine how much I’d enjoy this meal! Also, thanks for the tip about the tomato paste–that’s brilliant!

  2. Em 03.15.2012

    I am so inspired! Mashed potatoes are my most favorite food on planet Earth! :) :) :) :)

    Thank you! I will have to try this.

  3. Not only do I heart shepard’s pie, but I made one last year with a cauliflower crust…. but ALL cauliflower! Love your halfsies!

  4. This looks incredibly delicious!!

  5. Tiffani 03.15.2012

    I’m not a big Shepard’s pie or mashed potato lover, but I’m willing to bet my husband would love this meal! And he’d never suspect cauliflower!

    One question – where do you find sectioned-off plastic bags? I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before…

    • Iowa Girl Eats 03.15.2012

      It’s just a regular bag, but i used my fingertips to section off the paste!

      • sharon weaver 03.15.2012

        Your so smart, i always end up throwing the left overs away.

      • Kimberli 03.15.2013

        Such a genius idea to not waste the leftover tomato paste, I’ll definitely be doing that trick from now on! And thanks for the idea for healthier mashed potatoes, I’m going to try these on my boys (including the big one! ;)) soon and see if they can taste the difference!

  6. Daniela 03.15.2012

    This may be the dumbest question, but how do you get your tomato sauce to section off like that? What a great idea!

    • Iowa Girl Eats 03.15.2012

      I just used my fingertips to section it off!

      • Mart 03.15.2012

        Ok, I am not getting it at all. Brain fart here. How do you get the bag to stay sectioned off? So you fill the bag with sauce, freeze it a little and then section off? Does it stay sectioned off easily? Please explain in more detail!

      • Gloria 03.16.2012

        I love your idea to freeze tomato paste in baggies like that. I always throw the extra out. You are so clever. I love the idea of freezing leftover onions chopped too.

  7. katie@newmamamac 03.15.2012

    your husband is one lucky man

  8. I absolutely LOVE cauliflower, but I am the only one in my family. Always looking for ideas to sneak it into a meal, and the mashed potatoes dish sounds perfect for me to try!

    • I made the potato cauliflower dish, AND my kids ate it! Thank you!!! I also made a cauliflower pureed soup, with small chunks of potatoes, that I couldn’t get the kids to eat. I loved it though.. added onion and carrots pureed too, with garlic, nutmeg, a little butter, sea salt, white pepper and fresh basil.

  9. Love the idea of going half and half on the mashed potatoes and cauliflower! When my dad was diagnosed with diabetes (I was in middle school) my mom started making it with all cauliflower, and it always felt like I was eating baby food.

    This, on the other hand, sounds like it’s yummy :-)

  10. Lauren 03.15.2012

    Haha, love the leftover potato on Ben’s face. :)

  11. Hannah-lyz 03.15.2012

    I do that too! Though my bf and dad are strange and like chunkier mash, so I’ll blend up the cauliflower with garlic and soy milk, and mash it into the potatoes with a hand masher :) Add salt and pepper and viola! They don’t even miss the marge/butter!

  12. Angela Ten Clay 03.15.2012

    This looks delicious! How do you get your plastic baggies to section off like that to freeze your tomato juice? And then do you just cut one off when you want to use it?

  13. Maria W 03.15.2012

    I’m always amazed! You’re doing a great job showing us lots of tips. I never knew what to do with the rest of that whole can of tomato paste and now I know!! Thanks!
    Also, the mashed cauliflower to mimick mashed potatoes is something I first saw in my South Beach Diet book and it is a favorite of my family, too! I enjoy the beautifully photographed recipes and try many of them! Thanks!

  14. Marie Brasseit 03.15.2012

    Love this recipe! I see your husband does like to eat! haha……..great idea with half potatoes/cauliflower! Totally enjoy your ideas like the sectioned off bags! Again, your pictures have such sharpness! Can’t wait to try this recipe on MY picky husband! Thank you!

  15. Maura 03.15.2012

    I love this alternative to corned beef and cabbage for St. Patrick’s Day! I was just debating today between Skinnytaste’s buttermilk mashed potatoes vs. cauliflower mash, and this is the best of both worlds! Can’t wait to try it :)

  16. what a great night of food at the IGE household! i have a head of cauliflower in my fridge just dying to be turned into mashed taters. thanks for the recipe!

  17. Tiffany 03.15.2012

    Kristin – your recipes are awesome! I have been making a LOT of them lately and am always very pleased with the outcome. I have no idea how you manage to work full time and have such detailed / delicious food posts, but you are doing a fantastic job!

  18. OOOH – that looks good! Will you come cook for my family please? We defrosted something again tonight because I don’t plan ahead and I feel like anything I try to make takes too much time! AAAHHH! I might try this one over the weekend. Thanks!

  19. Mary 03.15.2012

    My mother used to try to sneak cauliflower into our mashed potatoes when I was a kid (back in the 60s). She was never successful as we would always figure it out. She may have just been a bit ahead of her time!!

  20. If you use anything but those white potatoes – it would be even healthier because the other types of potatoes have resistant starch. I suggest russets :)

  21. Anna 03.16.2012

    Such a good idea to use a combo of cauliflower AND potatoes. I have totally been rocking (and loving) the cauliflower mash but I realize its not for everyone. This recipe looks great!

  22. Susan 03.16.2012

    What a wonderful looking pie!! Have eaten the cauliflower instead of potatoes, but have not combined. Great idea. Looking good. Susan (former Iowan)

  23. annie 03.16.2012

    so have you ever traveled to different cities to do a race? half marathon? seems like that would be something you would enjoy?? I like to run (but not as much as you :>) and have done two half’s. I just started visiting your blog a couple months ago but havent seen you mention anything about doing any races? uuuh….mind boggling!! lol

    • Iowa Girl Eats 03.16.2012

      Races actually stress me out!! I am the least competitive person in the entire world, so they kind of make me anxious. I’ve done a couple fun 5ks, and a half marathon a few years ago, but nothing really major!

  24. […] Recipes To Try1. I’ve been itching to try this Healthier Mashed Potato recipe. Hubs love shepard’s […]

  25. Lori 03.16.2012

    That looks soooo good! I am definitely pinning this one.

  26. […] Last night I told you I freeze my leftover tomato paste in plastic baggies, but I didn’t tell you how to do it! […]

  27. Snack Girl 03.16.2012

    Great idea using cauliflower to lighten it up! I can’t wait to try it.

  28. Love this idea! I’m not the biggest cauliflower fan, but I might be able to get down with it if it’s masked by delicious mashed taters!

  29. Love the half potato/half cauliflower. So yummy and totally can’t tell a difference. I have done half potato and half parsnips before, too and it is also delicious!

  30. Rebecca 03.16.2012

    made this tonight for a pre st patty’s day dinner with our friends…everyone loved it and no one even knew about the cauliflower :)

  31. Patricia Schmidt 03.17.2012

    I wish I’d seen this recipe yesterday as I’d made Shepherd’s pie and I did have some cauliflower on hand!!!Thanks for the recipe.

  32. I love mashed potatoes and cauliflower. It seems to go great with my grandma’s “ham balls.” They have a sweet brown sugar mustard sauce on top and the combination with the mashed taters and cauliflower is perfection.

  33. eatingRD 03.17.2012

    Yum this looks so comforting! I’m all about casseroles :)

  34. […] Taken from […]

  35. Jeninnc 03.19.2012

    We tried the Shepard’s Pie yesterday – a day late for St. Patrick’s Day, but still in spirit:). My husband, who HATES cauliflower, and my 2yo daughter, who watches said husband’s every move LOVED it! And so did I. My pregnant self ate 2 helpings (piggie). I confessed the cauliflower sin to the hubs AFTER he had 1.5 servings and he wants me to make it again. SCORE!

    Anyhoo, just stumbled across your blog a week or so ago and truly check it daily. I love your fresh ideas, and outlook. And I’m a fellow running too – well, waddler currently. But am finding a lot a great inspirations from your blog. THANK A MILLION!

    • Jeninnc 03.19.2012

      Good Lord, and apparently I need to brush up on my proof reading skills…geez.

  36. Marjorie 03.19.2012

    Yum – I have done this before and it’s sooo good! I use cauliflower in potato soup and it’s really good.

  37. Lib 03.19.2012

    I made this yesterday. The only change I made was to use ground lamb instead of beef. Had to give a nod to the Irish! It went together so easy and that tip to cut the potatoes with cauliflower was great! I also have been mixing ground beef with ground turkey. I’m not a big ground turkey fan – but the mixture is great!

  38. Jessi 03.20.2012

    I tried these mash potatoes on my husband a couple of months ago, and I agree – they’re great. Since, I’ve also tried a few other options that you might like: brocoli and garlic instead of cauliflower (perfect for St Patty’s Day, definitely my husbands fave) and red potato with skin and yoghurt instead of milk (extra creamy without the fat).

  39. Jessica 03.23.2012

    I made this dish this past week and it was SOOOOOO YUMMY!! Definitely going to become part of the rotation. Thanks! :)

  40. […] I’ve seen all sorts recipes where they basically healthify mashed potatoes by replacing all of the potatoes with cauliflower, which no longer makes them mashed potatoes. That’s why in an attempt to make lower calorie mashed potatoes, I used this combination of equal parts cauliflower to potato, steamed then whipped up with a little butter and low fat milk from Iowa Girl Eats. […]

  41. Tracie 10.03.2012

    This was FANTASTIC!!!! Thank you for sharing the recipe! Husband and son both loved it. Looking forward to leftovers for lunch today. And I also love your tip for freezing the leftover tomato paste…usually just throw mine in a bag in one lump and freeze it. Thank you!!

  42. […] Shepard’s Pie Ground beef, mashed potatoes, and cheese. What’s not to like? The trick with making this one healthier is to mix healthier stuff in with the potatoes (like cauliflower or parsnips) and fill the inside […]

  43. […] Potatoes: instead of the classic mashed potatoes with globs of butter and cream, use sweet potatoes with apple butter instead! Or try this recipe for “healthified” mashed potatoes. […]

  44. Kristyn 10.19.2012

    I’ve tried this before and no, just no. I cannot STAND the taste of the cauliflower in my mashed potatoes. I cannot stand the taste of cauliflower in its cooked form, period.

  45. Nicholette 11.07.2012

    You are a genius!!! I’ve made and loved a ton of your recipes but you have outdone yourself with this one! So, so good. Thank you! : )

  46. Stephanie 11.10.2012

    Has anyone tried to make this, stick in in casserole dish and fridge, and rewarm? I want to make this tomorrow but I will not have much time right before dinner. (P.S. I pinned Ben’s face to the recipe, hahaha, you guys are great!)

    • Iowa Girl Eats 11.12.2012

      Haha! I think it’d be easier to re-warm individual portions in the microwave, rather than the whole thing!

  47. SHONNA GAUL 12.03.2012


  48. tracie marks 01.03.2013

    LOVE LOVE LOVE this recipe!!! I am making this for the 4th time now so obviously one of our favorites! And love the tip for freezing leftover tomato paste. Thank you!

  49. Marcy 01.28.2013

    I want to make this for dinner tonight, but have the be gone 3 hours before dinner. Could I make this earlier and refrigerate it and then pop it in the oven when I get home? Or maybe make the beef and potatoes seperate and reheat them seperate before putting them in the oven?

  50. […] Healthy Version of Shepherds pie […]

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