Shepherd’s Pie Meatballs & Mashed Potatoes


Shepherd’s Pie Meatballs & Mashed Potatoes is the classic comforting dish reinvented!

Shepherds Pie Meatballs and Mashed Potatoes is especially fun for St. Patrick's Day! |

In case you didn’t hear, St. Patrick’s Day is this weekend!

I actually didn’t hear, and had to Google “St. Patrick’s Day 2013” to find out when it was after seeing a festive St. Patty’s day commercial on TV last week. Apparently it’s the same date every year. Who knew?

Anyways, this is good news because although I can’t sip on a Guinness or green tinted beer this year, it means it’s time to concoct my annual twist on a classic Shepherd’s Pie, whee!

It’s the little things…

Shepherd’s Pie is a staple in traditional Irish cooking, combining meat and potatoes to create an inexpensive and hearty meal. And, as I mentioned, every year I make a version of the dish around St. Patrick’s Day to celebrate the holiday. With Shepherd’s Pie. That’s right.

In 2011 I made a classic Baked Shepherd’s Pie, and last year I made the same but with a healthy mashed potato topper (ridiculous!) This year I’m turning the dish on its head and deconstructing it a bit to make Shepherd’s Pie Meatballs & Mashed Potatoes. It is the year of the meatball, after all!

Shepherds Pie Meatballs and Mashed Potatoes is especially fun for St. Patrick's Day! |

Ben was positively salivating as I described the dish to him when I was writing the recipe, and it turned out even better than we imagined. Scrumptious, hearty, and cozy. Meat and potatoes at their finest!

Shepherds Pie Meatballs and Mashed Potatoes is especially fun for St. Patrick's Day! |

Start with the mashed potatoes. I think a lot of people believe mashed potatoes are hard or time consuming to make since they’re often associated with big holidays like Thanksgiving or Christmas, but they’re actually super easy as they kind of just cook themselves. I make them about once a week for Ben and myself!

First peel then chop 2lbs potatoes, which is about 2 large potatoes.

Shepherds Pie Meatballs and Mashed Potatoes is especially fun for St. Patrick's Day! |

Tip: I always place a plastic bag around the faucet then peel my potatoes right it for easy cleanup. Same for pineapple. And cantaloupe, and watermelon. Oh summer melons, I can’t wait!

Shepherds Pie Meatballs and Mashed Potatoes is especially fun for St. Patrick's Day! |

Place the potatoes into a large pot of lightly-salted, cold water then bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are tender, but not mushy. If you over cook ’em you’ll have grainy mashed potatoes, and nobody wants that to happen.

Shepherds Pie Meatballs and Mashed Potatoes is especially fun for St. Patrick's Day! |

Once the potatoes are tender, drain them in the sink then return the pot to the stove over low heat. Melt 2 Tablespoons butter in 1/3 cup milk (I used skim) then season with lots of salt & pepper. Add the potatoes then mash until smooth.

Shepherds Pie Meatballs and Mashed Potatoes is especially fun for St. Patrick's Day! |

Place a lid on top to keep the potatoes warm while you work on the other parts of the dish. Onto the meatballs!

Shepherds Pie Meatballs and Mashed Potatoes is especially fun for St. Patrick's Day! |

While the potatoes are cooking, grate 1/2 onion into a large bowl. You could definitely mince it but I’ve got an onion-crunch hater in the house so I always grate mine.

Shepherds Pie Meatballs and Mashed Potatoes is especially fun for St. Patrick's Day! |

To the grated onion add 1lb lean ground beef. Beef, like eggs, is another protein I don’t show too often here on the blog, but Ben and I also eat it about once a week. Beef is relatively inexpensive, depending on the cut, and truly helps with my low iron levels. Plus it makes the man happy. ;) If nothing else, we always have it in our weekly Monday night-spaghetti night meat sauce, which is a tradition I picked up from my Mom!

Shepherds Pie Meatballs and Mashed Potatoes is especially fun for St. Patrick's Day! |

Next add 1 egg and 2 minced garlic cloves.

Shepherds Pie Meatballs and Mashed Potatoes is especially fun for St. Patrick's Day! |

Followed by 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce which I always keep in the fridge as it’s the perfect seasoning sauce. If something tastes off in a dish, or like it needs a little but of oomf, add Worcestershire sauce. It’s always the answer!

Shepherds Pie Meatballs and Mashed Potatoes is especially fun for St. Patrick's Day! |

Season with lots of salt & pepper then add 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs to hold everything together.


Combine the mixture with your hands then shape into 16 meatballs and place onto a non stick-sprayed cooling rack set atop a foil-lined baking sheet. Don’t forget the nonstick spray or you’ll be sorry! I did, and I was. Pop the meatballs into a 400 degree oven for 20-22 minutes, or until cooked through then get workin’ on the veggie-filled pan-gravy to smother on top of all this good stuff.


Start by melting 2 Tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat then whisk in 3 Tablespoons flour until smooth.


Let the flour cook for a few minutes, or until golden brown, then slowly whisk in 14oz beef broth until smooth. Then add in 1 Tablespoon each Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce. 


Switch to a wooden spoon then let the sauce cook until thick and bubbly, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.


Finally, add 2 cups frozen vegetables and let them cook until tender, about 2-3 minutes.


Scoop some mashed potatoes onto a plate, top with 4 meatballs and a ladleful of that rich, flavor-packed gravy, then dig in!

Shepherds Pie Meatballs and Mashed Potatoes is especially fun for St. Patrick's Day! |

Shepherd’s Pie Meatballs & Mashed Potatoes

Serves 4


Shepherd's Pie Meatballs & Mashed Potatoes is the classic comforting dish reinvented!


  • For the mashed potatoes:
    • 2lbs potatoes (about 2 large potatoes), peeled & chopped
    • 1/3 cup milk (or a little more or less depending on your preferred consistency)
    • 2 Tablespoons butter
    • salt & pepper
  • For the meatballs:
    • 1lb lean ground beef
    • 1/2 small onion, grated or minced
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1 egg
    • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
    • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
    • salt & pepper
  • For the gravy:
    • 2 Tablespoons butter
    • 3 Tablespoons flour
    • 14oz beef broth
    • 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
    • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
    • 2 cups frozen vegetable medley
    • pepper


  1. Add potatoes to a large pot of lightly-salted cold water. Bring to a boil then cook until potatoes are tender, but not mushy. Drain then return empty pot to stove over low heat. Melt butter in milk then season with salt & pepper. Add drained potatoes then mash until smooth. Turn off heat then place a lid on top of the pot to keep potatoes warm.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine meatballs ingredients in a large bowl then mix with hands until just combined. Divide mixture into quarters then roll four meatballs out of each quarter. Place meatballs onto a non stick-sprayed cooling rack set atop a foil-lined baking sheet then bake for 20-22 minutes, or until cooked through.
  3. Meanwhile, melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat then sprinkle in flour and whisk until smooth. Cook until mixture is golden brown, about 2 minutes. then slowly stream in beef broth while whisking constantly. Add soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce then switch to a wooden spoon and cook until sauce is thick and bubbly, about 5-7, minutes stirring often. Add frozen vegetables and lots of pepper then cook until vegetables are tender and heated through, about 2-3 minutes.
  4. Scoop mashed potatoes onto plates then top with 4 meatballs and a scoop of gravy and serve.

This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats,

Shepherds Pie Meatballs and Mashed Potatoes is especially fun for St. Patrick's Day! |

I always feel the need to put a disclaimer on my recipes that have longer ingredient lists, or a few components! Many of the ingredients in this recipe are fridge/freezer/pantry staples, and all three of the components – mashed potatoes, meatballs, and gravy – kind of overlap each other so everything should be done around the same time.

Shepherds Pie Meatballs and Mashed Potatoes is especially fun for St. Patrick's Day! |

It will all be worth it in the end anyways because, hello, Shepherd’s Pie Meatballs & Mashed Potatoes! So good! ;)

Have a happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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  1. Casey 03.12.2013

    Sounds yummy—I love St. Patty’s Day!!

    Are we going to get to see any belly pics? :)

  2. Lauren 03.12.2013

    This looks ridiculously delicious! Definitely making this week. But, Kristin, you’re killing me! When do we find out the gender?? :D

  3. Mmmm, I love Shepherd’s Pie. Even if I have mashed potatoes as a side item, I end up mixing my other food in because the potatoes are just so darn yummy. It’s certainly comfort food! This is a great twist on it and perfect for the year of the meatball, hehe. :)

  4. Lori 03.12.2013

    Yay. Haven’t heard of the meatball thing, but gotta try it soon.

    Also, try rinsing off the potato peels, putting them in a bowl and seasoning them with oil, salt, pepper, etc. – and baking them off like oven fries. You’ll have the crispiest “chips” ever!. You may never toss the peels again.

  5. Love how inventive this is!

  6. Lyndelou 03.12.2013

    Hi – being that I am Irish and live in Ireland, thought I’d just mention that traditionally the ‘Shepherd’s Pie’ is made with Lamb, while when made with Beef, it is known here as a ‘Cottage Pie’!!!! Either way, it’s delicious. I make my potato topping by softening some sliced green onions in a good dollop of butter and maybe a little milk or cream and mixing it all through the mash potatoes – it’s a well known national dish here called ‘Champ’ (most often served with pork sausages or gammon) but adds a nice extra to the ‘Shepherd’s’ pie.

  7. Kim 03.12.2013

    This looks absolutely delicious!! Absolutely LOVE the plastic bag in the sink! I am so doing this!

  8. Sarah 03.12.2013

    That looks so delicious!

  9. Jodea @ 03.12.2013

    Loving the plastic bag and faucet tip!

  10. Laura Stano 03.12.2013

    Thanks for such a great recipe! My husband is super picky, but I think this has all the makings of a “make this again!” meal! I just wanted to share a tip. I boil my potatoes in chicken broth instead of water and it makes them insanely flavorful! This recipe has plenty of flavor in the sauce, but if you are ever making plain mashed potatoes, give it a try – you won’t regret it!

  11. Brenda 03.12.2013

    I pinned this recipe lickity split! I’m glad it’s the year of the meatball; I love ’em, and using them as a spin on shepherd’s pie is clever. We’re having fish tacos with mango salsa for dinner tonight, but I wish we were having shepherd’s pie!

  12. Maggie 03.12.2013

    Do you have any ideas for what to use as a binder in meatballs or meatloaf instead of eggs? My 3 year old is allergic to eggs so now when I make those items she can’t eat them. Thanks!

  13. Katie 03.12.2013

    Shepherd’s pie is my favorite, and this looks UNREAL.

  14. Denise 03.12.2013

    I was glad to see Casey’s post. I am excited to make this and all, but I wanna know the gender too! So silly but I am so excited for you! My four kids have to listen to how excited I am that my ‘favorite blogger, the one from Iowa,) is expecting!

  15. Sarita 03.12.2013

    Making this for sure for son and DIL and their two sons. They will be having third son on Friday! I have four meals made for them and now THIS!
    Friend o mines mother was named Leanne. She married man named Carl Perrins. they divorced but she HAD to keep her last name. She loved being called Leanne Perrins!
    Thnks for the recipe.

  16. Val 03.12.2013

    Love this idea! Can’t wait to try it out with the kids. It looks so fun.

  17. Jennifer 03.12.2013

    when i was pregnant last summer i CRAVED watermelon, ate like 2 a week. it was wonderful yet ridiculous!

  18. nancy 03.12.2013

    Yummy! Don’t feel silly about St. Patrick’s Day — I totally missed DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME!!! Really – it wasn’t until Monday that my husband clued me in. How did that happen? I wondered if I was getting sick that I slept in Sunday and Monday. I guess I was watching too many movies and not enough news.

  19. This looks so yummy! It looks like a great warming dish. It is very hot here in Australia at the moment but I’ve bookmarked this recipe as come winter time it will be making a debut.

  20. You seriously rock! This recipe sounds so awesome. I am definitely going to make a vegetarian version of this :). Thanks so much for sharing!

  21. Jess 03.12.2013

    I am way too impatient when it comes to waiting for things to come in the oven (case in point, I have a lasagna -not even homemade- in there now and I`m sooo hungry) so this is perfection!

    Some Snapshots Blog

  22. Emily 03.13.2013

    Looks delicious! But! Shepherd’s Pie should be made with lamb mince. Cottage Pie is made using beef mince.

  23. Gina 03.13.2013

    Do you think that the meatball/veggie/gravy combo would freeze well? I have a friend in the hospital and am going to do some freezer cooking for her and this looks yummy.

  24. Katherine Isham 03.13.2013

    Shepherd’s Pie is my favorite dish :D have you ever tried making it with cheddar cheese on top (when you’re making it the non-meatball way)? Simply Divine. This recipe is an old classic in New England where I live :-)

  25. Brittany 03.13.2013


    Do you think this would also work with ground turkey? I LOVE beef but trying to keep things as lean as I can! I have found out (from personal FAIL moments) that ground turkey doesn’t hold together as well as regular beef.

    I will certainly be bringing in this years St. Patty’s day with the deliciousness above though :) :)!

  26. janet s 03.13.2013


  27. You are positively brilliant! I love Shepherds Pie and can’t wait to try this!! Sure beats corned beef and cabbage for St. Patty’s Day!

  28. Ani 03.13.2013

    This looks great and reminds me of a post I just did. I just made a single-serve vegetarian shepherd’s pie that was delicious! Very healthy and perfectly portioned:

  29. This is genius, Kristen! My hubby and I love Shepherds Pie and would like to try your tasty take on it! Thanks for sharing.

  30. Sara B. 03.13.2013

    YUM!! This dish is definitely husband approved! Will be making this soon!

  31. This looks like some serious delicious comfort food for this time of year!!! Can’t wait to try!!!

  32. […] Make a non-traditional Shepherd’s Pie like this […]

  33. Sara 03.13.2013

    Hi Kristin. This is my first time leaving a comment.
    Just wanted to let you know, you have a fan from Bahrain (which is next to Dubai). I check your page EVERY MORNING. And sometimes spend hours going through your recipes.
    I’ve tried a lot of your meals and I’ve got to say this is my favorite. My college flatmate came home and smelled the aroma of the baking meatballs and the sensational gravy and we both just fell in love with this recipe.

    Thank you :) :) :)
    And a big congratulations to you and Ben! I pray that God will bless you with a beautiful healthy chubby baby :D.

  34. Julia Jolliff 03.13.2013

    I love this idea! Looks so comforting and yummy.

  35. Barbara 03.13.2013

    I have never been a fan of the Shepards Pie, but I have to admit your pics make it look amazing!

  36. Misty 03.13.2013

    When will we get to see the baby bump????? :)

  37. Making this right now as I write this!! Smells delicious :)

  38. What a brilliant twist! I’ve really been into making meals in a bowl this winter. I’m going to be trying this soon.

  39. Tara 03.14.2013

    Excellent idea!
    I am making a shepeards pie on Sat; and we will eat it after our St Pats day 5k on Sunday!
    Such a delicious, comforting, and filling meal!

  40. Kelly 03.14.2013

    I think I found what I’m making for dinner tonight…my boyfriend will love me forever! Love all your recipes chicky! xoxo

  41. Caitlin C 03.14.2013

    I JUST finished making this and it is AMAZING! Thank you for such a great recipe. The sauce itself is a keeper, too!

  42. What a cool idea! I love shepherds pie and this is such a fun spin on it :)

  43. Michelle 03.14.2013

    I absolutely love your blog and this idea is genius! My kids are crazy about meatballs and I think they’d love this. I think I’ll adapt it to my shepherd’s pie recipe and try this next week. Thank you!

  44. Jules 03.15.2013

    Hi Kristin,

    Love your blog!

    Just want to clarify one thing.
    Its St. Patricks Day or Paddy’s Day at a push.
    Definitely, absolutely not St. Pattys Day.

    As far as I know Patty refers to a girls name or a burger in America.

    Just thought I would let you know!


  45. Toni 03.16.2013

    I made this tonight, and it was fantastic; even my veggie-hating husband liked it!

  46. Megan! 03.17.2013

    Love this idea! I live with 3 boys and every sunday night we have family dinner night and we rotate who’s turn it is to cook dinner. I go to your blog every time it’s my turn to cook looking for a new idea. Each time, the boys just LOVE whatever I cook… but I haven’t reveled my secrete to them yet ;) So thanks a bunch!

    Three of us have developed a “paleo” lifestyle, so I tend to alter some recipes to fit that diet. I’ve been wondering if Shepherd’s pie could be altered to sweet potatoes instead? I’m thinking something along the lines of sweet potatoes with sausage meatballs? Any thoughts to make this just as tasty as the original??

    Thanks so much for your wonderful recipe ideas!! I love it!

  47. Trista 03.21.2013

    We just finished eating this. My husband told me it was the absolute best thing I’ve ever cooked. :) thanks so much for sharing the recipe. It really tastes amazing.

  48. Ann 03.22.2013

    I made this last night and it was delish! The panko really makes the meatballs tasty. Thanks for the recipe!

  49. Kim 04.14.2013

    Made this for dinner tonight and it was delicious! Subbed Udi’s bread crumbs for the panko and used soy milk and dairy free margarine in the mashed potatoes. Dairy free margarine and GF flour from TJ’s in the gravy. My husband’s comment was this was the kind of meal he has missed eating since we’ve had to make some dietary changes. Making the change to gluten and dairy free has been challenging at times and its meals like this that put a smile on our face. This will definitely be in regular rotation at our dinner table.

  50. […] is Kristin’s recipe for Shepherd’s Pie Meatballs & Mashed Potatoes, which she shared on her blog, Iowa Girl […]

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