Shepherds pie for two, made in an 8×8 inch pan for a smaller portion than the typical cottage pie. Seasoned ground beef mixed with the classic frozen vegetable blend, all topped with incredible mashed potatoes! It’s a hearty dinner for two made in just 45 minutes.
When I first started this site, 11 years ago, I was truly just cooking small batch recipes for myself. It was just me, eating both servings of molten chocolate cakes. I would occasionally share a small batch of cowboy cookies with the dude I was dating (who is now my husband), but for the most part, it was just me eating for two.
Since those days, we have grown to a family of 4. Yet, we still find ourselves enjoying a small casserole in an 8×8-inch square dish rather than a 9x 13-inch pan. We grow tired of lasagna too quickly to make a big pan. My husband, my toddler, my baby, and I can finish a small casserole of cottage pie for 2 in one dinner.
If you’re new to shepherds pie for two, it’s ground beef seasoned with tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, and soy sauce that is then thickened with flour. Then, frozen mixed vegetables are tossed in, and everything is poured in a casserole pan and topped with mashed potatoes before being baked.
My version of shepherds pie for two is better than most because the mashed potatoes have plenty of butter and milk. True cottage pie, as this is called when it’s made with beef instead of lamb, has potatoes without milk on top. However, making the potatoes creamier and richer is always a good idea. I’ll continue to call this shepherds pie instead of cottage pie, though, because more people are familiar with the term shepherd’s pie.
Ingredients for shepherds pie for two:
- olive oil: Regular olive oil is fine, not extra virgin, since we’re using it to sauté the beef.
- ground beef: Use ground lamb to make this authentic shepherds pie, or ground beef for cottage pie. Also, I tested this recipe with plant-based ground meat (also known as Impossible Foods or Beyond Meat), and it worked great! The same is true for my crockpot beef and vegetable soup.
- onion: Half of a medium onion, diced small is what we’re looking for here.
- garlic: While garlic isn’t typically seen in cottage pie for 2, we’re adding it for extra flavor.
- tomato paste: The acidity of tomato paste makes the beef slightly tangy–so good!
- salt: fine sea salt is always preferred for cooking and baking.
- freshly ground black pepper: To taste.
- beef broth: Slightly less than one cup of beef broth to make the beef saucy and rich.
- Worcestershire sauce: We use worcestershire sauce because it has so many umami notes. The savory and complexity it brings to a dish is unbeatable. I use it in my sheet pan easy salisbury steak, too.
- soy sauce: Another umami bomb–just a small amount of soy sauce is needed.
- flour: To slightly thicken the filling for the shepherds pie.
- frozen mixed veggies: You’re looking for a bag of frozen vegetables that contains carrots, peas, corn, and green beans.
- Russet potatoes: Russets are the common baking potato with brown skin. Their starchiness is perfect here, but you can substitute Yukon golds, like I do in my make ahead mashed potatoes.
- butter: Unsalted butter, for making the potato topping creamy and delicious
- half and half: Typical cottage pie for 2 doesn’t have any cream or milk in the potato topping, but I think it needs it! It makes the potatoes on top super light and fluffy!
How to make cottage pie for 2:
- First, we’ll cook the filling for the shepherds pie for two in a skillet. Heat the cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until it feels hot. Then, add the olive oil and ground beef, and lower the heat slightly to medium. Cook until the beef browns, using a spoon to crumble it up as it cooks. Then, when the meat is almost done, add the onions.
- Cook the onions with the beef for 4-5 minutes, until the onion softens. Then, add garlic and tomato paste and cook while stirring for 1 minute. Sprinkle the salt, pepper, beef broth, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, and flour. Let thicken for 2 minutes, and then stir in the frozen mixed vegetables.
- Pour the shepherds pie mixture from the skillet to an awaiting 8×8″ square dish. It’s beautiful and tasty just like this, but is even better with creamy mashed potatoes on top, trust me!
- Microwave the 3 Russet potatoes until they’re soft throughout, peel them and then place them in a bowl with the butter, half and half and salt. Mash this mixture together, and spread it on top of the beef mixture in the casserole dish.
- Bake for 25 minutes, until the mixture starts to bubble and the potatoes are turning golden brown in some spots.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound ground beef (lamb or Impossible Meat works!)
- 1/2 medium onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3/4 cup beef broth
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 1 1/2 cups frozen mixed veggies (carrots, peas, corn and green bean blend)
For the potato topping:
- 3 medium Russet potatoes
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup whole milk (or half and half)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Preheat the oven to 400 and ensure a rack is placed in the center position of the oven. Have ready an 8x8” baking dish or similar small capacity oven-safe baking dish.
- Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until hot. You should be able to hold your hand a few inches from the surface for just a few seconds before it feels too hot! Turn the heat down to medium, add the olive oil and the beef.
- Cook the beef while breaking it into crumbles every few minutes using with a wooden spoon. It’s important to take breaks from stirring the meat and really letting a golden brown crust form on the meat. This will take about 10 minutes.
- When almost all of the meat is done, add the diced onion. Cook for 4-5 minutes, until the onion softens.
- Next, add the garlic and tomato paste and cook for 1 minute while stirring.
- Sprinkle the salt, pepper, beef broth, Worcestershire, soy sauce and the flour. Let cook for about 2 minutes to thicken, and then add the frozen veggies. Stir well to combine, and then turn off the heat—the residual heat will defrost the veggies.
- Scrape the mixture into an 8x8” baking dish.
- Wash the potatoes and prick them all over with a fork. Wrap each one in a paper towel, and microwave all of them for 10-12 minutes, until soft and cooked all the way throughout. You’ll have to insert a knife into the center to test for doneness of each potato.
- Let the potatoes cool slightly, and then use the paper towel to peel off the potato skins.
- In a bowl, mash the potatoes with the butter, milk and salt.
Spread the potato mixture on top of the meat mixture in the baking dish.
- Bake on the center rack of the oven for 25 minutes, or until the mixture is bubbling and the potatoes are starting to turn golden brown in several places.
olive oil: Regular olive oil is fine, not extra virgin, since we're using it to sauté the beef.
ground beef: Use ground lamb to make this authentic shepherds pie, or ground beef for cottage pie. Also, I tested this recipe with plant-based ground meat (also known as Impossible Foods or Beyond Meat), and it worked great!
Worcestershire sauce: We use worcestershire sauce because it has so many umami notes. The savory and complexity it brings to a dish is unbeatable.
frozen mixed veggies: You're looking for a bag of frozen vegetables that containscarrots, peas, corn and green beans.
Russet potatoes: Russets are the common baking potato with brown skin. Their starchiness is perfect here, but you can substitute Yukon golds.
half and half: Typical cottage pie for two doesn't have any cream or milk in the potato topping, but I think it needs it! It makes the potatoes on top super light and fluffy!
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 681Total Fat: 39gSaturated Fat: 18gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 17gCholesterol: 142mgSodium: 988mgCarbohydrates: 43gFiber: 6gSugar: 7gProtein: 39g