This Whole30 shepherd's pie with sweet potato is a hearty dish that makes great leftovers. With a flavorful meat mixture, a punch of veg, and silky smooth sweet potato mash on top, this is comfort food at it's finest.
Traditional shepherds pie is made with ground beef or lamb, a veggie mixture of peas and carrots, and topped with mashed potatoes (typically made from russet potatoes or other white potatoes.) Also known as cottage pie, its a hearty and dense meal.
Buuuuut typical shepherds pie recipes like this one include flour, corn, and cheese - none of which are friendly to us on a Whole30. This sweet potato shepherd’s pie recipe solves all of those problems. Grain free and dairy free, this is a great recipe to prep and freeze for your Whole30 nights when you just can't even.
How to make Whole30 shepherd's pie with sweet potato
Like any casserole style meal, you have to cook your ingredients before assembling the dish. There's three layers to a shepherd's pie - meat, veggies, and potatoes. Let's go!
Traditionally, shepherd's pie is made with ground lamb. That said, we can use any ground meat - ground chicken, ground turkey, grass-fed ground beef. Beef will give the closest flavor to lamb; chicken or turkey would be a leaner option.
If you know me, or you've been here before, you know I'm a lazy cook. So, we're going to cook our meat in a cast iron skillet. This is so you can then just build the whole shepherd's pie in the pan and stick it in the oven! (If you don't have one or prefer not to do this, or are freezing it, you can also cook your meat in a regular skillet and transfer and bake it in a casserole dish.)
First we're going to start with our onion, and get it sweating over medium-high heat in a bit of olive oil (or coconut oil). Then we'll add our dry seasoning spice blend of chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, and more.
Here's how to cut an onion with the least amount of crying if you need help!
Once the seasoning is mixed in, you'll add the meat, breaking it up as it cooks. Once most of the pink is gone, add in the wet seasoning blend that includes tomato paste, coconut aminos, fish sauce, balsamic vinegar, and chicken broth or bone broth. From there, reduce to medium heat to cook down and reduce a bit.
This will add a depth of flavor to the meat that is often achieved in other versions using things like Worcestershire sauce - which we can't use on Whole30, because it contains molasses.
Traditionally shepherd's pie is made with a vegetable mixture that includes peas and carrots. There are some Whole30 versions out there that are made with green beans, as previously they were the only bean allowed on Whole30 (due to them being more pod than bean).
The rules have changed, though, and green peas are now allowed on Whole30. Obviously if they are something you know you can't tolerate, you can swap them out for another veg.
Here I'm simply using frozen green peas for simplicity, which I just...microwave. Remember, lazy cook.
The sweet potato topping is a sweet potato mash that is thinned or smoothed out with coconut milk or almond milk, depending on your preferences. I prefer less coconut flavor to my shepherd's pie, so I work with almond milk, but you can use either one.
Peel and cube up your sweet potatoes, boil them in a large pot, and then drain and make your mashed sweet potatoes right in the same pot to save on dishes and time!
I like to make my sweet potato mixture with an immersion blender. If you don't have an immersion blender, you could also use a food processor or a stand mixer - I have one of these handy spatula blades that make it super easy.
A manual potato masher will also get the job done, although your potato mash will not be quite as smooth if you do it by hand.
Not a fan of sweet potatoes? Don't have them? You can also use regular potatoes. The flavor won't be the same, but they are still Whole30 compliant if that's of concern.
To assemble, start with your meat layer in the bottom of your casserole dish. Add your veggie layer, then top with the mashed sweet potatoes. Boom - paleo shepherd's pie!
And if you used a cast iron skillet, this is where it gets to shine - you can put the whole thing in the oven, then put the whole pan on the table to serve it. Too easy.
How to serve shepherd's pie with sweet potato
This dish is super flavorful and satisfying all on it's own. I love to serve it with a sprinkle of fresh herbs and a pinch of coarse sea salt. Parsley, chives, or green onions make the best herbs to top with.
Add a side salad of mixed greens with a drizzle of balsamic if you want to dress it up!
Low carb/Keto version
Looking for a low carb way to make shepherd's pie? Try using a cauliflower mash like this one or mashed turnips instead of sweet potatoes. You could thicken either one up with this dairy free cream sauce to take it to the next level.
This shepherd's pie is a hearty dish that makes great leftovers. It's gluten free, uses simple ingredients, and makes an easy weeknight dinner - especially if you prepped it ahead of time or made it into a freezer meal!
- 2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ¾ teaspoon black pepper, divided
- 2 teaspoon parsley
- ½ teaspoon thyme
- 2 teaspoon salt, divided
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- 2 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 teaspoon coconut aminos
- 2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- ¼ teaspoon fish sauce
- 1 cup broth
- 1 lb ground lamb
- 10 oz frozen peas
- 2 lb sweet potatoes
- 1 tablespoon ghee
- ½ cup almond milk
- ½ teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- In a small bowl, combine the chili powder, garlic powder, ½ teaspoon black pepper, parsley, thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, and the paprika and set aside.
- In another small bowl, combine tomato paste, coconut aminos, balsamic vinegar, and fish sauce. Set aside.
- Peel and chop your sweet potatoes into large cubes (I do about 2 inches!)
- Preheat your oven to 325°. Bring a pot of water to a boil on one burner.
- On another burner, heat the olive oil in a 10" cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Once the oil becomes glossy and shimmery, add the onions, stirring constantly to avoid burning, 1-2 minutes.
- When onions have softened and become slightly translucent, add the dry seasoning mixture to the pan. Stir to coat and cook for about 30 seconds, until fragrant.
- Add the meat, breaking up as it cooks. When there's only a slight amount of pink left, add the tomato paste mixture and stir to combine. Once everything is mixed and meat is cooked through, reduce heat to medium and add the broth to the pan.
- Once your water boils, add your sweet potato cubes. Boil until fork tender, about 10-12 minutes. They should fall apart or split in half when you stab them with a fork. When they're done, drain them in a colander, then return them to the pot with the burner off.
- Cook the meat 2-3 more minutes until broth is reduced and mixture is thickened. Turn off burner and remove from stove.
- In the sweet potato pot, add your ghee, almond milk, garlic, and the remaining salt and pepper. Using an immersion blender or potato masher, mash the sweet potatoes until you have a smooth and creamy mixture.
- Pop your peas into the microwave and cook. When done, open the bag and spread out on top of the meat mixture in the skillet.
- Using a rubber spatula, spread the sweet potato mixture on top of the peas in an even layer, all the way to the edges. Nothing should be visible except the sweet potatoes.
- Place the whole pan in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until everything is heated through. Serve immediately.
If you are not using a cast iron skillet and instead are assembling in a casserole dish, your shepherd's pie will likely need to cook longer in the final step in order to get heated through evenly. Placing the ingredients in a cold dish will bring the temperature down rapidly, so it will need a bit more time to warm up.
You can sub white potatoes for sweet potatoes if you prefer.
If you're looking for low carb, you can sub mashed turnips or mashed cauliflower instead of potatoes.
Don't like peas? Sub any veggie you like!
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 329Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 60mgSodium: 797mgCarbohydrates: 32gFiber: 6gSugar: 11gProtein: 19g