This Shepherd’s Pie with Mashed Cauliflower Crust is an easy-to-make wholesome meal, chock full of veggies and simmered in a flavourful sauce. It’s topped with creamy mashed cauliflower instead of potatoes!
Warm and comforting, this Shepherd’s Pie with Mashed Cauliflower Crust simmers in a rich sauce and gets topped with low-carb mashed cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes. Mashed cauliflower has a delicate flavour and the same silky texture as mashed potatoes, but a much lower carb count!
What’s wrong with mashed potatoes?
Nothing. Potatoes have had a bad rap because of their high glycemic index. If you’re trying to avoid spikes in your blood sugar that can lead to weight gain, you may have chosen to avoid potatoes. You can read more about mashed cauliflower as an alternative to mashed potatoes in my recipe for Instant Pot Mashed Cauliflower with Bacon and Cheese.
This recipe is easy, it’s full of veggies, and it’s a good recipe for meal prep! While a full pan will serve 10-12 people, I often divide it into smaller baking pans and freeze half before baking.
I’ve made this dish several times this winter. With St. Patrick’s Day this month, I decided it was time to share this Irish comfort food recipe with you. I only have one other Irish recipe on this site. Creamy Roasted Garlic Irish Potato Soup is a thick, creamy traditional potato soup, flavoured with onions, leeks and roasted garlic. I need to add more Irish recipes!
Ready to make your family happy with this creamy cauliflower Shepherd’s Pie?
Ingredients for Shepherd’s Pie with Mashed Cauliflower Crust
- aromatics: an onion and a couple of garlic cloves
- ground meat: your choice of chicken, turkey or lamb
- flour: a couple of tablespoons (gluten-free, if necessary) to thicken
- vegetables: a couple of carrots, frozen peas and corn
- chicken broth: homemade or store-bought
- tomato paste: don’t leave this out. It adds so much flavour.
- herbs: I used a bay leaf, parsley and thyme. Rosemary is also good in this recipe.
- sour cream
- cheese: cheddar or Parmesan
How to Make Irish Shepherd’s Pie with Cauliflower Topping
First: a note. Authentic Shepherd’s Pie is made with lamb. (Because . . . they’re sheep herders, right?) However, this is YOUR recipe and you can use what you and your family like best. I used ground chicken. If you prefer ground beef, this recipe will work just the same, but it will be a Cottage Pie, not a Shepherd’s Pie! I just wanted to clear that up.
Begin by preparing the mashed cauliflower crust. Steam or boil the cauliflower until tender, then drain it and set aside.
In a large heavy-bottomed pot or deep skillet, sauté onions, garlic, celery and carrots until beginning to soften, about 5 to 7 minutes.
Next, add the ground meat to the pot and cook, stirring until browned. Sprinkle with flour.
Stir in the broth, tomato paste, parsley, bay leaf and salt and pepper.
Let simmer while you prepare the cauliflower crust. Transfer the cooked cauliflower florets to a food processor and process until finely chopped. Add sour cream, butter and half the grated cheese and process until smooth and creamy.
Add the frozen peas and corn to the meat filling.
Spread the meat mixture in a 9 x 13 inch baking dish (or two smaller dishes). Top with mashed cauliflower. An offset spatula works well for this task. Sprinkle with more grated cheese.
Tips for Making Shepherd’s Pie with Mashed Cauliflower
Make it dairy-free: substitute vegan butter and dairy-free cream cheese and omit the grated cheese.
Store leftovers covered in the fridge for up to 3 days, or wrap tightly and freeze for up to three months. If you’d like, you can freeze the Shepherd’s Pie unbaked, then thaw and bake as directed in the recipe.
Serve with a fresh green salad or this Rustic Tomato Salad.
Shepherd's Pie with Mashed Cauliflower Crust
Mashed Cauliflower Topping
- 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup cheddar or Parmesan cheese, shredded
- salt and pepper, to taste
Shepherd's Pie Filling
- 2 tbsp olive oil, extra virgin
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 medium carrots, diced
- 1 1/4 lbs ground chicken, or lamb or turkey
- 2 tbsp flour, or gluten-free flour blend
- 3/4 cup chicken broth
- 3 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 2 tbsp parsley, fresh, chopped
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1 cup frozen corn
- Begin by preparing the mashed cauliflower crust. Steam or boil the cauliflower until tender, then drain it and set aside.
- In a large heavy-bottomed pot or deep skillet, sauté onions, garlic, celery and carrots until beginning to soften, about 5 to 7 minutes.
- Next, add the ground meat to the pot and cook, stirring until browned. Sprinkle with flour to thicken slightly.
- Stir in the broth, tomato paste, parsley, bay leaf and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then let simmer for 10 minutes or so while you prepare the cauliflower crust.
- Transfer the cooked cauliflower florets to a food processor and process until finely chopped. Add sour cream, butter and half the grated cheese and process until smooth and creamy.
- Add the frozen peas and corn to the meat filling. Give it a good stir to combine. Remove the bay leaf.
- Spread the meat mixture in a 9 x 13 inch baking dish (or two smaller dishes). Top with mashed cauliflower. An offset spatula works well for this task. Sprinkle with remaining grated cheese.
- Bake at 400°F. for 20 - 25 minutes or until the cauliflower topping is golden and the filling is bubbly. If you like a darker topping, pop the dish under the broiler for 2 - 3 minutes. Serve warm.
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