5-Ingredient Shepherds Pie

Paleo Shepherds Pie

5-Ingredient Shepherds Pie

While traditional shepherds pie can be a bit heavy on the carbs, this almost ‘paleo’ version using cauliflower mash instead of potatoes is much lighter.

But the best news is it’s still super comforting and one of those dishes the whole family will love!

enough for: 4
takes: 60 minutes

1 head cauliflower
1kg (2lb) minced (ground) beef or lamb
1 jar tomato passata or puree (3 cups)
6 tablespoons butter
salad leaves, to serve

1. Preheat your oven to 180C (350F) and bring a medium pot of water to the boil.

2. Chop cauliflower into large bite sized chunks. Simmer for 10-15 minutes or until cauli is really soft.

3. Drain and mix in half the butter. Then whizz using a stick blender or your food processor until smooth and creamy. You could mash with a fork but you’ll end up with a chunkier result.

4. While the cauli is cooking, heat a large frying pan on a high heat. Add beef and a little oil and cook, stirring until the beef is well browned. Add tomato passata and the remaining butter and bring to a simmer. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

5. Transfer the beef mixture to an oven proof dish (mine was 22cmx28cm / 8inx11in but it doesn’t need to be exact).

6. Top with the cauli mash, I didn’t go all the way to the edges so it looked prettier and allowed my mash layer to be thicker.

7. Bake for 30 minutes or until everything is hot and bubbling.

8. Serve with salad leaves on the side.


pantry-friendly – frozen Cauli. Salad = froz greens pan fried in butter.

vegetarian – replace beef with the same weight cooked french style green lentils.

dairy-free/paleo – replace butter with olive oil or coconut oil.

vegan – combine the vegetarian and dairy-free options.

do ahead – you could make the pie up until step 5. Then cover and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks or freeze. Then to serve cook straight from the fridge (defrost first if frozen).

individual ‘pies’ – makes about 4-5 servings if you use individual dishes. They’ll need to be about 2 cups capacity each.

more substantial (carb lovers) – use potato mash instead of or as well as the cauli. Or maybe serve on a bed of potato mash for those who need it. Also good with hot buttered pasta, rice or crusty bread and butter.

more substantial (low carb) – larger slices.

keto / ultra low carb – halve tomato and cauli.

more veg – soften an onion, carrot, celery and some mushrooms before browning the beef. Add extra chopped raw veg to the salad leaves like carrot, snow peas and/or red bell peppers (capsicum).

short on time – cook beef and cauli separately as per recipe then just serve beef on a bed of cauli mash (skip the oven part).

Waste Avoidance Strategy

cauliflower – will keep in a plastic bag in the fridge for weeks. To keep for longer, chop into florettes and pop in the freezer. If you have time, grating the cauli before freezing will make life easier so you can just defrost and serve.

minced (ground) beef or lamb – freeze it.

passata or puree – keep it in the pantry.

butter – will keep in the fridge for weeks.

salad leaves – are highly perishable. My first path would be to use them for another meal (salad for breakfast!) but if that isn’t possible you can pop them in the freezer. They will wilt down but can then be used anywhere you’d use wilted greens. At least this way they wont go slimey.

Prepare Ahead

Absolutely. Just keep the salad separately. Will keep for 1-2 weeks in the fridge and can be frozen. To serve just reheat in the oven (200C / 400F) for 10-15 minutes.

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  • I went for a vegetarian option, as I’d added chorizo to this week’s ratatouille, but made the mistake of cooking the (red) lentils separately (they would have been fine cooked in the tomato with a little extra liquid), so the mixture, which included an onion, a carrot and some mushrooms, needed reducing. By the time I’d finished doing that, I figured it had been cooked for long enough, and, after topping with the mash*, just stuck it under the grill to finish.

    Cauliflower, potato and dried herbs.

    • ooh Mark

      Yes red lentils hardly take any time too cook – good thinking to finish it under the grill instead 😉

  • Made this one last night with my 13y/o son. ‘It was amazing’ was the after dinner comment! I thought so too…added carrots, onion, garlic, celery to the meat and 50/50 cauli/potato mash with grated cheese on top. So yum, thanks Jules super easy one! 🙂

  • Jules,
    Loved the email suggestion about using the OLIVES. I have a bunch of kalamata olives that I need to use up and ground beef is on sale this week! I’ll make one pie for now and freeze another one.

  • I absolutely love this recipe! I haven’t enjoyed a paleo style shepherds pie until this one. Also, I like adding veggies where I can, so I really liked the addition of carrots, celery, onion, and mushroom. I think next time I might play with adding more herbs/spices.

  • Yum! Yum! Made this the night before last…leading up to St. Paddy’s Day! (Had corned beef & cabbage on St. Paddy’s Day!) I’ve got a Shepherd’s Pie recipe that I really like, but thought I would try this for a change. I really liked how the creamy cauli came out, though I wish I had a bigger head of cauli. Next time I’ll do more cauli &/or mix cauli & a little potato together. I’m also used to veggies in my pie, but didn’t think of adding them until it was too late. (I was too focused on following the recipe and forgot about the veggie variation and then didn’t have anything on hand.) No worries, it was good anyway. Once done, I sprinkled some shredded cheddar on the top and then put the casserole under the broiler. Gotta love broiled cheese!

    Amusing anecdote: Now that I’ve been trying out some of your meal plans, I have to add that my husband & I get tickled that a lot of your side veggies are “salad leaves”. We just find it amusing, because neither of us ever eat just plain salad leaves. So I just make up a tossed salad w/dressing, capers, olives, etc…or have some other veggie. Nothing’s wrong with your meal plans, it’s just amusing to us. 🙂

    • Forgot to mention that, though it is not part of the recipe, it was definitely worth draining the fat from the ground beef before adding the tomato puree. All in all, a great recipe that we will have again!

    • Glad you find it amusing Lynne! The thing is often eating the leaves with the meal makes enough of a dressing to give them interest… But if you’re happy with adding the extra ingredients go for it!

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