Shepard’s Pie with Mashed Cauliflower

Hi friends! About ten years ago, my mom and I took a spectacular two week trip to Ireland. I loved everything about the country; the scenery was gorgeous, the villages were quaint and the people were so charming and friendly! I also really enjoyed their rustic, homey approach to cooking. My favorite meal from our trip was the Shepard’s Pie (also known as Cottage Pie). A mouthwatering casserole of meat and veggies topped with mounds of buttery mashed potatoes.

A cutting board with chopped cauliflower florets and a knife.

In the years since our trip, Shepard’s Pie has been in regular rotation at my house but as my health deteriorated and dietary needs changed, my recipe for Shepard’s Pie also changed. I’ve done lots of experimenting since then, specifically with subbing out the potatoes (I’m not able to handle the starchiness of them anymore), but I ALWAYS come back to topping the meat mixture with cauliflower. It gives a lightness to an otherwise rich dish and tastes fantastic!

A two picture collage. First picture shows chicken stock being poured into a skillet with carrots and onions. Second picture shows the skillet with ground beef, carrots, peas and onions.

In this post I’ve used my dairy free smashed cauliflower, but if your system can handle it, my Cheesy Smashed Cauliflower recipe tastes equally amazing (if not better because…well…cheese) in this dish! Peas, carrots and onions are added to the ground beef along with your choice of beef or chicken stock.  If you’re following the Paleo diet or Whole 30, simply omit the peas to make this dish compliant.

Overhead picture of a skillet filled with shepard's pie and mashed cauliflower. The cauliflower is lightly browned with a sprig of fresh thyme. The table also has a mound of fresh thyme and a small white plate with utensils on it.

Using an oven safe skillet when making this meal will save you from having to wash an extra dish! This Shepard’s Pie is the perfect comfort food to have on a chilly day. It’s also a great meal to make with the purpose of freezing. When I was pregnant, this is one of the recipes I made ahead of my due date and kept in the freezer. It was a life-saver for an exhausted new mom!

An overhead picture of the skillet filled with warm shepard's pie. Some of the pie has been placed on a small white plate.

When you take your skillet (or casserole dish if you’ve decided to be fancy) out of the oven you’ll have a piping hot casserole that is a tasty, healthier option to traditional Shepard’s Pie! Hope you enjoy!

5 from 9 votes
Shepard's Pie with Mashed Cauliflower
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
50 mins

An easy Shepard's Pie (cottage pie) topped with a dairy free cauliflower topping. A healthy casserole that's also gluten free, grain free, soy free and is SCD legal. 

Course: dinner, Main Course
Servings: 6
Author: Jennifer Brown of A Life of Happenstance
Mashed Cauliflower
  • 1 medium to large head of cauliflower
  • 1/4 cup beef or chicken stock
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
Meat Mixture
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil or olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 4 medium carrots, chopped
  • 1/2 cup beef or chicken stock
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
Mashed Cauliflower
  1. Cut the cauliflower florets off the stems. Place the florets into a colander and rinse. Steam cauliflower using a double boiler.  

  2. If you don't have a double boiler, fill a pot with about 2 inches of water and bring to a boil. Fit the colander into the pot and place a lid on the colander. Steam until tender. 

  3. Once tender, transfer cauliflower to a blender. Add the stock, thyme and salt. Blend until smooth and set aside. 

Meat mixture
  1. Preheat oven to 375F. Heat oil in a large, oven safe skillet over medium heat. Brown the ground beef. Drain any fat and transfer the meat to a plate. 

  2. Using the same skillet, add the onions and carrots. Saute until the onions are translucent and the carrots have softened. 

  3. Sprinkle the salt and thyme into the skillet and add the stock. Cook until the stock begins to bubble. 

  4. Add ground beef and peas to the skillet. Stir until everything is well combined. Remove from heat. 

  5. Top with the mashed cauliflower. Drag a fork through the cauliflower to gently make little ridges. These little ridges will get nicely browned in the oven. 

  6. Place the skillet on the top shelf in the oven and bake for 20 to 30 minutes, just until the cauliflower has browned and the carrots are tender. 

  7. Allow the Shepard's Pie to rest for 5 minutes before serving. Store leftovers in the refrigerator or it can be frozen. 

Recipe Notes

Cut the carrots into small pieces to make sure they soften and don't come out al dente. 


If frozen carrots are used, add them to the skillet at the same time as the peas. 

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An easy Shepard's Pie (cottage pie) topped with a dairy free cauliflower topping. A healthy casserole that's also gluten free, grain free, soy free and is SCD legal.

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Easy and delicious recipes free of gluten, grains, soy, refined sugar and dairy! These healthy recipes follow the SCD, Whole30 and paleo lifestyles.



16 thoughts on “Shepard’s Pie with Mashed Cauliflower

  1. OMG! I LOVE this version of shepherd’s pie! I’m sending this off to the printer now!! This is going on the weekly menu! YEAH! A healthy and gluten free version of one of my favorite meals!!

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