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This sweet potato shepherd's pie skillet is the ultimate cozy winter meal. With creamy sweet potatoes and a savoury filling of beef and vegetables, this easy dinner recipe is gluten free with a dairy free option. Made in one pot in just an hour, this meal is sure to be a family favourite!
This sweet potato shepherd's pie skillet is the ultimate cozy comfort meal. A hearty stew of ground beef and vegetables, topped with creamy spiced sweet potatoes, not to mention cooked and served in one skillet?! Talk about a crowd favourite!
Shepherd's pie was always a winter favourite growing up in my house, so I decided to put a fun spin on the classic - all gluten free of course. This recipe is also very easily made dairy free.
Now I do have to mention that this recipe is technically not a Shepherd's Pie.
What?! But it's in the title!
Yes! I learned in my research for this recipe that the term Shepherd's Pie actually refers to a similar dish made with ground lamb that originates in Scotland and northern England. The often-cheaper ground beef alternative was referred to as Cottage Pie.
The reason why this recipe uses ground beef and is called a Shepherd's Pie is because that's kind of how the North Americanized version has morphed. This is what we know as Shepherd's Pie here! Mainly due to the accessibility of ground beef over ground lamb.
So there's your history lesson for today! Now, if you want to learn how to make this super delicious and healthy comfort meal, just keep scrolling.
This sweet potato shepherd's pie recipe puts a sweet twist on the cozy classic. It's fresh with tons of healthy protein, carbs, and vegetables - yet easy on the wallet with some budget-friendly ingredient saves. Here's what you need:
For the mashed potatoes
- Medium-sized sweet potatoes: The swap from classic white potatoes gives this recipe a boost in fibre, vitamins, and antioxidants (source). Not to mention the delicious flavour of sweet potatoes that plays so nicely with the spice mixture.
- Butter: Gives the mashed sweet potatoes a delicious creaminess. Feel free to use dairy free butter if required.
- Salt and pepper: Because potatoes need a lot of seasoning.
- Paprika: Plays so well with sweet potatoes. It's not overpowering, but gives the dish an extra little something-something.
- Dash of milk: This is based on personal preference when mashing the potatoes to get them to the desired smooth consistency. Feel free to use dairy free milk if required.
For the filling
- Olive oil
- White or yellow cooking onion
- Ground beef: Now, technically the use of ground beef instead of ground lamb makes this recipe a "Cottage Pie" (source). However, here in North America, the ground beef version is generally known as Shepherd's Pie because ground lamb is not as accessible. The more you know!
- Tomato paste: Gives the filling a wonderful depth of flavour. Using tomato paste in a tube makes for easy portioning and clean up.
- Gluten Free Worcestershire sauce: This is undoubtedly the most important ingredient of the entire recipe. Traditional Worcestershire sauce contains wheat, so that's a no-go. I know how difficult it can be to find, but I highly recommend you seek out a gluten free Worcestershire sauce. French's makes a gluten free version I found at my local Loblaws store. If you can't find a gluten free version, it is okay to omit from the recipe. However, once you try it, you'll know the filling was missing a little something.
- Italian seasoning, paprika, salt and pepper: The flavours in the filling are what make this dish so delicious!
- Frozen carrots, peas, and corn: Here is where you can save! Frozen vegetables are super affordable, and you really can't tell the difference in this recipe. One important note is to ensure you defrost the vegetables in the microwave before adding to the skillet. Otherwise you'll introduce too much moisture to the filling and may have spillage when baking in the oven.
- Cornstarch slurry: A mixture of cornstarch and water will help thicken the filling.
- Beef broth: A little bit of broth adds a lot of flavour to the filling. Replace with water if you don't have broth on hand, or omit if your filling is quite liquid already.
- Fresh parsley to garnish
How to Prepare
In just 30 minutes of prep time (and 30 minutes of cook time), you'll have a delicious gluten free, comfort food dinner.
Mashed Sweet Potatoes
I find it easiest to prepare the mashed potatoes before beginning the filling for less stress. Start by washing, peeling, and dicing the sweet potatoes. Add them to a large pot of salted water and bring to a boil. Cook for 12-15 minutes until they are fork-tender and very soft. Nearly over-cooking them will provide super creamy and easy-to-mash potatoes.
Drain the potatoes, turn off the burner, and add them back to the warm pot. Use a potato masher or ricer to make them very smooth. They should mash quite easily. Mix in the butter, salt, pepper, and paprika to taste. Add a splash of milk if the potatoes are a bit dry. Set aside while you make the filling.
Use down time while the potatoes boil to prepare diced onion, minced garlic, and spice mixes! You can also allow a 10" cast iron skillet to warm over medium heat for 5-10 minutes.
Note: If you don't have a cast iron skillet, that's okay! You can simply cook the filling in any type of pot or skillet you have, then transfer to a baking dish and top with the mashed sweet potatoes when ready to cook.
Add a drizzle of olive oil and the diced onion to the skillet. Sauté for 3-5 minutes until softened. Then add the ground beef and cook until browned. Incorporate the minced garlic, tomato paste, gluten free worcestershire sauce, and spices. Stir and cook for 2-3 more minutes until fragrant.
Pre-thaw and drain the frozen carrots, peas, and corn in the microwave so there is less moisture. Add the vegetables to the skillet with the cornstarch slurry and beef broth. Stir to combine all the ingredients and simmer for a few minutes. The filling should be fairly thick but don't worry if there is some liquid. It will cook off in the oven. Remove from the heat for 5 minutes to cool before topping.
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Once everything is slightly cooled, spoon the mashed sweet potatoes over the filling in the skillet (or baking dish). Use a spatula to gently smooth them out, and create a design if you wish.
Bake for approximately 25 minutes until the edges turn slightly golden brown. Broil for the last 5 minutes to get nice colour on the top.
Note: If you notice that your skillet is very full and liquid is bubbling or dripping in the oven during baking, place a large cookie sheet on the rack below the skillet to catch any drips.
Remove from the oven (carefully - it's hot!) and allow to cool for 10 minutes before sprinkling with fresh parsley and serving. Be careful - the skillet will still be very hot! Makes 4-6 servings. Enjoy!
This sweet potato shepherd's pie skillet is the ultimate cozy comfort meal. Allergy friendly, kid friendly, and heck, surely adult friendly, this gluten free dinner recipe is sure to be a crowd favourite!
Have you made this sweet potato shepherd's pie? Be sure to leave a comment telling me how much you loved it, and tag me on instagram @liv.glutenfree! I hope you enjoy as much as I do!
Looking for more gluten-free comfort food recipes? Check these out!
Sweet Potato Shepherd's Pie Skillet
Mashed Sweet Potatoes
- 4 medium-size sweet potatoes approximately 1110g total
- 2 tbsp butter use dairy free if required
- ½ tsp each: salt and pepper
- ¾ tsp paprika
- dash of milk use dairy free if required
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 white onion, diced
- 1 lb ground beef
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 4 tbsp gluten free worcestershire sauce French's makes a gluten free version
- 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
- ½ tsp each: paprika, salt and pepper
- ½ cup each: frozen carrots, peas, and corn defrosted in the microwave first
- 1 tbsp cornstarch mixed with 1 tbsp water for a thickening slurry
- ¼ cup beef broth
- fresh parsley to garnish
Mashed Sweet Potatoes
- Wash, peel, and dice the sweet potatoes. Add to a large pot of salted water and bring to a boil. Cook for 12-15 minutes until fork-tender and very soft.
- Drain the potatoes, turn off the burner, and add back to the warm pot. They should mash quite easily. Mix in the butter, salt, pepper, and paprika to taste. Add a splash of milk if the potatoes look a bit dry. Set aside.
- Allow a 10" cast iron skillet to warm over medium heat for 5-10 minutes. Add a drizzle of olive oil and the diced onion. Sauté for 3-5 minutes until softened.
- Add the ground beef and cook until browned. Add the minced garlic, tomato paste, gluten free worcestershire sauce, and spices. Cook for 2-3 minutes until fragrant.
- Pre-thaw and drain the frozen carrots, peas, and corn in the microwave so there is less moisture. Add the vegetables to the skillet with the cornstarch slurry and beef broth. Stir to combine all the ingredients and simmer for a few minutes. The filling should be fairly thick but don't worry if there is some liquid. It will cook off in the oven. Remove from the heat for 5 minutes to cool before topping.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Once slightly cooled, spoon the mashed sweet potatoes over the filling in the skillet. Use a spatula to gently smooth them out, and create a design if you wish.
- Bake for approximately 25 minutes until the edges turn slightly golden brown.* Broil for the last 5 minutes to get nice colour on the top.
- Remove from the oven (carefully - it's hot) and allow to cool for 10 minutes before sprinkling with fresh parsley and serving. Enjoy!