We can thank our neighbors across the pond in the UK for the legendary casserole dinner known as shepherd’s pie.
Like meatloaf, it’s one of those comfort foods that Mom used to make.
It comes from humble origins where leftover roasted meats needed to be used up.
Add a crust of mashed potatoes and some vegetables and voila! Shepherd’s pie was born!
They say that an original shepherd’s pie is made with lamb meat and its cousin, cottage pie, is made with beef.
We say however you want to make your recipe is up to you.
After all, everyone has their own idea of how shepherd’s pie should be.
While we can all agree it has mashed potatoes for the crust, there are vegetarian versions that incorporate lentils and vegetables for a plant-based take on the ultimate classic casserole meal.
But whatever you put in your own recipe – lamb, beef, or meatless – looking at what to serve with shepherd’s pie is whole other can of worms (Sorry, that doesn’t sound so appetizing does it?).
It’s a very filling dish bursting with carrots, peas, or other vegetables of your choosing (vegetarian versions use mushrooms and lentils) plus the meat (unless you’re going meatless), and mashed potatoes.
This is not a light meal by most standards. We say, go with stuffed peppers, if you’re in the mood but don’t want to be that filled up!
With something so hearty, it wouldn’t make sense to serve it with heavy sides.
Yet when you have a table full of guests eagerly awaiting to tuck into dinner, you should have a few other options for them to add to their plate.
Lucky for you, we know how to pair shepherd’s pie and create the right combos so you can feed the immediate or extended family well!
What Goes with Shepherd’s Pie? And Now the List
Serve any combination of these stellar sides alongside your homemade shepherd’s pie to make a memorable meal any night of the week!
1. Honey Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Since shepherd’s pie is typically a dish you’ll trot out in the cooler months, you should use what’s in season alongside it.
What to eat with shepherd’s pie is simple when you’ve got Brussels sprouts on hand.
They look like mini cabbages and when cooked right, taste amazing. Roasting them is one of the best ways to enjoy this often misunderstood vegetable.
When you cook them right, even the kids will eat them.
A little honey and balsamic can go a long way to get that roasted flavor down pat.
Let Kevin lead the way over at Kevin Is Cooking for a great shepherd’s pie side dish!
2. Brown Butter Peas With Mint
In the UK, mushy peas is a popular side dish. If you’ve had it, you might know why!
It makes a great companion to shepherd’s pie, and with the texture of the mashed potatoes on the main dish, we felt it would be best to recommend something that still has a British hint without the mush.
Adding mint to peas is quite a popular thing over there, and while it sounds unusual, once you try it, you’ll be adding a sprig of mint to your peas from here on out.
Kellie at the Suburban Soapbox takes it a step further and uses heavenly brown butter which really makes this side dish stand out, both on your dining room table and on your taste buds!
3. Roasted Eggplant
Eggplant is always such an underrated vegetable. Sure, it’s the star of eggplant parmigiana, but outside of summer tossed onto the grill, you never see enough of it.
Time to give eggplant a supporting role on your fall and winter table (or any season really), as a side dish for shepherd’s pie!
This is an easy way to add more vegetables to the meal without it feeling like a burden on the belly.
Plus, since it’s not dressed in a rich sauce like the main event, it adds a nice contrast for the palate.
You should definitely make this if you’re serving a traditional shepherd’s pie and have vegetarian guests joining the meal. This will give them something delicious to enjoy!
Hollie at Spend With Pennies has an easy and versatile recipe for roasted eggplant.
4. Easy Garlic Lemon Green Beans
Green beans…is there anything they can’t do?
Ok, maybe they can’t be dessert, but we say green beans make for a fantastic shepherd’s pie side dish.
They’re simple and easy to throw together, and paired with simple flavors like lemon and garlic, they lighten up this rather heavy meal.
You can also find other ways to flavor up these babies – i.e. if you need to learn how to season canned green beans in a pinch.
In fact, in just 15 minutes, you’ll have this side on the table so why not add it to the menu for your shepherd’s pie dinner?
Amy’s recipe at She Wears Many Hats is a spectacular choice!
5. Dinner Rolls
Saucy shepherd’s pie could do well with some bread, don’t you think?
If you love sopping things up, then dinner rolls are an excellent side dish to serve with your shepherd’s pie.
Fluffy, soft, and wonderfully chewy, just place a butter dish out along with these heavenly pillows of bread and you’ll have happy dinner guests.
Dinner rolls might seem difficult, but with this video from Cooking A Dream, you’ll have them mastered fast!
6. Beet & Goat Cheese Salad with White Wine Vinegar Dressing
A great salad is one of the best things to go with your shepherd’s pie!
The crisp textures and delightful tangy flavors are a marvelous contrast to the richness from your main dish.
Beets are a rustic ingredient that are perfect for this time of year and they really pair beautifully with goat cheese.
You could simply toss a bed of greens with beets and goat cheese and call it a day, but why stop there?
Check out this recipe below: She uses roasted beets, granny smith apples, pecans, and goat cheese for an epic combination of texture and sweetness with a tangy white wine vinegar dressing.
We are in love with this salad by Lacey at A Sweet Pea Chef.
7. Irish Soda Bread
We thought we’d include another bread recipe, one with rustic roots like our shepherd’s pie. Irish soda bread is perhaps one of the easiest breads to make.
If you’ve never baked your own bread before, this is most certainly one to get your feet wet with.
It only requires a few ingredients which you likely have on hand right now.
And unlike other breads, there is no need (or shall we say ‘knead?’
Ok, don’t kill us for our bad pun!) for rise time.
Get baking with Rachel at The Stay At Home Chef who takes you through her easy and delicious recipe in just 45 minutes!
8. Roasted Garlic Asparagus and Mushrooms
Asparagus always seems so elegant for a side dish.
Maybe because it’s long and thin. Maybe because we always see it as a side that’s offered in steakhouses from coast to coast.
Paired with garlic and mushrooms, it’s an ideal complement to your homemade shepherd’s pie.
Fresh yet earthy, it definitely adds that extra something to round out the meal and add a lighter touch.
Best of all, it only takes a few ingredients and you’ll be done in a flash.
Sam at Ahead of Thyme has a wonderful recipe for you!
9. Garlic Sautéed Swiss Chard
We’re sorry, but since when did Swiss chard become the Gretchen Wieners of the vegetable world?
It’s just as cute as the other vegetables. Just as delicious, yet you so seldom see it suggested for side dishes.
Well, we’re going to change all that.
Do yourself a favor though and try to grab it fresh from the farmer’s market. There’s such a difference in that flavor. So much so that it’s bound to become your very own Regina George.
It’s a bit like spinach and cooking it is quick and easy. A little garlic is really all it needs to be an exemplary shepherd’s pie side dish.
Just ask Lisa at Downshiftology who makes it even easier to put together
10. Smoky Roasted Cauliflower
Cauliflower is another great vegetable that can stand alongside your shepherd’s pie.
Most of us tend to think of simply adding cheese on top. And you wouldn’t be wrong, oh no.
But the thing is, cheese is rich and heavy and so is shepherd’s pie.
The key with what to serve with shepherd’s pie is adding light sides to bring balance to your table.
Roasted cauliflower is a superb suggestion, though using smoked paprika brings out new and incredible flavors from this vegetable.
Plus, the brilliant smoky red color adds a nice touch for presentation.
See how Tori does it at Tori’s Kitchen!
11. Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad With Lemon And Pecorino
Again, we’re going with Brussels sprouts as a shepherd’s pie side dish.
Only this time, you’re not roasting them. You’ll shave them raw into salad-form!
If you’ve never tried them as the basis for a salad, you’ve been missing out.
What’s more, they are completely refreshing and the texture is a delight next to that thick and rich shepherd’s pie.
With only 10 minutes to spare prior to serving dinner, you can have this one done and ready to go.
Sound complex? Not in the slightest if you follow Katie’s recipe at Mom’s Kitchen Handbook!
12. Simple Lemon Artichokes
Confession: we LOVE artichokes!
Give us a can or a bag of frozen artichokes, and we’re thrilled.
Adding artichokes to your salads is one way to get the nutritious benefits of these babies, but when artichokes are the main event in any dish, we can’t wait to dig in.
Keeping frozen artichokes or canned ones on deck is always a surefire way to create something delicious super-quick.
Even just with a few ingredients added to them, they become extraordinary.
The unique flavor is ideal for contrasting with your shepherd’s pie.
Try something like Samantha’s recipe here at Bites Of Wellness which will only take you 10 minutes to put together.
13. Apple Walnut Salad With Balsamic Vinaigrette
Because salads are one of the things you think of when the subject of what to serve with shepherd’s pie comes up, we thought we’d throw another log on the fire.
A nice fall-style salad with apples and walnuts has plenty of texture, crunch, and flavor.
The sweetness of apples and the nutty crunchiness make a winning team.
With your shepherd’s pie, it balances the palate with panache.
When we saw Katya’s recipe at Little Broken, we knew we had to try it. Eat it with your eyes first and then dig in for the real reward!
14. Roasted Bacon and Butternut Squash
And finally, we’ll leave you with a fall staple – butternut squash!
While it is a bit starchy, preparing it in a roasted manner keeps it from having the soft, mushy quality that we love about shepherd’s pie.
As we mentioned earlier, having everything with a mushy texture isn’t as appealing as that contrast.
Perfect meals are those composed with flavors and textures that play off of each other.
But if you really want to send your taste buds over the edge with pleasure, cook up some bacon and add it to the mix.
Tracy has a heavenly recipe over at Baking Mischief and you will love it for the sheer simplicity (only 3 ingredients), ease of making, and the taste!
What to Serve with Shepherd’s Pie: Extra Suggestions
To make shepherd’s pie, perhaps you’re using an old family recipe. Or perhaps you’ve found one online that you’re willing to tackle. Or you may even be loosely following what goes into a shepherd’s pie and concocting your own creation.
We’re totally on board with that!
But however you desire your shepherd’s pie to be, and believe us, there are many ways, we have a few tips for you to help make your meal even more smashing regardless of tradition!
And besides, why should chicken pot pie have all the fun, when it comes to meat-based pies?
Use quality cheese
Some recipes for shepherd’s pie insist that cheese be incorporated into the mashed potatoes. We’ve seen recipes using Irish Dubliner cheeses all the way to regular cheddar.
And the only thing we can agree on is this – whatever cheese you use, make it a quality brand. It will always result in the best taste.
Experiment with sweet potatoes
Feeling like regular mashed potatoes with cheese in them might be a little too high-cal for you? You can use sweet potatoes instead.
It might sound strange, but it tastes amazing and it lightens up your entire meal. This assumes you don’t go too, too heavy on your side dishes for shepherds pie!
Plus, you get more beta-carotene which is super-healthy!
Use fresh herbs with lamb versions
If you are going the traditional route with your shepherd’s pie, you should always use fresh-picked herbs. Rosemary and thyme in particular add an extra-special touch to the dish for an elegant and indulgent feel.
Try another way of lightening the calories
If the thought of using sweet potatoes on your shepherd’s pie seems like blasphemy, you can always lighten up the dish another way.
Only add a small amount of butter to it. Then add plain 2% yogurt into it as needed.
This gives them a nice rich and creamy texture and taste.
Don’t forget that liquid leftover from boiling the potatoes should also be used to enhance the potatoes flavor.
Brighten up the presentation
One thing about shepherd’s pie is that it can come out looking a bit bland. It might taste divine, but all those bland colors need a lift.
On the outside, you can add a little chopped chives or scallions to your potatoes.
This gives a nice pop of color, not to mention another layer of flavor.
Along the same lines, adding in carrots and peas is a way to pack in more nutrition and colors.
If you layer everything though, it comes out with such an appealing presentation rather than a smorgasbord of leftovers.
In particular, layering carrot slices really makes for a pretty presentation once you cut into and serve it up.
Try the plant-based version
Vegans and vegetarians have found a way to make some of our favorite comfort foods taste amazing.
Shepherd’s pie is a wonderful classic, but if you recently stopped eating meat or you simply want to incorporate more plant-based meals into your weekly plan, try it without meat.
Lentils are the way to go, plus these spectacular beans don’t need to be soaked first, making vegan-friendly recipes of this iconic dish cook up pretty quick, even for a weeknight!
Grate your cheese first
And if you’re going full-on shepherd’s pie in the traditional way, one of the best ways to get a nice crispness on top is to add the cheese there.
Some will mix it into the mashed potatoes and that’s fine too, but if you really want it to be amazing, add more cheese on top.
But don’t grate it directly onto the shepherd’s pie. Instead, grate it onto wax paper or clean cutting board so it won’t stick and then use tongs to drop it on top.
This way, it gets evenly distributed so every bite is a perfect one!
Making shepherd’s pie tonight or reheating leftovers? Whichever method you choose for making it, these ideas and tips for what to serve with shepherd’s pie will make the meal even more delightful!
What to Serve with Shepherd’s Pie
- Brussels Sprouts
- Butter Peas
- Roasted Eggplant
- Green Beans
- Dinner Rolls
- Cheese Salad
- Soda Bread
- Asparagus & Mushrooms
- Swiss Chard
- Roasted Cauliflower
- Sprouts Salad
- Lemon Artichokes
- Apple Walnut Salad
- Butternut Squash
- Choose your desired Shepherd’s Pie side dish recipe.
- Gather and organize needed ingredients.
- Create a tasty Shepherd’s Pie side to complete your meal!