This Instant Pot Shepherd’s Pie is the easiest and most convenient way to make it. No pots and pans to stir or drain. Cook in the stackable insert, then bake and serve right in it. And if you have an Air Fryer Lid then you don’t even need to use the oven!! Perfectly delicious and easy comfort food!
This post contains amazon affiliate links which means if you make a purchase after clicking one of those links, I will receive a small commission. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Note, I received the stackable Pans-in-Pot as a gift with no obligation to share or mention this product. The brand is (was?) amazing! Not only the product is of the highest quality but the company also used to donate a lot of proceeds to various charities. Unfortunately, the product is currently unavailable on amazon and I also haven’t been able to reach them on social media for a few months now. I hope they are doing well. Because of that, I have updated links to another stackable insert on Amazon that has a lot of positive reviews, however, I do not have personal experience with that particular brand!
I spent a long time debating if I should call this recipe Shepherd’s Pie or Cottage Pie. Technically, if the dish is made with ground beef, then it’s called a Cottage Pie. And if ground lamb is used, then it’s called Shepherd’s Pie.
But after a short poll of friends and acquaintances (not food bloggers), a trip down the memory lane to before I became a foodie and a long look at the frozen dinner section at a few local grocery stores, I concluded that most regular people in North America (read: not food bloggers) don’t even know anything about Cottage Pie and totally believe that Shepherd’s Pie can be made with any ground meat.
Seriously, I don’t think there was one frozen dinner in any of the supermarkets that used lamb in their Shepherd’s Pies. So, yes, I know that this Instant Pot Shepherd’s Pie is actually an Instant Pot Cottage Pie.
This Instant Pot Shepherd’s Pie is the perfect cozy family meal. Pure comfort food that is really easy and convenient to make.
Unlike many other Instant Pot Shepherd’s Pie recipes online, my recipe is much more convenient to make. Most recipes require transferring of the meat sauce to a separate casserole, as well as making mashed potatoes yet in another pan.
My Shepherd’s Pie recipe uses stackable Pans-in-Pot insert which means that once the meat and potatoes are cooked in Instant Pot, you don’t need to use any extra pans at all. You even bake the whole Shepherd’s Pie right in those inserts. Less cleanup, less hands on cooking!
And lately, I haven’t even been using my oven to bake Shepherd’s Pie. I now use my new Instant Pot Air Fryer Lid to reheat the meal as well as brown the top.
Why make Shepherd’s Pie in Instant Pot
Traditional recipe calls for many steps and requires a lot of time that you actually need to spend at the stove.
You have to make the meat sauce first. Cook it, mix it, simmer it, etc. Then you have to cook the potatoes, drain, mash. Then after all that you have to transfer the meat mixture to another pan, layer potatoes on top and then bake in the oven. Too. Much. Work!!
My Instant Pot Shepherd’s Pie recipe requires almost no hands-on cooking. You mix all the ingredients for the meat part in one layer of the stackable insert. Mix all the ingredients for the mashed potatoes in another pan. Stack them all together and cook in Instant Pot.
After, just mash the potatoes (no need to drain), layer over the meat (right in that same pan) and bake in the oven (also in the same pan without any transferring). Or, as I have been doing lately, bake with the Air Fryer Lid. So easy! And since the stackable pans already come with a lid, it is also easy to store in the fridge.
How long does it actually take to make Instant Pot Shepherd’s Pie
This method is not much faster than traditional stove-top method but it is a lot more convenient. No need to stir the meat sauce, no need to boil the potatoes and then drain.
Let’s say prepping the ingredients takes a very generous 15 minutes (peel and cut the potatoes, measure and mix everything), time to build pressure is 17 minutes (I use this model but time may vary by 1-2 minutes for different electric pressure cookers), time to cook on high pressure is 25 minutes, time to release the pressure is 2 minutes. Let’s add another 5 minutes to mash the potatoes and layer everything, another 10 minutes in the oven to bake and 3 minutes on broil. Total time: 1 hour and 17 minutes and only 20 of those minutes are hands-on cooking.
TIMING CHANGE NOTE: I have made this recipe about dozen times and once it wasn’t cooked in 20 minutes, so I added another 5, from now on I always cook it for 25 minutes just in case. I updated the recipe to reflect the new cooking time.
Important information about Instant Pot model
Over the course of the last year I have done countless tests in terms of Pot in Pot cooking. Pot in Pot cooking technique refers to using another vessel/container/pot inside Instant Pot. Just like these stackable inserts in this recipe.
I have noticed that my Instant Pot Smart WIFI model takes TWICE as long to cook anything using Pot in Pot cooking method. So, 25 minutes cooking time would not be enough for that model and it would need at a minimum 45-50 minutes. As a result, I never use that model for this recipe.
Timing may be different for your particular model of Instant Pot.
More Instant Pot Recipes:
- Instant Pot Meatballs and Potatoes
- Instant Pot Chicken Stew
- Instant Pot Creamy Chicken Pasta
- Instant Pot Meatball Soup
- More Instant Pot recipes…
- Don’t forget to check out my NEW site dedicated specifically to Instant Pot Recipes, called Instantlicious
How to make Instant Pot Shepherd’s Pie
Since we are using stackable pans insert, making this recipe is really easy. It actually becomes “dump and start” Instant Pot dinner. Unlike other recipes online, there’s no need to sauté the meat first.
- Mix all the ingredients for the meat layer in one pan.
- Add all the ingredients for the potato layer in another pan.
- Place the stackable inserts into Instant Pot with 2 cups cold water and cook.
- Once cooked, mash the potatoes.
- Lightly mix the meat layer with a fork, spread the potatoes over it.
- Bake in the preheated oven right in the same pan for 10 minutes (or more if desired). Then broil for a few more minutes. OR drain the water from Instant Pot, switch to an Air Fryer Lid and bake right there.
Tips for making Shepherd’s Pie in Instant Pot
You can use your favourite Shepherd’s Pie recipe with this technique. You might need to adjust the amount of ingredients for the size of the stackable inserts.
I made this recipe more than half a dozen times and twice milk from the potato pan spilled out in Instant Pot. This is totally fine. The only way you even know that it happened is because the water inside Instant Pot gets a bit mirky. The other times milk didn’t spill out. So, don’t worry if that happens.
I use Pans-in-Pot brand of stackable inserts. They are very sturdy! There was no note in the package in regards to whether they are oven-safe, so I just risked it. After dozen of times, there’s no warping or discolouration of any kind. They are just as new.
However, that brand is no longer available on Amazon. Here’s another stackable insert that has a lot of positive reviews. I personally do not have any experience with that brand.
If you are worried that your particular brand of stackable inserts is not oven-safe then just transfer the meat and potatoes to another oven-safe casserole pan.
Also, feel free to bake Shepherd’s Pie for longer than 10 minutes. At this point everything is already cooked so you just want the flavours to meld together a bit. I’ve baked it for 20-30 minutes a few times.
Right after baking, this Shepherd’s Pie will be quite soft (you can see in the video and photos) but one it cools a bit, it’ll firm up more.
- Extra Lean Ground Beef
- Since we aren’t sautéing the meat first, you want to use Extra Lean ground beef. I tried making this dish with lean ground beef and it was a bit too greasy.
- You probably can use ground lamb, just make sure you are using an Extra Lean kind if can find.
- I have made this recipe with ground turkey and also ground veal.
- You really do need cornstarch in this recipe. The meat releases a lot of juices (and still some fat), so without the cornstarch it becomes watery. Cornstarch thickens the liquid and creates a delicious gravy.
- If you don’t want to measure out all the seasonings, feel free to use a seasoning packet but make sure to check the ingredients. Some of those seasoning packets already have cornstarch added and if that’s the case, you might want to omit cornstarch that I included in the recipe.
- If I use a seasoning packet, then I usually use just half of it.
- Frozen Veggies
- Could be omitted if desired.
- Use any kind you want. I usually have the one with green beans and corn (I know, it’s not the most traditional) but you can use just carrots and peas if you’d like.
- Mashed Potatoes
- You’ll notice that I don’t specify any salt and pepper in the recipe, that’s because I prefer to salt my mashed potatoes later and the seasonings depend on how salty the broth is.
- This particular recipe for mashed potatoes also makes somewhat thinner potatoes. Reducing the amount of liquid for the potatoes will mean that you may need to increase the cooking time. Add another 5 minutes or more.
- I have once added a cup of cooked Instant Pot Lemon Quinoa to the meat layer and it was delicious! It added fibre and also helped me stretch the ingredients.
DO YOU WANT MORE INSTANT POT RECIPES?
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Instant Pot Shepherd's Pie
- 1 pound extra lean ground beef
- 1/2 onion (very finely chopped)
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- 2 teaspoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 cup frozen vegetables
- 1/4 cup water (you can use broth if you'd like)
Mashed Potatoes layer
- 1.5 pound potatoes (peeled and roughly chopped)
- 1 tablespoon butter (cut in pieces)
- 1/2 cup broth
- 1/2 cup milk
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 375F if baking in the oven after. Alternatively, use Air Fryer Lid for baking.
- Mix all the ingredients for the meat layer in one of the stackable pans.
- Mix all the ingredients for the potato layer in the second stackable pan. Cover with a lid.
- Follow instructions from your stackable pans insert to secure both pans.
- Add 2 cups of cold water to your Instant Pot. Place the stackable pans inside the Instant Pot.
- Close the lid of your Instant Pot and turn the valve to Sealing.
- Press Manual or Pressure Cooker button (depending on your model) and use the arrows to select 25 minutes. It should take about 17 minutes to come to pressure.
- Once Instant Pot beeps that the 25 minutes of cooking are done, do a quick release. This should take about 2 minutes. Alternatively, you could do a natural pressure release. IMPORTANT: read the note below about cooking time.
- Carefully open Instant Pot and remove the stackable inserts.
- Mash the potatoes. No need to drain them.
- Lightly mix the meat layer with a fork to break up the meat. Cover the meat with the mashed potatoes and smooth the top.Note, if your stackable insert pans can't go in the oven, then transfer the meat to an oven-safe casserole dish and layer mashed potatoes over it.
- Place the pan in the oven for 10 (or 20-30) minutes. Then broil for another 3-5 minutes until the top browns.Alternatively, if you have an Air Fryer Lid, then drain the water from Instant Pot, place the pan back into Instant Pot and use Instant Pot Air Fryer Lid to bake at 375F for 10-15 minutes.
- Let cool slightly and serve.
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This post was first published on April 1, 2019 and is now updated with more useful information.