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. Perfectly delicious and easy comfort food!
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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 (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.
With all the explanations out of the way, let me talk about this delicious and easy meal. 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 that already exist, 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!
Why make Shepherd’s Pie in Instant Pot
Mashed potatoes are my all time favourite food ever! So, Shepherd’s Pie with half of it made our of mashed potatoes is at the top of my favourite foods. However, I used to very rarely make it.
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 cook. 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 Pans-in-Pot 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). So easy! And since the stackable pans already come with a lid, it is also easy to store in the fridge.
Ingredients to make Shepherd’s Pie
These are the ingredients that I use but most likely you could use your favourite recipe and flavour combination with similar results.
For the meat
- Extra lean ground beef
- Tomato pasta
- Worcestershire sauce
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- Frozen veggies
For the mashed potatoes
- Chicken broth
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 20 minutes (I tried 15 minutes and it was under cooked), 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 12 minutes and only 20 of those minutes are hands-on cooking.
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…
How to make Instant Pot Shepherd’s Pie
Since we are using stackable pans insert, making this Shepherd’s Pie 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 in one pan.
- Add all the ingredients for the potatoes in another pan.
- Stack in 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.
Tips for making Instant Pot Shepherd’s Pie
A few tips on how to make Shepherd’s Pie using a Pot in Pot method in Instant Pot.
I made this recipe four 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 two 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 four times, there’s no warping or discolouration of any kind. They are just as new.
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.
- 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.
- 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. If you prefer thicker texture then reduce the amount of milk and stock a little bit. But remember that the potatoes thicken as they cool.
- I use 1.5 pounds of potatoes for this recipe because my husband loves a thick potato layer. Feel free to reduce potatoes and liquid if you’d like to have less mashed potatoes.
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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.
- Mix all the ingredients for the meat layer in one of the stackable pans.
- Mix all the ingredients for the potatoes 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 20 minutes.
- It should take about 17 minutes to come to pressure. Might be a bit less or more depending on your model.
- Once the Instant Pot beeps that the 20 minutes of cooking are done, do a quick release. This should take about 2 minutes.
- 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.
- Let cool slightly and serve.