Shepherd’s Pie – Gluten Free and Paleo Versions

Two free range recipes presented below can be considered as shepherd’s pie recipes in a very broad sense only, meaning that some meat in a sauce is baked under the layer of mashed vegetables. I usually make shepherd’s pie dish to give it away. That is why there are no photos of finally cooked or served pie, included in this post. I hardly use potatoes in my cooking nowadays, and when making mash, always mix potatoes with sweet potatoes. I like the colour and the taste of two potatoes mix better. It delivers more interesting flavour as well. I also like to add sour cream to potatoes mash, together with butter and full cream milk. Depending on the type of potatoes and the ratio of potatoes to sweet potatoes, it might me enough to use only butter and sour cream, without any milk. This type of mash I use for gluten free version of the dish.

As I never use any flour, even gluten free one, to thicken sauces or in any mince dishes, my shepherd’s pie is naturally gluten free.

For a paleo version of shepherd’s pie, which I make for our friend who does not tolerate dairy, potatoes and even sweet potatoes in her diet, I make another type of vegetables mash. I include roasted pumpkin and either steamed cauliflower or cauliflower, sautéed with carrots and onions/leek into vegetable mash. All frying is done with an equal mix of olive and coconut oil. I do not use any cheese on top of vegetable mash for paleo version of the pie, I just use some olive oil to make a nice light brown crust during final baking.

For a bottom layer of the pie I use diced chicken or even lamb meat, slowly cooked for a long time in tomato sauce with onions and grated carrots. Chicken or lamb meat becomes very soft and practically falls apart in a sauce. The sauce is full of blended flavours with some sweetness delivered by onions and carrots, which disintegrate during long cooking and thicken the sauce.

I make shepherd’s pie in baking dishes or using aluminium disposable pans, which I like to line with cake paper liners. The last are handy when the dish is frozen for later use. Occasionally I make individual portions of shepherd’s pie, where you can adjust meat to vegetables ratio, or to separate pie portion for adult consumption from a pie to be used for toddlers, with less salt and spices used.


This is a free range recipe with quantities and ratios of the ingredients left to be adjusted to your family tastes. More detailed instructions for paleo shepherd’s pie preparation with ingredients quantities can be found here.


  • diced chicken thigh meat or diced lamb, for absolutely glamorous option I used deboned lamb shanks meat
  • onion and/or leek, sliced in semi-circles
  • carrots, grated
  • olive oil
  • butter (coconut oil in paleo recipe)
  • can of diced tomatoes
  • pinch of fennel and cumin seeds
  • 1-2 cloves when using lamb meat, take them out before using meat to make a pie
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • fresh or dry chilli pepper to taste (I use 1 table spoon of my own garlic and chilli peppers preserve)
  • sea salt and black pepper for seasoning

vegetable mash

gluten free version

  • buttery potatoes
  • sweet potatoes
  • butter
  • light sour cream
  • milk (if needed)
  • sea salt for seasoning

paleo version

  • roasted pumpkin (butternut variety is the best), I have found that pumpkin roasted and stored refrigerated, gives thicker mash, which is sometimes hard to achieve when cauliflower is used in a mix
  • cauliflower
  • carrots
  • onions
  • olive oil
  • coconut oil
  • sea salt for seasoning
  • garlic and chilli preserve or other spice mix of your choice



  • heat olive oil and butter (or coconut oil) in casserole pan
  • add fennel and cumin seeds
  • slice onion in semi-circles and gently fry them on medium heat, season them with salt and pepper after 2-3 minutes frying
  • add grated carrots, stir, fry for 3-5 minutes
  • add diced meat, fry for another 3-5 minutes
  • add all other spices, canned tomatoes and boiling water to cover all vegetables and meat
  • cook until boiling point, reduce the heat to minimum and cook at least 1 hour, until all the juices are reduced and the sauce becomes thick, I usually cook for 2 hours, the texture and flavours are better
  • spoon meat in a sauce into shepherd’s pie dish

gluten free mash 

  • cook peeled and cut in big chunks potatoes and sweet potatoes (3 to 1 ratio) until fully cooked and soft
  • if you boil potatoes, discard water and return the pot to low heat to dry potatoes and get rid of extra moisture in the pan, if potatoes are steamed extra drying is not necessary
  • mash vegetables, add butter and season with salt
  • add sour cream, mash again
  • if your mash is too dense at this stage add hot milk
  • for extra fine texture use hand-held mixer on medium speed
  • spoon vegetable mash on top of meat layer
  • add grated cheese of your choice, I use mozzarella cheese

paleo vegetable mash

  • roast pumpkin, sliced or cut in halves, skin up, if sliced, brush pumpkin with olive oil (oven temperature 180C)
  • separate pumpkin flesh from the skin
  • roasted pumpkin flesh can be stored 2-3 days refrigerated
  • heat olive and coconut oil in a deep pan
  • slice onions and carrots
  • gently fry onions first, add carrots later, saute then for 10 minutes
  • add cauliflower florets
  • if necessary add little water
  • cook until all vegetables are fully cooked and soft and no liquid is left on the bottom of the pan
  • transfer vegetables into a bowl of food processor, add pumpkin flesh
  • process until fine texture is reached
  • use stick blender to achieve super fine texture

  • spoon vegetable mash on top of meat layer
  • if your vegetable mash has runny texture, which can happen because of moisture content in cauliflower, use golden flaxseed flour or psyllium husks/powder to thicken vegetable mash

  • store refrigerated for 2-3 days or freeze if prepared for later use

  • bake at 190C fan forced oven until golden brown

7 thoughts on “Shepherd’s Pie – Gluten Free and Paleo Versions

  1. Fabulous post Irena and great photos! I like the technique of the potato on top before the cheese, quite complex.

    1. Thank you Adrianne, it’s a convenient dish for storage and freezing, I can make it an any time. This makes a huge difference to me.

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