Mexican Shepherd's Pie Recipe

Ah, jolly ole England. The country that has given us The Beatles, Cadbury eggs, and our obsession with William and Kate (or, tbh, the entire Royal family). They have also graced our palettes with amazing delicacies that were created and originated in these parts, like fish and chips and Yorkshire pudding. We can also thank the English for the ultimate combo of meat and carbs that is Shepherd's pie, also referred to as cottage pie. Whatever the variation, the basic combination is comprised of ground meat that is cooked in a sauce or gravy with vegetables and then layered with mashed potatoes before baking. A quintessential comfort food, it is both inexpensive and an easy way to repurpose leftovers.

Cinco De Mayo may be a longways away, but we're getting our fiesta on with this unique take on the classic British dish. Cyndi Sterne is a chef and owner of Yes, Chef! Culinary Events based in Sandy Springs, Georgia. Sterne heads the culinary space that hosts everything from corporate team-building outings and private events, to chef driven pop ups and has even spread to the digital space in recent times. She also happens to have put a spin on the traditional European dish with her Mexican shepherd's pie. This dish has all the good comfort factors you want, with the taco night flavors you crave. 

Gather ingredients and begin preparing potatoes for this shepherd's pie

Begin making this Mexican shepherd's pie by gathering all ingredients and preheating your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 

We're going to kick this off with the starchy goodness that is the potato — they're the literal crown of this tasty dish, so we want to get them just right. Once the potatoes are peeled and cut into one to two-inch pieces, you're going to place them in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Set your burner to high heat and bring the water to a boil. When the water has been boiling for a few minutes, turn the burner down to a simmer and continue cooking until the potatoes are fork tender. Depending on your stovetop, this should take about 15 minutes. Once they're ready, drain the potatoes and return them to the saucepan. 

Next, add the butter, milk, salt, and pepper, and mash until thoroughly combined. Sterne's dairy of choice for this dish is buttermilk because of its tangy nature. Now is a good time to take a taste and adjust the seasonings based on your preference. If you're going for smooth mashed potatoes, you may have to add a little more cream or butter.

If you're all about the presentation and have the time, Sterne says this is where you can show off your chef skills. "You can make them really smooth, and pipe them on top of the casserole before placing it in the broiler to achieve little bits of brown," she suggests.

Prepare the filling for your shepherd's pie

While the potatoes are cooking, you can begin preparation of the filling. Place the vegetable oil into a 12-inch sauté pan and set it over medium high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the chopped onions, peppers, zucchini, and corn. Sauté until they have softened and reached a golden hue. Based on your stovetop, this should take approximately five to seven minutes. Once they have cooked, you can add the drained black beans to the mixture. Whatever beans you have on hand would also work. Remove the mixture from heat and transfer it to a bowl.

It's important to note that you shouldn't feel limited by these vegetables. Sterne suggests that "you can be as adventurous as you want. Chop up a poblano pepper. You can make it more succotash style with corn and lima beans." This recipe is all about using what's in your pantry and available. 

Prepare the beef for your shepherd's pie

Using the same pan as the vegetables, it's time prepare the ground meat until it's fully cooked. Use a wooden spoon to break it up as it browns. Once it has reached the suggested temperature, drain it and then add it to the vegetable mixture and set aside. 

Though Stern used pork for her Mexican shepherd's pie, you can use any ground meat — but the fat content does make a difference in your final dish. Meats lower in fat, such as ground turkey, will require a little extra sauce, so keep that in mind when preparing the rest of your filling. 

Sterne also suggests that this dish can be made in its entirety in advance or even by making each component in advance throughout the day — something that will especially appeal to the busy family. 

Prepare the sauce for your shepherd's pie

Now it's time to make the sauce that will bring all of this together. Utilizing the same pan you used for the veggies and the meat (yay! less dishes), add the butter to the pan and let it melt. While whisking, begin sprinkling the flour over the melting butter. Clumps are totally normal at this step, so don't freak out when it all start to stick together! Next, add a quarter cup of broth and whisk until it's smooth and becomes thickened. In small increments, add the rest of the broth and continue to whisk. Sterne suggests that slow and steady wins the race here — adding too much broth at once will make it a lot for difficult to get rid of the clumps. 

Kick your shepherd's pie up a notch

This shepherd's pie wouldn't be a Mexican inspired dish without a little heat, right? Next, add to the sauce 2 tablespoons of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce that have been finely chopped. If you're feeling adventurous, you can even add a little more. You're going to want to keep cooking and whisking until the chipotle peppers are thoroughly mixed in and the sauce has thickened. 

For a more family friendly approach to this dish without all the heat, Sterne suggests adding a little bit of mild taco seasoning to the ground meat. This will produce a similar flavor profile without the spice level.

Cook until sauce has thickened and adjust seasoning

Once the sauce for your shepherd's pie has reached the desired level of thickness, it's time to bulk it up. Add the previously cooked meat and vegetable mixture back to the sauce. Mix it all together until it's well-blended, and continue to heat, stirring occasionally, until all of the ingredients are warmed through. 

Now would be a good time to adjust the seasoning to your liking by giving it a quick taste and adding more salt or pepper as needed. If it hasn't reached your desired level of spice, you could also add more ancho here — or more taco seasoning if you want the spice but not the heat. 

It's time to assemble your shepherd's pie

Congrats! You've made it to the homestretch — it's time to build your shepherd's pie. Spray an 11x17 glass dish or 2-quart casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray and begin assembling by spreading the meat and vegetable mixture across the entire bottom dish. Be sure to cover all areas so that the finished product is layered correctly (no one wants to get a bite that's only mashed potatoes, right?). 

Once you've finished with the bottom layer, it's time to spread the potatoes evenly over the meat mixture. Make sure you smooth the top with a spatula so it bakes up nice and pretty.

Top your shepherd's pie with cheese and get it baking

Now's the time to put your finishing touch on this dish, the cheese. Sprinkle cheese evenly and generously (as generously as you want, there's no such thing as too much cheese!) over the mashed potatoes. Pop it into your preheated oven, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. 

You're going to want to keep an eye on the dish as it bakes, and wait for it to start to bubble. That's your signal that's it's warmed throughout. You'll also need to keep on eye on the cheese — you want it melted and browned, but not burnt. When it's finsihed cooking, remove it from the oven, and let sit out approximately 15 minutes before serving so it can firm up. It'll be hard to wait to dig into it once it's sitting on the counter, but those extra minutes help ensure it's cool enough to eat — and that it keeps its shape when it's served. 

Mexican Shepherd's Pie Recipe
4.9 from 81 ratings
This Mexican shepherd's pie is a fun spin on the traditional European dish. We promise, you're going to want to make this one right away.
Prep Time
Cook Time
Mexican Shepherd's Pie
Total time: 55 minutes
  • 1 ½ pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
  • ¼ cup half-and-half, milk, or buttermilk
  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • ½ cup chopped red pepper
  • ¾ cup diced zucchini
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 pound ground beef, turkey, or pork
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 Tablespoons chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, finely chopped
  • 1 cup pepper jack cheese
  1. Place potatoes in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Set over high heat, and bring to a boil, then turn down to simmer.
  2. When potatoes are fork tender, drain and return to the saucepan. Add 4 tablespoons of butter, milk, salt, and pepper, and mash until thoroughly combined. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a 11x17 glass dish or 2 quart casserole, and set aside.
  4. While potatoes are cooking prepare the filling. Add vegetable oil into a 12-inch pan over medium high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the onion, peppers, zucchini, and corn, and saute until soft, about 5-7 minutes.
  5. Add black beans to vegetables and stir to combine. Pour vegetable mix into a bowl, and set mixture aside.
  6. Add the meat to the same pan and brown until cooked through, breaking up with spoon as it cooks.
  7. Drain cooked meat and add to the vegetable mixture. Set aside.
  8. To make sauce, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter to the same pan, and let it melt. Sprinkle the flour over the melted butter and whisk together, it may become clumpy.
  9. Add a quarter cup of the broth to the butter and flour, and whisk until smooth and thick. Slowly add the rest of the broth, and whisk until smooth.
  10. Add the chopped chipotle peppers to sauce, and whisk until well combined. Cooking until sauce is thick.
  11. Add the meat and vegetable mixture to the sauce. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper or more chipotle peppers, if needed.
  12. Spread the meat and vegetable mixture in the bottom of an 11x7 casserole dish.
  13. Spread the potatoes evenly over the meat mixture.
  14. Sprinkle cheese evenly and generously over the potatoes.
  15. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the cheese is lightly brown, and everything is hot and bubbly. Let the mixture sit for 15 minutes before serving.
Calories per Serving 510
Total Fat 30.7 g
Saturated Fat 14.0 g
Trans Fat 1.0 g
Cholesterol 82.4 mg
Total Carbohydrates 36.8 g
Dietary Fiber 7.0 g
Total Sugars 4.1 g
Sodium 815.6 mg
Protein 22.2 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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