This Sausage Shepherd’s Pie is a mouthwatering twist on a classic shepherd’s pie full of soul-warming flavors. The filling features rich Italian sausage, savory herbs, and hearty vegetables. Top it off with buttery mashed potatoes for an unbelievably comforting meal!
🥧 An Easy Italian Shepherd’s Pie
Sausage Shepherd’s Pie is a fusion recipe that mixes the best of both Italian and Irish cuisines. Instead of ground beef or lamb and tomato sauce that are typically found in traditional shepherd’s pie, this recipe incorporates sausage and marinara sauce.
These two ingredients add depth and richness to Shepherd's Pie, creating a unique and unforgettable taste. The textural combination of tender vegetables, meaty sausage, and creamy potatoes make it incredibly hard to stop at just one serving!
You’ll be surprised to know that a dish this complex in flavor can also be quite easy to make. Plus, Sausage Shepherd’s Pie turns into the best leftovers all week long.
Prepare this dish for potlucks, family gatherings, or meal prep. You can even make it ahead of time, freeze the casserole, and reheat it as needed! For more comforting recipes, try my Turkey Alfredo, One Pan Creamy Chicken and Gnocchi, or Tortellini and Sausage Bake.
Why You'll Love It
- Easy: Sausage Shepherd’s Pie is easy to prepare and only requires a few ingredients. Most of them can be found in your fridge or pantry!
- Comforting: Serve this comforting dish during colder weather months or whenever you’re feeling like something cozy.
- Hearty: You’ll be left full and satisfied for hours after eating Sausage Shepherd's Pie. The mixture of sausage, vegetables, and creamy potatoes is rich in fiber, protein, and fats.
- Onion and garlic: Provides savory and ultra-hearty flavors in the filling for Sausage Shepherd's Pie.
- Italian sausage: Italian sausage adds tons of flavor with just one ingredient! You can use either hot or mild Italian sausage. If you are sensitive to spice, opt for the mild variety. My favorite is pork, but you can also use chicken or turkey for a lighter option.
- Rosemary: Creates ultra-comforting flavor. I prefer dried rosemary so I don’t have to remove it after simmering the filling. If you use fresh rosemary, remember to take it out before transferring the filling to the baking dish.
- All-purpose flour: To thicken the filling. If you are following a gluten-free diet, replace the flour with gluten-free flour or 1 teaspoon corn starch.
- Red wine: For layers of complexity throughout the filling. Choose a grape varietal like Cabernet, Syrah, or Pinot Noir.
- Marinara sauce: Provides depth to the filling. My go-to option is Rao’s, but feel free to use your favorite canned or jarred marinara or tomato sauce.
- Broth: Adds flavor and keeps the filling moist. You can use chicken broth, beef broth, or water.
- Frozen vegetables: I use a classic frozen vegetable mix of carrots, peas, green beans, lima beans, and corn but any mix will do. Use the rest in Shrimp Fried Rice!
- Cooking oil: Avocado oil is my favorite oil to cook, fry, and sauté with because of its high smoke point (500°F) and neutral flavor.
For The Mashed Potatoes
- Potatoes: Russet (or Idaho) potatoes work best for mashing. They are hearty yet light and whipped. For creamy mashed potatoes, use Yukon Gold potatoes.
- Butter: Creates a rich flavor and texture in the mashed potatoes. I recommend unsalted butter for better control over the saltiness.
- Milk: For silky and rich-tasting mashed potatoes, use whole milk. Half and half or heavy cream would also work.
- Garlic powder: Generally speaking, it’s better to use garlic powder for mashed potatoes. It adds a subdued savory and roasted flavor without overpowering the potatoes.
- Parmesan cheese: Adds a pop of umami-rich flavors to the potatoes. Use freshly-grated Parmesan for the most intense flavors and melting capabilities.
Substitutions & Variations
- Instead of regular potatoes, make your Sausage Shepherd’s Pie with sweet potatoes. They add a pop of color and a sweeter flavor to balance the spice of the sausage.
- Use ground beef or lamb in place of Italian sausage for a more traditional shepherd’s pie flavor.
- In place of (or in addition to) rosemary, add dried thyme, sage, a few bay leaves, or an Italian seasoning mix to your Sausage Shepherd's Pie.
- If you don’t consume alcohol, replace the red wine with extra beef or chicken broth.
- Include your favorite vegetables! Hearty options include celery, parsnips, broccoli, and green beans.
- Make your Sausage Shepherd’s Pie spicy by using hot Italian sausage and adding red pepper flakes or cayenne powder to the filling. You can also include some diced fresh hot peppers if you’d like.
👩🏻🍳 How To Make Sausage Shepherd's Pie
STEP ONE: First, preheat the oven to 375°F (or 190°C).
Heat an oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat and add a splash of oil. Then add pork sausage (casings removed) and onion, cooking for 5 minutes until little pink remains.
Then add garlic and rosemary, stirring for 30 seconds until fragrant.
STEP TWO: Add the flour, cooking for 1-2 minutes until lightly thickened to cook off raw flour taste.
Next, pour in the wine and let reduce for an additional 2-3 minutes. It should start to thicken into a roux-like paste.
STEP THREE: Finally, add the marinara sauce, broth, frozen vegetables, salt, and pepper. Simmer for 5 minutes and season to taste. If needed, transfer to casserole dish. Then turn the heat off and set aside.
STEP FOUR: Next, start on the mashed potatoes. To a pot, add potatoes with a generous amount of salt and cover with 1 inch of cold water. Bring to a boil, then turn heat down so it's a rolling simmer and cook until potatoes are completely fork-tender, bout 15-20 minutes.
STEP FIVE: Drain the potatoes and return to pot. Turn heat down to low and add 6 tablespoon butter, ⅓ cup milk, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Mash until completely smooth and creamy, gradually adding in more butter or milk if needed.
STEP SIX: Place dollops of mashed potatoes on top of the sausage mixture. Gently spread around until smooth.
STEP SEVEN: Use a fork to create ridges in both directions. Then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and bake for 25-30 minutes until bubbly. Option to broil for 2-3 minutes until the top is lightly golden. Let cool slightly before serving.
💭 Top Tips
- Oven safe dish: For less dishes, use an oven-safe skillet or braiser pan for your Sausage Shepherd's Pie. If you don't have one, simply transfer the sausage mixture to a 9x13 casserole dish before topping with mashed potatoes.
- Cool the sausage mixture: Let the sausage mixture cool slightly to prevent the mashed potatoes from sinking down.
- Prevent lumpy mashed potatoes: The potato topping should be completely smooth and creamy. Make sure the potatoes are completely cooked and fork-tender before mashing, use room temperature butter and milk, and mash the potatoes while they're warm. You could also add an egg yolk for an extra-rich topping.
- Rest: Let the Sausage Shpeherd's Pie rest for a few minutes after baking it to allow the filling to settle and the flavors to meld together.
What To Serve With Sausage Shepherd's Pie
Sausage Cottage Pie is quite the meal on its own. However, if you prefer to serve it with a side dish, here are some of my favorite ideas:
- Roasted Carrots and Green Beans
- Roasted Asparagus with Balsamic Glaze
- Korean Broccoli Salad
- Bang Bang Brussels Sprouts
- Pumpkin Cream Cheese Crescent Rolls
🥡 Storing & Freezing
Storing: Let the Sausage Shepherd's Pie cool to room temperature, then cover it with plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Place the pie in the fridge and store it for up to 3-4 days.
Freezing: Once the shepherd’s pie is at room temperature, cover it with aluminum foil and freeze it for up to 3 months. Thaw it in the fridge overnight before baking.
Reheating: To reheat, cover with a fresh sheet of foil. Add it to a preheated oven at 350°F and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until heated through.
Alternatively, microwave individual portions for 1 minutes or until hot.
Make Ahead: You can prepare this easy Sausage Cottage Pie ahead of time by following the instructions on the recipe card. Prepare it until just before baking, then cover and freeze it for a quick dinner when you’re busy.
📖 Recipe FAQs
Both are British casserole recipes that use meat and potatoes, but they do have some differences. Cottage pie is made with beef whereas traditional shepherd’s pie contains lamb.
If your Sausage Shepherd’s Pie is soupy or runny, you likely didn’t add enough flour to thicken the gravy or didn’t simmer it for long enough to reduce the liquid. Additionally, make sure to completely drain the potatoes before mashing them.
Yes, you can make this easy Sausage Cottage Pie vegetarian by swapping out the sausage with a vegan ground round.
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Sausage Shepherd's Pie
- Preheat oven to 375°F or 190°C. If you don't have an oven-safe skillet, grease a 9x13 casserole dish.
- In a large oven-safe skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and sausage. Use your wooden spoon to crumble up the sausage and cook for 5 minutes until sausage is no longer pink. Then add garlic and rosemary, stirring for 30 seconds until fragrant.
- Add flour and stir for 1-2 minutes. Then pour in wine and let reduce by half, about 2-3 minutes.
- Add marinara sauce, broth, frozen veggies, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Simmer for 4-5 minutes until lightly thickened. Season to taste. If needed, transfer to casserole dish and set aside.
- Meanwhile, add potatoes and 1 tablespoon salt to a pot and cover with 1 inch cold water. Bring to a boil, then turn heat down so it's at a rolling simmer. Cook for 15-20 minutes until completely fork tender. Then drain, turn heat down to low, and return potatoes to pot.
- To the potatoes, add 6 tablespoon butter, ⅓ cup milk, garlic powder, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Mash until smooth, adjusting with more butter and milk as needed until creamy. Season to taste.
- Spoon dollops of mashed potatoes on top of sausage mixture. Spread until smooth, then use a fork to create ridges all throughout the potatoes. Sprinkle top with Parmesan cheese.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes until bubbling, then broil for 2-3 minutes until top is golden. Let cool slightly before serving.
- Sausage: Feel free to use mild or spicy. Pork sausage has the richest flavor, but chicken or turkey sausage would be a lighter option.
- Potatoes: I use Russet (Idaho) potatoes, but Yukon Gold would work as well.