Paleo(ish) Shepherd’s Pie

There’s a wee bit of debate (in my best Irish accent) as to whether Shepherd’s Pie originated in Ireland or Scotland. And true Shepherd’s pie is made with ground lamb, not beef.  (When made with ground beef, it’s called Cottage Pie.)  But given we’ve already stretched the authenticity of this dish (i.e using cauliflower instead of quintessential Irish potatoes) we feel pretty good about making it for St. Patty’s Day.  Leprechauns can be Paleo, too!

Paleo Shepherd's Pie

Print Recipe
Serves: 4-6 Cooking Time: 2 hours (divided)


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 4 carrots, peeled + finely diced
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tsp garlic powder (divided)
  • 3 tsp kosher salt (divided)
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into 1-2" pieces
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened (or ghee for Paleo)
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (optional - not Paleo)



Preheat oven to 350 degrees.


In a large dutch oven, heat olive oil and add beef, onions, carrots, and 1 tsp garlic powder. Cook until meat is brown and onions and carrots are mostly tender. Add tomato paste and stir to coat beef mixture. Add 2 tsp kosher salt. Adjust seasoning to taste, if needed.


Fill another large pot with water (3/4 full) and bring to boil. Add chopped cauliflower and cook until soft. Reserve 1/4 cup of cooking liquid.


Drain cauliflower into colander.


Place cooked cauliflower in blender or food processor. Add butter (or ghee) and 1 tbsp water (from reserved cooking water) at a time and pulse until completely smooth. (Use the least amount of water possible; it needs to have the consistency of mashed potatoes.)


Add 1 tsp kosher salt + 1 tsp garlic powder to cauliflower. Add more salt if needed.


Place beef mixture into casserole dish. Cover bottom of dish. Spread cauliflower evenly on top of beef. Top with shredded cheddar cheese (optional, not paleo, but really tasty!)


Bake for another 20 minutes at 350 degrees.


Because the cauliflower retains so much water, it's important to use as little as possible in puree. We chose not to add any thickeners to the recipe, like flour or cornstarch, because that adds empty carbs. The trade-off is a more broth like consistency in the Shepherd's Pie, instead of a rich gravy. But it is still surprisingly delicious and healthy. If you choose to use a thickener, we recommend adding 1 tbsp of cornstarch to the beef mixture.

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