Shepherd’s pie with leftover roasted turkey or baked chicken is classic comfort food for any family meal. This scrumptious casserole dinner is loaded with vegetables in a creamy white gravy topped with mashed potatoes and baked to perfection.
This veggie-loaded turkey shepherd’s pie recipe has the comfort of a pot pie, minus the flour crust. Instead, it’s topped with a creamy layer of mashed potatoes. This makes it gluten-free and equally scrumptious. Make it with leftover turkey roast during the holiday season or meal prepped shredded chicken from your Instant Pot.
What’s the difference between cottage pie and shepherd’s pie?
Traditionally, this hearty Scottish dinner was called shepherd’s pie because it contained minced lamb. After all, shepherds look after the sheep. Pie referred to any dish that contained meat and potatoes.
If the dish was made with beef instead of lamb, it was called cottage pie. This is because potatoes were inexpensive, and the peasants who made it lived in cottages. However, the two names are often used interchangeably.
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For this recipe, I use leftover turkey or chicken instead of beef for a few reasons.
1) It’s the perfect way to make sure my leftover turkey breast gets devoured after the big holiday feast.
2) Turkey or chicken breast is a healthier choice than beef and more budget-friendly than lamb.
How to make shepherd’s pie
You can create a shortcut for the savory pie filling when you use leftover meat such as Thanksgiving turkey or shredded chicken. This way, you don’t have to cook the turkey or chicken first. It’s a super quick shepherd’s pie recipe.
The prep work takes about 20 minutes and then you let it cook in the oven until the top of the pie is golden brown.
Step 1. Make the mashed potatoes. I make this easy Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes recipe with Russet potatoes. They have a high starch content. As a result, they are fluffy and smooth when mashed. Yukon gold is another high starch potato option. If you want the potatoes to get golden brown on the top while baking, you can add an egg yolk to the potato mixture when you mash them. I did not do that for this recipe, but it’s an option for you. Also, make sure the potatoes are warm when you put them on top of the other ingredients.
Step 2. Meanwhile, saute the veggies. I use onion, celery, and carrots. Parsnips and turnips taste great too.
Step 3. Make a roux. This is a combination of fat and flour cooked together. It will thicken your sauce to a gravy. Do this by sprinkling flour over the veggies while they cook.
Step 4. Make a bechamel sauce. Bechamel is a white cream sauce. It is made by adding milk to the roux. I use chicken broth as well as half and half in my sauce, but the method is the same regardless of the liquid you use. For the creamiest Bechamel sauce, whisk the liquids into the roux slowly. Otherwise, the fat will separate from the mixture and will ultimately float on the top of your sauce.
Step 5. Add veggies. Use tender veggies like peas. Corn, spinach, and green beans are good options as well.
Step 6. Add leftover turkey or chicken and transfer everything to a baking dish.
Step 7. Spread the potatoes on top. The easiest way to do this without making a mess of the filling is to use a portion scoop. Get drops of the mashed potatoes in the right place and then spread them gently with a spatula.
Step 8. Sprinkle with cheese and parsley and bake for 30 minutes. Allow to set up for 10 minutes, then serve warm.
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Can you freeze turkey shepherd’s pie?
This is a great choice for a meal prep dinner! You can definitely make it, bake it, and freeze it. To do this, once it’s fully cooked, allow the shepherd’s pie to cool completely. Portion by cutting various sized pieces to your liking, placing each into freezer-safe containers, and freezing for up to two months.
When you are ready to eat it, you can thaw a piece in the refrigerator overnight and reheat in the microwave or baking in the oven. Depending on how you choose to reheat, it can take a few minutes (in the microwave) or up to 20 minutes in the oven.
- 3.5-quart saucepot or skillet
- stirring utensil
- wire whisk
- 10″ x 7″ baking dish + baking sheet to go under the baking dish
- 2 oz portion scoop or spoon (to scoop potatoes over the filling)
- silicone spatula (to spread the filling and mashed potatoes)
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Shepherd’s Pie [Turkey or Chicken]
- 3 Tbsp Butter
- 1/2 White Onion diced
- 2 Celery Stalks diced
- 2 Carrots diced
- 4 Garlic Cloves finely grated
- 3 Tbsp Flour sub gluten-free flour, if desired
- 1 cup Reduced Sodium Chicken Broth
- 1/4 cup Half and Half
- 1 tsp Fresh Thyme Leaves or ½ tsp Dried Thyme
- 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
- 1/4 tsp Black Pepper
- 1 Cup Sweet Peas
- 2 Cups Leftover Turkey or Rotisserie Chicken chopped
- 4.5 cups Mashed Potatoes about 4 large Russet potatoes
- 1/3 cup Cheddar Cheese optional
- (optional) chopped fresh Parsley for garnish
- Preheat oven to 375°
Make the Shepherd's Pie filling
- In a 3-quart skillet or saucepot over medium-high flame, heat BUTTER.
- Add ONION, CARROT, CELERY, and GARLIC; sauté until tender and fragrant, stirring as needed. (3-5 min).
- Add FLOUR; sauté and stir until veggies absorb the flour and are coated (FYI longer sauté = browner color) to make the roux
- Add CHICKEN BROTH in small amounts, whisking rapidly to incorporate the roux and broth, until a creamy sauce develops.
- Stir in HALF AND HALF; then THYME, SALT, and PEPPER.
- Fold in PEAS and COOKED TURKEY or CHICKEN.
Shepherd's Pie assembly and baking instructions
- Transfer Shepherd’s Pie filling to a 9″ x 7″ baking dish and spread the filling out evenly in the dish.
- Distribute 4 cups warm MASHED POTATOES across the top surface of the filling using a portion scoop.
- Use a silicone spatula to gently flatten out the potatoes evenly over the filling (this is why I use a portion scoop to get the potatoes in place, to not mess up the filling).
- Sprinkle CHEDDAR CHEESE on top; (optional) garnish with chopped PARSLEY.
- Bake 30 minutes uncovered until sauce is bubbling. Carefully remove from oven and allow to set up for 10 minutes. Serve warm.