Shepherd's Pie with Scalloped Potatoes and Pesto


Fancy up shepherd's pie with some scalloped potatoes and pesto.

Shepherd’s Pie with Scalloped Potatoes and Pesto
Photo: Victor Protasio; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis
Active Time:
15 mins
Bake Time:
20 mins
Stand Time:
10 mins
Total Time:
45 mins

Comfort food doesn't get much cozier than a piping hot shepherd's pie. Our Test Kitchen pros took a traditional recipe and gave it a spring makeover with a layer of tender scalloped potatoes on top and plenty of seasonal vegetables inside.

This scalloped potato shepherd's pie has everything you could want—tender and crispy potatoes, earthy parsnips, tangy crème fraiche, and bright, herbaceous pesto. Ground lamb and vegetables are partners in crime in this hearty supper. The crown of scalloped potatoes adds a nice, crunchy texture to the pot pie, absorbing the other flavors well. You can also substitute ground beef or turkey for the lamb, if you prefer.

We take a few shortcuts in this recipe (using jarred pesto and boxed scalloped potatoes instead of homemade) a weeknight supper that's doable on the busiest evening. Impressive enough for a dinner party, the recipe is ready to serve in just 45 minutes.

Best of all, it's designed to be made in advance. Shepherd's Pie with Scalloped Potatoes and Pesto is a great dish to contribute to a meal train or share with a friend who may not have time to prepare meals at the moment, such as a new mom. It's designed to store in the freezer and reheat beautifully when needed.


  • 1 teaspoon olive oil

  • 1 pound ground lamb

  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, divided

  • ¾ teaspoon black pepper, divided

  • 2 medium parsnips, halved lengthwise and sliced ¼ inch thick (about 1 cup) 

  • 1 cup sliced leeks (from 1 small leek)

  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • ½ cup chicken broth

  • 1 cup frozen sweet peas

  • ¼ cup crème fraîche

  • ¼ cup jarred basil pesto (such as Giovanni Rana)

  • ¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus more for garnish

  • 1 (4.7-oz.) pkg. scalloped potatoes (such as Betty Crocker)

  • ¾ cup boiling water

  • cup whole milk


  1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Lightly spray a 2-quart (7- x 11-inch) baking dish with cooking spray. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add ground lamb, ¾ teaspoon of the salt, and ¼ teaspoon of the pepper; cook, using a spoon to break up meat, until browned, about 5 minutes. Remove using a slotted spoon, and let drain on a plate lined with a paper towel, reserving drippings in pan. Add parsnips and sliced leeks to drippings, and cook, stirring occasionally, until just beginning to become tender, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle flour over vegetable mixture; cook, stirring constantly, about 1 minute. Gradually stir in broth until smooth; cook, stirring often, until thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in sweet peas, crème fraîche, pesto, chopped parsley, reserved lamb, and remaining ¾ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Spoon into prepared dish.

  2. Arrange dried potatoes over filling in even layer. Whisk together sauce mix from potato box, boiling water, and milk in a small heatproof bowl until smooth; pour mixture evenly over potatoes. Bake, uncovered, in preheated oven until golden brown and edges are crispy, about 20 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with additional parsley.


Let baked dish cool to room temperature, one hour. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and then aluminum foil. Freeze until solid, at least four hours or up to six months.


Thaw overnight in refrigerator. Preheat oven to 350°F. Let stand at room temperature while oven preheats, 30 minutes. Unwrap; discard plastic wrap. Cover with aluminum foil; bake 20 minutes. Uncover; continue baking until a thermometer inserted registers 165°F, 10 to 15 minutes.

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