The Best Shepherd’s Pie Side Dishes

What are the best side dishes for shepherd’s pie? The hearty meatiness and creamy potato of shepherd’s pie are complemented by crisp, colorful vegetable dishes like buttered zucchini, glazed carrots, minted peas, and garlicky chard. For pure comfort food, serve swede casserole or creamy baked onions. In contrast, serve bright, zesty salads, like coleslaw and winter endives.

Shepherd’s pie, combining ground lamb, gravy, and fluffy mash, is the ultimate comfort food. Side dishes should complement the meal’s home-cooked feel. Let’s look at the perfect side dishes for shepherd’s pie, from some traditional favorites to more exciting new ideas.

Buttered Zucchini

This unusual zucchini dish is warm and buttery, transforming the humble vegetable. Make this tasty weeknight side dish using only a few ingredients. Here’s how:

Start by coarsely grating a pound of baby zucchini with a hand-held grater or food processor.

Toss the zucchini with salt and place it in a colander or sieve. Allow the grated veg to stand and drain for about half an hour.

Next, rinse the zucchini thoroughly and dry it using paper towels.

Now take a pound of shredded watercress and fold it into the zucchini. Set aside.

Heat two ounces of butter in a large saucepan at medium heat until it starts foaming. Then, put in the vegetables and toss them in the butter with two forks until hot.

Season with salt, pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg.

This dish is best served immediately.

Lemon-glazed Carrots

These delicious, sweet carrots have a zesty glaze and an appealing crunch that brighten a savory dinner. The bonus is that they’re easy to prepare.

Try to get the youngest, sweetest carrots you can find. Scrub about a pound of baby carrots. Leave them whole if they’re small enough, or slice them into quarters.

In a pot of salted water, boil the carrots for about 10 minutes, until tender but still crisp. Then drain them and set them aside.

Next, make the glaze. Melt two ounces of butter in a frying pan.

Add a tablespoon of sugar, two teaspoons of fresh, chopped parsley, and four teaspoons of lemon juice to the melted butter. Heat gently.

Once the glaze is hot, add the carrots and toss them until glazed over medium heat.

Minted Green Peas

Peas are a traditional side for British shepherd’s pie and are popular with even the fussiest eaters.

This refreshing recipe is successful with fresh, shelled, and frozen peas. Better still, the peas will be done before the shepherd’s pie comes out.

Start by boiling a pot of water. Add two sprigs of fresh mint, a pinch of salt, and a teaspoon of sugar. Stir in two pounds of peas.

Cook the peas for about 15 minutes or until they are tender. Drain the peas and refresh them by rinsing them with cold water and setting them aside in the colander.

Next, put the pan back on low heat and melt two tablespoons of butter. Add a tablespoon of finely chopped fresh mint.

Return the peas to the pan and shake them through the butter until coated.

Chard With Garlic

Chard’s beautiful ruffled green or red leaves are related to beetroot rather than spinach.

Their mild flavor pairs with intense chili and garlic in this easy sautée that will look beautiful next to the plainly colored shepherd’s pie.

Begin by removing the stems from two medium bunches of chard. Chop the stems into small chunks and coarsely chop the leaves. Rinse the veg, but don’t dry it.

Next, reach for a large frying pan and add two tablespoons of olive oil. Warm over low heat.

While the oil heats, chop two cloves of garlic and one small red dried chili.

Add the garlic and chili to the oil and heat gently until fragrant.

Grab the chard stems and put them in the pan. Stir gently until they are almost tender – about two minutes. Then add the leaves and sautée for another three minutes.

Season the chard with lemon juice, salt, and pepper.

Rutabaga Casserole

Sometimes you want to be able to eat your whole meal in a bowl, using a spoon, in front of the TV.

For those cozy evenings, serve rutabaga casserole, a creamy accompaniment to your gravy-rich shepherd’s pie, with a lovely peppery flavor to contrast with the mash.

Pop this in the oven when the pie needs another 20 minutes.

You can make this dish with leftover rutabaga, or turnips. Otherwise, cook the root veg in boiling salted water until soft.

Mash the rutabaga with ¼ cup of butter, a tablespoon of sugar, ¾ cup of fresh breadcrumbs, and half a cup of diced Gruyère cheese.

Spread the mash in a buttered ovenproof dish.

Top the casserole with two tablespoons of melted butter, ¼ cup of breadcrumbs, and more cheese.

Bake the casserole until the top is golden brown for 20 minutes.

Creamy Onions Dijonnaise

While the shepherd’s pie is baking, it makes sense to use the oven to get the side dish ready.

This creamy onion dish, with zingy mustard, goes well with meaty dishes. Start the onions as soon as you put the shepherd’s pie in the oven.

You can use medium-sized white onions or small, sweet shallots for this dish.

First, cook 1½ pounds of onions in water over gentle heat for about 10 minutes. Drain the onions.

Place the onions in a buttered ovenproof dish.

Combine ⅔ cup of sour cream and a tablespoon of Dijon mustard. Season the sauce with salt and pepper, then pour the mixture over the onions.

Bake the onions for half an hour or until tender.

Apple And Caraway Coleslaw

A crispy coleslaw is a family favorite. This variation includes sour cream and caraway seeds to sharpen the coleslaw’s flavor against rich, savory shepherd’s pie.

You’ll need to add 30 minutes to your schedule as the flavors need time to meld. Let’s begin.

First, combine half a cup of sour cream with two tablespoons of caraway seeds. Cover and chill in the fridge for half an hour.

Meanwhile, core and slice one large red apple and drizzle with a tablespoon of lemon juice to prevent browning. Set aside.

Then, shred half a medium green cabbage and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Next, finely chop a small white onion.

Once the dressing has chilled for half an hour, combine the cabbage, apple, onion, and sour cream to make your coleslaw.

Seville Winter Salad

Shepherd’s pie is a wholesome winter warmer, and this salad uses winter fruit and vegetables to complement the main course.

Bitter endives and sweet oranges make a delightful combination. Make this salad while the shepherd’s pie is baking.

Start with the salad ingredients. Trim one bunch of curly endive, chop one Spanish red pepper and slice two small onions into rounds. Place in a salad bowl.

Add 16 black olives, pits removed. Peel and slice two sweet oranges and add them to the bowl.

Now make the dressing. Combine ¼ cup of olive oil, a tablespoon of white wine vinegar, crushed garlic, a pinch of salt and sugar, and half a teaspoon of tarragon. Mix well.

Pour the dressing over the salad just before serving.

Best Wine Pairings For Shepherd’s Pie

Being made of red meat, a shepherd’s pie lends itself to pairing with red wine.

To cut through the gravy and thick mash, go for a medium-bodied red with lively acidity, choose a Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, or Chianti.

A savory, peppery wine like Shiraz will complement the hearty richness of shepherd’s pie, especially the gaminess of the lamb.

Full-bodied reds, like your favorite Cabernet Sauvignon, also meld with shepherd’s pie. Try an Italian Aglianico or a Merlot, with earthy flavors that match this comfort food.

For white wine lovers, look to a well-oaked Chardonnay to stand up to this hearty meal.

Traditionally, a simple dish like shepherd’s pie would have been served with a beer, like a malty ale or a pint of Guinness.

Best Sauces For Shepherd’s Pie

In Britain, the original home of shepherd’s pie, this meaty dish is usually served with one of the following:

  • HP or brown sauce
  • Tomato ketchup
  • Hot English mustard

For a luxurious addition to what was a peasant-style meal, make a rich onion and mushroom gravy. Shepherd’s pie goes with mushrooms, which would have been foraged in the forest.

Begin by sautéeing half an onion and eight ounces of mushrooms in three tablespoons of oil. Add three tablespoons of flour.

Stir until the vegetables are coated. Whisk in a cup of red wine and two cups of stock and cook until thickened. Season to taste.