Shepherd’s pie is a delicious, heartwarming dish best served on a cold winter’s night, though there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy it at any time of the year. It is a ground beef and vegetable mixture topped with creamy mashed potato. The question here is, can you freeze it so that you can enjoy it whenever you want? The resounding reply is yes. The only potential problem is that the mashed potato may not quite keep its original fluffy texture. It may go a little grainy, but if you’re not bothered, go ahead and freeze a shepherd’s pie (see also Freezing Cottage Pie). Alternatively, you could just freeze the meat layer and whip up the mashed potato on the night. It isn’t too difficult to make mashed potato so this is definitely an option.
Freezing Shepherd’s Pie
How to Freeze Homemade Shepherd’s Pie
The best thing to do if you are starting from scratch is to just make the beef layer and not the potato topping. When you have made this, leave it to cool completely. Then put it in a sturdy airtight plastic container. You don’t want to allow air into it as freezer burn can occur which means that your beef will end up dry (see also How To Freeze Steak). It is a good idea to put cling film over the container before you put on the lid as this helps to stop air from getting in. This also helps to prevent leaks. The last thing you need is beef mixture over your freezer shelves. When you have put the lid on, stick a label on the container with the date it was frozen. This will help you in the future. You may not remember when you froze the pie especially if you freeze many items of food. Once you are ready to serve the shepherd’s pie, whip up the mashed potato and reheat it in the oven.
How to Freeze Leftover Shepherd’s Pie
Perhaps you’ve made a big shepherd’s pie and have some leftover. If you plan to eat it within the next couple of days, you might as well put it in the fridge. However, if you want to save it for a later date, the answer is to freeze it. You will, in this case, have to freeze it with the mashed potato. Just put it in a rigid plastic container, being careful to keep the potato on the top as you don’t want a mess when it defrosts. Use a large spoon to put the mixture into a sturdy airtight plastic container. Cover with cling film and then put on the lid. Write the storage date on the container. While you can freeze the meat part of the pie in a plastic bag, don’t try this with a shepherd’s pie with the mash. That can lead to a messy shepherd’s pie.
A Recipe for Freezer-Friendly Shepherd’s Pie
You may have a classic recipe for shepherd’s pie, but the one we’re going to give you here is freezer-friendly. You can even freeze the mashed potato.
Ingredients for the meat layer
- One pound of ground beef (see also Can You Freeze Corned Beef) or you can use lamb
- ¾ cup chopped carrots
- 1 ½ cups of white onions
- ½ cup of sweetcorn kernels
- ½ cup of frozen peas
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon either fresh or dried thyme (see also How To Freeze Thyme)
- 1 clove minced garlic or a teaspoon of dried garlic
- 1 cup of beef or lamb stock
- Salt and pepper
- Ingredients for the potato layer
- 2 pounds potatoes
- 3 tablespoons melted butter
- ¼ cup full-fat milk
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 1 cup grated cheddar cheese or a cheese you prefer
- Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Brown the beef or lamb in a large frying pan on medium heat. Then get rid of any excess fat and add the chopped onions and carrots (see also How To Freeze Carrots). Add salt and pepper and cook for around 10 minutes until the onions and carrots are soft. Add the sweetcorn and peas and cook for a couple of minutes. Then put in the butter, flour, thyme, and garlic together with the broth. Allow this to boil until the broth becomes thick. Then you can take the pan off the heat and put it into a baking dish.
The next step is to make the mashed potato topping. Boil the potatoes until they are tender. Drain the water. Then you have two choices. You can either keep the potatoes in the pot or you can spread them out on a baking sheet. We think that keeping them in the pot is easier although it takes longer to cool than on the baking sheet. Whichever way you choose, mash up the potatoes until they are a soft consistency. Then slowly add in the cream, milk, butter, and cheese, together with some salt and pepper. When you have done this, put the potato on top of the meat layer. Bake for around 25 minutes. Then allow it to cool and then spoon into an airtight container and freeze. Make sure that all the mashed potato is on top of the meat layer as you don’t want a messy shepherd’s pie.
The Shelf Life of Frozen Shepherd’s Pie
If you freeze shepherd’s pie (see also article on freezing pork pies), you can expect it to last for at least two months, if not longer. Make sure that the freezer temperature is kept at 0 degrees Fahrenheit for the best results.
Thawing Frozen Shepherd’s Pie
It is easy to thaw shepherd’s pie. All you have to do is put it in the fridge overnight.
Reheating Frozen Shepherd’s Pie
It’s also easy to reheat thawed shepherd’s pie. It just needs to go in the oven for around an hour at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
As this article has proven, it is possible to freeze shepherd’s pie. It is up to you if you freeze the mashed potato as well. But if you don’t, it’s not that difficult to whip it up while you are reheating the meat and vegetable layer. Having frozen shepherd’s pie in the freezer is a great idea if you want a warming meal.