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Grass-fed Beef Shepherd’s Pie

Often a hodge podge of pasta and canned soup, casseroles are admittedly not my first pick at a potluck.

There’s something about the whole “refined carbs meets additive-laden soup” that doesn’t exactly make me wanna dig in.

But, good casseroles are out there—both in terms of flavor and health benefits. Honestly, there’s a lot to love about one-pan meals when they taste good and are good for you!

A variation of my recipe for grass-fed beef shepherd’s pie appeared in my book, Real Food for Gestational Diabetes, for good reason: it’s simple, versatile, and nutrient-dense.

I specifically add a few ounces of grass-fed beef liver to this recipe to amp up the vitamin and mineral content. Liver is a powerhouse chock full of vitamin B12, iron, zinc, folate, vitamin A, choline, and a slew of other health-promoting nutrients. It’s not my favorite thing to eat by itself, but in big recipes like this, you can’t even taste it.

If I’m lazy (often am), I add liver pate instead of fresh, chopped liver. Since I get liver from my grass-fed cow share, it comes frozen in big 2-3 pound packages, which I use to make a large batch liver pate. As a family, we’ll usually eat 4-8 ounces fresh, so the rest I freeze in 4-8 ounce mason jars for later. Then, I can simply defrost a jar whenever I’m making a recipe like this. (Wanna know how I make it? Check out my recipe for Grass-fed Beef Liver Pate.)

For the topping, I go with cauliflower (or a 50:50 combo of cauliflower and potatoes) to lower the carbs a bit. If you do better with more carbs in your diet, by all means, go with the traditional mashed potato topping. Doesn’t hurt to try out a cauliflower topping, though!

Grass-fed Beef Shepherd’s Pie

  • Filling:
  • 1 lb grass-fed ground beef
  • 3-4 ounces grass-fed beef liver, finely chopped OR liver pate (optional-see notes)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 carrots, peeled, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 cups raw baby spinach
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • Cauliflower Topping:
  • 1 large head cauliflower, chopped (or ½ cauliflower and ½ potatoes)
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper


  1. Steam cauliflower while preparing the filling, which takes 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of cauliflower pieces.
  2. In a large cast iron pan, cook ground beef over medium-high heat. If the pan is dry, add a bit of butter or coconut oil (grass-fed beef can be very lean).
  3. With a spatula, break up meat into bite-sized pieces. Once browned, add liver and cook for 1-2 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and place in a 9x13 inch baking dish. Do not drain rendered fat.
  5. In the same pan, add butter, onion, carrots, celery, garlic, salt, pepper, thyme, and oregano.
  6. Cook for 10 minutes, being sure to scrape up browned bits. Add baby spinach and stir in to wilt. Transfer to baking dish and spread evenly over beef.
  7. Mash steamed cauliflower with butter, salt, and pepper. Spread on top of meat and vegetables.
  8. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes, until the topping is lightly browned.

Recipe Notes

Here's a tutorial for making liver pate.

Clean up is also a breeze. I use only two dishes to make grass-fed beef shepherd’s pie: a 9×13 inch baking dish + my trusty cast iron skillet.

Speaking of iron… As if there wasn’t enough from the grass-fed beef, liver, and spinach, you get an extra boost of iron by cooking everything in cast iron. That’s not the only upside of cooking with grandma’s favorite pan. Here are 6 benefits of cooking in cast iron.

If you enjoy this recipe, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

Until next week,

PS – Why do I keep saying the words “grass-fed?” Does it even matter? In short, yes. A LOT. Here are 7 reasons grass-fed beef is worth the money.

Veggies: Eat them because you want to, not because you have to

Your guide to making vegetables taste seriously good

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Behind the Scenes of Real Food for Fertility: Insight into the process of writing and researching the book
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Vitamin B12 & Pregnancy: A nutrient crucial for your baby’s health
How much iron do you actually absorb from food?

Lily Nichols is a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist, Certified Diabetes Educator, researcher, and author with a passion for evidence-based prenatal nutrition and exercise. Her work is known for being research-focused, thorough, and unapologetically critical of outdated dietary guidelines. She is the author of two bestselling books, Real Food for Pregnancy and Real Food for Gestational Diabetes.


Leave a comment
  1. Thanks Lily! HIDDEN liver is the only way to eat it. 🙂 I’m making this tonight.

  2. When I placed my shepherds pie into the fridge last night without even trying it, I just knew it was going to make for a delicious lunch (since those stuffed bell peppers were soooo good) AND IT DEFINITELY WAS. Another winner to bookmark! Thanks Lily!

    • Awesome, Kristi!

  3. I have been struggling with reactive hypoglycemia my whole life and have been slowly transitioning to a gluten-free, ketogenic diet to get my weight and blood sugar under control. I stumbled across this recipe yesterday and made it for dinner. Very delicious, thank you!

    • Awesome, glad you liked it! 😉

  4. Yum!! I made this for dinner again last night and just can’t get enough of its rich, hearty taste. <3

  5. Has anyone tried making ahead and freezing this? I’m wondering how the cauliflower topping does when thawed and baked? Thanks! Looking forward to trying!

    • Works very well as a make-ahead freezer meal.

      • How do you freeze it? Maybe individual portions in wax paper then a ziplock?

    • If freezing, do you cook the veggies ahead of time or leave those raw and just let them cook when you put it on the oven to heat everything up? Or is just easier to have everything done and cooked, then just microwave portion real quick?

  6. This is hands down my favorite recipe!! Prepped it last year for my postpartum journey and about to make it again for us to have some quick heat up meals this week. Thank you for sharing!!! A must try for everyone.

    • Such a great real food recipe for postpartum recovery! Glad you’re a fan!

  7. This was a great recipe and will be a keeper for easy weeknight meals! Thanks Lily!

  8. Can I use chicken liver in here ?

  9. Do you have the Nutritional Facts for this dish?

  10. Does this freeze well with the cauliflower/potato topping?

  11. So delicious! I also made it for our daughter and son-in-law who had a darling baby girl two months ago. Thanks for the yummy recipes; we also loved the Zucchini Lasagna!

  12. We love this dish! My stepmom has made it for us after both babies (plus an extra for the freezer) and we have kept it since! She made it a few days ago so I decided to make it for my family tonight. It’s always loved in our house! I also really enjoy following along on Instagram for other tips and recipes too. Thank you!

  13. Could I do mashed potatoes on top instead of cauliflower? Sorry I just can’t do the flavor

    • Of course!

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