BEST Turkey Shepherd’s Pie + How to Make it a FREEZER Meal
The BEST turkey shepherd's pie recipe and easiest recipe you'll find. Plus, step by step instructions on how to double the recipe to make a freezer meal.
Turkey shepherd's pie is one of my absolute favorite meal prep recipes.
It's something that I ALWASY have stashed away in my freezer for when life just gets a little too hectic and I need an easy dinner.
And I'm so excited to share how I make this easy heathy shepherd's pie recipe AND how YOU can make this a freezer meal too.
The method I will share uses minimal amounts of dishes and takes less than one hour to put together. You can have two-three meals ready in just a short amount of time and feel good knowing you have healthy meals ready in your freezer for busy days too.
Is Turkey Shepherd's Pie Healthy?
Yes! The best part of turkey shepherd's pie, also sometimes called "cottage pie", is that it is a completely balanced meal in just one convenient bowl of goodness.
In this shepherd's pie recipe you'll be using lean ground turkey as your protein source instead of ground beef. You'll get a whopping 20 grams of protein per serving, which is perfect if you are trying to lose weight or maintain your weight.
You'll be getting healthy carbohydrates from the potatoes -- and YES, potatoes are healthy! Potatoes have gotten a bad rap over the last few years. But in reality they are filled with a ton of nutrients.
The red potatoes used in this recipe are filled with vitamin C, vitamin B6, and potassium. If you decided to use yellow potatoes you'll be getting a healthy dose of iron, calcium, and potassium.
And while yes, the glycemic index of potatoes are a little on the high side, when you combine them with the lean protein and the vegetables, the glycemic load significantly decreases.
Managing and knowing the glycemic index and glycemic load are all topics we discuss in depth in the Collectively Fit Program, which can help you on your journey to lose weight, eat healthy, and feel more energized.
And lastly, this turkey shepherd's pie is FILLED with nutrient-packed veggies like carrots, onions, peas, corn, green beans, and more.
How To Make Turkey Shepherd’s Pie
Lean Ground Turkey
I suggest using 93% lean ground turkey for this recipe. It's a leaner choice than 85% which means less saturated fat and less calories, but it still has enough fat to give you that comforting flavor and texture.
Here's one of my little tips for making turkey shepherd's pie FAST -- use red potatoes instead of traditional Yukon Gold or Russet Potatoes.
Red potatoes have thinner skin, which are great for mashing in your mashed potatoes, instead of peeling each potato. It saves a ton of prep time, and as a bonus, the SKIN of the potatoes actually have the most fiber.
Frozen Mixed Veggies
This is another little meal prepping hack that I LOVE -- using frozen veggies to save a TON of time.
I like buying the mix from Whole Foods that contain carrots, peas, corn, and green beans. But you can use whatever combination that you like.
You can even add in some other veggies too. I always add in onions and garlic, but sometimes if I have them on hand I will add in celery, zucchini, or summer squash for extra vegetables.
Additional Ingredients + Spices
As I mentioned I always add in onions and garlic, but I also like to add in a bunch of flavor with rosemary, thyme, and black pepper. These flavors just up-level the shepherd's pie and make it so mouthwatering.
You'll also want some olive oil to cook with, your milk of choice, and maybe even some grass-fed butter or ghee for the mashed potatoes.
Some people love to top their shepherd's pie with cheese, so for a healthy cheese option I would recommend using a sharp cheddar.
You can also serve it with some Worcestershire Sauce or even some fresh herbs garnished on top like fresh thyme or parsley.
- Stock Pot - for cooking the potatoes
- Large Skillet or Saucepan - for cooking the vegetables and turkeu
- Spatula or Wooden Spoon
- Hand Masher - for mashing the potatoes
- Casserole Dish - I have few of these dished which are great for freezing as well and eco-friendly. For a more budget friendly option you can use disposable aluminum dishes as well
- Instant Read Thermometer
How to Make Freezer Turkey Shepherd's Pie
Step 1: Start Cooking the Potatoes
- Start by chopping your potatoes into 1 1/2 inch chunks, making sure that they are roughly the same size. Place the cut potatoes in a large stock pot and cover with 2 inches of water.
- Place the stock pot on the stovetop and bring to a boil on high.
- Once boiling, lower to a medium heat to medium-high heat for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender.
- Drain the potatoes and add milk, butter, and salt and pepper to taste. Use a hand masher, and mash the potatoes until they are at the desired consistency. I like having a little bit of chunks left with the potatoes. about 1/2 inch in size.
- Set aside until you assemble the shepherd's pie.
Step 2: Cook the Vegetables
- As the potatoes are cooking, heat olive oil in a large skillet or saucepan over a medium-high heat.
- Add in half of your onions and cook 2-3 minutes until translucent. Add the garlic and cook an additional 30 seconds to one minute until fragrant.
- Add the mixed vegetables and cook 7-8 minutes until the vegetables are bright and slightly tender. Be sure not to over cook the veggies because they will still cook in the oven later.
- In the last minute of cooking, add a tablespoon of rosemary, and half a teaspoon of thyme, and salt and pepper to taste.
- Divide and transfer the veggies to your baking dishes in an even layer. I usually make two 6-serving shepherd's pies, but you could also make three 4-serving pies as well.
Step 3: Cook the Turkey
- Use the same skillet or saucepan from your veggies to cook your turkey mixture for less dishes. Add a little more olive oil and heat on medium-high heat.
- Sauté the remaining onions for 2-3 minutes until translucent, then add the garlic for 30 seconds before adding the turkey.
- Sauté the turkey for 10-12 minutes until no longer pink, breaking up the meat with the back of a spatula or wooden spoon.
- In the final minute or two of cooking, add the remaining tablespoon of rosemary, half a teaspoon of thyme, and salt and pepper to taste, and stir to mix.
- Once fully cooked, transfer the turkey mixture to your casserole dish making an even layer over your vegetable mixture.
- Lastly, add the mashed potatoes on top in an even layer, smoothing with a spoon.
- Bake for 20-30 minutes on 400°F until the edges begin to lightly brown. Allow to cool 10 minutes before serving.
If you are baking your shepherd's pie right away instead of freezing it for later you can simply allow the shepherd's pie to come to room temperature. Then cover with aluminum foil and store in the refrigerator.
If you are meal prepping, you can also divide your shepherd's pie into individual containers, cover, and refrigerate.
Turkey shepherd's pie will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
How to Freeze Prepared Turkey Shepherd's Pie
The preparation is exactly the same for making the healthy shepherd's pie above, but instead of putting it in the oven, you'll want to allow the prepared shepherd's pie to come to room temperature.
Once it's at or near room temperature, cover it tightly with aluminum foil, pressing the foil all the way down onto the mashed potato topping. The less air on top, the better.
Place the shepherds pie in the refrigerator for an hour to chill, and then transfer to the freezer.
Store in the freezer for up to 3 months.
How to Reheat Frozen Shepherd's Pie
To reheat the shepherd's pie you can bake it directly from frozen or you can let it thaw overnight.
Here is how you do each method:
To Bake from Frozen
- Preheat the oven to 400°F and remove the shepherd's pie from the freezer, leaving the aluminum foil on the baking dish.
- Place the shepherd's pie in the preheated oven and bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F.
- If desired, remove the aluminum foil for the last 20-30 of baking minutes to allow the mashed potatoes to slightly brown on top.
- Depending on how thick and large your shepherd's pie is the cooking time may take longer, so plan accordingly. Always use a thermometer to ensure the proper internal temperature.
- Store the leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
To Bake after Thawing
- Take the shepherd's pie out of the freezer and place it in the refrigerator overnight to thaw.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F, and bake with the aluminum foil covering for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until internal temperature reaches 165°F.
- Remove the aluminum foil for the last 20-30 minutes to allow the topping to brown if desired.
- Store the leftover shepherd's pie in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Shepherd Pie Variations You can Try...
For a lower carb option or an even lower glycemic index if you have insulin issues, you can always choose to do a mashed cauliflower topping instead.
I have done this variation a ton of times and it tastes so good, and honestly you don't even notice the difference.
I have some clients who prefer the cauliflower topping as a way to get in more vegetables in their diet. So the choice is yours.
To make the cauliflower mashed topping, simply steam your cauliflower for about 20 minutes or until fork tender and transfer to a food processor with your milk, butter, salt and pepper. Blend until smooth and top as you would the mashed potato topping.
You can always use other potatoes for your topping as well. Yukon Gold Potatoes are a great option, as are Russet potatoes. And you can peel the potatoes or leave the skin on for more texture and less prep time.
You could even use sweet potatoes too. I just find the flavor can be a little over powering, but I know some people LOVE the combination.
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