Shepherd’s pie is a rustic dish that cannot leave you indifferent. I love it when my grandma makes it for the whole family — it makes for an amazing centerpiece, and I love her combinations of side dishes because they’re never the same. My favorite ones are also the best ones, and I never gatekeep. So, what are the best sides for Shepherd’s pie?
You can combine Shepherd’s pie with Greek, cabbage, or Caprese salad, olives and cheese, bread such as focaccia, rye, ciabatta, potato, and garlic bread. Pair it with tomato sauce or gravy. Grilled tomatoes and zucchini, potatoes with chard, or grilled mushrooms are all fine Shepherd’s pie side dishes.
Shepherd’s pie’s beauty consists of its flavorsomeness, making it an excellent dish to have alone, and its ability to combine with many other sides. Usually, distinct-flavored dishes are not that easy to pair, but Shepherd’s pie is an exception to that rule. I love it in any combination, and in the following paragraphs, I will share the best sides for Shepherd’s pie. Check them out!
What Salad Goes With Shepherd’s Pie?
Because Shepherd’s pie has a meaty and cheesy taste, mixed with the neutral creaminess of the potatoes, it combines best with fresh-tasting salads.
This is a fresh, sweet and sour, and zesty salad. It will add character to your meal, and it is an excellent fit for Shepherd’s pie. For this salad, you will need corn, tomatoes (cherry or grape), fresh onions (preferably red), fresh cucumbers, fresh parsley and basil, and cheese (feta or mozzarella, or another that you like).
For the dressing, you will need olive oil, red wine vinegar, honey, fresh garlic, salt, and pepper.
The quantity of each ingredient is at your discretion. However, when you make the dressing, add the ingredients slowly and in smaller amounts. You can always add more, but you can’t take them out.
I usually simply mix all of the dressing ingredients in a bowl and let them sit while I prepare the rest of the salad.
And it’s easy — dice all of the ingredients (except the corn) and mix them in a big bowl. Cook the corn and take out the kernels. Then, put the kernels in an ice bowl to harden and cool down.
When they are ready, add the kernels to the rest of the ingredients, mix everything, and add the dressing. You can add the cheese to the salad mixture before or after you dress it.
It is not only extremely simple to make, but cabbage salad is a great companion to Shepherd’s pie. The sourness of the cabbage adds the much-needed freshness that Shepherd’s pie lacks.
You need only one ingredient for this salad — cabbage. Slice the cabbage as thin as possible, pour it into a bowl, and add salt and pepper, olive oil, and vinegar. You can either add red wine, balsamic vinegar, or balsamic crème.
Add a few lemon drops if you want some extra zest, but you don’t have to. No additional dressing is necessary, but my trick is to mix mayo and sour cream and dilute the mixture with water.
Baby Spinach and Eggs
Baby spinach and egg salad is a great way to go if you want to add freshness, zest, and creaminess to your Shepherd’s pie.
You will need eggs, baby spinach, and tomatoes (cherry or regular) for this salad. Some additional greens are optional.
Although there are no exact quantities, you should use one egg per person. The egg yolks are pretty packed with cholesterol, and too many egg whites can make you bloat.
Before mixing everything together, hard boil the eggs. They will spread on your salad if they are soft. However, that isn’t the worst thing, but the original recipe calls for hard-boiled eggs.
Once you’ve boiled the eggs, cut them into thicker slices, along with the tomatoes. You can chop the baby spinach once or twice, or you can just leave it as it is. Pour everything into a mixing bowl and mix gently.
Season with salt, pepper, basil (preferably fresh), and olive oil.
The mixed flavors of the fresh vegetables are the perfect addition to the expressed meaty taste of Shepherd’s pie. Moreover, fresh vegetable salads are a great choice for potato-containing dishes, as they oppose the potato blandness and add more character to the dish.
Greek salad contains tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, and feta cheese — I sometimes like to use mozzarella. Chop the cucumbers and tomatoes into rougher pieces, throw the olives in (whole), and mix everything in a bowl.
Season the salad with olive oil, salt, pepper, and a pinch of oregano. Top the salad with diced feta (or mozzarella) and enjoy.
Beet, Tomato, and Arugula Salad With Goat Cheese
As a side dish to Shepherd’s pie, beet, and arugula salad with goat cheese gives your main dish the magic it lacks. The fresh and expressive flavor of the salad mashes with Shepherd’s pie’s meaty and cheesy essence, and they both bring out the best in each other.
This salad requires beet, arugula, tomatoes (cherry or regular), and goat cheese. Before mixing everything together, you should cook the beets. You can either boil or bake them, though I’d recommend baking.
Wrap each individual beat (one beat per person) in aluminum foil and put them on a baking tray. Bake at 356 °F, i.e., 180 °C for an hour. If you boil the beets, they will need 40 minutes in an instant pot (pressure cooker) on high pressure.
After the beets are done, let them cool, and peel and slice them into thin slices. Put the pecans in a frying pot, add some cooking oil, and let them sizzle for ten minutes. Cut the arugula and the tomatoes into bigger chunks, and put everything into a mixing bowl.
Time for the dressing. Mix olive oil, balsamic vinegar, mustard, pressed fresh garlic, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Pour the ingredients slowly and in smaller quantities. I always make sure to taste the dressing and adjust it to my liking.
Pour the dressing over the salad ingredients, mix well, but be gentle, as the beets are very soft when cooked. In the end, dice the cheese and top the salad with it.
This refined Italian salad will be the perfect addition to your rustic Shepherd’s pie. Made of nothing more than mozzarella and cherry tomatoes, Caprese salad will give you a sweet, sour, fresh, and milky taste all at once. It complements Shepherd’s pie excellently.
You will need cherry tomatoes and mozzarella for this salad. Just cut the tomatoes in halves, and slice the mozzarella. Put the mozzarella and tomatoes in a cascade and garnish with fresh basil.
Pour some olive oil and sprinkle some salt. As simple as it can be, the elegance of this salad might be just what you need to enrich your Shepherd’s pie.
With the fear of sounding obvious, I still need to stress that whatever salad you decide to make, the first step is to wash the vegetables.
What Are Some Other Side Dishes for Shepherd’s Pie?
In addition to salads, Shepherd’s pie goes outstandingly well with a number of side dishes. Because the mashed potatoes are a substantial part of the dish, they influence Shepherd’s pie flavor with their mildness and creaminess. Therefore, they tone down the expressed meaty flavor and allow the dish to be combined with a range of foods.
Green Beans With Olive Oil
Green beans and olive oil go as well as they do with Shepherd’s pie because the green beans are fresh-tasting, discretely crumbly, and mildly bitter, which is just the thing you need here.
Although green beans have been known for their use fresh, with a few drops of olive oil, I’d recommend you dip them into boiling water for five to ten minutes.
You can chop them or serve them whole; it’s totally up to you. For some extra character, you can add some fresh garlic as well.
Potatoes With Chard
Another excellent Shepherd’s pie companion. The fresh, spinach-like taste of the fresh chard, mixed with the softness and neutralness of the boiled potatoes, gives the perfect combination of strong and mild.
Although Shepherd’s pie already contains potatoes, don’t worry that this side dish won’t overwhelm you with potatoes. The fresh chard makes a significant difference here.
Sizzled in a pan together with fresh garlic and pepper flakes, the potatoes and chard will mash up with the strong garlic flavor and turn into an unimaginable flavor combination. I like to keep it simple with the seasonings, so simply season with salt and pepper, and you have an excellent side dish.
As simple as it gets, this side dish will add juiciness and freshness to your Shepherd’s pie. The grilled tomatoes, seasoned with salt, pepper, and a few drops of olive oil, will balance out perfectly your main dish.
Add minced or pressed garlic, a slice of gouda cheese, and oregano to your grilled tomatoes to make things more interesting.
Although I’m not a fan of deep-fried food, the deep-fried zucchini are a must when it comes to Shepherd’s pie. Seasoned with some salt and pepper, topped with pressed fresh garlic, and garnished with fresh parsley, this side dish will enrich and refresh your Shepherd’s pie.
Although not naturally zesty, grilled mushrooms can add a unique quality to your Shepherd’s pie in terms of structure. However, they are a white canvas on which to paint. You can add some garlic, parsley, or even vinaigrette and bring a whole other side of them.
Melted Cheese With Green Bell Peppers
Even though it already has melted cheese, melted cheese with green bell peppers will bring out the tang of the cheese already contained in Shepherd’s pie. Not only that this side dish will make your Shepherd’s pie tangier, but it will also allow for the other flavors to shine.
It is essential to choose a hard cheese for this side dish. Cut the peppers into thin slices, wrap them in tin foil together with the cheese, and oven-bake them for 15 minutes. You can add some olive oil and oregano too.
Considering that eggplant is one of the main ingredients in Moussaka, which is a dish very similar to Shepherd’s pie, it is only natural that it would do very nicely as a side dish here too.
The eggplant has some bitterness to it that you can’t wash away, and that’s just what you need here. This bitterness of the eggplant combined with the creaminess of the mashed potatoes in Shepherd’s pie is a winning combination if you like to mix opposing flavors.
Baked Red Bell Peppers
Red bell peppers have a dense structure and expressively sweet taste, which would fit perfectly with your Shepherd’s pie. To spice things up, put the peppers in a mixture of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, fresh-pressed garlic, and parsley.
The peppers will take in the combination of flavors and will add their own sweetness to it, making them the perfect side dish for your Shepherd’s pie.
Shepherd’s pie is a meal on its own which means that it doesn’t need any strong side dish. This is why greens like broccoli will go with this meat pie very nicely. It will ensure some extra nutrients and provide you with one tasty bite.
What Bread to Serve With Shepherd’s Pie?
A dish as rustic as Shepherd’s pie goes more than impressive with bread. Imagine that warm, freshly baked, soft bread melting in your mouth along with a bite of your rich and creamy Shepherd’s pie. Absolutely irresistible.
Cornbread is an excellent idea to enrich your Shepherd’s pie experience. It’s crumbly, which perfectly opposes the creamy texture of Shepherd’s pie. In addition, cornbread is open to suggestions, so you can spice it up the way you like it.
The only downside is that it is pretty dry, so not everyone would like it. However, having it with Shepherd’s pie, along with some of the juicier side dishes or salads, will make up for the lack of moisture.
Focaccia is so buttery, salty, and overall flavorful that you can have it as is, without any additions. As such, focaccia is a charming addition to Shepherd’s pie. The expressed saltiness and herbal aroma of the focaccia mash-up beyond words with the creamy meatiness of Shepherd’s pie.
My favorite is the fresh-out-of-oven focaccia — besides it tasting heavenly, the smell is amazing and it always permeates the whole house!
The natural sweetness of the rye bread, mixed with the flavors of the rest of the grains contained in it, makes this type of bread an excellent choice for Shepherd’s pie.
The rye bread flavors pair up nicely with the sweet taste of the mashed potatoes, the creaminess of the cheese, and the meatiness of Shepherd’s pie. Multigrain bread and Shepherd’s pie could be a truly winning combination.
Much like rye bread, multigrain bread has an abundance of flavors derived from all its grains. The flavors of the grains mash up perfectly, giving the final result a mildly salty, discreetly bitter, and subtly sweet taste.
Soft, mildly greasy, and discretely salty Ciabatta will mesmerize you with its expressed herbal aroma. Not dry at all and flavorful enough to have on its own, Ciabatta might be just what you like with your Shepherd’s pie.
Both are rustic, and the herbal aroma of the Ciabatta goes perfectly with Shepherd’s pie, mainly because it adds flavor to the potato topping. Delicious!
Potato bread and the main potato dish don’t seem to fit at first glance. However, potato bread is one of the richest-tasting types of bread, and therefore it won’t overwhelm you, nor will it amplify the potato quality of the dish.
The best thing about this bread is the crust. It’s like baked potatoes mixed with flour and yeast’s distinctive smells and flavors. Having this bread with your Shepherd’s pie would be an excellent idea.
Shepherd’s pie does very well in combination with garlic and parsley, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that garlic bread is immensely compatible with it.
The garlicky part of garlic bread is the spread, so basically, garlic bread could be any bread you want. Garlic bread contains an abundance of flavors, starting from the original flavor of the bread, combined with the pungent taste and aroma of the garlic, refreshed with fresh parsley.
What Sauces Go With Shepherd’s Pie?
Shepherd’s pie is a naturally juicy and well-hydrated dish. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t take it up a notch.
When combined with sauce, Shepherd’s doesn’t tend to get runny but creamier and juicier. Therefore it is the perfect dish to pair with sauce, although it doesn’t require any.
When talking about sauces, gravy has a special place in this area. It is a classic for a reason. You can top your Shepherd’s pie with it, dip your bite-sized pieces, or just mash it all together on your plate.
Gravy will make your Shepherd’s pie even creamier, with that specific gravy flavor of fried onion and buttery consistency. It will enrich your dish beyond telling and add a whisper of elegance to it.
The mashed potatoes of Shepherd’s pie topped with ketchup give the rustic dish a contemporary vibe. It’s really as simple as that. Ketchup is a universal sauce and fits wherever you add it.
Although mashed and baked, and not fried, potatoes always go with ketchup, so you will get that fast food feeling, even though you enjoy a country meal.
There’s some inexplicable compatibility between potatoes, ground meat, and tomatoes. The three combine beyond telling wherever they are.
The freshness and the sweet sourness of the tomato sauce will spring Shepherd’s pie to life, and the mildness of the mashed potatoes will tone down the temperament of the tomato sauce. The ground meat aroma and flavor are an added bonus to this combination.
The finely chopped tomatoes, peppers, and onions, spiced up and tied together with olive oil, are a more than compatible addition to Shepherd’s pie. Placed on the side of your plate, they will penetrate your Shepherd’s pie and awaken all its flavors.
Salsa adds playfulness wherever you put it, and it will definitely make your Shepherd’s pie more exotic. I love to make it myself, but you can always buy a premade version that you can, but don’t have to, heat up for the tastiest results.
Expressly zesty, easily recognizable, and definitely unforgettable, Worcestershire sauce will add a whole pallet of flavors to your Shepherd’s pie. The zesty and sour vinaigrette, combined with the garlicky and mildly hot flavor of the Worcestershire sauce, will not only add flavor to your Shepherd’s pie but will awaken everything it has to offer.
This sauce will definitely bring out the character of your Shepherd’s pie. The sauce itself is an extraordinary combination of elegance and rusticity. Spread on the surface or mashed inside, It will simultaneously express and tone down the countryside feel of your Shepherd’s pie.
Since cheese is a constituent of Shepherd’s pie, cheese sauce will bring out its milky and creamy side. It will give your Shepherd’s pie a gentler and more elegant side. Flavor-wise, it will make it more buttery and milky, toning down the meatiness and expressing the creaminess of your Shepherd’s pie.
A Greek sauce combined with a Greek dish, paired up with a Greek salad. The tzatziki sauce will not only add that sour and garlicky flavor to your Shepherd’s pie but will also add creaminess to it. That’s what I call perfection.
What Desserts Go With Shepherd’s Pie?
Shepherd’s pie mostly goes with lighter desserts that only continue the theme of the main dish. It sits nicely with tarts, fruity pies, mousses, and crepes.
Shepherd’s pie seems to get along nicely with the light sweetness of the mousse. Easy to make and tasty to eat, the chocolate mousse will do just fine after your Shepherd’s pie.
Chocolate, eggs, and sugar are all you’ll need. Just whip the egg whites and the sugar to make the cream. Add the yolks and mix again, and in the end, add the melted chocolate and mix once more.
You can have it either cold or at room temperature; the mousse will be an excellent finish to your meal.
Another light and tasty dessert to have after your Shepherd’s pie. The freshness and sweetness of the apples will be very welcome after the main dish.
You need apples, sugar, butter, and a pie crust. I sometimes buy the crust ready-made because it gets the job done sooner. Chop the apples, and roll them in sugar.
Fill the crust with the apples, put chunks of butter on them, cover the crust, and bake at 370 °F, i.e., 190 °C for 40 minutes. And voila, you can serve it!
The sweet and sour taste of the blueberries, combined with a touch of cinnamon, is the perfect way to round up your meal. This dessert won’t take away from Shepherd’s pie but will add its own magic to your experience.
Mix the blueberries with cinnamon, lemon zest, and sugar, and fill the pie crust. Put the top crust and bake at 180 °C, i.e., 360 °F, for 30 minutes.
Sweet, zesty, light, and fresh lemon tart is the perfect ending to a perfect story. It won’t undermine your Shepherd’s pie experience in any way.
You need a tart crust and lemon curd. I simply fill the crust with the curd and bake for 25 at 360 °F, i.e., 180 °C. It turns out delicious every time!
As a fruity dessert, apple strudel is exceptionally light and fresh. It will be a nice gentle, elegant, and yet rustic ending to your rustic meal.
Making apple strudel isn’t complicated, but it isn’t that simple, either. In short, you will need to simmer the apples and then roll them into the strudel dough. Bake for 30 minutes at 360 °F, i.e., 180 °C.
Top your dessert with some vanilla ice cream, and you will have a perfect finish to your rustic story.
Light, sweet, and perfectly balanced crepes will polish off your Shepherd’s pie. Whatever your main course was, you can never go wrong with crepes.
The procedure isn’t complicated at all; you just mix flour, milk, and water. Mix the ingredients until they homogenize, and then pour the mixture into a crepe pan.
The trick is to flip them over, so here’s where you might face some challenges. Once this part is over, fill your crepes with a lovely rich chocolate cream, and enjoy.
What Soups Go With Shepherd’s Pie?
Chicken soup is the one you can’t go wrong with. As an appetizer to your Shepherd’s pie, it will start off your taste buds, and won’t kill your appetite. On the contrary, it will make you even more eager for the dish to come.
Another soup you can try is carrot and broccoli soup. It will leave a fresh, sweet, and discretely bitter aftertaste, which will be an excellent introduction to the flavor of your Shepherd’s pie.
Mixed vegetable soup could be the winner in this category. A soup combining carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, and onions, seasoned with salt and black pepper, could be the perfect start for your Shepherd’s pie experience.
What to Serve With Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie?
Vegetarian Shepherd’s pie is not that different than the regular. The meat is substituted with soy or mushrooms giving your Shepherd’s pie a nearly meaty taste and texture.
Therefore, whatever you would serve with regular meaty Shepherd’s pie goes with the vegetarian version too. Cabbage salad and grilled tomatoes are great additions to veggie Shepherd’s pie.
Another great side combination would be green beans with olive oil, or baby spinach and egg salad. See that you serve a side that is rich in protein to make up for the absence of the proteins from the meat, and you are good to go.
There are so many combinations! Which one is your favorite? Can’t wait to discover a new favorite in the comments below!
The Perfect Side for Shepherd’s Pie
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cucumber
- 1 green bell pepper
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes
- 5 oz feta cheese cubes
- ⅓ cup red onion sliced
- ½ cup black olives
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 2 cups mushrooms
- 1 serving focaccia
- Arrange the cucumber, green pepper, cherry tomatoes, feta cheese, red onions, and olives. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper, and wine vinegar, and very gently toss.
- Now, season mushrooms and toss to coat evenly.
- Place mushrooms in center of foil. Bring up sides of foil; double fold top and ends to tightly seal packet.
- Grill over medium-high heat 12 to 15 minutes or until mushrooms are tender.
- At the end slice focaccia and serve your Shepherd's pie with greek salad, grilled mushrooms and slice of focaccia. Enjoy!