Lamb Shepherd’s Pie with Harissa
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We didn’t want to assume that everyone knew Shepherd’s Pie is a dish made traditionally with Lamb, therefore we’re spelling it out in the article title! (I didn’t realize until I was just told about it, but now it makes sense! Of course, Shepherd’s Pie is made from Lamb, it’s so obvious now! This is a fantastic recipe to make the most delicious Lamb Shepherd’s Pie, which we’ve spiced up the flavor considerably with the addition of Harissa

The Lamb is beautifully seasoned with Harissa as well as several other amazing spices which gives this classic dish so much rich, beautiful flavor. The flavor of this beautiful Lamb is concentrated with the wonderful spices and aromatics and then baked in the oven topped with wonderful, creamy Potatoes. The Lamb Shepherd’s Pie is a wonderful comfort meal, perfect for a chilly evenings dinner

How to make Lamb Shepherd’s Pie

A classic Shepherd’s Pie is quite simple to make. The dish consists of ground meat that’s with vegetables and spices, along with a tomato-based sauce. The Sauce is reduced to form a thick consistency like that of Bolognese or Lasagna filling. The meat sauce is then placed into a large baking dish with high sides

The traditional way to top a Shepherd’s Pie is with beautiful Mashed Potatoes that have been mashed and mixed with Butter for a velvety, fluffy texture. The dish is then baked until warm, and sometimes broiled to get a nice golden crust / char on top. Bring it out of the oven, let it cool for a bit and then dive in!

We’re keeping our recipe quite true to the traditional Lamb Shepherd’s Pie, but with the addition of a few special ingredients which bring so much additional flavor to the dish

Harissa Paste and a Spice Mix is added to the Lamb before cooking

We can’t begin to describe how wonderful the flavor this Lamb Shepherd’s Pie has, and that’s primarily due to the amazing mixture of spices and aromatics we add to the Lamb. Remove the Lamb from it’s packaging and place it into a large mixing bowl. Add a generous amount of Ground Cumin, Ground Coriander, Cayenne Pepper, Smoked Paprika, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, and Salt

This spice mixture is amazing and instantly brings about flavors that remind you of middle eastern and north African flavors. The smell is addictive, and as you rub all these spiced into the Lamb (try to use a spoon to avoid all the spices getting over your hands) those beautiful aromas will only intensify

To finish off the amazing flavors, and further amplify those North African flavor vibes, we add a generous amount of Harissa Paste. Harissa Paste is a very common ingredient now, which originates from North African Cuisine – Tunisia to be precise. It has a wonderful spicy, tomato flavor and pairs perfectly with Lamb

We let this beautiful spice mixture marinate into the Lamb by refrigerating it for a few hours (overnight if possible) so all those flavors intensify and concentrate into the Lamb. The spices truly give the dish a unique flavor profile that separates itself from a traditional Lamb Shepherd’s Pie you’d expect to eat at an English Pub

Use the fattier Ground Lamb ratio for the best flavor

This goes without saying, the higher the fat content in your ground meat – the more flavor it will bring to the dish. We recommend going for a ratio of about 20% fat / 80% meat in your Ground Lamb choice. Lamb is naturally quite a fatty meat, so this ratio is common to find

If you’re struggling to find this ratio, or even struggling to find ground Lamb at all we recommend speaking to your local butcher and have them ground it up for you. Use Lamb Shoulder as the preferred cut of meat. It has the best flavor and has a naturally higher fat content, so you’ll net out at about the 80/20 ratio if you’re having the meat ground for you by a butcher

Lamb Shepherd's Pie delicious Lamb
The 80/20 Lamb which is flavored with wonderful spices tastes unbelievable in this Shepherd’s Pie recipe

The only challenge you’ll face when cooking with ground meat with a high fat content is it may become greasy when cooking. You don’t want to include all that grease in your final meal, so we recommend straining some of it out before serving

The easiest way to do this when cooking in a large pot such as this recipe is to push all the meat to one side of the pot. Tip the pot away from the meat, and the excess fat will flow into the open space. Dab it with several paper towels and discard. You don’t want to get rid of it all, as that’s where all the flavor is. Just remove enough to stop it being greasy

There’s no need to be too fussy with what Potatoes you use, they’ll all taste great

Many recipes that involve Potatoes live and die by the type of Potatoes you use. For example, our Homemade French Fries (LINK) are very specific about what potatoes you need to get the crispiest result. When it comes to the Lamb Shepherd’s Pie however, we’re not too fussy. Whatever Potatoes you can get your hands on will do the job great

Obviously if you’re presented with a choice, we’d recommend a starchy Potato such as Yukon Gold. They will produce a lighter, fluffier result which always works well in a Mashed Potato. However, what is more important than Potato type when making Mash, is Butter

Simply put – Butter Makes Mashed Potatoes. The high butter content is what makes those amazing Mashed Potatoes you eat in French restaurants so darn delicious. They go all-in, with equal portions of Potato to Butter! We’re not suggesting you use that much, but use a generous amount of Butter when mashing your Potatoes to get the best flavor and texture

If you want to dive deep into perfecting the ultimate Mashed Potatoes, we’ve got a whole recipe dedicated to them here (LINK). We’ve also got you covered in the recipe below on all the steps required to perfect Mashed Potatoes for this wonderful Lamb Shepherd’s Pie with Harissa dish

Lamb Shepherd's Pie piece on plate
Any Potato types will result in a fantastic textured and tasting Lamb Shepherd’s Pie. No need to be fussy

The flavor doesn’t stop here – we also add Cheddar Cheese to this beautiful Lamb Shepherd’s Pie

To finish off the dish we add a layer of good quality Cheddar Cheese. The Cheese adds that lovely tangy, sharpness which helps to cut through the richness of the Lamb. Instead of sprinkling the shredded Cheese over the top before baking, we prefer to nestle it in between the Lamb and the Mashed Potatoes

You’ll still get that lovely, gooey melting cheese consistency, but the top of the Pie will still have that classic, traditional look with Mashed Potatoes and a sprinkling of dried herbs. It’s an optional addition, but we recommend adding a little bit of Cheese into the Pie, because, why not?!

Recipe Details


4 – 6 people

Prep time

3 hours (preferably overnight)

Cooking time

1 hour

Total time

4 hours

Lamb Shepherd’s Pie with Harissa Recipe


  • 2 lbs. Ground Lamb (80/20 fat ratio)
  • 2 lbs. Potatoes
  • 85g / 3 oz. Butter
  • ½ cup Cheddar Cheese, shredded
  • 1 Carrot, finely diced
  • 2 Celery Stalks, finely diced
  • 1 Brown Onion, finely diced
  • 6 Garlic Cloves, finely diced
  • 2 tsp. Tomato Paste
  • 400ml / 14 oz. Canned Tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp. Harissa Paste
  • 2 tsp. Smoked Paprika
  • 2 tsp. Ground Cumin
  • 1 tsp. Coriander Powder
  • 1 tsp. Onion Powder
  • 1 tsp. Garlic Powder
  • ½ tsp. Cayenne Pepper
  • ½ tsp. Dried Oregano
  • 1 tsp. Vegetable Oil
  • Salt


  1. Place the Lamb in a large bowl and add Harissa Paste, Smoked Paprika, Ground Cumin, Coriander Powder, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Cayenne Pepper, and 2 tsp. of Salt. Mix well to combine the ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight
  2. When ready to cook, place a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat with the Vegetable Oil. Once hot, add the Brown Onion, Carrot, and Celery along with 1 tsp. of Salt. Cook for 5 minutes, then add the Lamb, Garlic, and Tomato Paste
  3. Cook the Lamb until browned and the fat has started to render, about 5 minutes. Then add the Canned Tomatoes. Simmer for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally
  4. While the Lamb is simmering, cut the Potatoes into chunks then place in a large pot of cold water with 2 tbsp. of Salt. Turn the heat on high and cook for about 15 minutes, until the Potatoes are lovely and tender
  5. Drain the Potatoes, then place back into the Pot. Add the Butter and mash well to form a smooth texture. Check for seasoning

Assembling the Lamb Shepherd’s Pie

  1. Spoon the cooked Lamb mixture into a large ceramic baking tray, ensuring the entire tray is covered. Sprinkle over the Cheese, and then finish with a layer of Mashed Potatoes. Sprinkle the top with Dried Oregano then bake in the oven for 20 minutes at 375F. For a crispy top, broil on high for the final 5 minutes
  2. Remove from Oven and let cool for about 5 minutes before serving

Recipe Notes

You can remove any excess grease once the Lamb has rendered. Just push the Lamb to one side of the pan and let the grease flow into the exposed area. Dab with a paper towel and discard

Our Lamb Shepherd’s Pie with Harissa recipe is a hearty and delicious meal. Perfect to feed a hungry family on a chilly evening! The dish is best served alongside a fresh salad to brighten up the whole dish. Here’s a few of our favorite Salads we’d recommend pairing with the dish:

Happy Cooking!

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