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Loaded baked potatoes with Shepherds Pie filling

Shepherd’s Pie in Potato Boats is a fun take on classic shepherd’s pie! Easy, make-ahead party food, perfect for individual servings. Made with a traditional meat filling, sitting in a hollowed potato, topped with a cheesy mashed potato topping, baked to perfection. Your guests will love them!

Of course, we also love the original Cottage Pie Recipe. It’s a great warm dish to share during the cooler months and can easily serve a crowd.

tray of individual shepherd pie servings

The individual serving size of the loaded baked potatoes with shepherds pie filling is perfect as make-ahead party food. This no-fuss and stress-free recipe is perfect for allowing you to spend less time in the kitchen and more time with your guests!

You can serve them as people gather seated around the table or set them up on a buffet table during a game day party and have everyone grab and mingle. They make great finger food and will pair nicely with a nice cold beer!

You’ve probably noticed that cottage pie and shepherd’s pie are used interchangeably. However, truth be told, they are not the same. Typically, cottage pie is made with ground beef and shepherd’s pie is made with lamb.

The back story to this is when this dish originated, it was created for people who needed to stretch their food budget. Meat was rationed and cooked with whatever other fillings were available topped with potatoes which were cheap. The cottage referred to the homes they lived in.

Later, the British created shepherd’s pie using lamb referring to the fact that shepherds herd sheep.

Today, shepherd’s pie, in North America at least, is the more common term! My recipe for cottage pie can be used to make this individual shepherd’s pie and vice versa!

You’ll notice they are a similar recipe, however in the cottage pie I use Gouda and for this shepherd’s pie in potato boats, I use cheddar! Of course, you can customize them with whatever cheese works for you.

ingredient list for cottage pie


  • Potatoes – For the potato mixture you’ll want to use large Russet potatoes. They are large enough to hold the filling and sturdy enough not to crumble with a little extra weight.
  • Fats – Butter, olive oil.
  • Liquids – Milk, beef stock, Worcestershire sauce.
  • Salt
  • Cheese – I use cheddar, but any hard cheese will do. Swiss, Jack, Colby, will all do.
  • Veggies – Diced carrots, diced celery, peas, and corn.
  • Onion & Garlic – Diced the onion and mince the garlic.
  • Flour – This is optional for adding a bit of body and thickness to the broth, however not necessary.
  • Tomato paste
  • Seasonings – Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Meats – I used ground beef for this recipe, however, it is a customizable recipe. Ground lamb or even ground turkey work. Ground turkey or ham is also used in a similar recipe called St Stephen’s Pie. This is essentially shepherds pie with ham or turkey chunks to use leftovers after Thanksgiving or Christmas!

How to Make Shepherd’s Pie Baked Potatoes

For the Potatoes

  • Preheat the oven, bake potatoes whole on a baking sheet until tender. Once cool enough to handle, cut in half.
  • Scoop out the middle of the potato being very careful not to tear the skin. Leave a thick enough lining of potato along the outer edge to help with keeping the potato sturdy enough to hold the fillings.
  • Take the remaining potatoes and mash them in a bowl. Add butter, milk, salt, pepper, and cheese and set aside.

For the Meat

  • In a large skillet melt butter and olive oil. Once melted add onions, carrots, celery and garlic to saute until tender.
  • To the mixture, add tomatoe paste and optional flour and combine thoroughly. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Add the ground beef and cook until no longer pink. Use a wooden spoon to break the meat down into minced pieces.
  • To the skillet, add the Worcestershire sauce and beef broth and continue cooking.
  • Test for seasoning. Salt and pepper to taste, once again.
  • Then, add the peas and corn and combine everything together.


  • Take each potato skin and fill with a generous amount of the meat mixture.
  • Top with mashed potatoes which will cover the meat mixture.
  • If you are feeling a little fancy, use a piping bag with a decorative tip to create a decorative effect. You can also use a fork to create little peaks in your mashed potatoes. They will create a nice golden brown crispy texture.
  • Bake until boats are hot and potatoes have browned. Serve immediately.

Pro Tip: To make these boats ahead of time, prep them until just before baking. Keep them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. When ready to bake, keep them covered, and increase the baking time to a full 35 minutes. Uncover after 20 minutes to allow the potatoes to brown nicely.

Potato boat cut in half

Common Questions

Can I freeze these? Yes! Make the entire recipe, then wrap individually in plastic and store them in a sealed zip lock bag. This way, you only need to thaw what you will be eating. Allow them to defrost completely before cooking or they will dry out.

I hate to heat up my oven for parties. Can I microwave these? You can microwave them, but the potato topping will not get the nice crunchy edges. I would suggest popping them into an air fryer to heat them up if you don’t want to use your oven. Cook at 390-400° for 15 minutes to start. Then see if they need to cook longer to be completely warmed.

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Yield: 12

Shepherds Pie Potato Boats

plate of single serve potato boats

A family favorite shepherds pie made into individual servings. Potato skins act as the vessel to hold the beef, carrot, and pe mixture. Topped with creamy mashed potatoes.

Shepherd's Pie in Potato Boats is a fun take on classic shepherd's pie! Easy, make-ahead party food, perfect for individual servings. Made with a traditional meat filling, sitting in a hollowed potato, topped with a cheesy mashed potato topping, baked to perfection. Your guests will love them!

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes


Baked Potato Mixture

  • 6 Large Russet Potatoes
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese

Beef /Veggie Filling

  • 1 Tablespoon Butter
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive oil
  • 1 small onion, small diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 3 cloves Garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
  • 1 tablespoon flour, optional
  • 2 pounds Ground Beef or Ground Lamb ** see notes
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
  • ⅔ cup Beef Stock
  • 1 cups Peas
  • 1 cups Corn


Baked Potato /Mashed Potato

  1. Preheat Oven to 400°
  2. Bake potatoes for 45 minutes until tender.
  3. Once cool enough to handle, cut in half
  4. Scoop out potato carefully to avoid tearing the potato skin shell
  5. Set aside skins to fill with meat and potatoes later.
  6. Mash potatoes, then add butter, milk, salt, pepper and cheese. Set aside.
  7. While the potatoes are baking make the meat filling.

Meat Filling

  1. In a large skillet melt butter and olive oil on medium heat. Once melted, add onions, carrots, celery and garlic and saute until tender, but not mushy. (they will continue to cook in the oven when baking, so you want them to be al dente... almost completely cooked, but not mushy.) About 7-8 minutes.
  2. Add the tomato paste and the flour and mix well. (the flour acts as a thickener for the broth so it's not runny when finished cooking. However, this is totally optional.)
    Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Add ground beef and cook completely until there is no pink left. While cooking use a spoon to break the meat down into the smallest of pieces. (about 10 minutes)
  4. Once the beef is browned, add the Worcestershire sauce and the beef broth and cook for another 10 minutes.
  5. Check seasoning at this point and add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Add peas and corn and mix well.


  1. Using a large spoon, fill the potato skins with a generous helping of the meat mixture.
  2. Once all of the meat mixture has been placed in the boats, top with mashed potatoes, covering the meat mixture.
  3. You can make extra decorative by placing the potatoes into a piping bag with a decorative tip.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes until the boats are hot and the potatoes have browned.
  5. Serve immediately.
  6. See notes about making ahead.


    • Just a fun fact, technically Shepherds Pie is made from Ground Lamb and Cottage Pie is made from Ground Beef. But in the United States we use the word Shepherds pie interchangeably for both!
    • If making ahead of time, you can make them up until it's time to bake them and place them in a sealed container in the fridge. The baking time will take longer because the boats will have been chilled in the fridge. Bake covered for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for 15 minutes uncovered until golden brown.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 498Total Fat: 23gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 95mgSodium: 477mgCarbohydrates: 41gFiber: 5gSugar: 4gProtein: 30g

This recipe was calculated using the exact brands and measurements I used to make this recipe. If you are following a strict diet please note changing anything will cause the nutritional info to change. Please calculate your own nutritional information if you want it exact to what you make and use my calculations as a guide only.

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Tuesday 24th of November 2020

I love the ground beef version, can't wait to try all the variations. The potato skin boats are a brilliant idea!

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