Keto Cottage Pie (Shepherd’s Pie)


A healthier cottage pie recipe made with lean ground beef & low carb root vegetables in a rich brown gravy topped with cheesy cauliflower mashed potatoes.

Looking for something that will warm you up from the inside? Cottage pie. Wondering what you can make with a package of ground beef and vege? Make cottage pie. Want to prepare a dinner your family will gobble up and thank you for? This cottage pie recipe will do it and it’s low carb to boot!

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keto cottage pie with browned cheesy cauliflower topping in a casserole dish with serving spoon in dish with filling.

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KETO COTTAGE PIE TLDR: Use low carb root vegetables, thicken cottage pie with xanthan gum and tomato paste, make low carb cottage pie with mashed cauliflower instead of potatoes.

Like a good low carb beef stew, cottage pie is a comfort food winner. There’s a reason it’s called comfort food, my friends. Each bite tastes like “coming home” and feels like a hug for the soul. The small amount of extra hands-on and cooking time are absolutely worth it when this comes out of the oven beautifully browned and bubbly. 

I made this delicious keto cottage pie with mashed cauliflower several times the last month. Each time the family fought over who would have the leftovers for lunch the next day. Although the gravy has no flour, it has a rich taste and heartiness that satisfies. And you won’t miss the potatoes because the mashed cauliflower topping is even better. 

Keto cottage pie ingredients from left to right: cauliflower, beef base, bowl of diced carrot, turnip, onion and parsley. Cutting board with cut vegetables and knife.

Traditional Cottage Pie Ingredients

Traditional cottage pie is a simple dish of ground beef (mince), onions and carrots in a flour-thickened gravy and topped with mashed potatoes. It takes ingredient subs and additions well and every home seems to have its own unique recipe. Cottage pie is the perfect meal because it combines meat, vegetables, and starch all in one dish. But, it’s also high in carbs.

HINT: To make Shepherd’s Pie, use ground lamb instead of ground beef.

Low carb cottage pie filling in round white casserole with blue rim on wooden background. Blue striped napkin to the left and blue bird salt & pepper shakers to the right.

Keto Cottage Pie

Lowering the carbs to make a keto cottage pie is easy but does require knowledge of low carb ingredients and flavor. A low carb food list is invaluable as is an understanding of keto products. Traditional gravy thickeners contribute to a satisfying mouth-feel that low carb versions lack. So, it’s important to add even more flavor to low carb dishes to satisfy the taste buds. 

This healthier cottage pie recipe reduces carbs and increases flavor without the use of flour or cornstarch. To reduce carbs, swap starchy vegetables with lower carb root vegetables and top the dish with cheesy mashed cauliflower. Tomato paste and xanthan gum slightly thicken the gravy and dried porcini powder (optional) adds amazing rich flavor. Aromatics, herbs and spices bump flavor even more.

Unbaked Cottage Pie with mashed cauliflower and cheese on top in a blue rimmed casserole dish with blue napkin to the side.

I found the best vegetables for my keto cottage pie filling were a smallish carrot and a medium turnip. While similar to radishes in flavor, turnips look like potatoes and mellow in flavor when cooked. 

Not everyone likes cauliflower, but most people like my recipe for loaded cauliflower. Keeping that in mind, the mashed cauliflower topping includes cream cheese for creaminess, sour cream for tang and cheddar or Gruyere cheese for both texture and taste. Chopped scallion tops make it even better.

NOTE: Roll the carrot 1/4 – 1/3 turn while cutting. This produces many shallow chips that looks like more carrot than was used and they cook faster.

Other Ingredients for Cottage Pie (low carb)

  • Bell pepper
  • Garlic
  • Green beans
  • Mushrooms
  • Radishes
  • Rutabaga
keto cottage pie in casserole dish with with serving spoon & individual serving in white bowl to the right with blue striped napkin.
Baked keto cottage pie with mashed cauliflower topping in blue rimmed casserole dish with spoon.

Keto Cottage Pie (Shepherd’s Pie)

Like a good low carb stew, cottage pie is a comfort food winner. This keto cottage pie recipe is made with lean ground beef & low carb root vegetables in a rich brown gravy. The cheesy mashed cauliflower topping flavored with scallions is better than any traditional mashed potato topping.

Print Pin Rate

Course: Dinner

Cuisine: English

Keyword: comfort food, Fall

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Servings: 6

Calories: 356kcal

Author: Kim Hardesty

Equipment

  • Pot or microwaveable bowl for steaming

  • Food processor or potato masher and hand mixer

  • Box grater, knife, cutting board, spoons & spatulas

  • Assorted bowls for holding ingredients

  • Colander

  • 10 inch skillet or saute pan

  • 8 to 10 inch casserole dish

  • Sheet pan big enough to hold the casserole dish

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef (90%) (24 oz/680 g)
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1 medium carrot, rolled (4 oz/113 g)
  • 1 medium turnip, peeled and cubed
  • 1 tsp Better Than Bouillon Beef Base
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp dried porcini powder (optional)
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp xanthan gum (optional)
  • 2 cups water or unsalted beef broth
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley

Mashed Cauliflower Topping

  • 1 pound cauliflower floretes steamed until tender
  • 2 oz soft cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup grated Gruyere Cheese (or white cheddar or Monterey Jack)
  • 1/2 cup sliced scallion tops
  • 1/4 tsp each, salt and white pepper

Instructions

Preparation

  • Cut cauliflower into small florets. Peel and roll carrot, peel and dice turnip and dice onion (put them together in a bowl). Slice scallion tops and chop parsley (keep them separate on cutting board or plate). Grate the cheese.

  • Measure the spices and xanthan gum into a small bowl or ramekin and stir thoroughly; this ensures the xanthan gum doesn’t form clumps when added to the recipe.

  • Ready a microwaveable bowl or a pot with water for steaming the cauliflower. Fit the food processor with a metal blade.

Cottage Pie Filling

  • Add ground beef to the cold pan/skillet placed over medium heat. Work the ground beef into small bits as it cooks. (Starting in a cold pan takes longer to cook, but it’s the secret to achieving small uniform pieces.)

  • Turn the heat to medium-high. Add the vegetables, beef base, Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, mixed spices, and water or broth. Stir to distribute ingredients and to dissolve beef base and tomato paste. Bring to a simmer.

  • Cover and simmer over low to medium-low heat for 20 minutes or until the carrots and turnips are tender. Turn up the heat and simmer uncovered until the gravy is a rich reddish-brown, slightly thickened and reduced until it clings to the ingredients but isn’t dry. Stir in the parsley. Adjust seasoning. (If it needs a little “something” and you don’t know what, add 1-2 tbsp sugar free ketchup.)

Mashed Cauliflower Topping

  • PREHEAT OVEN TO 375 F AND PLACE RACK IN MIDDLE POSITIION.

  • While the filling simmers, steam the cauliflower until tender. (I use my microwave: place cauliflower florets in large microwaveable bowl with 2 tbsp of water. Cover with cling film and microwave for 8 minutes on high power stirring half way through.)

  • Drain cauliflower and add to a food processor. Process until crumbly. Add the cream cheese, sour cream and salt and pepper. Process until smooth and adjust seasoning. (Or mash well by hand and whip with a hand mixer.)

  • Remove the mashed cauliflower to a bowl and stir in the cheese and sliced scallion tops. (Adding the cheese in the processor gets the blade all gummy and is hard to clean.)

Assembly

  • Spray the casserole dish with olive oil. Scrape the cottage pie filling into the casserole and spoon the mashed cauliflower over, making sure to gently spread it to the edges of the dish. OPTIONAL: Grate 1/4 cup more cheese to put on the top.

  • At this point the cottage pie can be covered tightly and frozen. Cool completely, first!

Serves 6. Each hearty serving is 7 g NET CARBS.

Notes

  1. Cover and refrigerate up to five days or cover and freeze up to 3 months. Reheat portions in the microwave.
  2. To reheat previously cooked cottage pie: Thaw completely in the refrigerator. Reheat individual portions in the microwave. To reheat the whole recipe, place thawed cottage pie on the counter for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 F and bake covered for 40-50 minutes or until the center is hot.
  3. To reheat frozen, unbaked whole cottage pie: Thaw completely in the refrigerator. Let the cottage pie come to room temperature on the counter for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 F. Place on a sheet pan and bake uncovered for 50-60 minutes or until the cottage pie is bubbly and the center is hot.

Nutrition

Serving: 1sixth of recipe | Calories: 356kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 30g | Fat: 22g | Cholesterol: 98mg | Sodium: 516mg | Potassium: 691mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 4.5g | Calcium: 14mg | Iron: 2.54mg

About Kim Hardesty

Kim HardestyKim is a self taught cook with over 30 years experience in the kitchen. She develops and tests low carb and keto recipes in her California home. She began her low carb journey in 2009 and at the urging of friends, started blogging in 2014. Kim shares delicious low carb and keto recipes no one would believe are sugar-free. Her recipes are featured in newsstand publications and on sites all over the internet.

Keto Cottage Pie (Shepherd's Pie)





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