Ultimate Low Carb Shepherd’s Pie

From top to bottom this low carb shepherd’s pie is a truly satisfying meal. 

A savoury layer of ground beef, crumbled bacon, and peas in a dark salty gravy, topped with a generous layer of whisky glazed caramelized onions, and golden brown topping of cauliflower mash.

Keto Shepherds Pie in pan

Every bite is overflowing with flavour and only 7.4g net carbs per serving!

Be sure to check out my Cauliflower mash recipe for all the details!

Share this now!
Share on pinterest
Share on twitter
Share on reddit
Share on email
Share on print
Seriously do it.

Is there anything more comforting than a big plate of Shepherd’s pie? 

Every family of course has their own version, but there really is nothing like taking a bite of the perfectly seasoned ground meat with the fluffy mash piled on top. 

It’s just one of those quintessential recipes that I always loved growing up, and I came to miss more and more as I switched to my low carb forever plan.

I have created this ultimate low carb version which stays very true in flavour to my family Shepherd’s pie recipe, but with some added improvements like bacon and whisky glazed caramelized onions.

Why You Will Love This Recipe

  • Layer upon layer of flavour with less than 10g net carbs per serving
  • Simple easy to find ingredients 
  • Bacon and whisky caramelized onions, nuff said. 
  • This meat pie is a full low carb meal in itself
  • Satisfies your Shepherd’s pie craving!

What Makes This 'Ultimate'?

While Shepherd’s pie is already a mouthwatering dish, this recipe kicks everything up a notch.

You’ll notice that each layer of this recipe is expertly crafted to reach its full flavour potential. 

Its not just a ground beef filling, its a ground beef and bacon filling. 

The onions aren’t just caramelized, they are caramelized and whiskey glazed.

And the mash layer on top isn’t just mashed cauliflower, its roasted cauliflower full of cheese and butter, that turn perfectly golden brown in the oven.

That extra bit in each step is why this is the Ultimate keto Shepherds Pie recipe.

What You Need to Know

Below are the key details and tips you need to make this recipe perfect every time.

The Meat Layer

The meat mixture makes up the bottom layer of the dish and is made of ground beef, lamb, or veal, crumbled bacon, and peas in savoury brown gravy. 

Drain the fat From the Meat

You can use any type of ground meat you like and any leanness you prefer since you will be draining off most of the fat anyways.

I know, I know, the fat is delicious! But sometimes there is just too much! Both the ground beef and the bacon will render out lots of fat and if you leave it all in there the Shepherd’s pie will be just too greasy.

Before you season the meat, drain off some or all of the fat and save it for frying eggs, don’t worry, there is still plenty left!

Whiskey Caramelized Onion Layer

Between the meat and the cauliflower mash topping lies a magical layer of whiskey glazed caramelized onions.  

Onions are slow cooked in fat until caramelized then whiskey is added to the pan to deglaze. 

Caramelize the Onions Slowly

You may not realize this, but properly caramelizing onions is a very slow process. Some people even use a slow cooker to get that perfect golden brown flavour. 

To get these onions just right, start the pan on medium-low heat with lots of fat or butter, and lightly salt the onions to draw out the water. 

Cook for 25-35 minutes stirring occasionally until the onions start to darken and become limp.  

The pan should only reach a very light sizzle. The onions should not be frying.

Forty Creek Whiskey caramelized onions in a pan

Use a Good Quality Whiskey

If you wouldn’t drink it, don’t cook with it! To get the fullest flavours possible, use a good quality whiskey.

I like Forty Creek Whiskey, it is a decent price, it’s local (to me) and has a flavour that is great for sipping and cooking!

Make Sure you Cook off the whiskey!

Once the onions are almost ready, it’s time to add the whiskey. Just pour it right into the onions, and turn up the heat slightly so it reaches a gentle simmer. 

Cook for at least 5 minutes or until the pungent smell of alcohol is no longer present. 

Cooking off the alcohol will prevent any surprising bitter flavours in the onions.

Cauliflower Mash Topping

Mashing the Cauliflower

Even though I call this cauliflower mash (because it’s a low carb version of mashed potatoes), these aren’t mashed at all.

Mashing cauliflower just doesn’t work well, you don’t get the beautiful smooth texture.

Instead of mashing, use an immersion blender and whip it smooth.

This takes some effort, you will need to almost smash it down with the immersion blender until it starts to blend nicely. Eventually the cauliflower will begin to break down and become quite smooth! 

I go into much more detail on how to make this recipe in my dedicated low cauliflower mash recipe post. 

If you take nothing else from this recipe, take this. An immersion blender is 100% the absolute best way to make cauliflower mash that is comparable to mashed potatoes.

Low carb cauliflower mash being spread on keto shepherds pie

Pie Assembly

Shepherd’s pie is often assembled in a casserole dish, a deep pan, or right in the skillet you cooked the meat in assuming it is oven safe like a cast iron skillet. 

Start with the beef, bacon and pea mixture and make sure the layer is even as possible.

Next, distribute the caramelized onions evenly over the meat. 

You may not be able to get complete coverage with the onions unless you made a huge batch, but do your best to spread out the mixture so each bite will have some.

Finally, spread the mashed cauliflower over the meat and onions. Use the back of a spoon, and knife, or an offset spatula to spread the mixture as evenly as possible.

If you like you can take a fork and drag lines across the top which will crisp up in the oven.

Keto Shepherd's pie Cooking Times, and Temperatures

The Meat

Cooking method: Pan Fry

Temperature: Medium-high

Cooking time: 15-20 minutes

You Know It’s Done When: The meat is fully cooked and browned

The Caramelized Onions

Cooking Method: Pan Fry

Temperature: Medium-Low

Cooking Time: 30 – 35 minutes

You know It’s Done When: The onions are golden brown, tender and slightly translucent

Roasted Cauliflower Mash

Cooking Method: Oven Roasting on a sheet pan

Temperature: 400°F [205°C]

Cooking Time: 35 – 40 minutes

You Know its ready to mash/whip when: It’s tender and golden brown

For stove-top directions see the full recipe post here. 

Cooking The Pie

Cooking method: Baking

Temperature: 400°F [205°C]

Cooking time: 15-20 minutes

You Know It’s Done When: The top is golden brown and starting to crisp.

Optional Step

Turn on the top broiler for the last few minutes to really brown up the top!

Resting

Remove the pie from the oven to cool and rest for 10 minutes before serving! This allows the liquid to be re-absorbed by the pie to avoid a watery dish. 

Most importantly, enjoy!

Ultimate Keto Shepherds Pie

Keto shepherds pie from above
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 30 mins
Resting time 10 mins
Servings 10 servings
Calories 481 kcal
Net Carbs 7.4 g
A truly decadent low carb Shepherd's pie recipe. Roasted cauliflower mash, a top a bed of seasoned ground beef, bacon, and peas, with a layer of Whiskey glazed caramelized onions in between. Less than 10g net carbs per serving in this hearty keto meal.

Equipment

  • Baking pan
  • Cooking foil
  • Deep oven safe skillet or fry pan
  • casserole dish (optional)
  • Large Pot
  • Immersion Blender
  • Knife and Cutting Board
  • small fry pan

Ingredients
  

Meat Filling

  • 6 slices bacon diced small
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • ½ cup peas fresh or frozen
  • 3 tablespoons rosemary and/or sage fresh, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon thyme fresh, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons parsley fresh, chopped
  • cup soy sauce dark is best
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • salt and pepper to taste

Whiskey Caramelized Onions

  • 5 small onions sliced
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 cup whiskey
  • salt and pepper to taste

Roasted Cauliflower Mash

  • 1 head cauliflower cut into florets
  • 3 tablespoons oil/butter/ghee
  • ¼ cup cream cheese cubed
  • cup butter cubed
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
 

Oven Roasted Cauliflower Mash

  • Preheat oven to 400°F [205°C]. For stove-top directions see full recipe post here.
  • Prepare Cauliflower for roasting. Break cauliflower into florets and spread out on the foil lined baking sheet, drizzle with oil, and season liberally with salt and pepper. Use your hands to toss the florets making sure to coat each one with the oil and seasonings. Feel free to toss in other flavours here such as garlic powder, cayenne, or other herbs and spices
    1 head cauliflower, 3 tablespoons oil/butter/ghee, salt and pepper
  • Bake the cauliflower until golden brown. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the outer parts of the florets are golden brown and starting to crisp. You can work on the other layers while the cauliflower is roasting.
  • Whip/mash with an immersion blender. Transfer to a pot over low heat add cubed cream cheese and butter. Allow the cheese and butter a moment to soften from the heat and then begin to breakdown the large florets with an immersion blender by repeatedly plunging the blender down on top of the cauliflower until it breaks down into a smooth mash. Continue to whip for several minutes until you are at your desired consistency.
    ¼ cup cream cheese, ⅓ cup butter
  • Set aside for assembly.

Whiskey Glazed Caramelized Onions

  • Thinly Slice Onions. Slice onions into long thin slices.
    5 small onions
  • Sauté over medium-low heat. Add sliced onions to a pan over medium low heat with the butter. Season with salt. Continue sautéing for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. Cook until the onions have turned a golden brown and are translucent and tender.
    ¼ cup butter
  • Turn up heat and deglaze with whiskey. Once the onions have sufficiently caramelized, turn the heat up to medium and add the whiskey to the pan to deglaze. Continue cooking for 5-8 minutes until the whiskey has mostly evaporated and the alcohol smell is gone.
    1 cup whiskey
  • Set aside for assembly.

Meat Filling

  • Brown bacon and ground beef. Add diced bacon to a large deep oven safe pan and cook until the fat has rendered out and its starting to crisp. Add the ground beef to the pan with the bacon, season with salt, and cook until browned and cooked through.
    6 slices bacon, 2 pounds ground beef, salt and pepper
  • Season meat filling, add the peas. Add the soy sauce, tomato paste, fresh sage/rosemary, thyme, parsley, and peas too the meat and cook for 5-8 minutes until the peas are tender.
    ½ cup peas, 3 tablespoons rosemary and/or sage, 1 teaspoon thyme, ⅓ cup soy sauce, 3 tablespoons tomato paste, 3 tablespoons parsley

Assembling the pie

  • Prepare the meat layer. Either in the oven safe pan you cooked the meat in, or a casserole dish, spread the meat mixture to cover the bottom of the pan in a even layer.
  • Add onion layer. Spread the caramelized onions over the meat layer as evenly as possible. You may not have enough to fully cover, but try to get some in each bite.
  • Spread Mashed Cauliflower over top. Spoon the mashed cauliflower over the onion layer, and using an offset spatula, spoon, or knife, spread over the top as evenly as possible. Optional: Drag a fork across the top to create ridges that will crisp in the oven.
  • Bake until golden brown. Bake in a 400°F [205°C] uncovered for 15-20 minutes until the cauliflower has turned a perfect golden brown colour.
  • Rest and Serve. Remove from the oven and set aside to rest and cool for 10-12 minutes to allow the liquid to reabsorb into the pie. Top with chopped herbs, and serve!

Notes

This recipe makes 8-10 generous servings, however for complete accuracy always check the nutritional information yourself using a recipe calculator like the one at Cronometer
Cauliflower mash: For a more in depth look at my cauliflower mash recipe, see the dedicated recipe post
Soy Sauce: While not traditional, the salty nature of soy sauce is great for seasoning red meat and making a savoury filling. 
If you prefer you can use half the amount of Worcestershire sauce and beef stock. 
Beef/Lamb/Veal: Use any ground meat you prefer, even a mix of meats!
Caramelized onion layer: While I highly reccomend this layer, if you wish you can omit this and simply add the onions to the meat mixture to cook. 
Leftovers, Reheating, Storage: Store leftovers sealed in the fridge for use within a week. 
Reheat: In the oven until warmed though, or in the microwave. 

Nutrition

Calories: 481kcalCarbohydrates: 10.5gProtein: 28.5gFat: 30.6gSaturated Fat: 14.8gSodium: 740mgPotassium: 742mgFiber: 2.96gSugar: 4.4gVitamin A: 760IUVitamin C: 50mgCalcium: 81mgIron: 3.21mgSugar Alcohols: 0.18gNet Carbs: 7.4g
Did you give this a try?Mention @yummyforadam or use #yummyforadam on instagram!
Looking for a different low carb recipe?Something you don't see here or looking for a low carb version of your favourite recipe? Let me know so I can get working on it! Contact me directly or leave a comment!
Keywords: cauliflower mash, keto casserole, keto meat pie, low carb shepherds pie

Take a second to share if you liked this recipe:

Share on pinterest
Share on twitter
Share on reddit
Share on email
Share on print

Recipe Variations

Change the meat:  Ground beef is often the easiest to get a hold of, but ground lamb, veal, and even pork can make a delicious pie!

Change the seasonings: While not traditional, I enjoy the salty flavour soy sauce adds to meat, however you can use Worcestershire and beef stock for a more traditional approach. Make sure you adjust the amounts to get the taste you want. 

Add Cheese: Adding a layer of grated cheese somewhere in the dish, maybe on top, or even mixed into the cauliflower mash is a great idea!

Keto shepherds pie from above

Enjoy!

Leave a Reply