Paleo Shepherd’s Pie

This paleo Shepherd’s pie always brings me back to England, where my husband and I went to graduate school, spending many a long night deep in the academic trenches of anthropology and biology. It was good fuel for our studious brains, especially on spring nights, when the weather was still cool, and there was always light rain, mist or other form of soft precipitation.
Luckily the dish is naturally free of gluten, dairy, soy and sugar. I use parsnip for a nice fluffy crust, since white potatoes often cause inflammation (is that because they are genetically modified? – I don’t know the answer to this yet). The parsnips’ slight perfumey flavor marries beautifully with the unctuous fats from the lamb bubbling up from underneath. My kids’ now enjoy this comfort food with us, and even though I always strive for leftovers, the pie barely ever makes to the next day. I hope you enjoy as much as we do!

Paleo Shepherd's Pie

Course Main Dish
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 4 people


  • 1 1/2 pounds parsnips
  • 1/4 cup butter, ghee or Earth's Balance soy-free buttery spread
  • 1 3/4 teaspoon salt, separated
  • 3/4 teaspoon pepper, separated
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup onion chopped
  • 2 carrots diced small (about 1 cup)
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 pounds ground lamb
  • 1 teaspoon tomato paste
  • 1 cup chicken broth homemade is best!
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme chopped


  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Peel the parsnips and chop large. Place in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then simmer on medium-high for 15 to 20 minutes until fork-tender.
  • Meanwhile, begin preparing the filling. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high. Add the onion* and carrots and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic* and stir to combine. Add the lamb, salt and pepper, and stir, breaking up large chunks of lamb with a wooden spoon. Cook until brown, 5 - 10 minutes.
  • Add the tomato paste, chicken broth, Worcestershire, rosemary, and thyme, and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and simmer 15 minutes, until the liquid reduces significantly.
  • While the meat mixture is cooking, return to the parsnips. When they are done cooking, drain the water and put the parnsips in the bowl of a food processor, fitted with a blade. Pulse until smooth.
  • Return the parsnips to the pot they were cooked in, add butter, salt and pepper, and stir until butter is melted and the mixture is well combined. Add the egg yolk and mix until well combined.
  • Now here comes the fun part: when the meat is done cooking, transfer it to a pie plate (size?) or baking dish. Alternatively, depending on the size of your skillet and whether or not it is oven proof, you can leave it in the skillet and continue instructions from here. Distribute the meat mixture evenly in the baking dish. Spread the parsnip mixture evenly over the top of the baking dish. I find using two spatulas works best. Once the parsnip mash is evenly spread, you can use a fork to draw a cool striped design.
  • Place on a parchment lined baking sheet (to catch any runoff bubbling over) on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 30 minutes or just until the parsnips begin to brown. Remove to a cooling rack for at least 15 minutes before serving.


* for low FODMAPs, cook the onion and garlic before adding the carrots, strain, then return strained oil to pan. Alternatively, use onion- and garlic-infused oil.


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