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Best-of-Fall Shepherd's Pie

Nathan Congleton/TODAY
Cook Time:
1 hr 30 mins
Prep Time:
20 mins

Chef notes

I'm all about one-pot meals, and this one hits all the marks for a great fall comfort dinner: sage, gravy and butternut squash.

Swap option: You can go totally vegetarian by adding all your favorite veggies instead of turkey (corn, green beans and broccoli are amazing) and using veggie stock instead of chicken stock. If you love meat, try using ground beef or Italian sausage for a hearty swap.


Butternut squash
  • 2 pounds butternut squash, peeled and cut into small cubes
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry thyme leaves
  • 1/2 cup half and half
Shepherd's pie filling
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup frozen pearl onions, thawed and drained
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups Brussels sprouts, cleaned and halved
  • 8 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • cups roasted chicken stock or good dark chicken broth/bouillon
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 4 tablespoons cold water
  • 1 cup shredded Gruyère cheese


For the butternut squash:


Preheat oven to 375°F.


Toss the squash cubes with the salt and thyme in a 9- by 13-inch baking dish.


Dot the top of the squash with chunks of butter. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the squash is soft and slightly browned at the edges.


When the squash is done, pull it from the oven and mash it in the pan with a hand masher or large fork, keeping it chunky and working in the melted butter and cooking juices. Add the half and half and stir till combined. It should be relatively smooth with some chunks.

For the shepherd's pie filling:


Preheat oven to 400°F.


Heat a large regular skillet or a 12-inch cast iron skillet over a medium flame. Melt the butter and add the thawed and drained pearl onions and Brussels sprouts. Cook until the onions and Brussels begin to brown, then add the minced garlic, sage and turkey, and season with the salt and pepper. Sauté, stirring constantly and breaking the meat up as it cooks.


When the turkey is cooked through and beginning to brown, add the chicken stock/bouillon. Bring the mixture up to a boil, stirring with a wooden spoon to loosen the bits on the bottom of the pan.


When the mixture is boiling, mix the cornstarch and water together in a small bowl. Add the cornstarch slurry to the boiling stock mixture and stir constantly until it comes back to a boil. It should be thick like gravy.


Once the gravy is thick, turn the heat off. Pour the entire pan of filling into a 9- by 13-inch baking dish.


Spoonful by spoonful, top the gravy with the butternut squash. Once all of the squash is on the filling, gently smooth it out with a spatula. If using a cast iron skillet, just leave the filling in the pan and put the squash directly on top of the filling in the pan and bake in that.


Top the butternut masher layer with the shredded Gruyère cheese and bake for 20 minutes, until the filling is bubbly and the cheese is browning at the edges. Let it sit at room temp for 5-10 minutes before serving to let the gravy set.