Shepherd’s Pie {Amish Family Recipes}

Shepherd's Pie {Amish Family Recipes}

Shepherd’s Pie is an ultimate comfort food with its flavorful and hearty meat base, and mounds of creamy, mashed potatoes on top, baked till just browned and delicious.

Although its origins are not Amish, I can see why the Amish community adopted the recipe, and placed it in the Mennonite Community Cookbook. The ingredients and flavors are simple and delicious, and it uses ingredients commonly found in their kitchens.

Meat and potato pies date back to medieval times, with roots in Great Britain. Shepherd’s Pie is a relative of its earlier cousin; Cottage Pie. Shepherd’s Pie was typically made with lamb or mutton, while Cottage Pie used beef.

“But in fact, cottage pie is a much older term than shepherd’s pie, which does not crop up until the 1870s. On 29 August 1791 we find that enthusiastic recorder of all his meals, the Reverend James Woodford, noting in his diary Dinner to day, Cottage-Pye and rost Beef’ (it is not clear precisely what he meant by cottage pie, however).”
—An A to Z of Food and Drink, John Ayto [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 2002 (p. 92)

The earliest online reference I could find of Shepherd’s Pie in an American cookbook, was in “Philadelphia Mrs. Rorer’s Philadelphia Cook Book,” published in 1886. (

The recipe listed in the Mennonite Community Cookbook is very simple, using the old-fashioned Shepherd’s Pie method of lining the bottom of the baking dish with potatoes, as well placing them on top. It doesn’t list amounts, rather calls for leftover meat, and a few additions. Today I’m sharing a recipe I’ve compiled from several – one that my entire family (with varying palates), enjoys very much! It can easily be modified and be made dairy and gluten-free. Although true Shepherd’s Pie often calls for cubed or chunks of meat, I love to use pasture-fed, organic ground beef from local farmers, because of the simplicity in cooking it. Happy eating!

Shepherd's Pie {Amish Family Recipes}

Gather potatoes, carrots, and an onion.

Shepherd's Pie {Amish Family Recipes}

Peel and quarter all potatoes but three potatoes, and place in water. Salt them and cook, for the mashed potato topping on your Shepherd’s Pie. Peel the remaining three potatoes and cut into one inch squares. These will be used in the stew portion of your dish.

Shepherd's Pie {Amish Family Recipes}

Chop onions and slice carrots.

Shepherd's Pie {Amish Family Recipes}

Sprinkle with salt, and saute’ in with olive oil for three minutes. Remove from skillet.

Shepherd's Pie {Amish Family Recipes}

Brown ground beef in same skillet.

Shepherd's Pie {Amish Family Recipes}

Place browned ground beef, sautéed vegetables, diced potatoes, broth, tomato purée and seasonings in large pot. Bring to a simmer.

Shepherd's Pie {Amish Family Recipes}

While the stew is simmering, mash the potatoes.

Shepherd's Pie {Amish Family Recipes}

After Mashed Potatoes are ready, whisk together flour and water till smooth. Add to simmering stew.

Shepherd's Pie {Amish Family Recipes}

Stir well and allow to thicken for several minutes. Place stew in buttered casserole dish, and top with mashed potatoes. Bake for 30 minutes, at 350.

Shepherd’s Pie {Amish Family Recipes}

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Yield: 8 servings

Shepherd’s Pie {Amish Family Recipes}


  • 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3-5 carrots, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Salt, & Pepper to taste
  • 12 Russet potatoes (9 quartered and boiled for mashed potatoes, and 3 diced for stew base)
  • 32 ounces chicken broth
  • 15 ounces tomato puree
  • 1/8 teaspoon Thyme
  • 1/2 cup sweet, red cooking wine (optional)
  • For Mashed Potatoes: 1/2 cup butter, and 1/2 cup or more of milk, cream or half and half


  1. Peel and quarter all but three potatoes. Add 1 teaspoon salt and bring to boil. Cook on medium-low heat for 20 minutes, or until soft.
  2. Chop remaining three potatoes into one inch cubes.
  3. Chop onion and garlic, slice carrots.
  4. Heat olive oil in skillet, sprinkle with salt and saute vegetables for three minutes. Remove from skillet.
  5. Add one more tablespoon olive oil to pan. Brown meat in same skillet. Add 1 teaspoon salt.
  6. In large pot; place meat, vegetables, the three diced potatoes, chicken broth, tomato puree, thyme and optional red cooking wine. Bring to simmer. Cook for 30 minutes. Add more salt and fresh, cracked pepper if needed.
  7. Drain cooked potatoes. Beat till mashed. Add butter and mix well. Add cream and beat till smooth. Use reserved water from cooking potatoes if more liquid is needed.
  8. *If desired, whisk together 3/4 cup cold water and 1/3 cup all purpose flour till smooth, and add to stew mixture. Allow to simmer for a few minutes, to thicken.
  9. Butter bottom and sides of baking dish. Pour stew in bottom. Gently place mashed potatoes on top, spreading out to cover the meat.
  10. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, or until slightly browned on top.

Interesting Links:

Jamie Oliver’s 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Shepherd’s Pie

Cook’s Info on Shepherd’s Pie

The Unexpected Origin of Shepherd’s Pie




Baked Limas {Amish Family Recipes}

Baked Limas {Amish Family Recipes}

The things I most appreciate about Amish-Mennonite cooking are its use of simple, straightforward and real ingredients, the seasonal nature of the food, the wholesome food traditions they have managed to maintain in spite of our commercialized culture, and the way their cooking is a model example of hospitality and community – as it relates to food. Baked Limas are a delicious example of this!

This dish has roots in Early American, Greek and German cooking, among others. Giant Limas were relatively easy to dry at the end of summer’s gardening season, and were often prepared and served throughout the winter months – hot, or cold, with bread.

I love the slightly sweet, tangy flavor of Baked Limas, and I’ve taken the liberty to add the Greek’s use of garlic to my version of the Amish Community Cookbook’s recipe.

Although this dish is very easy to prepare, it does take some time, and requires soaking the beans overnight, in advance of cooking the next day.

Baked Limas {Amish Family Recipes}

Soak the beans overnight by covering completely with water, after washing them thoroughly. The next morning, rinse them, place in Dutch oven or large pot, cover with fresh water and a bit of sea salt, and cook for 1 hour. (Till just tender, but not soft.) After cooking, drain the beans.

Baked Limas {Amish Family Recipes}

Chop onions, green peppers and garlic. Sauté in olive oil for 2-3 minutes. Add tomatoes and tomato purée, and seasonings. Cook for 30 minutes.

Baked Limas {Amish Family Recipes}

Combine drained beans and the delicious tomato sauce you’ve just cooked. Taste and add more salt and/or fresh ground pepper if needed. (I like to add cayenne for a little kick.)

Baked Limas {Amish Family Recipes}

Place bacon strips over the top of your beans. (Optional.)

Baked Limas {Amish Family Recipes}

Bake for 1 – 1 1/2 hours, or until beans are desired softness. Serve your Baked Limas as a side dish – or all on their own, with a hearty slice of wholesome bread. Delicious!

Baked Limas {Amish Family Recipes}

Cook Time: 2 hours

Yield: 6-8 servings


  • 1 pound dried Giant Lima beans
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 green Bell pepper
  • 1 can plum tomatoes, chopped (keep juice)
  • 1 can tomato purée
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar or honey
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped, fresh parsley
  • 4 slices bacon (optional)


  1. Wash beans and cover with water (several inches over beans).soak overnight.
  2. Next morning, rinse beans, place in large pot, add 8 cups fresh water and 1 teaspoon salt.
  3. Cook for 1 hour, or until they're slightly tender, but not too soft.
  4. Heat olive oil in large skillet. Add onions, peppers and garlic. Sauté for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Add chopped tomatoes and tomato purée, all seasonings, and brown sugar or honey.
  6. Cook for 30 minutes, on medium-low heat.
  7. Combine with beans.
  8. Place in baking dish.
  9. Place bacon slices on top. (Optional.)
  10. Bake for 1 1/2 hours - 1 hour covered, and 30 minutes uncovered.
  11. Serve hot, or at room temperature.


Recipe modification from base recipe source: Mennonite Community Cookbook, Herald Press

How to Make Shoofly Pie {Lessons from My Amish Family}


Shoofly Pie Close Up

Shoofly Pie, the quintessential Amish dessert.

Grandma Lydia's Shoofly Pie Recipe

Grandma Lydia’s Shoofly Pie Recipe

My Grandma Lydia made 3-4 shoofly pies every week. She specialized in the “wet-bottom” variety. (Some people prefer a drier, more coffee-cake like version, but not our family!)

The cup Grandma Esh used as a measuring cup when making shoofly pie

The cup Grandma used as a measuring cup when making Shoofly Pie, and a stoneware bowl in which she mixed shoofly pie and other baked goods.

My Grandma and my Mother taught me how to make Shoofly Pie, so I wanted to be sure my daughter knew how to make it as well. In this post I’ll share her first shoofly-pie-making experience.

Pie Crust

It begins with a perfect pie crust.

Roll the pie crust

…rolled out into a circle, ready to place into pie plate as the shell for future shoofly-deliciousness.

Ingredients for shoofly pie

Shoofly Pie is made from simple ingredients. Some say this pie’s name comes from the fact that its sticky, sweet molasses base attracted flies as it cooled. Others say the name originates from an early recipe which called for a brand of molasses called “Shoofly”. Although there are variations in the stories of the pie’s history, one fact is not up for dispute: it is the most famous pie is in Amish Country.

Shoofly Pie Syrup

Most shoofly pie bakers I know use either Golden Barrel or King Syrup in their family recipe.

King Syrup

After your crust is ready, combine the wet ingredients with baking soda and some brown sugar.

Wet Ingredients Shoofly Pie

Make sure to add the beaten egg slowly, and whisk well to keep the mixture smooth.

Shoofly Crumb topping

Next, flour, brown sugar and shortening are combined to make the crumb topping. Traditional pies use lard, our family uses Spectrum’s organic, non-hydrogenated shortening, purchased from our local grocery store.

Wet and dry ingredients for Shoofly Pie

Your wet and dry ingredients are now ready for the next step.

Crumbs added to shoofly pie batter

After the crumbs are made, it’s time to place half of them into the wet ingredients and gently mix them together.

Shoofly Pie ready for crumbs

This mixture is then poured into your unbaked, prepared pie shell, and then there’s only one more step before baking:

Place crumbs on top of shoofly pie

…gently spread the remaining crumbs on top of the wet mixture.

Ready to bake - Shoofly Pie

 Your Shoofly Pie is ready for the oven!

Shoofly Pie | Lydia Glick

After it is baked, cool for at least 30 minutes, and then enjoy! We like it best served with milk or coffee.

Here’s my Grandma Lydia’s recipe

Lydia’s Shoofly Pie

(Makes 2, 8 inch pies.) Use your favorite pie crust recipe, and have two, eight-inch, unbaked pie crusts ready for the following filling.

First combine:

2 Cups Boiling Water

1 Tablespoon Baking Soda

1 Cup Molasses

2 Cups Brown Sugar

1 Egg

Next combine:

4 Cups Flour

1 Cup Brown Sugar

1/2 Cup Shortening

Preheat oven to 375 F.

In large mixing bowl combine boiling water and baking soda. Add molasses and brown sugar. Mix well. Slowly add beaten egg.

In separate mixing bowl mix flour and brown sugar. Add shortening and cut with pastry cutter until fine crumbs are formed.

Add HALF of the crumb mixture to the wet mixture. Stir gently to mix well, and pour into two, unbaked pie crusts.

Gently place remaining crumbs on top of pies.

Place in oven and bake for 35 minutes, or until crust is golden brown.

Remove from oven and cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing. Enjoy!

Grandma's Shoofly Pie |

Grandma’s Shoofly Pie |

~ Justina Dee

This is a post from my “31 Lessons from My Amish Family” series. Click here to read more! 


Not So Humble Pie Blog: “The Shoo Fly Pie was created when colonists in the early 18th century found their baking supplies running low late in the winter. The ingredients left in the pantry were usually flour, lard and molasses or refiner’s syrup. Many have presumed that the unusual name of the pie was due to it attracting flies as it cooled near an open window. However, the name “Shoo Fly Pie” did not appear in print until 1926. I agree with John Ayto in his An A-Z of Food and Drink when he states . . . “the fact that it originated as a Pennsylvania Dutch specialty suggests the possibility that shoofly is an alteration of an unidentified German word.” I totally agree with this conclusion because one of those antique recipe pamphlets that Harold Jamieson loaned to me mentioned that the pie had been associated with the name “Schuuflei Boi”.”