Shepherd’s Pie with Cauliflower is a lightened up version of the classic comfort food favorite! It has ground meat, sauce, veggies and delicious low carb, cheesy cauliflower mash on top.

Shepherd's pie with cauliflower in deep skillet with towel around the handle.

September is like a clock. Weather cools off and we all start craving comfort.

You know what’s great about this Shepherd’s Pie with cauliflower? It tastes good! Not all low carb food taste delicious, especially when it comes to classics makeovers.

While there is a time and place for traditional Shepherd’s pie, this lighter version is delicious layered with veggies, ground meat, and cauliflower mashed potatoes. A sprinkle of cheese seals the deal on the top, then it’s broiled until golden.

You have to try!

Ingredients and Notes

Cauliflower shepherd’s pie is made with simple ingredients that fit into a healthy lifestyle.

  • Cauliflower: I used a whole head of cauliflower, it makes low carb faux potato crust. Easy peasy.
  • Ground meat: Lean ground turkey or ground chicken keeps this cottage pie lighter.
  • Chickpeas: Use canned low sodium. I use Instant Pot chickpeas. The philosophy behind this step is to eat less meat. You can sub extra ground meat for the beans though.
  • Frozen vegetables: Frozen peas and corn, although you could use mixed frozen vegetables with added carrots.
  • Liquids: Low sodium chicken or vegetable stock plus any milk. I used unsweetened almond milk.
  • Cheese: Grated mozzarella or cheddar go on top of cauliflower mash to make golden irresistible crust.

How to Make Shepherd’s Pie with Cauliflower Mash

I used wide and deep cast iron Dutch oven but any ovenproof skillet works. You can also cook meat sauce in regular skillet and then assemble pie in a baking dish for broiling.

Prep cauliflower by separating it into florets then cutting it into smaller pieces. Follow my how to cut cauliflower step by step method for best results.

Cauliflower pieces and garlic clove in a pot with water.

Cook chopped cauliflower and whole clove of garlic in a pot with water for 10 minutes or until fork tender.

Ground turkey in a skillet stirred with wooden spoon.

Cook ground meat in skillet over medium heat while cauliflower is cooking by sauteing garlic first and then meat, stirring often and breaking into pieces.

Slurry poured over cooked turkey in a skillet.

Make the sauce by whisking cold stock and milk, cornstarch, salt and freshly ground black pepper in a medium bowl. Then pour over ground meat and let it simmer until thickened, for 5 minutes.

Mashed cauliflower in a pot.

Make cauliflower mash while meat is simmering away in yummy sauce. Drain cooked cauliflower and do not discard garlic.

Add butter, salt and pepper and puree with an immersion blender until smooth. Leftovers of slow cooker cauliflower mashed potatoes could work here, too!

Frozen corn, peas and chickpeas with sauce and meat.

Now add frozen veggies and chickpeas to the skillet with meat sauce. Garbanzo beans are a perfect candidate to innocently blend in with delicious sauce, corn, peas and meat.

Cauliflower mash spread on top of shepherd's pie filling.

Dollop cauliflower topping on top of filling, spread with spatula and it’s OK if it doesn’t cover entire skillet.

Cheese sprinkled on cauliflower mash.

Sprinkle with cheese and broil for 5 minutes. Rotate if necessary to ensure even broiling. Serve hot!

Cauliflower shepherd's pie with golden crust and saucy filling in large skillet.

Serving Recommendations

This really is a one pot meal but here are some other healthy recipes that we love to serve with this dish.

Tomato cucumber lettuce salad can be put together while your mashed cauliflower shepherd’s pie is in the broiler. Garlic green beans is another favorite that pair well with this casserole.

Storage and Freezer Instructions

Refrigerate leftovers for up to 3 days in an airtight container.

To reheat: Simply transfer casserole to a small baking dish and bake at 375 degrees F until warmed through, about 10-15 minutes.

Freeze in portions. Simply cook, cool, divide between containers and freeze for up to 3 months. This healthy Shepherd’s pie is perfect for Sunday meal prep. Thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating.

Can I Make This Ahead of Time?

To make ahead, cook cauliflower mash and filling. Refrigerate separately for up to 2 days. When ready to enjoy, you will have to bake the casserole because ingredients will be cold straight from the fridge.

Assemble in a casserole dish or cast iron skillet and bake at 400 degrees F for 25-30 minutes. Then sprinkle with cheese and broil until golden brown.


How to make this dairy free?

For a dairy free diet, substitute vegan butter and omit the cheese.

Can I make this paleo?

If paleo is part of your healthy eating goals, you will need to substitute butter for ghee, use all ground meat instead of chickpeas, use dairy free milk and omit the cheese.

Can I use other ground meat?

Yes, use ground lamb for a more traditional shepherd’s pie or lean ground beef for a traditional cottage pie. You could also use a turkey beef mixture to add some variety.

More Healthy Comfort Food Recipes

Shepherd's pie with cauliflower topping on a deep plate with fork and spoon, green onion garnish.
Shepherd's pie with cauliflower in large skillet with towel wrapped around handle.

Shepherd’s Pie with Cauliflower Topping

Low Carb Shepherd's Pie with Cauliflower is a lightened up version with ground meat, sauce, veggies and cheesy cauliflower mash on top.
5 from 8 votes
Servings 8 servings
Calories 279
Diet Low Calorie
Prep Time 7 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 37 minutes


Mashed Cauliflower Crust:



  • Separate cauliflower into florets and cut in smaller chunks.
  • In a medium pot, combine cauliflower, garlic and enough cold water to cover. Cover with a lid and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook for about 10 minutes or until cauliflower is fork tender. Drain.
  • While cauliflower is cooking, preheat large deep cast iron skillet or Dutch oven on medium heat and swirl 1 tbsp of oil to coat. Add garlic and sauté for 30 seconds, stirring frequently. Add ground meat and cook for 8-10 minutes or until brown, breaking into small pieces with spatula.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together stock and cold milk, cornstarch, salt and pepper. Pour over meat, stir, cover and cook for 5 minutes or until thickened.
  • While meat sauce is cooking, to a pot with cauliflower add butter or olive oil, salt and ground black pepper to taste. Using an immersion blender, process until very smooth consistency. Set aside.
  • To the meat sauce, add chickpeas, corn and peas and stir well.
  • Place dollops of mashed cauliflower on top and level with spatula. It might not cover entire skillet. Sprinkle with cheese and place under broiler for 5 minutes (rotating if necessary) or until cheese has melted. Serve hot.



  • Store: Refrigerate for up to 3-5 days. Reheat in small baking dish and bake at 375 degrees F until warmed through, about 10 minutes.
  • Freeze: Cook, cool, divide between containers and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight.
  • To make ahead: Cook cauliflower mash and filling. Refrigerate separately for up to 2 days. When ready, you will have to bake the casserole because ingredients will be cold straight from the fridge. Assemble in a casserole dish or cast iron skillet and bake at 400 degrees F for 25-30 minutes. Then sprinkle with cheese and broil until golden brown.
  • If you don’t own any cast iron skillet, make meat sauce in a skillet with a lid and then transfer to a baking dish before broiling.
  • Frozen mixed veggies: Can be used instead of frozen corn and peas.


Serving: 1cup | Calories: 279kcal | Carbohydrates: 29g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 43mg | Sodium: 472mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 5g
Course: Casserole
Cuisine: North American
Author: Olena Osipov
Did you make this recipe?Mention @ifoodreal or tag #ifoodreal!

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About Olena

Welcome! I grew up in Ukraine watching my grandma cook with simple ingredients. I have spent the last 11 years making it my mission to help you cook quick and easy meals for your family!

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    Olena, can I substitute nutritional yeast for the cheese? Is there a better substitute?
    What’s a good substitute for corn?

    Thanks so much for sharing your wonderful recipes.

    1. Sure you can. Just use amount to taste, not 3/4 cup. As for corn you can just omit it or use sautéed bell peppers or mushrooms. Yum!

  2. Your recipes are great, how ever when printing there are parts of page that are missing. try putting less copy on the pages with a lot of printing, thanks

    1. Hello Robert! The easiest way to print a recipe is to scroll to the recipe card and hit the print button located there. It should open in a new window with the recipe only and you can choose to include notes and other info. It should print on one page.

  3. 5 stars
    So healthy and delicious! I still added some chickpeas when I doubled up on the lean ground turkey.

  4. 5 stars
    It was delish. I used low fat oat milk and cheated with Trader Joe’s frozen cauliflower mashed potatoes but did add the garlic to those. It didn’t thicken enough so I added 1 more TBS of corn starch.

  5. 5 stars
    To make this vegetarian should I simply leave the ground meat out or should I also double up on the veggies and/or chickpeas?

  6. 5 stars
    This was my first time trying cauliflower other than just steaming it or stir frying it. Made this tonight and the family LOVED IT!! I love that your recipes are big enough to feed my large family (5 kids, 3 are teens)

    1. Wow, Sharon. You are fast!:) If I’m already messing up the kitchen I might as well make a lot of food. I would rather have leftovers than an empty fridge.:) Glad everyone was happy. 5 kids. WOW! I was crying yesterday that 2 is too much as my 5 year old keeps acting like a 2 year old.

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