The Best ‘Shepherd’s Pie’ in the Frozen Aisle

Let’s just get this out of the way: The best shepherd’s pie in the frozen aisle isn’t actually shepherd’s pie. Of all the mashed potato-topped frozen pies we tried for this taste test, not one was actually made with ground lamb. Most are made with ground beef (so, technically, this is a list of the best cottage pie); hell, we even tried one that’s made with chicken, and now “chicken shepherd” is my new favorite job (it’s apparently called a “poultryman”). 

Besides the fact that actual frozen shepherd’s pie is an anomaly, this was a bit of a tough taste test. I think of shepherd’s pie and cottage pie as being savory and flavorful, but so many we tried were inexcusably bland. All we wanted was filling with a genuine meaty flavor and a few nice vegetables, and a mashed potato topping that was actually seasoned. That combo was harder to find than you might think. All the same, we found the best frozen shepherd’s pie—even if it isn’t actually shepherd’s pie.


best frozen shepherd's pie

Best Non-Traditional

Marie Callender’s Chicken & Bacon Shepherd’s Pie

Marie Callender took a lot of liberties with this frozen shepherd’s pie, guys. Yes, you read that correctly: It’s Chicken & Bacon Shepherd’s Pie. “I literally don’t even know what this is,” I wrote in my notes when this emerged from the microwave. While I highly doubt there are any shepherds tending to flocks of chickens and pigs, and while I do think this should have been called a “chicken and bacon mashed potato bowl” or something, it tastes better than 98 percent of the other frozen shepherd’s pies we tried. It’s creamy, a little smoky, and has nice, big pieces of chicken beneath the layer of smooth mashed potatoes. We liked this better than the more traditional Marie Callender shepherd’s pie, which tasted like a remixed (and very bland) Salisbury steak dinner. This is perhaps the least authentic frozen shepherd’s pie at the grocery store, but if you have your heart set on a layered dinner with meat, mash, and a vegetable, you could do a lot worse.

Rating:

6.5/10

Sporks

gordon ramsay shepherd's pie review

Best Flavor

Chef Ramsay Shepherd’s Pie

We tried this frozen shepherd’s pie in our taste test of all the Chef Ramsay frozen dinners, and it performed quite poorly. Compared to other Chef Ramsay dinners—including a pretty pleasant chicken pot pie and a microwavable frozen lasagna that doesn’t get all dried out when it’s cooked—the shepherd’s pie just didn’t make much of an impression. It’s very greasy and looks almost inedible. But here’s the thing: Compared to other frozen shepherd’s pies, it actually ended up being one of the best frozen shepherd’s pies we tried. The mashed potatoes are topped with a layer of cheese, so they actually taste like something, and the ground beef is salty and flavorful, even if it is super oily. I still can’t believe how many frozen shepherd’s pies just totally lack flavor. This cottage pie ranks for tasting like something.

Rating:

6.5/10

Sporks

blake's shepherd's pie review

Best of the Best

Blake’s Shepherd’s Pie

When it comes to the best frozen shepherd’s pie, this is about as good as it gets. The beef is a bit gray. There’s no gravy of which to speak—it’s really just ground beef, corn kernels, and mashed potatoes. It tastes like something you’d make in a pinch with some leftovers from the fridge. It isn’t great, but it’s good—and it’s gluten free! The beef is very beefy tasting. The corn is sweet and pops in your mouth. And the mashed potatoes are tasty if a bit dry; they seem to have some mushrooms in the mix to contribute a little bit of umami, which is a nice touch. This frozen shepherd’s pie is simple as hell, but it’s a quick, hearty meal and, dammit, it’s the best shepherd’s pie we tried.

Rating:

7.5/10

Sporks

Other products we tried: Marie Callender’s Beef Shepherd’s Pie, Trader Joe’s Shepherd’s Pie, Boomerang’s Beef Shepherd’s Pie


About the Author

Gwynedd Stuart

Gwynedd Stuart, Sporked’s managing editor, is an L.A.-based writer and editor who spends way, way too much time at the grocery store. She’s never met an Old El Paso taco or mozzarella stick she didn’t like.

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  • My husband is from Scotland (moved here at 28). We only buy shepherd’s pie from Aldi. Far better than any of these!

    Reply
    • Came to say the exact same thing. I consider myself a Shepard’s Pie connoisseur as I try them every time I see them on a menu. Aldi’s is by far the best store bought Shepard’s Pie and the next best thing to making it yourself.

      Reply
  • Really? You recently gave Chef Ramsay Shepherd’s Pie 5 sporks. Now it’s 6.5 sporks?

    Reply
    • Compared to the other Chef Ramsay meals, it earned 5 sporks. Compared to the other shepherd’s pies, it earned 6.5 sporks. Different standards apply to different taste tests.

      Reply