Shepherd’s pie is the ultimate comfort food, especially in colder weather.
It’s also one of those dishes that is far more filling than you might initially think.
But what’s the best way to reheat the leftovers?
Having puzzled over the same thing, I’ve tried out four different reheating methods to test which works best for reheating shepherd’s pie.
I’ve also looked at how best to store leftover shepherd’s pie to keep it fresh for as long as possible.
Note: These methods also work for cottage pie.
A note on my experiment
I prepared a giant shepherd’s pie last night, which of course we couldn’t finish.
After storing it in the fridge overnight, I decided to experiment with four different reheating methods.
I was determined to figure out how to retain its delicious saucy mince and soft, fluffy mashed potatoes.
The methods I tried included:
- In the oven (best method overall)
- In the microwave (decent results, but watery)
- In a skillet (produced a different kind of dish)
- In the air fryer (similar to oven method)
The oven method produced the best result. My shepherd’s pie was as good as new.
The results from the microwave weren’t bad. The shepherd’s pie tasted good, but it turned slightly watery.
Heating my shepherd’s pie in a skillet and mixing it all together produced a result I can only describe as different. Very tasty, but not shepherd’s pie as we know it.
The results from the air fryer were similar to the results from the oven. While this method is faster, it can be a bit messy.
Reheating shepherd’s pie in the oven
Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C). Cover your portion of shepherd’s pie with foil and heat for 10 minutes. For an entire pie, heat for 30 to 40 minutes. Remove the foil for the last third of your heating time to allow the top to crisp up. Sprinkle some fresh cheese on top for extra oomph.
How to reheat shepherd’s pie in the oven:
- Take the shepherd’s pie out of the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature.
- Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C).
- Cover your shepherd’s pie (in an oven-safe dish) with foil.
- Heat single portions for 10 minutes or a whole pie for 30 to 40 minutes. Shepherd’s pie straight from the fridge will take a bit longer, and frozen pies will need between 60-90 minutes.
- Remove the foil two-thirds of the way through the heating process.
- Optional: Add some extra cheese on top to refresh the dish.
- Once hot all the way through, serve immediately.
Top tip: if you’re in a rush, pop the shepherd’s pie in the microwave for 15-30 seconds before putting it in the oven.
A quick trick to test if your shepherd’s pie is hot in the middle is to stick a knife into it.
Feel the metal as you pull the knife out; if it’s hot, the dish is ready.
Covering your shepherd’s pie with foil while you heat it stops it from losing too much moisture, but you need to remove it to crisp the top.
For a toaster oven: If you’re using a toaster oven, you can follow the above instructions, just reduce the timings slightly.
This was my favorite method. My reheated pie tasted like a freshly baked one!
While this method is slow, it’s the most effective way to retain the dish’s integrity.
It’s also easy, convenient, and works for big or small portions.
You can even reheat your pie in its storage dish (as long as it’s oven-friendly).
Reheating shepherd’s pie in the microwave
Place your leftover shepherd’s piece on a microwave-safe plate. Microwave the shepherd’s pie in 30-second intervals until piping hot all the way through. Allow it to rest for 1 minute before serving. Optionally, pop your shepherd’s pie under the broiler for a minute or two to crisp up the top.
Be careful not to burn your mouth biting into a steaming shepherd’s pie, it can get very hot in the microwave.
How to reheat shepherd’s pie in the microwave:
- Place your portion of leftover shepherd’s pie on a microwave-safe plate.
- Optional: If your pie has gone a bit dry, cover it with a piece of damp paper towel to help restore some lost moisture.
- Warm it in 30-second intervals until piping hot.
- Allow the shepherd’s pie to rest for 1 minute before serving.
- Optional: Crisp the topping under your broiler for a minute or two.
It’s best to only warm up smaller portions in the microwave to ensure even heating. Larger portions can end up with cold spots.
If there’s cheese on top, it can get a bit soggy in the microwave, which is where the broiler comes in.
The broiler will help bring the crunch back to the topping (if you have the time).
My shepherd’s pie tasted good and held most of its flavor, but it wasn’t perfect.
The filling was a tad watery because moisture escaped from the mince and veg and pooled around the plate.
Also, the top layer was no longer crispy (but I expected that).
If you’re in a hurry and don’t mind a bit of wateriness, this method works just fine.
Reheating shepherd’s pie in a skillet
Warm a lightly oiled pan on medium heat. Add a portion of shepherd’s pie and mix the mince and mash together by stirring it around the pan. Add a splash of water or stock to dryer shepherd’s pie mixtures. Keep stirring until the dish is warmed to your satisfaction. Serve immediately.
An alternative is to place an intact portion of shepherd’s pie in the skillet and then cover it with a lid to ‘steam it’.
How to reheat shepherd’s pie in a skillet:
- Lightly coat a skillet with oil or butter and set it on medium heat on your stove.
- Add a portion of shepherd’s pie to the pan and stir the mince and mash together.
- Add 1-2 tablespoons of water or stock to dryer mince as a means to replace lost moisture.
- Keep stirring until your shepherd’s pie has heated up to your satisfaction.
- Once warm, serve immediately.
Make sure not to add too much stock or water, or you’ll end up with mashed potato soup (yuk!).
If you want some crispier bits of mince in your dish, turn the heat up to high and don’t add any extra liquid.
You can also add extra cheese and seasoning for additional flavor.
An alternative method:
- Add a portion of shepherd’s pie to a skillet.
- Sprinkle in a few drops of water.
- Cover the pan with a lid to steam it for 4 to 5 minutes. If you don’t have a lid you can use some foil.
- Once warm, serve immediately.
This method requires a firmer shepherd’s pie if you want it to maintain its shape. A chilled shepherd’s pie will be firmer than room temperature pie.
Be sure not to over-steam your leftover pie because this will dull its flavors.
To avoid this, do a progress check at the 2-minute mark.
I tested this method using the stirring option, and I was pretty pleased with the results.
I ended up with a mixture that reminded me of corned beef hash, just with real mince.
That being said, the texture was completely different from how it originally was in pie form (my partner compared it to baby food!).
Not the best-looking leftovers, but still tasty.
Reheating shepherd’s pie in the air fryer
Preheat your air fryer to 350°F (180°C). Line your fryer basket with parchment paper (you can also use its loaf pan if you have one). Place shepherd’s pie straight from the fridge into the basket. Warm it for 3 to 5 minutes or until heated through. Serve immediately.
How to reheat shepherd’s pie in the air fryer
- Preheat your air fryer to 350°F (180°C).
- Line your fryer basket with parchment paper (fold up the sides too for easy lifting).
- Place shepherd’s pie in the basket straight from the fridge.
- Heat it for 3 to 5 minutes.
- Serve immediately.
Lining your basket with parchment paper reduces messiness, especially if you’re dealing with a saucy pie. You can fold the paper up the sides of the basket to make it easy to lift the pie out once it’s warm.
If you don’t have any parchment paper, you can use foil as an alternative.
Check the heating progress at the halfway mark to ensure the topping isn’t burning.
Warming shepherd’s pie still cold from the fridge makes it easier to manage and more likely to maintain its shape.
This is a quick and convenient method with similar results to the oven.
The top layer of my mash was deliciously crispy.
My only complaint is that getting shepherd’s pie in and out of the fryer basket can be awkward.
You’re also limited in terms of the portion size you can reheat at a time.
How to store shepherd’s pie
You can store leftover shepherd’s pie in the fridge for up to 4 days. Cool your leftovers to room temperature, then place them in an airtight container. Alternatively, you can keep the shepherd’s pie in the dish it was baked in. Wrap the tray tightly with foil or plastic wrap before refrigerating.
Save the mash and mince components separately if you’re preparing shepherd’s pie in advance.
This way, you can soften your mashed potatoes with a bit of milk before compiling and baking your shepherd’s pie.
In either case, always make sure your food is at room temperature before refrigerating it.
This prevents a build-up of condensation in your storage container that can turn the mash soggy.
Can you freeze shepherd’s pie?
Shepherd’s pie freezes well, making it a great choice of meal to prep ahead of time. Bake it in advance and keep it for up to 6 months in the freezer. Just wrap the baking dish tightly in foil before freezing. You can also store leftover portions in airtight containers or zip-lock bags.
How to freeze shepherd’s pie:
- Cool your shepherd’s pie to room temperature.
- Transfer leftovers* into an airtight container or wrap in foil/plastic wrap and place in a freezer bag.
- Reheat within 6 months to retain the best quality.
*Note: You can wrap whole, pre-prepped pies in foil in their original baking dishes.
Preparing a whole pie in a foil container rather than a casserole dish is a convenient hack for freezing.
No one wants all their best baking dishes stuck in the freezer!
How to reheat frozen shepherd’s pie
To reheat frozen shepherd’s pie, thaw it in the fridge overnight and then reheat it in the oven. Alternatively, you can reheat it straight from frozen in the oven. Set the oven to 350°F (180°C) and cover the shepherd’s pie in foil. Heat a thawed one for 30-40 minutes and a frozen pie for 60-90 minutes.
Remove the foil towards the end to crisp the top.
You can also use the microwave to thaw and reheat shepherd’s pie. The downside of this is that the filling can become quite watery.
How long does shepherd’s pie last?
Use the following guidelines to get the most out of your leftover shepherd’s pie:
- Room temperature: never leave cooked meat out at room temperature for longer than 2 hours. Once cooled, store your shepherd’s pie in the fridge or freezer immediately.
- Refrigerated: you can keep shepherd’s pie in the fridge for 3 to 4 days, provided it is properly covered and sealed.
- Freezer: Shepherd’s pie fares exceptionally well in the freezer and will last for up to 6 months. It will still be fine to eat after this, but you might notice a drop in quality.
The BEST Way To Reheat Shepherd’s Pie
Take the shepherd’s pie out of the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature.
Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C).
Cover your shepherd’s pie (in an oven-safe dish) with foil.
Heat single portions for 10 minutes or a whole pie for 30 to 40 minutes. Shepherd’s pie straight from the fridge will take a bit longer, and frozen pies will need between 60-90 minutes.
Remove the foil two-thirds of the way through the heating process.
Optional: Add some extra cheese on top to refresh the dish.
Once hot all the way through, serve immediately.
Serving: 100gCalories: 112kcal