Shepherd's Pie in a hand pie...say what?! Shepherd’s Hand Pies are the definition of comfort food. What could be better than a Shepherd’s Pie recipe wrapped up in pastry?! Buttery, fluffy mashed potatoes serve as the best damn bed imaginable to the classic shepherd’s pie filling of ground beef, carrots, peas, and onions soaked in a savory brown sauce.
To turn Shepherd’s Pie into a delicious savory pie, you just need to wrap it all up in a flaky, homemade (or store-bought, if you’re already thinking f*ck that) pie crust. You may have never thought to put a shepherd’s pie into the form of a hand pie, but that’s what I’m here for. You’ll love the idea once you’ve taken your first bite.
What is a meat pie?
Meat pies are nothing more than a hand pie filled with meat. I just love a good hand pie…IE a pie that you can easily hold in your hand. Hand pies can be found in both savory and sweet form, and one such savory hand pie is a meat pie. The brits call them Pasties (not to be confused with the nipple covers).
Do I have to make my own pie crust to make Shepherd’s Hand Pies?
Absolutely not! If I’m keeping it 100% honest, I often don’t make the crust from scratch. Store-bought pie crust dough is a great hack that you should have zero shame about. I prefer the refrigerated variety (not frozen) that they sell with premade cookie dough, crescent roll dough, etc.
When I do make pie crust, I always make my mom’s recipe. Let me just harp for a moment on how crazy good my mom’s pie crust is. It’s the definition of a basic short crust pastry, or at least that’s what they call a combination of flour, shortening, salt, and water on PBS’s Great British Baking Show. This is my current Netflix binge-watching favorite. Something about a baking show featuring British accents brings me so much happiness, it’s silly.
I’ve spent hours watching her make pie crust to make sure I don’t miss any of her tips, but spoiler alert, it’s not all that difficult. It mostly requires patience, a soft touch, and ICE COLD EVERYTHING.
Back to the matter at hand, my mom’s pie crust has been proven for decades or as long as I’ve been alive really. She is ALWAYS responsible for making the pies for holiday functions because no matter what the filling, the crust is always beautiful, perfect, and tasty every time. I’ve spent hours watching her make pie crust to make sure I don’t miss any of her tips, but spoiler alert, it’s not all that difficult.
It mostly requires patience, a soft touch, and ICE COLD EVERYTHING.
What’s the trick to making pie crust from scratch?
Skip ahead to “Can you make the hand pies in advance?” if you’re using store-bought crust.
It’s not a magic trick…I promise, but there are some useful tips to consider when making homemade pie dough. Preparing the dough is the most technical part of this recipe so feel free to use store-bought, refrigerated dough instead.
Cold is Key!
One of the most important suggestions I can make is make sure everything from your ingredients, your countertop, and even your kitchen should be nice and cold.
Trying to make pastry in the heat is dreadful. For pie crust success, you need COLD shortening, COLD water, and a COLD surface to work on. You also should make time to chill the dough a bit before rolling it out to ensure you can roll it out without problems. A pastry cloth that you keep in the freezer is also handy for a fool-proof surface to roll out pastry.
Adding too much water is the most common mistake
I provide a range of water to use in the recipe because there are so many factors that can influence the moisture content in your dough, that’s almost impossible to know exactly how much water is required. Start with a half cup of ice-cold water. If the dough is not coming together, then add one additional tablespoon of water at a time until the dough just comes together but is not wet.
The dough should feel moist to the touch with sticking to your finger.
Don’t overwork it!
Both when you’re combining the fat and flour to get it to a crumb-like consistency and when adding the water the recipe, you want to work the dough as little as possible. Once the crumbs resemble the size of peas, stop touching it! Likewise, as soon as the dough comes together, wrap that bitch in plastic and send her off the fridge!
Working your dough too much is a surefire way to have a sticky dough, and worse yet, a tough cooked crust.
I like using a food processor when making my pie crust recipe to avoid touching the dough with my hands. I am always super hot and my hands tend to melt the shortening if I work the fat and flour together by hand. A pastry blender is also a great tool (and far less pricey than a food processor) for pastry making.
Can you make the hand pies in advance?
Absolutely! You can make the filling and mashed potatoes in advance if you want to speed up the hand pie preparation. Another option is to prepare the hand pies but don’t cook them. Place the uncooked pies in the freezer on a baking sheet and allow to freeze completely.
Once frozen, you can then store in a Ziploc for up to a month prior to baking as instructed. Thaw at room temperature for an hour before baking as instructed in the recipe. Be sure to brush with egg wash before baking too!
The cooked pies can be also frozen whole after cooling and kept for up to 3 months in an airtight container. To reheat, allow the pies to thaw first and then reheat in a 250-degree oven until warmed through.
When to serve Shepherd’s Hand Pies?
Any damn time you please, of course! These hand pies are amazing as a munchie while watching Oklahoma Sooners or Houston Texans football (or some other team if you insist), but they also make a delicious dinner.
What should I serve with my Hand Pies?
I love having pie for dinner, and this recipe is the perfect excuse (as if I needed one). Served with a small side salad or roasted veggies, Shepherd’s Hand Pies make a complete dinner. If you’re into the idea of pie at supper time, be sure to check out my Louisiana Meat Pies and my Chicken Potpie Crostada recipes too.
If sweet pies need whipped cream, then savory pies definitely need a dipping sauce! I serve my pies with a side of homemade horseradish cream sauce that is cool and creamy while also being spicy and punchy. I just can’t get enough of any combination of beef and horseradish. Thousand island dressing makes a great dipping sauce for the pies and is a bit more kid-friendly than creamy horseradish sauce.
I hope you'll try this recipe out with your loved ones. I can't wait to hear what you think!
Silicone pastry brushes are great because they clean easily and are dishwasher safe. They also last forever unlike the more old fashion brush style that can start to shed bristles over time. This item can also be found on the Kitchen Essentials page.
I love a stainless steel rolling pin as it tends to stay colder which is always a plus when working with pastry. I also like stainless because you can put it in the dishwasher. A good rolling pin should be in every kitchen. That's why you'll find it on my Kitchen Essentials page with tons of other great items for yourself or your loved ones.
A food processor is a great tool to have around to make pie crust with less mess and less stress. You always get the perfect crumb when you incorporate the fat and flour together in a food processor, and that's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the uses you'll find for this piece of equipment. Check out more details on the Kitchen Essentials page or click the image or link above to go directly to Amazon to learn more about this awesome product.
A bench scraper makes rolling out any type of dough or building pastries a synch. You can easily lift items like these hand pies without distorting the shape. I use my bench scraper all the time. I even use it to cut dough since it has a nice sharp, straight edge. That's why you'll find it on my Kitchen Essentials page with tons of other great items for yourself or your loved ones.
Shepherd's Pie Hand Pies
- 3 C flour sifted
- 1 C shortening ice cold and cubed
- 1½ tsp salt
- ½-¾ C ice cold water
- 2 large russet potatoes
- 4 Tb butter room temperature
- 2 Tb heavy cream
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- 1 lb ground beef 90/10 or lean
- 1 yellow onion
- 2 carrots
- 1 C frozen peas
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 tsp worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp onion powder
- 2 Tb flour
- 1 C beef stock
- 1 Tb fresh parsley
- 1 tsp fresh thyme
Horseradish Cream Sauce
- 3 Tb mayonnaise
- 2 Tb sour cream
- 1-3 Tb creamy style horseradish
- pinch of salt and pepper
- 1 Tb fresh parsley
- 1 Tb fresh lemon juice
- dash of worcestershire
- 1 egg
- 1 Tb water
To make crust (optional)
- Sift 3 cups flour onto a sheet of parchment paper. Use the paper to transfer flour to a large food processor bowl equipped with a standard blade or a large mixing bowl. Add 1½ of salt.
- Remove cold shortening from fridge. Cut into small cubes, trying to handle as little as possible and add to the flour. Pulse the mixture in the processor about 10 times until mixture resembles pea-size crumbs. You can also use a pastry blender or your fingers to combine.
- Slowly add the cold water starting with ½ cup and adding the rest 1 Tb at a time, if necessary. Pulse the food processor or stir together until dough forms a ball. Wrap
- Wrap the dough ball in plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour or until cold all the way through. When ready to fill the hand pies, remove the dough ball from the fridge and split into two equal pieces with a bench scraper or large knife.
To make mashed potatoes
- Rinse and peel the potatoes. Dice into 1-inch pieces and place in a medium saucepan. Cover with cold water and place over high heat to boil.
- Boil for 15-20 minutes or until fork tender. Strain and pour potatoes back into saucepan and add remaining mashed potato ingredients. Using a potato masher, mash the potatoes. It's totally fine if there are still some small lumps of potatoes. This is supposed to be a rustic dish!
- Spread the mashed potatoes evenly across a quarter sheet pan and place in the freezer for 30 minutes to chill. While mashed potatoes are chilling, make the filling.
To make filling
- Finely dice carrots and onion. Mince garlic clove. Roughly chop parsley. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Add carrots and onions. Stir and leave undisturbed for 2-3 minutes or until the veggies start to soften.
- Once veggies have softened, add ground beef. Break up the meat into bite size pieces. Cook for 5-7 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally.
- Add salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, minced garlic clove, and worcestershire to pan and stir to combine. Cook for 60-90 seconds or until garlic is fragrant.
- Add 2 Tb of flour and stir until there is no visible white flour. Add 1 C of beef stock and frozen peas. Bring to a low boil and cook for 1-2 minutes or until sauce has thickened and peas are no longer frozen. Add
- Add fresh parsley and thyme. Turn off heat and place the hot pan on a cooling rack to cool. Spread out evenly in the pan to help it cool and stir occasionally. While it cools, make your sauce then assemble the pies.
To make sauce
- Mix all of the sauce ingredients together.**
To make hand pies
- Preheat the oven to 400° and prepare two baking sheets with non-stick foil, parchment paper or baking spray. Make an egg wash by cracking 1 egg into a small bowl and whisking with 1 Tb of water. Have a pastry brush, bench scraper, fork, cookie scoop, pizza cutter, and rollingpin out on your countertop.
- Place the dough on a well-floured surface and roll out to ⅛-inch thickness. Your end goal is a large rectangle that is about 8-inches tall and 18-inches wide that you will cut into twelve rectangles that are each 4-inches tall by 3-inches wide.***
- Each hand pie will require two pieces of dough, one for the bottom and one for the top. Add a 1 Tb scoop of mashed potatoes to the bottom piece of crust. Spread the mashed potatoes out a bit with your fingers and then top with 2 Tb of filling.
- Use a pastry brunch to brush all four sides around the filling with the egg wash. Place your second pie crust on top and gently push the filling down to fill the bottom square, leaving a clean border around the edge for sealing. Presh down along the edges of each hand pie and use a fork to completely seal.
- Carefull remove each pie from your surface and place on a prepared baking sheet. Add two small diagonal slits across the top of each pie to let steam escape.
- When ready to bake, brush each pie with egg wash and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for about 30 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with horseradish cream sauce.
Frequently Asked Questions
Absolutely not. Using store-bought pie crust in this recipe is a great shortcut. I like the kind sold in the cold section with the prepared cookie dough and biscuits.
The filling and mashed potatoes can be made in advance to speed up the hand pie preparation.
You could also prepare the hand pies but don’t cook them. Place the uncooked pies in the freezer on a baking sheet and allow to freeze completely then thaw at room temperature for an hour before baking as instructed in the recipe. Be sure to brush with egg wash before baking too!
The cooked pies can be also frozen after cooling and kept for up to 3 months in an airtight container. To reheat, allow the pies to thaw first and then reheat in a 250-degree oven until warmed through.