Shepherd’s Pie with Cauliflower Topping (GAPS, Paleo, Grain-Free, Dairy-Free Option)


Good morning, hello, how are you?

I made you some pie.


But first, let’s talk about blogging for a minute.

Food blogging is a funny little part of my life. Most people I come in contact with in “real life” don’t even know I do it; whereas you guys only know about what gets posted here, only this little shared piece of me. Sometimes I feel like my head is bursting with ideas and all I want to do is camp out in the kitchen, test things out and share them with you. Other times, blogging is just off my radar completely. We just go about our business as a family for a while and suddenly (usually during a bang-up meal) I realize that I haven’t been blogging.

Blogging has changed a lot in the past five years. Heck, my life has changed a lot in the past five years. When I first started blogging, I did it because I really enjoyed baking and cooking and documenting what was going on in my kitchen. I had no kids, I had plenty of time. Then the blog grew a little bit and I started to put more importance on posting however-many-times a week, making sure I was hitting up social media and doing all the “right stuff” as a blogger. And I went through a period where I felt really guilty if I wasn’t keeping all of those things going. Spoiler Alert: I can not keep all that stuff going. haha

Now, I’m a mom of two, working on putting together a new house and making it a home. You better believe I have been churning out some great meals for my family that I’d love to share, but I just got out of the groove of setting up photos. Lots of good meals have gone undocumented. Sometimes I still feel guilty for not sharing all of that good stuff with you guys, but realistically, I know that you understand that I have a real life to live outside this slice of the web. So, just thanks for being awesome and going with the flow.

I’ll start talking about the pie now.


This Shepherd’s Pie wasn’t some long-thought-out plan to reduce potato consumption or GAPS-ify a classic recipe. I just had a head of cauliflower and some ground beef that needed using and this is what happened. I saw it coming out of the oven all bubbly and brown and my brain said, “Take a picture, fast, and then let’s eat this thing!”

Cauliflower is like the classic nerd-that-turns-popular story, am I right? People never really gave it much thought before, but now it is everywhere! Cauliflower pizza crusts and faux-tatoes and cauli-rice galore. Good for you, cauliflower. Enjoy your 15 minutes of vegetable fame. You and your versatility deserve it.


This is similar to a classic Shepherd’s Pie, just with the potatoes swapped for cauliflower. I did add cheese on the top, but you can leave it off if you must. If you’re on the fence, though, definitely leave it on- it’s awesome. I used extra sharp cheddar. Treat Yo’ Self.

Perfect meal for fall, you guys! Dinner on the table in about an hour. What’s not to love?


4.9 from 18 reviews

Shepherd’s Pie with Cauliflower Topping (GAPS, Paleo, Grain-Free)
Prep time

Cook time

Total time


Recipe type: Main Dish
Serves: 4-6

  • 1 head cauliflower, chopped into florets
  • 2 tablespoons fat (lard, tallow, ghee, coconut oil, etc)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 celery ribs, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound ground beef or lamb
  • ¼-1/2 cup homemade beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon homemade ketchup or tomato paste (omit if you don’t have a GAPS-legal or Paleo option)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons fat (lard, tallow, ghee, etc)
  • ½ cup shredded GAPS-legal cheese (omit for Paleo)

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 2-3 quart casserole dish and set aside.
  2. In a large pot, steam or boil cauliflower until tender.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of fat in a large skillet or saucepan over medium high heat. Add the onion, celery, carrots and garlic and cook until beginning to soften, around 5 minutes.
  4. Add the ground meat to the pan and cook until browned. Add beef broth as necessary to keep the mixture wet. Add the ketchup or tomato paste (if using), parsley and season with salt and pepper. Let simmer while you prepare the cauliflower topping.
  5. To make the topping, drain the cooked cauliflower. Mash or puree with a stick blender until smooth. Add 2 tablespoons of fat and season with salt and pepper.
  6. To assemble, spread the meat mixture on the bottom of the dish. Top with the cauliflower mixture and smooth with a spoon. Cover with shredded cheese, if using.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes or until the top is brown and bubbly. Serve warm.


85 Responses to “Shepherd’s Pie with Cauliflower Topping (GAPS, Paleo, Grain-Free, Dairy-Free Option)”
  1. Kate says:

    This was excellent. Didn’t tell my husband it was cauliflower until his third helping (he seems to think he doesn’t like it). I used the 3 quart casserole dish and wish I used the 2, it ended up really thin, but excellent all the same. Thank you for this recipe, stoked that I actually made something tasty!

    • Anna says:

      I do the same thing with healthy foods my husband thinks he doesn’t like….black bean brownies were the best one so far, he ate for 2 days without knowing…..keep cooking healthy!

  2. Katie says:

    Made this for dinner tonight. It was awesome! Reminded me of the old fashioned version my mom used to make. 🙂 I added a little greek yogurt to the cauliflower when I processed.

  3. Sharon says:

    I wasn’t too sure about this one, but I made it and it was a hit with all my picky eaters! My daughter and I are on dairy free GAPS, but my husband and other two daughters can have cheese. I made these in individual glass dishes (the glass snapware) and only added parm on theirs. We also put in a full can of tomato paste instead of just a tablespoon. Pinned it and we’re making it again!

  4. Sonja says:

    In a word, fabulous!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Sally says:

    I’d tried a paleo shepherds pie before and it was bland. But this recipe – ex-quisite! I’ve made it several times now and it is an absolute favourite with my family and guests! So delicious and so full of flavour! Thank you!

  6. Brian says:

    Lovely recipe. I greased the dish with coconut oil, but otherwise used olive oil as the fat. Added green beans and some peas to the meat mixture as well, plus a touch of soy sauce to increase the savoriness. Simmering the meat and vegetable mixture on the stove top made the ground beef quite tender, and melded the flavirs. One potato mixed in with the cauliflower gave better body and texture to topping. Served with HP/A1 sauce on the side, the way I ate it in Australia. The excellence is in the wonderful base recipe; the modifications are just small touches to accommodate the recipe to my own taste experience. Years ago, my sister-in-law would even top the pie with a final light layer of meat and spagetti sauce if she had some left over -sounds odd, but it worked. The contrast between the meats on the top and bottom was nice.

    • William says:

      There IS no sauce but HP-providing it is made in Holland and not New Jersey.
      Lea & Perrins has a decent steak sauce much like HP.

  7. Donna says:

    I have made my own version of this at least 10 times. My own version due to time constraints. I use frozen mixed veggies (organic) and store bought ketchup (sorry). My family requests it weekly. Made a double batch tonight.

  8. Angie says:

    Awesome recipe! My family loved it! Thank you

  9. This recipe makes delicious user of cauliflower! I didn’t have onions on hand, so I used onion powder. I also added Chile powder, oregano, and worcestershire sauce. Yum yum!

  10. kate says:

    I am putting this in the oven now- can’t wait to try it! I am disappointed with how thin the cauliflower topping is….the picture makes the topping look nice and thick. My head of cauliflower was not small either. Next time I would use a second head.

  11. Jeanine says:

    Awesome recipe. We use TVP (we’re vegetarian) instead of ground beef, add some liquid smoke & extra veggies. Corn and peas are a must. Every time this dish is requested I come back to this recipe. I also add some garlic & Greek yogurt to the cauliflower, along with some parsley and panko sprinkled on top.

  12. Michele says:

    Hello, I just want to THANK YOU for sharing this recipe! I just made it, and it’s absolutely DELICIOUS!

  13. Shawna says:

    Great recipe! I made the recipe according to the directions except I substituted the tomato paste for 3/4 cup spicy curry sauce and threw in some fresh rosemary from my garden. This added a nice Indian flavor to the dish. I will double the cauliflower topping next time just because that is my favorite part.

  14. Kim L says:

    I absolutely love this recipe! My partner hates veggies and he ate 2 plates of it haha. Sneaky :). I added herb and garlic cream cheese to the cauliflour for a creamy texture. Tastes amazing. Thanks for posting this!!

  15. Sharon says:

    Was looking for something low carb/carb free to do with ground beef besides my usual spaghetti squash and tomato sauce. Took out the carrots, added mushrooms, and a 1/3 cup of corn/black beans. No garlic. Used 90/10 organic grass fed beef. Very tasty!

  16. Julie says:

    Plain and simple…just what I was looking for tonight.

  17. Alice H. says:

    This was incredible! In fact my husband I prefer this version over potatoes!

  18. Katherine says:

    My favorite Paleo recipe so far! My mom did not believe they were “cauliflower potatoes”! Thank you SO much! This is SUCH a comfort food to me! Will be a regular recipe!

  19. So funny, I getting ready to post my own version of Shepherd’s Pie (paleo) with cauliflower topping but I was actually looking for ideas for replacing bread and cheese as a casserole topping. I had an idea and it actually turned into two other successes but still no casserole topping.
    This is my first time on your blog and I will be back.

  20. John says:

    This was an awesome treat. The kids loved it!!!! There was not even a spoonful left when we finished dinner. That is a first. The kids could not even tell there were no mashed potatoes in there. Everyone’s favorite part was the baked cheese on the top. We used sharp cheddar and it was amazing.

  21. Nicole says:

    Amazing!! I did 1/2 LB ground turkey and 1/2 LB ground beef. I needed to double cauliflower mixture and added 1 tsp garlic powder n a dash of salt to it. My. Husband couldn’t even tell it was the Healthy version

  22. Kate says:

    This was amazing – like over the top great. We had never tried cauliflower like this before. Thank you so much for sharing!

  23. We tried this recipe last night and we really liked it. I made a few adaptations: I didn’t have any need for the broth. There was enough liquid with the ground beef and vegetables. I used 2 heads of cauliflower and added 4 TBS butter and minced garlic to the mash. Thanks!

  24. Molly says:

    Do you think this would freeze well? I’m a college student and mostly cooking for just me so I’d like to freeze the left overs.

    • Natalie says:

      Yeah, i’d give it a try! Maybe strain some of the liquid out of the cauliflower with cheesecloth after you cook it so that it has as little water content as possible.

  25. Jean says:

    Natalie, I just made this recipe and it was phenomenal! Absolutely the best shepherd’s pie I have ever had. It will be a nice addition to the regular rotation of meals. Thanks for sharing!!

  26. Hayley w. says:

    Would I need to make any other modifications if I use ground turkey instead of ground beef? Looks delish!

  27. Rachel says:

    This was unbelievable. One of the best paleo recipes that I’ve tried, and I’ve been doing this for a year now. Pretty much fool proof and much more than the sum of its parts. Thanks!

  28. devon says:

    My husband and I loved this!!! Thanks!!!

  29. Regan says:

    I absolutely love this recipe! However can anyone offer any advice on how I can get the cauliflower less runny and more thickened like in the pictures? Mine is always just liquidy!

  30. Jessica says:

    This recipe is great! Thank you for sharing! I made it for my boyfriend and I and it’s his new favorite dish.

    I doubled all the veggies and kept it in the oven for about 45 min.

  31. Jane says:

    I am wondering about making this recipe and placing it into two casserole dishes, one for the freezer and one for now. Has anyone frozen this before baking? Or after? How long would I thaw the frozen one and would the baking instructions stay the same? I’d love to avoid loss through experimentation so any insight would sure be appreciated. Thanks!

  32. Heather says:

    I have made this I can’t count how many times. This is my go to dish and that’s because my family asks for it non stop!! My husband doesn’t eat any vegetable, just salads. He is so surprised that he could love this so much because of the cauliflower. In the 20 years we have been together it’s nice to see him ask for something healthy. And my kids Thank me for dinner every time I make this, not bad for an 8 and 11 year old. Thank you for sharing. Making this again tonight btw.

  33. M says:

    Sorry to be a pedant but because the recipe is from my country I will; if it contains beef it’s not a shepherds pie, it’s a cottage pie.

  34. Alli says:

    Very good! I added a potatoe to the cauliflower. Absolutely delicious!

  35. Alli says:

    Very good! I added a potatoe to the cauliflower and used venison. It was a hit with everyone and we will definitely make again!

  36. Claudia says:

    Thank you for this recipe. Easy to prepare and very tasty. The whole family loved it! I would suggest making two if you have teenage boys around!


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