Thanksgiving Leftovers? Try This Turkey Shepherd's Pie Recipe

Got Thanksgiving leftovers? This turkey shepherd’s pie is a delicious way to savor the flavors even after the holiday is over.

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by
Caitlin Beale, MS, RDN
— Signos
Health & Nutrition Writer
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Updated by

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Science-based and reviewed

Published:
May 17, 2024
November 2, 2023
— Updated:
November 3, 2023

Table of Contents

As November rolls around, just thinking about the taste of turkey, green beans, creamy mashed potatoes, and all the foods your family traditionally enjoys for Thanksgiving can make your mouth start watering. Leftovers are an added plus, and a little creativity in the kitchen can turn a plate of turkey into a brand-new meal.

Shepherd's pie, sometimes called a cottage pie, dates back to the late 1700s. It’s a dish made with a savory blend of meat, vegetables, and a creamy top layer of mashed potatoes. Classic shepherd’s pie is usually made with lamb or ground beef, but the beauty of this dish lies in its versatility. Turkey shepherd's pie is a delicious twist on the classic recipe, perfect for making the most of your Thanksgiving leftovers so you can continue celebrating the holiday.

Leftover turkey shepherd’s pie isn’t just packed with flavor; it’s also a nutritional powerhouse. Thanks to the turkey, it's high in protein, and the colorful variety of vegetables provides essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Plus, the mashed potato topping can be a great source of potassium and vitamin C.

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Why Should You Try This Turkey Shepherd's Pie Recipe

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  • Repurposing leftovers: This turkey shepherd's pie turns your Thanksgiving turkey leftovers into an entirely new dish. It's like experiencing the flavor of Thanksgiving dinner all over again but with a fresh twist.
  • Healthy dose of protein: Turkey provides blood-sugar balancing protein, plus veggies give an extra dose of fiber. While this recipe uses Thanksgiving turkey, you can also make this year-round using ground turkey or ground chicken instead.
  • Easy to make: Shepherd's pie is surprisingly easy to put together. You'll be amazed at how simple it is to whip up something so satisfying.
  • Flexible recipe: This recipe is flexible and forgiving. Feel free to add more of your favorite veggies or play with the spices to suit your taste buds. You could even swap white potatoes for mashed sweet potatoes for another healthy carbohydrate option.
  • Comfort food: Shepherd's pie is quintessential comfort food. Warm and satisfying, it's the perfect dish to cozy up with on a chilly night.

Ingredients for Turkey Sheperd’s Pie

To make your turkey shepherd’s pie, make sure you have the following:

For the Filling:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups of leftover turkey, chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup of green peas
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
  • 1 cup of turkey or chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the Topping:

  • 4 large potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 1/4 cup of milk
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Leftover Turkey Shepherd's Pie Recipe

Once you’ve gathered your ingredients, making turkey shepherd’s pie takes only a few simple steps:

Prep time: 20 minutes

Total time: 50 minutes

  1. Preheat the oven: Start by preheating your oven to 375°F.
  2. Prepare the potatoes: In a large pot, boil the peeled and quartered potatoes in salted water over high heat until tender. Once done, drain the water and mash the potatoes. Add the milk, butter, salt, and pepper, and continue mashing until they're smooth and creamy. Note: You can skip this step if you already have leftover mashed potatoes from Thanksgiving, too!
  3. Sauté the veggies: In a large skillet, sauté the finely chopped onion, diced carrots, and minced garlic on medium-high heat until the onion is translucent. Then add the green peas and cook for another 2 minutes. Note: Frozen mixed veggies also work if you don’t have fresh ones on hand.
  4. Add the turkey and seasonings: Next, stir in the chopped leftover turkey, tomato paste, turkey or chicken stock, thyme, salt, and pepper. Let the mixture simmer until it thickens slightly, about 10 minutes.
  5. Assemble the pie: Layer the turkey mixture first in a casserole dish. Then, spread an even layer of the mashed potatoes on top.
  6. Bake the pie: Bake your shepherd's pie in the preheated oven until the mashed potatoes are golden and slightly crispy on top, about 25-30 minutes.
  7. Let It Cool: Allow your turkey shepherd's pie to cool for about 10 minutes after removing it from the oven. This will make it easier to slice and serve.
  8. Serve and enjoy: Slice your leftover turkey shepherd's pie into generous portions and serve warm. Add a big salad or sauteed greens for an extra fiber and nutrient bonus and keep you full even longer.

How to Store Your Turkey Shepherd's Pie 

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Want to savor that delicious leftover turkey shepherd's pie for future meals? There are a few steps you can take to ensure food safety and continued flavor.

First, let the pie cool down completely. Once cooled, cover the baking dish with aluminum foil or transfer it to an airtight container. Place it in the fridge within two hours to keep bacteria at bay. Your shepherd's pie can stay delicious for 3-4 days if properly refrigerated.

For a longer shelf life, freezing is the way to go. Just wrap your shepherd's pie tightly with both aluminum foil and plastic wrap or in an airtight freezer-safe container to keep it free from freezer burn. Store it in the freezer, and you can enjoy it for up to two to three months. When you're ready to indulge, defrost it in the refrigerator overnight and reheat it in a 350°F oven until it's perfectly warmed through.

Learn More About Healthy Nutrition with Signos' Expert Advice

Signos can make it easier to adopt healthy eating habits that align with your lifestyle and help you understand how food choices like turkey shepherd’s pie impact your overall metabolic health. In combination with a continuous glucose monitor (CGM), Signos provides real-time feedback on how your body responds to food. This valuable insight empowers you to make informed choices about nutrition to positively influence your health. With Signos, it's not just about eating healthier – it's about understanding how your food fuels your body.

You can learn more about nutrition and healthy habits on the Signos blog, or find out if Signos is a good fit for you by taking a quick quiz here.

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References

About the author

Caitlin Beale is a registered dietitian and nutrition writer with a master’s degree in nutrition. She has a background in acute care, integrative wellness, and clinical nutrition.

View Author Bio

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