Chicken Shepherd's Pie with Kale Mash

Since I’ve never been able to convince Brian that we should disregard his few food dislikes (really only cabbage, corned beef, sauerkraut, capers and horseradish) and do an all-out corned beef and cabbage St. Patrick’s Day meal, I’m declaring shepherd’s pie a totally appropriate substitute for the holiday.

And not really even because I think one should cook an official St. Patrick’s Day meal (even though my kids beg me every year, and I’m sometimes tempted, to do an insane all-green dinner that night) – it’s on our menu plan simply because this chicken shepherd’s pie version is so incredibly amazing.

As you know, it took me a while to convert to shepherd’s pie.

I was a hater for a long, long time until this version came along. It is wonderful and a very solid family favorite. If it can convert me into a shepherd’s pie fan, you know it has to be good. I credit it for allowing me to comfortably enter the shepherd’s pie world again.

Chicken Shepherd's Pie with Kale Mash

But right now, if I had to choose a shepherd’s pie that I wanted to eat for the rest of forever, I’m afraid I’d have to shun the classic version in favor of this tasty chicken version. It’s totally my style (if one actually had a shepherd’s pie style).

I love everything about it: the Parmesan-topped creamy garlic and kale mashed potatoes, the tender chicken and carrots, the simple, delicious sauce that pulls everything together and makes one big happy pan of shepherd’s pie.

It really is divine.

I’ve included a make-ahead note below the recipe title (although I haven’t tried freezing it yet) which might come in handy if you want to serve it for a comforting Sunday dinner but you don’t get out of church until 4:30 and are positively starving (and maybe a little grumpy) by the time you set foot in the door. It would also make a perfect take-in meal.

What To ServeFluffy Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls
Roasted Broccoli or Skillet Green Beans

One Year Ago: Green Chile Chicken Enchilada Stack
Two Years Ago: Layered Peanut Butter and Milk Chocolate Puddings
Three Years Ago: Overnight Maple & Brown Sugar Oatmeal

Chicken Shepherd’s Pie with Garlic-Kale Mash

Yield: Serves 6

Chicken Shepherd’s Pie with Garlic-Kale Mash

This dish can be made, assembled, covered and refrigerated for up to 24 hours before baking and serving (you may want to add 5-7 minutes onto the baking time). I have not tried freezing it yet.

To be super efficient, you can start making the filling while the potatoes are boiling. If you tend to shy away from recipes where you have to whisk in liquid like your life depends on it to prevent lumps, you might consider blending the 1/3 cup flour with the liquid and adding it to the carrot/onion mixture - then bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring, and cook until slightly thickened. It will alter the flavor just a bit (since the flour won't brown with the vegetables as it absorbs the butter and other flavors) but it's a viable option if it is more your style.


    Potato Topping:
  • 2 pound Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 to 4 cups chopped kale (2-3 ounces)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • Milk, for consistency (start with 3-4 tablespoons)
  • Chicken Mixture:
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 shallots, finely minced or 1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced or pressed through a garlic press
  • 1 to 2 cups chopped carrots (pretty hefty dice; don't chop them too finely)
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 to 4 cups cooked, chopped chicken (rotisserie chicken works great here as well as this simple stovetop shredded chicken)
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for topping


  1. In a large pot of lightly salted water (I add a hearty pinch of coarse kosher salt to the pot), boil the potatoes until slightly tender but still firm, 7-9 minutes, depending on the size of the potatoes. Add the kale to the pot and simmer for 5-6 minutes. Drain into a colander and return to the pot. Add the garlic powder, butter and sour cream. Lightly mash, adding milk, a tablespoon or two at a time, until the potato-kale mixture is mashed and creamy (you can leave it as chunky or smooth as you want depending on your texture preference) - it should be spreadable without being too thin.
  2. While the potatoes are boiling, get started on the filling. In another 3 or 4-quart pot, melt the 3 tablespoons butter over medium heat and add the shallots (or onions), garlic, and carrots. Stir well. Cover the pot and cook the vegetable mixture, stirring occasionally and moderating the heat to prevent sticking, for 8-10 minutes, until the carrots are slightly tender (they'll cook more in the next couple of steps).
  3. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetable mixture and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring often. Slowly add the chicken broth, whisking vigorously as it is added to prevent clumping - it helps to add 1/2 cup at at time, slowly, and let it bubble and thicken before adding more broth. Once all the broth is added and the sauce is smooth, whisk in the milk. Stirring constantly, bring the mixture to a simmer, and cook until the sauce is slightly thickened, 2-3 minutes.
  4. Stir in the cooked chicken. Add salt and pepper to taste; I add about 1/2 teaspoon of each.
  5. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9X13-inch or slightly smaller baking pan. Pour the chicken filling into the pan evenly.
  6. Dollop the mashed potato mixture over the top of the chicken mixture and using the back of a spoon or an offset spatula, spread it into a somewhat even layer; it's ok if it looks a bit rustic and uneven. I don't spread mine all the way to the edges - I leave about a 1/2-inch border all the way around but you can spread it into a thinner layer if desired.
  7. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese on top. Bake the casserole for 20-25 minutes until the edges are bubbling. Let rest 5-10 minutes before serving.

Recipe Source: adapted quite a bit from the Food Network Magazine March 2016 (changed the potatoes mixture, streamlined the cooking and assembling process to be much easier and used different proportions and ingredients)

23 Responses to Chicken Shepherd’s Pie with Garlic-Kale Mash

  1. Allison says:

    This was sooo good! I subbed in red potatoes and left the peel on… it made for a very colorful topping with the kale. 😉

  2. Tracey says:

    Think this work work fine with red potatoes? …I know the texture is a little different.

  3. Loretta says:

    This was very, very good. Thank you!

  4. Amanda says:

    Hi Mel
    This recipe was a huge hit for me and my husband. I also love your overnight oatmeal recipe. So far your recipes are 2 for 2! I will be checking in often for new inspirations.

  5. Ang says:

    Could you use a different potato?

  6. Sabrina says:

    I love this recipe and I will make it again and again! I made it for St. Patrick’s Day and we all loved it, especially with the kale, which I added extra. The parmesan cheese on top of the potatoes gave a nice hearty flavor.

  7. Jami says:

    I made this tonight and it was a huge hit with the family, as are most of your recipes! I rarely modify recipes the first time through, but I did modify the mashed potatoes mixture, using 1.5 lbs. of potatoes and a head of cauliflower since my family loves mashed cauliflower. It was delicious!

  8. Natalie says:

    Tried it, loved it! Your blog is my favorite resource when I’m menu planning for the week. I simply adore the recipes, pictures, and commentary. Thanks for putting the time into making such a quality blog and dishes.

  9. Ruth Heggenes says:

    Thanks so much Mel! I checked your website first as I began to wonder what I would make for a busy evening dinner and your new post was just the thing! I had almost all the ingredients and was able to prep it out before after school piano so I just popped it into the oven and it was so tasty! The only substitution I had to make was spinach for the kale and it turned out great. Even my 1 year old loved it the next day!

  10. Patricia Mahoney says:

    Hi Mel – made this last night with spinach instead of kale – so delicious! My store had Kerrygold butter on sale, so I used their garlic butter to saute the vegetables and also to mix into the potatoes – thanks for sharing!

  11. Hmmm yum! Kale mash is such a traditional Dutch dish, but would have never thought to use it for a shepherd’s pie – that so clever!

  12. Vicky says:

    Apart from being quite delicious, this recipe was also timely for me! I somehow failed to remember Pi Day (even though it’s quite possibly the most fun food holiday), and made a cake the night before. Too busy to labor over pastry once I realized my oversight, I was so glad that I could simply insert this delicious shepard’s pie into the menu and save Pi Day 2016. Bonus points that my 7-year-old had seconds. I added a bit more carrot and a couple stalks of celery because I like more veggies. It was quick to prepare and definitely worth repeating. Thanks!

  13. Nicole says:

    The potatoes on top of this shepherds pie sound so good! And a chicken version of one of our family favorites? I feel like I should bring you a plate of cookies or something to say thanks, because I already know we will love this!

  14. Kristi says:

    This looks yummy, but have you tried it without the kale? My family does not go for cooked leafy greens! We all love your classic shepherd’s pie recipe 🙂

    • Mel says:

      I haven’t, Kristi – it really is delicious with the kale! But you could definitely omit it or use just basic mashed potatoes with garlic to top this.

  15. Paige says:

    This looks like such a warm and cozy weeknight meal! I love it!

  16. Christine says:

    I was also hoping for a pi day recipe. I quickly glanced at the title and figured that was your plan. Yay!

  17. Jackie says:

    Even though you are calling this a St Patrick’s day recipe I’m so glad you posted it on Pi day. I was hoping you would post some sort of pie today. (We are celebrating with spaghetti pie and sour cream lime tart).

    • Mel says:

      Haha, Jackie – seriously, I’m such a dork I didn’t even make the connection I was posting a “pie” recipe on Pi day. Thanks for bringing that to my attention!

  18. Teresa R. says:

    I know what I’m making for dinner tonight! I love one dish meals and this sounds delicious. i know we will enjoy every bite. Thanks!

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