Shepherd’s Pie in Ramekins


Last night I finally used the ramekins I bought from an ebay seller back in 2003. I remember it was my first ebay auction experience and I got them for a song, so it was a great day, but they have been sitting up in the very top most shelf of the cupboard since we moved into the house, and in a box in storage before that. If I was following along with that Oprah Clutter Clearing guy I would had to have thrown those ramekins to the wind because I hadn’t used them in the last 12 months, so sometimes it pays to hoard. They were absolutely perfect for making our scheduled (weekly menu plan in action) Shepherd’s Pie all the more exciting. All I had to serve along with the pie was frozen peas so we made them look (according to Amelia) “more Japanese” and less completely pathetic by serving them in Japanese tea cups.

My Twitter people already know this,  but Amelia poked at the meat under the potato crust and said “so, this bit in the middle is the shepherd?”. 

Anyway, it’s super easy and super yum and pretty cheap and can be baked in a big baking dish or individual ramekins. It’s real Nanna food and we love it!

Shepherd’s Pie

500g minced beef (definitely not shepherd, and try to avoid the diet stuff if you can)
1 medium onion finely chopped
Olive oil or butter for frying
Handful of fresh marjoram leaves (chopped)
Handful of fresh parsley leaves (chopped)
Black pepper
1/3 cup of tomato sauce (ketchup or something of better quality if you have it)
Tablespoon of bonox (or a stock cube or even some vegemite)
Lug of woustershire sauce
Tablespoon of gravox (I have NO idea what an international equivalent to this stuff is. It’s like a gravy mix powder with cornflour in it. Basically I use it for a bit of extra taste and to thicken the mixture)

Mashed potato (your favourite way)

Grated cheese.

While you are cooking this I recommend wearing your most slumpy tracksuit, comfiest slippers and a scrunchie in your hair.

Gently fry the onion over a medium heat in a big skillet until it is soft and transparent. Add meat and brown it while breaking it into small lumps with a wooden spoon. Add herbs, tomato sauce, bonox (or stockcube) and a generous lug of woustershire sauce and a generous grinding of black pepper. Let it simmer for 30 minutes and add gravox to thicken in the last minute.

Make your mashed potato (basically? 4-5 big potatoes, peeled, chopped, boiled until soft, drained and then mash and mix in 50g butter, pepper, and enough warm milk to make it the right consistency – but if you want a good recipe try Delia’s).

Put the cooked meat in a nice chunky baking dish or ramekins, and cover with a generous layer of mash. Sprinkle grated cheese on the top.

Cook in an oven at 200°c (aprox 400°f) for 10 minutes until the cheese has melted. I actually gave it a quick grill on the top at the end to brown it up.

Served with steamed vegetables (or a tea cup of peas!). This is my mum’s classic recipe. We grew up on this stuff. Last night I made double the mince recipe and have frozen half for another day. Bonza.

54 Responses to “Shepherd’s Pie in Ramekins”

  1. Jo

    Cheese! That’s what I’ve been missing. I’m always so ready to eat the shepherd’s pie that I never leave it in the oven long enough to brown properly on top, but melty cheese would do the trick.I used to turn my nose up at frozen veg, but the percentage of nights we have just peas gets bigger and bigger!

  2. katef

    Oh those ramekins are soooo much cuter than my cheap boring white ones.. I want some like yours!!! We love doing ‘pies in pots’ as my kids call them, must try the gravox trick too!

  3. michelle

    love these dishes…i have a small version and yes mine have been sitting in the cupboard…every now and then i take one out and make a hot chocolate in it…don’t really know why it just makes me feel all “nanna-ry” if that makes scents…

  4. lucy

    Oooh I love putting shepperds pie in ramekins. I cannot remember if it was Nigella or Jamie who gave me the idea. I find the kids eat more this way!

  5. pinry

    I love Shepherds pie! And I also have hoarded ramekins that I couldn’t bear to throw out, so thanks for this inspiration! I usually add grated vegies (ie. carrot, zucchini) to the mince mix in an attempt to get more nutrients into the vegie-avoiding pre-schooler…

  6. Kirsty

    Those ramekins are gorgeous!I love to make ahead & freeze. Hauling something out of the freezer is similar to shopping with Paypal or going to Medicare…free & easy.

  7. Rebecca

    immm such comfort food. We had left over shepherds pie from the freezer last night,just as nice!My father once told me it’s ‘Shepherds pie’ if lamb and ‘Cottage pie’ if beef mince…Don’t know, anyone heard that one? I remember my Nan making it with the left over roast lamb put though a ringer thing?!

  8. Barbara

    Thankyou for a lovely website. Shepherds pie is big in this house, I love the ramekin idea, thanks. I always spread a layer of baked beans over the top of the meat, before the potato. It kicks.

    • Claire

      Ohh yum! I love the baked beans idea Barbara! And the grated veg idea is a winner too pinry – fortunately, for whatever bizarre reason, my kids eat their veggies but rarely the feature item and Lily, in particular, chucks a toddler tanty if there’s no salad.

  9. Amy

    Oh man, Amelia’s comment had me crying tears of laughter! Classic!

  10. Lisa

    I love the weekly meal plan!! Its amazing how much simpler it makes life, hey? There’s a lot less of “what do you want for dinner?” followed by “…oh , I don’t know, whatever.”This may sound OTT but I even have the family’s favourite meals in a list sorted by meat types so when I’m lacking inspiration for the week I just run down the list and pick one chicken for Monday, one beef for Tuesday, one vegetarian for Wedneday etc at random. So easy!

    P.S. I’m seeing baked custards in those ramekins for dessert…yum!

    • Claire

      I do the same Lisa. Per week we have two red meat, one fish (sometimes simply out of a can), 1 chicken, 1 vegetarian and 2 by Phil which is like the wildcard. This week I schedule in 1 Thai Take-away – that’s for tomorrow night! Hooray!

  11. Louise Clark

    My mum has those ramekins and has always told us they are made by a “Boyd” as in the artist family. Not sure how true this is. She also has some scallop shape shell dishes, similar size and totally kitsch, maybe I will have to fight my sister for them!

    • Claire

      Yes indeedy! They are Boyds – mine are all signed with Martin Boyd on the bottom. Makes them extra spesh and precious to me.

  12. Melissa

    I’ve never had Shepherd’s pie, but I may just have to try it!I’ve been looking for some ramekins/bowls JUST like those to add to my wedding registry, can you PLEASE let me know where they’re from? They’re wonderful!

  13. Donna

    Looks delicious, thanks for the recipe! Gravox sounds like the packages of instant gravy you can buy in the states, you mix it with a cup of cold water and heat it on the stove, it thickens to make gravy.

  14. jenny b harris

    That was a lovely dish for last night, now what are you going to do to celebrate today????????Happy Birthday Claire!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  15. Chantelle

    Yum.I am making sheperds pie tonight for dinner. I will be putting cauliflower mash on top though.

    I love the ramekins. How delicious would they look with a gooey chocolate pudding inside.


  16. Bird Bath

    those ramekins are superb….what a great way to dish up the sheperd’s pie! this dish is a staple in our household. I add peas, corn and carrots to the meat mixture before I top it with the potato.

  17. Jess

    Must have been the week for it – we had Shepherds twice this week! Once with beef and once with chicken mince. Yum. Mum collects Boyd ramekins, but never uses them!!

  18. Kathryn

    Oh, shepherd’s pie looks good… I just had my wisdom teeth pulled and can’t eat anything that you can’t sip through a straw, but when my jaws are back in working order, I’m definitely going to be making some of this.And I love your daughter’s thoughts on the shepherd in the pie… my daughter always thinks we’re eating mermaid when we buy the tuna with a mermaid logo on the can.

  19. Lisa

    In America, there is a product called Wondra. It s made by the Gold Medal flour company. It is used to make gravy and sauces. It is often a seasonal item found only between Halloween and New Year’s. I think it would substitute for your gravox.

  20. Alisa

    Ooooh! Martin Boyd ramekins! What a great find, and for a song too, happy days indeed. Absolutely love the colours, totally gorgeous.

  21. Frogdancer

    Guess what I’m making right now?I’ve never made shepherd’s pie with beef before… it was always the left over lamb roast ground up, but with 4 teenage boys we never have left overs any more!It smells divine…

  22. Viv

    Technically, shepherd’s pie is with lamb and cottage pie is with beef. If you’re feeling pedantic!

  23. librarygirl

    My Shepherd’s pie is lamb mince from the butcher, red wine and about 9 vegies also a can of lentils. I make a GIGANTIC one for winter Sunday lunch when we have friends over in winter … and kids love it. Email me if you’d like the recipe!

  24. Isabelle

    Those ramekins are one of the most beautifully designed pieces of kitchenalia ever.I just made shepherds pie too. But with tons of veggies in it too and a pumpkin/potato mash on top for even more veg quotient. I think I was willing autumn to arrive. I’m so over summer.

  25. Hoppo Bumpo

    They are gorgeous ramekins. I have set of matching tumblers, that are marked as being made by Guy Boyd. I’m glad you didn’t de-clutter them – they are very collectable!

  26. Angie

    Oh how did I forget the shepherds pie! I’m always on the look out for easy meals to add to the rather uninspiring repertoire at our place. Anything that has a side serve of frozen peas is a hit at our place, especially if I leave them frozen (that’s what you get for telling your kids frozen peas are lollies!)Thanks for the reminder, and the pies look extra sweet in those beautiful ramekins!

  27. Sam

    That is priceless – “So this bit is the Shepherd”! They look mighty delicious by the way!

  28. Roslyn

    Oh, I remember you posting about these Boyd ramekins. I think it was the first time I ever commented on your blog! I’d never have thought of serving shepherd’s pie in them.

  29. Andi

    Hi Clare.Had this for dinner last night. No ramekins though.But still a super delicious meal.Thanks.Andi 🙂

  30. Mary

    Thanks for this recipe. It’s turning cold here in Pennsylvania and my husband absolutely loves his mom’s Shepherd’s Pie – can’t wait to surprise him with this recipe this week.

  31. Chris of Adelaide

    I am so glad I’ve read all of these responses as my Mum has handed her set of Martin Boyd ramekins to me (a wedding present from early 1950’s). I have only ever put heated food in them as I was scared to put them in the oven thinking they were too beautiful and fragile.

  32. Chris Kircher

    I just have to find ramekins like yours. Can you help me? Checked online for “ramekins with handles”, but found nothing like yours. Do you know the manufacturer? PLEASE let me know where I might find some. (Loved Amelia’s assumption that the shepherd was in there.)Thanks,Chris K.Orlando, FL

    • Claire

      I have emailed you – but for anyone else, they are Martin Boyd ramekins which were found years ago on


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