Make This Irresistible Paleo Shepherd's Pie Today

Recipe From PaleoPlan

Whether you’re an enthusiast or a beginner in the world of pies, shepherd’s pie is one of the first types you should try. Originally from Europe, shepherd’s pie is now served all around the globe, with people from different cultures enjoying the savory goodness of this dish.1 If you’re looking for a delicious new version, you’re in luck. Try this paleo shepherd’s pie recipe, submitted by Akasha to the website PaleoPlan, for a unique healthy twist.

Paleo Shepherd’s Pie

Cook time: 60 minutes Serving Size: 4


  • 3 medium parsnips peeled and grated, about 3/4 pound for 4 servings
  • 1 1/3 tablespoons coconut oil (or more, as needed)
  • 1 teaspoon onion salt
  • 1 slice free-range bacon
  • 1 1/2 medium zucchini, sliced
  • 1/4 pound mushrooms, white button, cremini or shitake, sliced
  • 1 medium celery stalk, diced
  • 1/2 medium red onion, finely diced
  • 1 1/4 pounds turkey, ground
  • 2 medium green onions, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper freshly ground
  • 8 large egg whites, divided
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped


  1. Heat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Peel parsnips and grate with a cheese grater. Mix with onion salt and 1 tablespoon coconut oil. Set aside.
  3. Cook bacon slice in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Save bacon fat and leave it in the pan. Cool bacon slice, crumble and set aside.
  4. Add zucchini, mushrooms and celery to the pan with the bacon fat. Sauté until slightly softened.
  5. Heat a separate pan over medium-high heat. Add remaining coconut oil when hot. Add onions, ground turkey, Italian seasoning, celery salt and black pepper to taste. Sauté until turkey is fully cooked.
  6. Combine meat and vegetables in one pan and mix thoroughly. Let cool for five minutes.
  7. Combine four egg whites with parsley and stir into the meat and vegetable mixture.
  8. Combine the other four egg whites with parsnips.
  9. Coat an 8 x 8-inch baking dish with coconut oil.
  10. Add meat and vegetable mixture, cover with parsnip mixture and top with crumbled bacon.
  11. Bake for about 25 minutes or until the top begins to brown.

Where Did Shepherd’s Pie Come From?

The first emergence of shepherd’s pie is not clear, but it is closely connected to cottage pie. Like cottage cheese, It’s believed cottage pie got its name  from peasants — many of whom lived in cottages — who created the recipe at a time when potatoes were being introduced as a low-cost food option in Europe.

While shepherd’s pie is a variant of cottage pie, history tells us there were distinctions between the two from the beginning. If beef is used as filling, it’s technically called cottage pie, while traditional shepherd’s pie uses lamb or sheep as a filling instead.2 As the dishes came into contact with various cultures, the recipes transformed every time they were passed from person to person, and the two terms have now become quite synonymous.

Why Does This Recipe Use Parsnips Instead of Potatoes?

Traditional shepherd’s pie is made with layers of mashed potatoes as its base, but this recipe veers away from this and instead uses parsnips.
If you’re a regular reader of the website, you’re probably aware of lectins and their effect on the human body. Lectins are proteins that plants use as a defense mechanism against predators. While the effects of lectins are not immediately apparent, they may have long-term health effects, including compromised nutrient absorption, stomach upset and even chronic disease.3

Unfortunately, potatoes contain a considerable amount of these compounds, so swapping them with parsnips can help you sidestep these negative health effects. Substituting parsnips also provides you with a low-carbohydrate option, which may help you keep your carb intake in check. Note that while carbohydrates are part of the human diet, too many may put you at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease and insulin resistance.4

Parsnips also offer numerous health benefits due to the nutrients they contain, including potassium, phosphorus, folate and vitamin C.5 Thanks to these nutrients, parsnips:

  • May help in fluid balance — Because of the high amounts of potassium in parsnips — with 100 grams of parsnip containing 367 milligrams — they can help balance the acids and bases in numerous body systems. Potassium also helps lower blood pressure and minimizes the risk of cardiovascular diseases by regulating sodium levels in the blood.6
  • May promote bone health — Parsnips contain about 69 milligrams of phosphorus, a mineral necessary for maintaining bone mineral content. In a 2015 study from the Nutrition Journal, researchers found that the consumption of phosphorus-containing foods improved mineral content by about 4.2 percent and reduced the risk of osteoporosis by approximately 45 percent.7
  • May assist in cellular health maintenance — Folate is one of the essential nutrients for facilitating cell division. In fact, folate is one of the most important nutrients when it comes to fetal development. During pregnancy, mothers are encouraged to consume folate-rich foods to prevent neural tube defects.8

3 Benefits You Can Get From Turkey

Another way this recipe veers from traditional shepherd’s pie is that it uses poultry, specifically turkey, instead of red meat. Aside from chicken and duck, turkey might be the next most popular poultry product in the world, with Americans usually featuring it for Thanksgiving feasts.9 But turkey isn’t only for Thanksgiving, as proven by this shepherd’s pie recipe. Aside from being versatile, turkey meat also gives you the following health benefits:

  • Longer feeling of satiety — The high protein content of turkey promotes satiety for longer stretches of time. This means that it can curb hunger longer, helping you limit your food intake and avoid excessive food consumption.10
  • Helps support the production of serotonin — Turkey meat contains trace amounts of tryptophan. Tryptophan is a precursor of serotonin, a chemical responsible for promoting well-being.11 It also plays a role in regulating the sleep-wake cycle, emotions and other cognitive functions.12
  • Contains fewer calories than other cuts of meat — Compared to other types of meat, turkey breast contains lower amounts of calories.13 Turkey may be a good meat choice for people who are trying to watch their caloric intake. However, note that calorie watching should not be your only route when trying to lose weight. Focus more on nutrient intake and quality control to ensure your body gets the nutrients it needs.

Why Should You Choose Free-Range Bacon Instead of Factory Bacon?

Bacon’s distinct salty and savory taste is absolutely irresistible, especially when it’s freshly off the pan. But beware: The bacon sold in most grocery stores usually comes from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), where animals are raised in inhumane conditions and are often fed nonspecies-appropriate food filled with harmful chemicals, like pesticide residues on the grains they are given.  

The meats also may be tainted with antibiotics used to treat or prevent illness in the animals. These substances often make their way into the meat, which may then be passed on to you.14 Free-range meat, on the other hand, comes from farms where animals are given the freedom to roam outdoors, so they can get their nutrients from their environment through foraging and grazing. Not only does this significantly minimize your exposure to harmful chemicals typically used in factories, but it helps you ensure that you’re getting nutrient-dense meat as well.

According to the Compassion in World Farming, pig meat from free-range systems contains higher proportions of omega-3 fatty acids and lower amounts of omega-6 compared to factory-reared pork. It has also been observed to contain significantly higher amounts of both vitamin E and iron.15

Stay on the Right Track With This Paleo Shepherd’s Pie

Being committed to a paleo diet can be challenging, as some of your favorite recipes probably use nonpaleo ingredients. The good news is that if you’re a lover of shepherd’s pie, you don’t have to look high and low for an alternative. This delicious recipe will surely fill that shepherd’s pie-shaped hole in your heart, and give you and your family a healthier option.

About PaleoPlan

PaleoPlan is a website that focuses on providing readers with trustworthy information about the paleo diet. It offers a wide selection of paleo tips and free recipes, ranging from breakfast dishes to main courses, and even paleo smoothies. You can also follow the site or sign up for a membership to gain access to meal plans and weekly shopping lists to make following a paleo diet easier and stress-free.

+ Sources and References