Traditional Shepherd’s Pie from 1918

Try this WWI-era shepherd's pie that makes the most of its limited ingredients.

Lauren Thomann is an antique dealer, freelance writer, and editor with 16 years of experience and a B.A. in English and Linguistics. She specializes in antiques (mainly Victorian through Mid-Century), antique jewelry, old house renovations, and lifestyle and home-related content.

Looking for something simple and historical? Here’s a classic shepherd’s pie recipe from the 1918 cookbook Conservation Recipes by the Mobilized Women’s Organizations of Berkeley. It’s just meat, veggies, and a potato crust.

No fuss here, just straightforward cooking from a different era—one where food was rationed due to WWI. In 1918, food conservation was a wartime effort to save essential resources and support troops by encouraging households to reduce waste, eat alternative foods, and grow their own produce. Give it a try and taste a bit of the past.

Modern Cooking Tips and Substitutes

Oven Settings: Instead of baking for three hours on one burner of a gas oven, try baking in a modern oven at 350°F (175°C) for about 1 to 1.5 hours. Always check for doneness.

Meat Temperature: Ensure the meat reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) for safety.

Mutton: If you don’t have mutton, lamb is the closest substitute. For a milder flavor, you can use beef or pork.
Butter Substitute: If you can’t find a butter substitute, regular butter or margarine works just fine.
Drippings: If you don’t have drippings, you can use a combination of melted butter and a splash of broth (chicken, beef, or vegetable) for flavor.
For a Healthier Twist: Consider using lean cuts of meat or adding in more veggies of your choice.

Remember, recipes are just guidelines. Feel free to tweak and make it your own!

Classic Shepherd's Pie

Serves: 6 to 8 Prep Time: Cooking Time:
Nutrition facts: 200 calories 20 grams fat
Rating: 5.0/5
( 1 voted )



  • 2 lbs. mutton (neck or other cut)
  • 2 carrots
  • 1/4 can tomatoes
  • Salt, pepper, cloves
  • 2 tblsp. drippings
  • 3 stalks celery.
  • 2 tblsp. flour
  • 1 1/2 cups water


  • 3 potatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 1 tsp. poultry seasoning
  • 1 1/2 tblsp. butter substitute
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Cut up the meat and brown in the hot fat and flour.
  2. Add water, seasoning and vegetables.
  3. Put all in a baking dish and cover with a crust made of: 3 potatoes, 1 onion, 1 tsp. poultry seasoning, 1 1/2 tblsp. butter substitute, Salt and pepper.
  4. Cook and mash the potatoes, beating very light; add the minced onion and seasoning. Spread on top of the pie and put melted butter substitute in small indentations of the surface.
  5. Bake three hours very slowly. Use one burner of gas oven only.

Old shepherd's pie recipe

Did You Make This Recipe?
Share it on Pinterest and Instagram and tag @heirloomsathome.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. By clicking “Accept“, you agree to our website's cookie use as described in our Cookie Policy. Accept Read More