Shepherd’s pie is a layered combination of mashed potatoes atop a meat sauce. Because of its two meal composition, the question of how to freeze it can easily trouble the mind.
This article explains how to freeze the mashed potatoes on shepherd’s pie, how to freeze shepherd’s pie in it’s entirety, and also how to thaw and cook frozen shepherd’s pie.
Changed your mind?
So you just made the mash and the sauce, guzzled all the meat that is supposed to go underneath the potatoes and are now left with a bulk of mashed potatoes that you certainly have no an appetite for. Can you freeze it?
Absolutely. You can freeze the mashed potato that is on a shepherd’s pie the way you would normally freeze regular mashed potato: which is to package it inside a freezer safe bag, wrap it with a second layer of aluminum foil and then flatten it out and put it inside the freezer.
Ops! Topped the sauce with the mashed potatoes already
Even when you have topped the meat sauce with the mashed potatoes and are yet to bake, you can still scoop out the mashed potato topping, put it inside a freezer safe bag and store in the freezer.
The best part about this is that you can also do it after baking the shepherd’s pie in the oven.
When you’re freezing and item like mashed potato, make sure to seal properly to remove a much air as possible which can cause it to go bad very quickly, and also make sure to date and label properly for easy identification.
What about the whole dish?
We’ve talked about how you can scoop out the mashed potato layer on your shepherd’s pie and store it inside the freezer, but what about the whole dish? Can you store shepherd’s pie in its entirety in the freezer?
Absolutely. You can store shepherd’s pie in the freezer.
After baking, do not allow it to sit for longer than 2 hours (which would give time for pathogenic and spoilage bacteria to begin breeding and cause problems later on) before packaging it and putting it inside the freezer.
How do you cool the dish within 2 hours?
Just allow the dish to stand on the countertop until it is no longer hot – it doesn’t have to be completely cooled before you can freeze it. Once it is warm, put it inside the refrigerator compartment to cool off completely, then proceed to package and freeze.
So how do you package shepherd’s pie for the freezer?
It’s simple, cover the casserole dish using a layer of plastic wrap and then cover the entire dish in a heavy duty aluminum foil. Now put it inside indefinitely, but use it within the first months of freezing for better quality.
Is it better to freeze shepherd’s pie cooked or uncooked?
It is better to freeze shepherd’s pie when it is uncooked because cooked shepherd’s pie loses quality faster than uncooked shepherd’s pie in the freezer.
When freezing uncooked shepherd’s pie, do not completely assemble it. Cut out on sensitive ingredients like cheese that are prone to deterioration. If you also have herbs that are to be added, hold back on them too and add them on the day you plant to bake the frozen pie.
How long does shepherd’s pie lasts in the freezer?
Shepherd’s pie would last in the freezer indefinitely, like most other frozen foods, but its quality will deteriorate the longer you keep it in the freezer. This is why it is best advised to use the pie within the first month of freezing.
Another tip for a successful frozen shepherd’s pie is to at least avoid placing anything on it within the first couple of hours after you put it in the freezer, which will allow the pie to hold shape during freezing.
It is also important that you properly package the shepherd’s pie in order to prevent access for air which can cause freezer burn.
Can you freeze shepherd’s pie (cottage pie) in a Pyrex or glass dish?
Yes, shepherd’s pie or cottage pie can be frozen in a Pyrex dish or a glass dish (provided it is freezer safe).
The tricky thing about glass dishes is that they do not like sudden temperature changes. When you are taking the shepherd’s pie out of the oven, allow it to sit at room temperature until it gets warm, then transfer it into the refrigerator compartment to completely cool before packaging and putting it inside the freezer.
Likewise, when it’s time to cook the frozen shepherd’s pie, proceed in the reverse sequence, which is to take out the dish from the freezer into the refrigerator, allow it to completely thaw, then bring it out to the counter until it comes to room temperature before sliding it into the oven to bake.
Following this technique would ensure that the glass dish doesn’t shock and crack in the oven or the freezer.
How to thaw frozen shepherd’s pie
When it comes to preparing frozen shepherd’s pie, it is advised to cook it directly from frozen because it would retain quality better than a thawed counterpart due to the fact that ice crystals have been formed in them which melt and cause mushy in the food when thawed.
If the pie must be thawed however, make sure to transfer it from the freezer to the refrigerator overnight, or for as long as it takes to completely thaw. And don’t forget to add the omitted ingredients before baking.
Can you refreeze shepherd’s pie?
It is not advised to refreeze shepherd’s pie due to the quality loss that happens with the first freezing. Moreover, frozen foods that have been thawed have greater chances of spoiling than fresher foods.
How long does it take to reheat a frozen shepherd’s pie?
When it comes to reheating a frozen shepherd’s pie, you should follow the instructions from the original recipe, but expect the pie to sit in the oven for a couple more minutes due to the fact that it started from frozen.
For a typical example, at 350 F, a frozen shepherd’s pie should most likely take between 35 to 45 minutes to fully bake.
Can you cook frozen cottage pie in the microwave? And for how long?
Yes, it is possible to reheat cottage pie in the microwave.
When you’re doing so, observe bursts of 30 seconds until the food is piping hot or reads 165 F in the middle.
Allow the pie to cool a bit before serving. If you wish to add a bit of crispiness to the mashed potatoes, then you can put them inside the oven to bake an extra 10 to 15 minutes or until a golden crust develops.