Pulled Pork Shepherd’s Pie: The Low-Carb version

Shepherds PieIt may be the middle of American summer (happy 4th of July, by the way), but down here in Australia I’m freezing my royal rastafarian neenees off (thanks, Cool Runnings). It’s not warm. So how better to warm up than with some delicious, comforting, low-carb shepherd’s pie – made with pulled pork!

Yes, standard shepherd’s pie calls for mince (usually lamb or beef), but I used pulled pork in this for a number of reasons:

1. I’d just slow-cooked a huge bunch of pork and needed creative ways to use it up

2. I was cold and felt like comfort food

3. I like pulled pork. A lot.

However, traditional shepherd’s pie is topped with mashed potato – not particularly low-carb. You could make a shepherd’s pie without it, but I’m pretty sure that at that point it’s not even a pie, just…I don’t know. Mince with vegetables in a casserole dish? Runny meatloaf? The point is, it needs a topping – a warm, mashed-potato-like topping.

(If you’ve read my article about great low-carb vegetables, you might know where this is going)

Enter our hero, cauliflower. Steamed until soft, thrown into a food-processor with some cream, butter, and cheese, and you have yourself an amazing (and in my opinion, preferable) mashed potato substitute. Sprinkle some powdered or grated parmesan cheese on top, and I promise that you’ll never miss “real” shepherd’s pie again.


(Serves 4)

2 tbs vegetable oil

750g pulled pork

500ml beef stock

1 medium carrot, sliced

2 small onions, diced

2 tbs worcestershire sauce

1/3 cup sugar-free tomato sauce

1 head cauliflower

1 leek, white part, sliced

2 tbs cream

100g cheese (I used mozzarella)

Salt and pepper to taste


Step 1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until soft. Then add pulled pork, beef stock, and carrot. Cook for several minutes, until simmering.

Step 2. Add worcestershire and sugar-free tomato sauce, stir through. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, for around 25-30 minutes. The sauce should begin to thicken, but if it’s refusing to, add a few pinches of arrowroot/tapioca powder. It’s not low-carb at all, so be sparing with it – it acts a lot like cornstarch, as a thickening agent.

onions and carrots

Step 3. Meanwhile, steam cauliflower until stems are beginning to soften. Add leek, steam for 5 minutes, or until cauliflower is soft (poke the stem with a fork – if there’s little resistance, it’s done). Drain excess water, then put cauliflower and leek into a food processor. cauli_mash

Step 4. Pulse the vegetable mix a few times to break it up. Then begin processing, slowly adding cream. Be very careful – I find that cauliflower holds a lot more water than does potato, and if you’re not careful you end up with quite runny “mash”. So add cream very slowly – if you’re concerned about it getting too liquid, switch to butter. However, you should also be adding grated cheese at this point – the mixture should still be hot enough to melt the cheese as you’re processing it. The cheese helps it hold together a bit.

The great thing about mashed cauliflower is that it tends to be smoother and more naturally creamy than potato mash anyway, so don’t worry if you don’t use much.


Step 5. Preheat the oven to 180°C (170° fan-forced, 360/340°F). Hopefully your meat mixture has thickened sufficiently by now. Transfer to a casserole dish (at least 2L/64oz), smooth out with a fork/spoon. Cover with the mash mixture. Sprinkle the top with parmesan to give it a nice golden colouring when baked. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Serve immediately, and revel in the fact that it has so few carbs!

Sorry for the awful photo - I would have taken more, but I started eating...

Sorry for the awful photo – I would have taken more, but I started eating…


I had to do some guesstimation for some of the ingredients, so it might be a little off. Probably not by much though.

Total calories for a single serve: 470

Fat: 27g

Carbs: 13g

Protein: 41g

It’s a little carbier than I’d like (onions and worcestershire sauce at the main culprits, but the cauliflower has some as well), but it’s pretty low overall.

Pro tip

If you’re going to try this, be very careful if using store-bought pulled pork – a lot of them use sugar in the cooking, and it ends up being quite high carb. Opt for either a plain pulled pork whose nutritional information you can access, or make it yourself in a slow-cooker.

Also, as you can sort of make out from the final photo, liquid from the meat-mixture seeped through – I’m not sure how to stop this, as it’s always happened to my shepherd’s pies (low-carb or otherwise). Any useful tips for avoiding it would be appreciated!

I’d love to hear from anyone who makes this – let me know how you find it, and whether you make any changes!

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