Cheddar Topped Shepherd’s Pie

cheddar topped shepard's pie

Fall has arrived here in New England and the cooler weather makes me think of comfort foods. This version of Cheddar Topped Shepherd’s Pie really fits the comfort bill. This recipe is very filling and makes a generous amount so it’s great for feeding a small crowd – or for leftovers the day after.

This recipe uses carrots rather than the version of shepherd’s pie that I grew up with that included corn – and I think the earthiness of the carrots makes this taste so much better and is the perfect complement to the savory beef and the rich, cheddar-potato topping.  The recipe was adapted from one that originally appeared in Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food (original recipe here) – we tweaked the proportions of vegetables and cheese a bit and also added in more seasonings to really enhance the flavor of the meat and vegetable mixture to our liking.

We strongly recommend that you use block white cheddar and not the pre-shredded cheddar which seemed to make this recipe a little greasy when we made it for the first time.

Cheddar Topped Shepherd’s Pie

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Yield: 10-12 servings

Cheddar Topped Shepherd’s Pie


  • 2 pounds yellow potatoes (such as Yukon Gold), peeled and cut into even-sized chunks
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 4 cups peeled and thinly sliced carrots, (about 6 medium carrots)
  • 2 cups thinly sliced celery, (about 4 stalks)
  • 2 cups onion, chopped into 1/2 inch dice (about 1 large onion)
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 16 ounce can tomato paste
  • Dash of hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon browning & seasoning sauce such as Kitchen Bouquet
  • Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
  • Kosher salt (to taste)
  • 2 pounds lean ground beef (85/15 mix)
  • 1 cup water
  • 2/3 cup milk (plus more as needed)
  • 8 ounce block extra sharp white cheddar shredded (reserve 1/2 cup of the shredded cheese to use as a topping.)


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Place peeled potatoes in a large pot and cover with salted water. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook until potatoes are soft enough to mash - easily pierced with a knife or fork (15 to 20 minutes).
  3. While potatoes are cooking, heat oil in a heavy bottomed 6 quart pot over medium-high heat. Add garlic, carrots, celery, onion, thyme and oregano. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender (approximately 10 minutes). Add ground beef and stir into vegetables. Cook mixture until beef is no longer pink. Add 1 cup water and bring to a boil, simmering for 1 minute. Add flour, tomato paste, hot sauce, browning and seasoning sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and salt and pepper (adjusting to your taste) and cook, blending well for about a 1 minute. Remove from heat.
  4. Drain potatoes well and return to the pot. Mash the potatoes and then add milk and all but ½ cup of cheddar cheese, stirring to mix well so the cheddar begins to melt. Stir until smooth, adding additional milk if necessary. Season cheddar-potato topping with salt and pepper to your liking.
  5. Pour beef filling into a 13-by-9-inch ungreased baking dish. Drop dollops of the potato mixture over the beef filling and spread the potatoes to the edges of the dish with a spatula.
  6. Using a fork, make decorative peaks in the mashed potatoes, and then sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of grated cheese.
  7. Place a sheet of aluminum foil on the center rack of your oven to prevent any oven spills, and then place the baking dish on the foil in the oven. Bake at 450 degrees until topping is browned and filling is bubbling rapidly, about 25-30 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes or longer to set up before serving.


  1. Shepherd is spelled with 2 h’s & 2 e’s… no a’s at all.
    ;-) Just remember to include the word ‘herd’ & you’re good to go.

    • Hi Diane! Thank you so much…you are completely right! (What were we thinking?) :-( I will fix the recipe right away… Thanks again for pointing that out – and for visiting our site! Martha

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