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Cheddar Topped Shepherd’s Pie

Cheddar Topped Shepherd’s Pie - Hearty, meat filling with cheddar mashed potato topping.  Super delicious! This recipe is a family favorite!

We’ve been updating some of our favorite recipes – and this Cheddar Topped Shepherd’s Pie recipe was our second post ever published here on A Family Feast!

It’s the perfect recipe to make anytime you are looking for some hearty and delicious comfort food!  This cheddar topped shepherd’s pie is very filling, and this recipe makes a generous amount so it’s great for feeding a small crowd – or (better yet) to have for leftovers the day after!

Cheddar Topped Shepherd’s Pie - Hearty, meat filling with cheddar mashed potato topping.  Super delicious! This recipe is a family favorite!

This recipe uses carrots rather than the version of shepherd’s pie that I grew up with that included corn in the filling.  I personally think the earthiness of the carrots makes this taste so much better, and it’s 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.

Cheddar Topped Shepherd’s Pie - Hearty, meat filling with cheddar mashed potato topping.  Super delicious! This recipe is a family favorite!

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.

This recipe was originally published on A Family Feast in October 2012.  The photos and recipe have been updated.


Cheddar Topped Shepherd’s Pie

Cheddar Topped Shepherd’s Pie - A Family Feast
  • Prep Time: 45 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Yield: 10-12 servings


  • 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
  • 2 pounds lean ground beef (85/15 mix)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 six-ounce can tomato paste
  • Dash of hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon browning & seasoning sauce such as Kitchen Bouquet
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
  • Kosher salt (to taste)
  • 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 carrots, celery, onion, garlic, 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.

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    Leave a Comment


  1. This looks delicious! I always like using block cheese and shredding it myself. It seems like it tastes better and melts better. Pinning!

  2. This is not a recipe for shepherd’s pie. This is cottage pie! Shepherd’s pie has lamb not beef. Sheep – shepherd is a lamb reference, thus the correct name for a meat pie with potato topping is called shepherd’s pie. Any respectable restaurant or cook knows the difference.

    • Hi Anita – This is Jack. I usually stay out of the comments section of the blog but would like to respond. We run a family-friendly blog and try to keep things pretty light. Your comment mentions ‘respectable cooks’ but your comments are just a bit disrespectful. However, we like to respond to all comments so here is mine.

      Based on our research, in the 1700s, the original dish was cottage pie as you state but it was simply a dish that used leftover meats topped with a potato crust. About a hundred years later, the term Shepherd’s pie was also used and the two have been interchangeable since. Only recently, has the term Shepherd’s come to signify lamb and cottage to signify other meats – but most people still refer to this sort of dish as Shepherd’s pie as did the recipe we adapted.

      Either way, we appreciate your feedback and welcome your future comments (good or bad) as long as they are not offensive. Your point is acknowledged and we thank you for taking the time to write to us.

  3. My family of six really enjoyed this and it seems like a good fall and winter meal -very hearty! I hate it when reviews post a changes but I have to admit I used ground turkey instead of beef. It’s simply what was in my freezer. My husband also said it could use peas to add a pop of sweetness. It was good as is though and doesn’t *need* these changes. Thank you for sharing!

  4. I can’t wait to try this – it sounds scrumptious!

  5. I want to make this for dinner tomorrow night. It sounds delicious but was wondering if there is anything I can substitute the browning & seasoning sauce with? I’m not quite sure what it is.

    • Hi Theresa – It’s a liquid spice (Kitchen Bouquet is the brand we buy) that most supermarkets carry. If you don’t have it, I’d recommend tasting the meat sauce before you put it into the baking dish and adjusting with more seasonings and herbs based on what flavors you enjoy! Hope that helps!

  6. We have tried this recipe several times and it always turns out just delicious. Thanks for sharing this lovely version of Shepherd’s pie. It’s become a family favorite!