New This Month

Cheddar-Topped Shepherd's Pie


Old-style pubs have it right: Sitting down to a generous helping of shepherd's pie is a true pleasure; making it is happily simple. We've added sharp cheddar to our mashed potatoes for a snappy topping.

  • Prep:
  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 8

Source: Everyday Food, October 2008


  • 2 pounds baking potatoes (about 4), peeled and thinly sliced
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, such as safflower
  • 6 medium carrots, halved lengthwise, quartered if large, and thinly sliced
  • 6 celery stalks, thinly sliced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 2 pounds ground beef chuck
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded sharp white cheddar (6 ounces)


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place potatoes in a large saucepan, and cover by 1 inch with salted water. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer. Cook until potatoes are easily pierced with the tip of a paring knife, 15 to 20 minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a 5-quart Dutch oven or heavy pot over medium-high. Add carrots, celery, onion, and thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Add flour and tomato paste; cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add beef; cook, stirring occasionally, until no longer pink, 6 to 8 minutes. Add 1 cup water; bring to a boil, and simmer 1 minute. Set beef filling aside.

  3. Drain potatoes; return to pan. Cook over medium, stirring, until liquid has evaporated and a thin film covers bottom of pan, about 1 minute. Remove pan from heat; add milk and 1 cup cheese. Mash until smooth; season cheddar-potato topping with salt and pepper.

  4. Pour beef filling into a 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Drop dollops of topping over filling; spread to edges with a spatula. Using a fork, make decorative peaks; sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Bake until topping is browned and filling is bubbling rapidly, about 20 minutes (if topping and filling were chilled, increase to 35 minutes). Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Cook's Notes

Both filling and topping can be made up to a day ahead and refrigerated separately.

Reviews Add a comment

  • MS11125285
    16 NOV, 2016
    This is a Cottage Pie as it is made with beef. A Shepherd's Pie is made with lamb. You should know that Martha.
  • genedcooper
    31 MAR, 2016
    This version results were absolutely awesome! I made it just like the recipe, with two exceptions. I did not have white cheddar, used regular and it was fine. And I added a shot of Jameson to give it some good ol Irish spirit. Wish I could post a picture, its beautiful...
  • mojomariposa
    9 MAR, 2015
    Why so bland, Martha? Yeesh. Made this with ground turkey and reduced fat where I could (2% milk, less cheese). Tasty, but only after liberal application of salt and pepper. And hot sauce. And jalapeƱos.
  • MS10077972
    2 MAR, 2015
    Three stars as written, but 4 to 5 with adjustments! I had some great ground lamb from my CSA-so guess I can say I made shepherd's pie :-). I browned the lamb first and then added the veggies (wanted the brown flavor and also to make sure that I could remove some of the fat if necessary. Instead of tomato paste I used Sir Kensington Ketchup & increased the quantity by at least double. Also increased the ratio of potatoes slightly-maybe 1.5 times and a combo of half heavy cream and nonfat.
  • ecmother
    24 JAN, 2015
    A rose by any other name would smell as sweet...and this is delicious regardless of its name (or meat)! ;) I made it with ground turkey, adding in minced garlic (two cloves) a healthy amount of smoked paprika, and several glugs of worcestershire sauce. It was a huge success with all the family!
  • Randal Oulton
    4 NOV, 2014
    This looks great, but just a minor note, it's cottage pie, not shepherd's pie. Shepherd's pie is made with ground lamb or mutton (as in shepherd, sheep, bah bah....); cottage pie can be made with any other ground up type of meat. Cheers
  • RebaMurff
    24 JUL, 2014
    I used ground chuck for this one and would definitely recommend that you drain the beef, otherwise the filling is too soupy. Makes a very tasty fall dinner, shepherds pie or cottage pie.
  • AMJepp98
    4 MAY, 2014
    This is not Shepherd's Pie! Shepherd's pie is made with lamb. Sheep - Shepherd is where the name comes from. A meat/potato pie with beef is called cottage pie. Such a shame that Martha Stewart would make such an error! Go to any respectable restaurant and order a shepherd's pie. You will be served lamb!
  • MrsMacBee
    16 FEB, 2014
    Suggestion: brown the meat by itself and drain well before adding to the vegetables. If you add a beaten egg or two to the filling before baking, then let it stand a few minutes before serving it will set up and cut into neater squares. I also liked to add a healthy grind of black pepper, splash of tabasco if you like a little "zip". Good to make ahead, serve with crisp salad and fresh bread. a popular supper with the teenagers.
  • Jessica Budd
    9 FEB, 2014
    I'm pretty sure this is not Shepherd's Pie because it is made with beef, not lamb. This is called Cottage Pie. Looks delicious either way! :)