Classic Shepherd’s Pie with Crispy Cheddar Topping

This is not some filler beef covered with sad wimpy potatoes. This is gravy-soaked beefy goodness, with peas and carrots, covered with 5 pounds of potatoes. Because there are NEVER ENOUGH MASHED POTATOES. Shepherd’s Pie done right my friends.

Classic Shepherd's Pie with Crispy Cheddar Topping from The Food Charlatan

Have you ever taught a kid to roller skate before? Turns out I am literally the worst person in the world for this job. (Where is my parenting manual?? I know I’m going to need it come 6th grade math, too. Don’t judge me.) This about sums it up:

Classic Shepherd's Pie with Crispy Cheddar Topping

Here’s Charlotte and I at her cousin’s birthday party at the skating rink. You will note that I am most certainly not wearing roller skates. If I had, we would BOTH be sprawled out under the disco lights.

Classic Shepherd's Pie with Crispy Cheddar Topping from The Food Charlatan

“Stand straight. Lean into it. Glide your skates OUTward. Hold tight. Don’t slip! Find your balance.”

Seriously, “find your balance?” “glide outward”? SHE’S FIVE. It’s like I’m giving yoga instructions to a puppy. No wonder she’s holding on for dear life in that photo. I may as well be telling her to do the crow pose.

I was laughing, but that’s because I only had one kid at the party. You should have seen the mom’s trying to drag 2 or even 3 kids along. Note: a 5-year-old wielding a roller-skate-clad foot is a danger to innocent feet everywhere.

Classic Shepherd's Pie with Crispy Cheddar Topping from The Food Charlatan

Now Charlotte is asking for her own pair of roller skates. I am now preemptively collecting donations for her body cast. And for my pair of steel-toed shoes.

Classic Shepherd's Pie with Crispy Cheddar Topping from The Food Charlatan

Do you love Shepherd’s Pie as much as I do? We didn’t have the traditional version growing up. My mom made “Meat and Potato Stuff.” No, I’m not kidding. (We also had “Chicken and Broccoli Stuff.” Bless your heart Mom.) Meat and Potato Stuff had tomato sauce and was basically Sloppy Joe Casserole. (Which explains why I was not into it. Sloppy Joes are gross. Slop sloppy joes…slop, sloppy joes.)

THIS Shepherd’s Pie however, is anything but sloppy. You make a flavorful gravy with beef broth and ground beef, add some peas and carrots, and cover it up with All The Potatoes. In my opinion, the greatest fault of most Shepherd’s Pies is a serious lack of creamy potato-y goodness. It’s all meat, tiny potatoes. Not gonna cut it for this mashed potato freak. 5 pounds definitely does the trick though!

Classic Shepherd's Pie with Crispy Cheddar Topping from The Food Charlatan

Allllllll the potatoes.

Top it off with some cheddar cheese that you broil for a few minutes to make it extra crispy. Mm-mm. Invite the neighbors because this casserole feeds a small army!

If you make this Shepherd’s Pie, snap a photo and tag #TheFoodCharlatan on Instagram! I love seeing what you’re making!

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Classic Shepherd’s Pie

Yield: Serves 8-10

Recipe by The Food Charlatan


    For the mashed potatoes:
  • 5 pounds potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1 or 2 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup milk, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • For the beef mixture:
  • 4 tablespoons (half stick) salted butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 4-5 medium carrots, (about 1 and 1/2 to 2 cups)
  • 1 and 1/2 cups frozen peas
  • 1 and 1/2 pounds ground ground beef
  • 1 and 1/2 cups beef broth*
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Better Than Bouillon paste* (see note)
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper, or to taste
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese


  1. Fill a large stock pot with plenty of water. Add the chopped potatoes and make sure the water covers them.
  2. Bring to a boil, covered, over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and continue boiling for about 20-25 minutes, until the potatoes are fork tender.
  3. Drain the potatoes and return to the pot.
  4. Add 1/2 cup butter. Mash with a potato masher or mixer until they are as smooth as you like them.
  5. Stir in sour cream, milk, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, seasoning salt, garlic powder, and onion powder. All seasonings are to taste. Cover and set aside.
  6. In a large skillet, melt 4 tablespoons butter over medium heat.
  7. Add the onions and carrots. Saute for about 8 minutes, until the carrots are tender.
  8. Add the ground beef and cook and crumble until no longer pink, about 5-6 minutes.
  9. Drain the fat.
  10. Add the frozen peas.
  11. In a small bowl, stir together beef broth* and cornstarch.
  12. Add this mixture to the meat, as well as the Worcestershire sauce.
  13. Cook over high heat for about 5 minutes, or until the mixture boils and the sauce has thickened. Cook and reduce until it has reached a consistency you like.
  14. Season with salt and pepper. Taste it and see how you like it! Add other seasonings if you want.
  15. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  16. Pour the meat mixture into a deep 9x13 inch casserole dish.
  17. Top with the mashed potatoes and spread evenly.
  18. Top with cheddar cheese.
  19. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes, or until bubbly. (You could do 375 if you are in a hurry. Check it at 20 minutes.)
  20. Broil on the top rack for about 2 minutes if you are obsessed with crunchy brown cheese like my family is. Don't walk away!!
  21. Now invite over the neighbors. Because this pie feeds a crowd!


*I'm a little obsessed with Better Than Bouillon. I use 1 teaspoon of the stuff per cup of water to equal however many cups of broth I need. (so for this recipe, 1 and 1/2 cups water + 1 and 1/2 teaspoons paste.) I tried this the second time with 1 and 1/2 cups beef broth from a box, but I still added one teaspoon of Better than Bouillon. It just adds so much flavor!

All of the seasonings in the mashed potatoes are totally according to taste, of course! If it doesn't taste like you want to eat 12 more bites when you taste it, add more salt :)

Classic Shepherd's Pie with Crispy Cheddar Topping from The Food Charlatan

Classic Shepherd's Pie with Crispy Cheddar Topping from The Food Charlatan

Classic Shepherd's Pie with Crispy Cheddar Topping from The Food Charlatan

Try not to drop your plate of shredded cheese on top.

More casseroles to love!

Easy Cheesy Ravioli Lasagna << family classic right here! Too easy.

Easy Ravioli Lasagna from The Food Charlatan

Easy Cheesy Asparagus Tortellini Bake:

Easy Cheesy Asparagus Tortellini Bake from

Chicken and Broccoli Stuff << my mom’s recipe!

Chicken and Broccoli Stuff from

Chicken Crepes << another one from my mom. It’s soooooo good.

Chicken Crepes with Jalapeno Cheese from

More Shepherd’s Pie from friends!

Easy Shepherd’s Pie from Simply Recipes << this is the recipe that inspired my version. Elise’s blog is so amazing!
Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie from Budget Bytes << I’m trying this version next!
Shepherd’s Pie from Life in the Lofthouse





  1. Alison Flood says

    The recipe sounds great and I’ll try it soon, though I think I’d like a bit of celery and garlic in mine. We call it cottage pie if it includes beef, shepherds pie with lamb, which I think is better than the beef and almost worth cooking a leg of lamb just to be able to put the leftover meat in the shepherds pie.
    Love your site, though I often can’t get the ingredients required (Better then Bouillion for example). Thanks a bunch!

    • says

      Are you in the UK Alison? I’ve heard of Cottage Pie but I’ve never had it! Er wait I guess what I posted is Cottage Pie and so I’ve never had Shepherd’s Pie. Haha. I think a lamb version would be amazing! Maybe I will try it out! PS you can buy Better Than Bouillon online! I know Amazon has it :)

    • daisy says

      You can look for beef base.if your grocer dosent have it,check one that provides for restoraunts. Hope this helps! God bless !

  2. stephanie says

    i cannot rollerskate, ice skate, ski, or basically do anything where i don’t have complete control over my own limbs. but, growing up, rollerskating parties were totally A Thing, so i even had one or two despite the fact that i would only “skate” on the rug outside the ring (i.e. cling to the rail and try to walk in skates) while all my friends whizzed around like they were born with wheels. inexplicably, i did ask for and receive my own “skates” – those fisher price things that you could expand as your feet grew and they just velcro’d over your sneakers.

    i also love shepard’s pie despite having something growing up that was not shepard’s pie even though my mom totally called it shepard’s pie. at the table there would be a dish of mashed potatoes, a dish of cooked ground beef, and a dish of frozen microwaved corn. you put the potatoes on your plate, then the beef on top, and then the corn on top of that. and then you were supposed to eat it, but much to my parents’ dismay, i first had to stir it all together thoroughly. voila, shepard’s pie! lol, NOT. but i did love it all the same. (we also had a similar “beef stroganoff” recipe that i still love, although i distinctly do not like “real” beef stroganoff now!)

  3. says

    If you say “five pounds of mashed potatoes” ANYWHERE near the vicinity of my house, my dad will come running out drooling :) This Shepherd’s pie looks seriously next-level, especially with that cheesy topping. Such comfort food!

  4. says

    I was just thinking of making Shepherd’s pie the other day. This one looks amazing! All of those potatoes! Yes! You’re right-there are never enough potatoes. And the cheese on top looks great.

  5. Sarah says

    I’m dying of laughter over here of that photo of Char. That’s a look of terror. And NOW she wants her own pair of roller skates??

    Gimme some of this shepherd’s pie stuff.

  6. Alyssa says

    I just got my pie ready for tonight but I have to keep it in the refrigerator all day. What do you suggest for baking time and temp in this case? By the way, it already smells delicious! Thank you!

    • says

      Hey Alyssa! If it’s going into the oven stone cold I would give it at least a solid 45-60 minutes at 350. You will know it’s hot all the way through when it’s bubbling. Enjoy!!

  7. says

    So yummy!! I made this last night because I am close to my due date and wanted yummy food to freeze. I have frozen shepherds pie before and it comes out pretty well. Not like freshly made but still yummy! It was possibly a little bit too much mashed potatoes for me (hard to imagine actually but still!) so I think next time I will use a pound less to have the right ratio of meat to potatoes. But the taste was DIVINE! I used buttermilk instead of milk because I still had some leftover and can recommend because it gives it a lighter taste.

    • says

      Good idea with the freezing Andrea! You are so on top of things. I’m halfway done being pregnant so I’ve still got time, but historically I’ve been terrible about freezing meals in preparation. Thanks for coming back to comment! I’m so glad you liked it!

  8. Naomi says

    For the freezer question–could you freeze just the meat and veggie mixture and then when reheating it make the yummy potatoes fresh. Then pile them on the 15 to 20 minutes of reheating?

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