Cheddar Topped Shepherds Pie

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Shepherds Pie is a recipe designed to create a second meal from leftover meat, usually lamb.

The meat was mixed with a sauce or gravy that contained root vegetables, topped with a layer of mashed potatoes and baked.

While the term Shepherds Pie is widely used now, the recipe was first known as Cottage Pie following introduction of the potato to the British Isles. The potato, an easy-to-grow, edible crop was a main source of food for the poor who lived in cottages.

The term Shepherds Pie was first used in 1854 and denoted a difference in the meat used. While Cottage Pie was usually made with beef, Shepherds Pie meant the meat in the dish was lamb.

Shepherds Pie with Magners

Cheddar Topped Shepherds Pie

I've spent some time tweaking this recipe over the years to add a bit more flavor. The most notable change? Replacing 1 cup of water with 1 cup of Guinness. It makes a huge difference!

Buy a brick of Dubliner cheese and shred it at home instead of taking the easy way and buying pre-shredded cheddar. The sharp, tangy flavor really enhances the potatoes.

Yield: 8

Cheddar Topped Shepherds Pie

Shepherds Pie recipe

Shepherds Pie is an easy recipe perfect for weeknight meals! This version is made more Irish with the addition of Guinness and Dubliner cheese.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Additional Time 5 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes


  • 2 pounds baking potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil (vegetable oil works. Bacon grease adds loads of flavor, if you have any)
  • 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 (you could also use ground turkey or minced lamb)
  • 1 c Guinness (or 1 cup water)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Dubliner or other sharp white cheddar


Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

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.

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 Guinness (or water); bring to a boil, and simmer 1 minute. Set beef filling aside.

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.

Pour beef filling into a 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Drop dollops of mashed potato mixture over filling; spread to edges with a fork, making decorative peaks. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese.

Bake until topping is browned and filling is bubbling rapidly, about 20 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.


This recipes is very easy to halve.

You can add practically any veggie to this: green beans, leeks, corn, small florets of broccoli...

This can be pre-made and cooked from refrigeration. Place in oven as it heats to 450 degrees F and cook for 35 minutes.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 566Total Fat: 28gSaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 119mgSodium: 352mgCarbohydrates: 37gFiber: 5gSugar: 7gProtein: 40g

Want more delicious Irish recipes?

Find them in my Irish Feast collection!

Jody Halsted
Follow Along


  1. […] If you don't drink Guinness grab a wine stopper for the bottle and use the rest in my Cheddar Topped Shepherds Pie. […]

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