Savory Shepherd’s Pie

Another Cheesecake Factory favorite gets a makeover

By Elaine Magee, MPH, RD
Shepherd's Pie

Shepherd's Pie ~ Courtesy of Elaine Magee

Question: Dear Recipe Doctor, I love your column. Can you give me any ideas for the shepherd’s pie at the Cheesecake Factory? For instance, how to make it less fattening and lower in carbs?

Answer: No problem! I modeled my light shepherd’s pie recipe after the Cheesecake Factory version—clear sauce, ground beef, diced zucchini, etc. I’ve created a couple of light shepherd’s pie recipes over the years, but this is now my favorite.

There was no need for added fat when preparing the beef and vegetables filling: everything sautéed nicely as a mixture. I used condensed beef consommé as the base for the sauce/gravy, which couldn’t have been easier. I purposely used less meat and more vegetables per serving compared to the restaurant, but you probably won’t even notice.

Then I whipped up a batch of mashed potatoes by beating some microwaved baked potatoes with some fat-free half-and-half. In the restaurant, the mashed potato–topped shepherd’s pie has a golden crust made with Parmesan and (I’m guessing) some melted butter. In this version, you can top your mashed potatoes with a healthy spray of canola or olive oil cooking spray, or you can brush lightly with olive oil before sprinkling with shredded Parmesan cheese.

The Cheesecake Factory serving (which is definitely 2 portions) contains 1,875 calories, 61 grams of saturated fat, and 4,108 mg sodium. The restaurant doesn’t provide the total fat grams.


(makes 4 servings)

1 onion, chopped

3/4 pound ground sirloin (8-10% fat)

2 cups sliced mushroom (cut thick slices in half)

2 cups diced zucchini

1 tablespoon chopped or minced garlic

1 teaspoon oregano leaves (dried)

1/2 cup white pepper

1 cup grated or shredded carrot

1/2 cup frozen peas

10½-ounce can beef consommé (condensed)

2 tablespoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons red wine, beer, or water

Mashed potato topping

4 medium baked potatoes

2/3 cup fat-free half-and-half

Canola or olive oil cooking spray (1 tablespoon melted butter or margarine can be substituted)

1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a 2-quart baking dish (a 9 x 13-inch baking dish can be used) or 4 individual deep serving dishes with canola or olive oil cooking spray.
  2. Pierce potatoes with a fork and microwave on HIGH until completely tender inside. Set aside until easier to handle.
  3. Meanwhile, begin heating a large nonstick saucepan over high heat. Add onion and ground beef, breaking the beef into smaller pieces with a spatula. Cook for a couple of minutes. Stir in the mushroom pieces, diced zucchini, garlic, oregano, and white pepper. Continue to cook on high, stirring often until beef is cooked throughout and the vegetables are lightly browning in spots (about 5 minutes).
  4. Reduce heat to low/simmer and stir in the shredded carrot, peas, and condensed consommé. In a small bowl, combine cornstarch and wine or beer until smooth. Stir cornstarch mixture into the beef mixture and continue to simmer until thickened gravy forms (about 1 to 2 minutes). Spread meat and vegetable mixture into prepared baking dish(s).
  5. In a large mixing bowl, combine the potato (without the peel) with fat-free half-and-half until a slightly thin mashed potato mixture is formed. Spread mashed potatoes evenly over the meat mixture in dish. Generously coat the top with cooking spray (or brush the top with 1 tablespoon of olive oil or melted whipped butter or margarine). Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the top.
  6. Bake for 25 minutes, uncovered, or until top of mashed potatoes is golden brown and filling is bubbling.
Per serving: 415 calories, 30 g protein, 56 g carbohydrate, 8 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 2.5 g monounsaturated fat, 1 g polyunsaturated fat, 58 mg cholesterol, 8 g fiber, 770 mg sodium. Calories from fat = 17%. Omega-3 fatty acids = 0.1 g, omega-6 fatty acids = 0.5 gram. Weight Watchers POINTS = 8.