This is a “design-your-own-thing” gig. You start out with leftover mashed potatoes and then you add whatever you have. Sort of—we’ll give you the guidelines to add to your potatoes and what to stick on top of your potatoes. Don’t worry. If you think it will taste good, it will.

A Shepherd’s Pie is the poster child for potato casseroles. There’s a ton of variations. But don’t worry. I doubt that I have ever made any two exactly alike and I like them all.

Your potato casserole will be a success.

What should you add to your mashed potatoes?

Most recipes focus on what goes on top of the potato casserole, but that’s only half the equation. The other half is what you can add to the potatoes rather than on the potatoes. When we mash potatoes for Sunday dinner, we add sour cream, cream cheese, or more.

Here is a list of suggested additions that you can use to enrich your potatoes. The quantities are based are for a large 9×13-inch casserole. If you are making a smaller casserole, reduce the amount.

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • ½ cup butter
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • ½ cup milk
  • 12 slices of bacon, crumbled
  • 2 cups grated cheddar
  • ½ cup parmesan
  • 1 pound of sausage, cooked and crumbled

We are not suggesting that you use all of these in your casserole, but you can use several at once.  Use what you and your family will like.

What should you put on top of your mashed potatoes?

Most potato casseroles are covered with grated cheese. You may add to that cooked bacon pieces or green onions.

Shepherd’s pie

A shepherd’s pie is a type of potato casserole.  The potatoes are used as a thick crust covering a goulash-type filling.

In the image here is a casserole with 1 ½-inches of cheesy mashed potatoes on top. The goulash is tomato-based made with cooked ground beef and green beans.

The goulash does not have to have a tomato base. It can also be made with a white sauce or you may use a canned soup concentrate.

You can make it up as you go.

You do not have to use an ovenproof skillet. Any baking dish will work. Shown here is an individual pie baked in a ramekin.

Here’s how to make a Shepherd’s Pie:

  1. Sauté ground meat and onions in a heavy, oven-proof skillet.  Season to taste.
  2. Add a can of stewed tomatoes, leftover gravy, or make a new gravy in the pan.
  3. Add some veggies.  Green beans or corn are typical.
  4. Cover with mashed potatoes.  Top with grated cheese and a sprinkle of paprika.

Bake at 350 degrees until heated through and the cheese is melted.  Times will vary with the pan and size of casserole.

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