Cottage Pie

15 Comments

This post may contain affiliate links. See my disclosure policy.

Jump to Recipe

Cottage pie is a delicious casserole recipe with a ground beef and vegetable filling that’s topped with a mountain of fluffy mashed potatoes. It’s hearty, flavorful, and a comfort food favorite. Serve this for a large crowd or prep and store it for a freezer-friendly meal.

A skillet with cottage pie.
Photo: Gayle McLeod

Why You’ll Love This Cottage Pie Recipe

Cottage pie is an Irish and English cold-weather classic and one of my favorite dishes to make for a cozy night in. It’s an ultra-comforting home cooked meal, though it’s widely known as great pub food as well (I’ve personally enjoyed it in several pubs in Britain). Here are a few other reasons why you’ll love it:

  • It’s a delicious way to cook with ground beef (aka beef mince). A traditional shepherd’s pie recipe uses ground lamb, but this British alternative mixes ground beef with classic vegetables and savory aromatics.
  • A little parmesan cheese makes the potatoes divine. While you can always omit the cheese, I love to add a little freshly grated parmesan for fluffy and cheesy mashed potatoes on top. So yum!
  • It’s a lot easier to make than you think. While the ingredient list may seem like a bit of an undertaking, once you have everything prepped the rest comes together super easy! Plus, you can make the mashed potatoes and chopped vegetables in advance to reduce cooking time when it’s dinner time.
Ingredients for cottage pie.

Cottage Pie Ingredients

  • Meat: I prefer using a 90% lean ground beef. If you use a fattier ground beef, you can simply drain off any extra grease.
  • Vegetables: The classic veggies are diced carrots, celery, onions, and frozen peas.
  • Broth: A beef broth works best since we’re cooking with beef. And I’m using a low-sodium beef broth.
  • Sauces: You’ll need tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce. Both add that deep, rich flavor to the the gravy in the final dish. I’ve linked my favorite brands below.
  • Herbs & Spices: If you can, opt for fresh thyme and rosemary. If you’ve only got dried herbs, that’s fine, just use ⅓ the amount listed below. These herbs, plus bay leaves, salt, and pepper are all that’s needed.
  • Mashed potatoes: While you can serve up this recipe with plain mashed potatoes, a little sprinkle of parmesan cheese added to the potatoes takes this recipe over the top (in my humble opinion).

Find the printable recipe with measurements below.

How To Make Cottage Pie

First, make the mashed potato topping. Place the potatoes in a pot on the stove and cover with cold water. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. Cook for 13 to 15 minutes, until the potatoes are soft. Then, drain the potatoes and return them to the pot. Add the cheese, milk, butter, salt, and pepper and mash until creamy.

Mashing potatoes in a pot.

Sauté the veggies and meat. In a large oven-safe sauté pan, sauté the onion and garlic for about a minute. Then add the diced carrots, diced celery, and beef. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until the meat is perfectly browned.

Cooked cottage pie filling in a pan.

Add the flavor and peas. Drain any fat from the pan and add the broth, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper. Simmer for about 5 minutes, until the sauce is slightly thickened. Then, add the frozen peas and stir together. Turn off the stove and use the back of your spatula to flatten the meat mixture into a single layer in the pan.

Cooked cottage pie filling with peas in a pan.

Top with mashed potatoes and bake. Dollop the mashed potatoes and spread them flat to the edges with a spoon or spatula. Then, bake the cottage pie until slightly golden, about 25 to 30 minutes at 400°F (200°C). You can also broil the top for 1 to 2 minutes for a nice golden color.

Adding mashed potatoes on top of cottage pie.

Ingredient Substitutions

  • If you want more vegetables: Feel free to add more chopped veggies of your choice with the filling.
  • If you want to switch up the meat: You can use ground turkey, ground lamb, or a mix of two.
  • For a vegan option: Swap the meat with lentils, chopped mushrooms, or other veggies.
  • For a dairy-free option: Swap the butter in the mashed potatoes for ghee or a vegan butter, use non-dairy milk, and a non-dairy cheese.
  • For a low-carb option: Use mashed cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes.

Make-ahead and Storage Tips

What I love most about this dish is that you can make it ahead of time or freeze it for later. If you’re making this a day before, keep the mashed potatoes and meat filling stored in separate sealed containers in the fridge. Then when you’re ready to bake, let them both sit at room temperature to soften before assembling and baking.

If you plan to freeze this, after it’s done baking, divide the cottage pie into six sections and place each portion in a freezer safe container. This will allow for more room in your freezer and easily reheatable portions. It will store for up to 3 months.

Cottage pie with a spoon.

More Cozy Meal Ideas

Having a rainy day in? These mix-and-match meals will keep you warm and cozy. And if you’d like to add this to your St. Patrick’s Day dinner spread, here are more St. Patrick’s Day recipes to add to your list!

I can’t wait for you to try this cottage pie recipe! If you make it, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment box below. Your review will help other readers in the community.

A large skillet of cottage pie.

Cottage Pie

5 from 5 votes
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 40 minutes
Total: 1 hour
Servings: 6 servings
Author: Lisa Bryan

Description

This cottage pie is one tasty casserole dish that's hearty, flavorful, and a comfort food favorite. Perfect for a large crowd or a freezer-friendly meal!

Equipment

Ingredients 
 

Potato Topping

  • 2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • ½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup milk
  • ¼ cup butter
  • kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Meat Filling

Instructions 

  • Cook the potatoes. Place the potatoes in a pot on the stove and cover with cold water. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. Cook for 13-15 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft when pierced with a fork.
    Cooked potatoes in a pot.
  • Mash the potatoes. Drain the potatoes in a colander, then return to the pot. Add the cheese, milk, butter, salt and pepper and mash until creamy.
    Mashed potatoes in a pot.
  • Saute the onion and garlic. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit (200 celsius). In a large oven-safe saute pan, heat the oil on medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute for a minute.
    Cooked onions in a skillet.
  • Add more veggies and meat. Add the diced carrots, diced celery, and beef. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until the meat is browned. Use your spatula to break up the meat while cooking.
    Cooking veggies and meat in a skillet.
  • Add the flavor. Drain any fat from the pan and add the broth, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper. Simmer for about 5 minutes, until the sauce is slightly thickened.
    Cooking cottage pie filling.
  • Add the peas. Add the frozen peas and stir together. Turn off the stove and use the back of your spatula to flatten the meat mixture into a single layer in the pan.
    Cooked meat and veggies in a skillet.
  • Top with mashed potatoes. Dollop the cheesy mashed potatoes on top of the meat and use a spoon or spatula to spread it flat to the edges. If desired, create texture in the potato topping with a spoon or fork.
    Adding mashed potatoes to cottage pie.
  • Bake. Bake the cottage pie until slightly golden, about 25 to 30 minutes. You can broil the top for 1 to 2 minutes as well.
    Scooping cottage pie with a spoon.

Lisa’s Tips

  • Use fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and not grated parmesan for the best flavor. Alternatively, you could use a sharp white cheddar cheese. 

Nutrition

Calories: 599kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 28g | Fat: 38g | Saturated Fat: 16g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 16g | Trans Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 107mg | Sodium: 927mg | Potassium: 1195mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 3972IU | Vitamin C: 23mg | Calcium: 195mg | Iron: 4mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: British
Keyword: Cottage Pie, How To Make Cottage Pie
Did you make this recipe?Mention @downshiftology or tag #downshiftology!

You May Also Like

About the author

Lisa Bryan

Lisa is a bestselling cookbook author, recipe developer, and YouTuber (with over 2.5 million subscribers) living in sunny Southern California. She started Downshiftology in 2014, and is passionate about making healthy food with fresh, simple and seasonal ingredients.

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before appearing on the site. Thank you for sharing your feedback!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




15 Comments

  1. Delicious! Gets even better as leftovers because the filling soaks in all the flavor and the sauce thickens to perfection.5 stars

  2. I made the cottage pie the other night and it was delicious. Only made two changes: we didn’t have any peas so I substituted fresh broccoli that I chopped small, and I left the skins on the potatoes which we simply prefer. Great recipe!!5 stars

  3. If swapping cauliflower for the potatoes how much cauliflower would I use? Or, would sweet potatoes work also??

  4. I made this yesterday exactly as written, except I used 2 pounds of ground beef from our local farm.
    This is so-so good. Don’t hesitate to make it if you are considering it.
    I will freeze the left overs, as it is just my husband and myself. Thanks so much, Lisa.
    We love Shepherd’s Pie, and now we “love” Cottage Pie.
    PS my husband is a picky eater & loved it :o)5 stars

    1. Sorry, unable to rate at present; too hot in FL to make this right now, but kudos to the author who so understands that most Americans prefer not to consume lamb and while those across the pond enjoy it, this is a fantastic recipe… with lots of room for interpretation!

  5. This was a delicious! I only had ground venison for this recipe and the pot was scrapped clean. A definite new go to recipe for my guys!!!5 stars

  6. If you’re using lentils instead of the ground beef for this recipe, would the linked lentil recipe be the amount needed for the swap or would the amount need to be adjusted? Thank you!

    1. Hi Diane – The lentils recipe linked makes about 2.5 cups of cooked lentils, so I think it should be around the same amount as 1.5 pounds of ground beef.