Cottage Pie: the rich, creamy recipe you’ll love

Total time: 1H20
Difficulty: Low
Serves: 8 people
By Cookist

Cottage pie is the quintessential English comfort food. Ground beef is cooked until rich and creamy and topped with steamy hot and cheesy potato mash. What’s not to love? But don’t make the mistake of confusing cottage pie with Shepherd’s pie, there’s one glaring difference between the two: the meat! Cottage pie is made with ground beef, whereas Shepherd's pie is made with ground lamb (hence the name “Shepherd”).

Each bite is full of flavor thanks to the meaty filling, while the mashed potato is smooth and creamy. To make it, you simply make mashed potato with cheese, cook the ground beef filling, and then bake until golden. Want to taste one of the most classic comfort foods ever? Then make sure you add this to your recipe book!

Cottage Pie vs Shepherd's Pie

Many home cooks use the terms shepherd’s pie and cottage pie interchangeably. Both are made with a gravy-like ground meat filling and topped with cheesy mashed potato. Sounds similar right? Well, they are very similar, but there is one big difference between the two.

Cottage pie is made with ground beef, while Shepherd's pie is made with ground lamb. In other words, if you want to turn this into a shepherd’s pie, you simply swap the ground beef for ground lamb!


Cottage Pie Ingredients

Ground beef – we prefer to use meat with a little bit of fat. If you only use lean beef that would also work, but honestly, comfort food is not the place to go low fat!

Cheddar cheese – we use cheddar cheese for this recipe, but you can also use parmesan cheese, it will make the topping extra crispy and flavorful!

Vegetables – peas, carrots, and onions all add nutrition to the dish.

Flavor – tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, broth, and herbs add flavor and richness to the dish.

How to make Cottage Pie

To make cottage pie is easier than you may think. Start by peeling, cutting and boiling potatoes until soft. Meanwhile, make the meat filling by combining ground beef, onions, carrots, herbs, garlic in a pan over medium heat. Stir in tomato paste, peas, flour and broth, then let it cook until creamy.

As the meat filling cooks, make the topping. Puree boiled potatoes with cream, butter, cheese, salt, pepper. Now it's time to assemble. Transfer the beef sauce to a baking pan, top with mashed potatoes and bake for up to 25 minutes.


If you’ve made cottage pie before, you probably know that the topping can often sink into the filling. To prevent this, cool the filling slightly before adding the mash topping.

Cottage Pie Variations

This cottage pie is naturally gluten-free. To make it vegan and vegetarian, create an umami-rich filling of chestnut mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, canned chopped tomato, and soy sauce. Omit the cheese and butter from the mashed topping, and add nutritional yeast, vegan butter, and non-dairy milk.

To make Irish Cottage Pie (also known as shepherd’s pie) simply swap the ground beef for ground lamb.

What to serve with Cottage Pie

This cottage pie is an all-in-one dish. Serve it with a simple side salad of greens, roasted carrots, or sauteed green beans.

How to store Cottage Pie

Uncooked cottage pie can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days. Just add 15 minutes to the cooking time. Leftovers can also be stored in the fridge for up 4 days. Reheat in the microwave or the oven.

Can you freeze Cottage Pie?

Looking for the perfect make-ahead meal? The good news, cottage pie is perfect for freezing! Freeze the uncooked cottage pie in the baking dish, and add 30-40 minutes to baking time (of baking while frozen). Or thaw in the fridge and proceed with the recipe as normal. Leftovers can also be frozen for up to 3 months.

for the meat filling
Ground beef
500 g (1 pound)
Garlic cloves, minced
Olive oil
3 tbsp
4 tbsp
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp
1 tsp
Tomato paste
1 tbsp
carrot, chopped
2/3 cup
beef or chicken broth
1 cup
Worcestershire Sauce
1 tsp
for the mash
700 g (1 1/2 pounds)
2 tbsp
1/2 cup
Cheese, shredded
1/4 cup


Preheat oven to 200C/400F. Peel and cut potatoes into quarters and place over medium heat to boil until soft.

Meanwhile, make pie filling by heating some olive oil over medium heat and using it to sauté chopped onions and carrots for about 5 minutes.

Season with salt, pepper, dried herbs, and add garlic. Add minced meat and cook for 10 minutes, until it is no longer pink.

Mix meat and veggies with tomato paste, peas, flour and pour in the broth. Leave the sauce over medium heat until it gets thick and creamy.

In the meanwhile, prepare the topping. Puree cooked potatoes with cream, butter, salt, and pepper. Stir in shredded cheese.

Place beef sauce into a baking pan and top with mashed potatoes.

Spread the topping evenly. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Serve warm.


This recipe can also be made with ground turkey or ground chicken.

Every dish has a story
Find out more on Cookist social networks
api url views