Classic Cottage Pie

Easy traditional cottage pie

The Spruce

Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 40 mins
Total: 70 mins
Servings: 6 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
434 Calories
22g Fat
52g Carbs
11g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 434
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 22g 28%
Saturated Fat 12g 60%
Cholesterol 51mg 17%
Sodium 609mg 26%
Total Carbohydrate 52g 19%
Dietary Fiber 7g 25%
Protein 11g
Calcium 130mg 10%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Cottage pie is one of the classics of a British classic kitchen. It is known for being a hearty, filling, and warming food and although often thought of as a winter dish, it is perfect any time of year. 

Don't be put off by the number of ingredients in this recipe—making this pie is well worth the effort.

For a really tasty pie, use freshly ground beef, or if you want to be ultra thrifty, use up leftover beef from the Sunday roast to make your pie authentic.


Click Play to See This Easy Classic Cottage Pie Recipe Come Together


  • 2 pounds baking potatoes (peeled and quartered)
  • 6 tablespoons milk
  • 4 ounces butter (cubed)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
  • 1/2 tablespoon lard (or drippings)
  • 1 cup onion (chopped)
  • 1 cup carrot (chopped)
  • 1 clove garlic (minced)
  • 2 cups ground beef
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley (finely chopped)
  • Optional: 1 cup white mushrooms (chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for cottage pie
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  2. Heat the oven to 375 F/190 C/Gas Mark 5.

  3. Place the potatoes into a pan and cover with boiling water. Boil gently until soft—about 15 minutes.

    Place potatoes in a pan
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  4. Drain, then add the milk and butter to the pan. Heat through until the butter melts.

    Drain then add butter
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  5. Add the potatoes back to the pan and mash. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.

    Mash potatoes
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  6. Melt the lard or drippings in a large, deep ovenproof skillet or Dutch oven. Add the onion and carrot and sauté for 5 minutes.

    Onion and carrots
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  7. Add the garlic and cook for another minute, making sure you do not burn the garlic.

    Add garlic and cook
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  8. Add the ground beef and roughly a quarter of the beef stock. Cook, stirring constantly until all the meat is browned.

    Add ground beef
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  9. Add the remaining stock, parsley, optional mushrooms, and salt and pepper. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook for 15 minutes.

    Add remaining stock
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  10. In a small bowl, mash the flour into 1 tablespoon butter to form a paste. 

    Mash flour
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  11. Add small pieces of the paste to the ground meat sauce, stirring until all the flour has dissolved.

    Add small pieces of paste
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  12. Repeat until all the paste is used up. The sauce should have thickened slightly.

    Repeat until paste is used up
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  13. Cover with the reserved mashed potatoes.

    Cover with mashed potatoes
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  14. Fluff up the potatoes and then sprinkle with the grated cheese.

    Sprinkle with cheese
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  15. Bake in the heated oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until the surface is crisp and browned.

    Baked cottage pie
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  16. Serve immediately with fresh seasonal vegetables.

Recipe Variations

  • If you have beef left from a Sunday roast, simply chop it in a food processor and omit the step for cooking the ground beef in this recipe. Add the beef and stock to the carrot and onion mixture and continue with step 4 above. Technically, this would be called a shepherd's pie.
  • Use sausages instead of ground beef or lamb.
  • Use sweet potatoes to make a vegetarian cottage pie.