Classic Cottage Pie Recipe

Traditional Cottage Pie Recipe
  • Total: 70 mins
  • Prep: 30 mins
  • Cook: 40 mins
  • Yield: 6 servings
Ratings (42)

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.

What You'll Need

  • 2 pounds/900 grams potatoes (baking potatoes, peeled and quartered)
  • 6 tablespoons milk
  • 4 ounces/110 grams butter (cubed)
  • Salt (to taste) 
  • Ground black pepper (to taste)
  • 1/2 tablespoon lard (or drippings)
  • 1 cup/115 grams onion (chopped)
  • 1 cup/115 grams carrot (chopped)
  • 1 clove garlic (minced)
  • 2 cups/450 grams ground beef
  • 2 cups/600 milliliters beef stock
  • 2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley (finely chopped)
  • Optional: 1 cup/115 grams white mushrooms (chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon butter

How to Make It

  1. Heat the oven to 375 F/190 C/Gas Mark 5.
  2. Place the potatoes into a pan and cover with boiling water.
  3. Boil gently until soft (about 15 minutes) and then drain.
  4. Add the milk and butter to the pan and heat through until the butter melts.
  5. Add the potatoes and mash.
  6. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.
  7. Melt the lard or drippings in a large, deep ovenproof skillet or Dutch oven. Add the onion and carrot and sauté for 5 minutes.
  1. Add the garlic and cook for another minute making sure you do not burn the garlic.
  2. Add the ground beef and roughly 1/4 of the beef stock and cook, stirring constantly, until all the meat is browned.
  3. Add the remaining stock, parsley, optional mushrooms, and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook for 15 minutes.
  5. Mash the flour into 1 tablespoon butter to form a paste. 
  6. Add small pieces of the paste to the ground meat sauce, stirring until all the flour has dissolved, then repeat until all the paste is used up.
  7. The sauce should have thickened slightly.
  8. Cover with the reserved mashed potatoes.
  9. Fluff up the potatoes and then sprinkle with the grated cheese.
  10. Bake in the heated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the surface is crisp and browned.
  11. Serve immediately with fresh seasonal vegetables.


  • 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.
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
434 Calories
22g Fat
52g Carbs
11g Protein
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)