Classic Cottage Pie

Easy traditional cottage pie

The Spruce

Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 40 mins
Total: 70 mins
Servings: 6 servings
Nutrition Facts (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 classic dishes in a British kitchen. It is known for being a hearty, satisfying, and warming food, and although often thought of as a winter dish, it is perfect any time of year.

A filling of ground beef, onion, carrot, and garlic is topped with creamy mashed potatoes and shredded cheese to make a fluffy topping with a crispy finish. This recipe is a great use for leftover mashed potatoes, and if you have any extra Sunday roast, feel free to replace the ground beef.

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

Ingredients

  • For the Mashed Potatoes:
  • 2 pounds baking potatoes (peeled and quartered)
  • 6 tablespoons milk
  • 4 ounces butter (cubed)
  • Salt to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • For the Beef Filling:
  • 1/2 tablespoon lard (or drippings)
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped carrot
  • 1 clove garlic (minced)
  • 2 cups ground beef
  • 2 cups beef stock (divided)
  • 2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley (finely chopped)
  • Optional: 1 cup chopped white mushrooms
  • Salt to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • For Topping the Pie:
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese (cheddar, Colby, Gruyere, or Swiss)

Steps to Make It

Note: While there are multiple steps to this recipe, this cottage pie is broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for preparation and cooking.

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for cottage pie
    The Spruce

Make the Mashed Potatoes

  1. Put the potatoes in a pan and cover with boiling water. Place over high heat and boil gently until soft, about 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes.

    Place potatoes in a pan
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  2. Add the milk and butter to the pan. Heat over medium-low heat until the butter melts.

    Drain then add butter
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  3. 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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Make the Beef Filling

  1. 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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  2. Add the garlic and cook for another minute, making sure not to let it burn.

    Add garlic and cook
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  3. Add the ground beef and roughly a 1/4 of the beef stock. Cook, stirring constantly until all of the meat is browned.

    Add ground beef
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  4. Add the remaining stock, the parsley, mushrooms (if using), and salt and pepper to taste. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook for 15 minutes.

    Add remaining stock
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  5. Heat the oven to 375 F/190 C/Gas Mark 5. In a small bowl, mash the flour into the butter to form a paste. 

    Mash flour
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  6. Add some of the paste in small pieces to the ground meat mixture, stirring until all of the flour has dissolved.

    Add small pieces of paste
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  7. Repeat until all of the paste is used up. The sauce should thicken slightly.

    Repeat until paste is used up
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Assemble and Bake the Pie

  1. Cover the filling with the reserved mashed potatoes.

    Cover with mashed potatoes
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  2. Fluff up the potatoes with a fork and then sprinkle with the grated cheese.

    Sprinkle with cheese
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  3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the surface is crisp and browned.

    Baked cottage pie
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  4. Serve immediately and enjoy.

Recipe Variations

  • If you have beef left from a Sunday roast, you can use it in place of the ground beef. Simply chop it in a food processor, omit the step for cooking the ground beef, and add the beef and stock to the carrot and onion mixture.
  • Use sausages instead of ground beef or lamb.
  • Use sweet potatoes in place of the meat to make a vegetarian cottage pie.