Cottage Pie
Cottage Pie
5 from 2 votes
Discover the mouth-watering cottage pie recipe, a classic comfort food with a rich history and origin. Learn how to make this easy, delectable dish perfect for any mealtime.
Cottage Pie

Ah, Cottage Pie, my all-time favourite comfort food! If you haven’t tried this cottage pie recipe, you’re missing out on a dish that has withstood the test of time, having its roots deep in the British culinary tradition.  

Let me take you on a journey to explore the history and origins of this scrumptious pie, as well as share some insights into its preparation. 

Cottage Pie, as we know it today, has evolved over centuries. Its origin dates back to the late 18th century in the United Kingdom when potatoes were first introduced as a staple food for the common folk.  

The name “Cottage Pie” is thought to have originated from the modest homes of peasants, called “cottages,” who made this dish as an affordable yet delicious meal. It’s incredible to think that such a simple dish has come so far! 

Initially, Cottage Pie was made with any leftover meat, primarily mutton or beef, minced and combined with onions, carrots, and other vegetables. The dish was then topped with a layer of mashed potatoes and baked until the potatoes were golden and crisp.  

Today, while the recipe still calls for minced meat (typically beef), it’s often seasoned with various herbs and spices, cooked with a rich sauce, and topped with a decadent layer of buttery mashed potatoes. 

Now, you might be wondering about the difficulty level of preparing this delectable pie. Fear not, my fellow home cooks, for this recipe is quite straightforward and manageable for cooks of all skill levels.  

It’s perfect for those who want to create a hearty, satisfying meal without spending hours in the kitchen. Trust me, once you’ve made Cottage Pie, you’ll have a go-to recipe that will impress your friends and family every time. 

Preparing Cottage Pie requires minimal culinary skills, but it does involve a few different steps: browning the meat, sautéing the vegetables, preparing the sauce, making the mashed potatoes, and finally, assembling and baking the pie.  

Don’t let these steps intimidate you, though. Each one is simple, and as you become more familiar with the recipe, you’ll find it becomes second nature. 

One of the joys of making Cottage Pie is that it’s a flexible dish, allowing you to adapt it to your personal preferences or dietary needs. For instance, you can easily swap out the beef for ground turkey or even a vegetarian mince.  

Similarly, you can play around with the types of vegetables and seasonings you use, making each time you prepare it a unique and tasty experience. 

Cottage Pie is a versatile dish that can be enjoyed at any time of the year. It’s perfect for a cosy winter dinner, a Sunday family gathering, or even as a delicious lunch the next day (because let’s face it, leftovers often taste even better!).  

Pair it with a simple green salad or some steamed veggies, and you’ve got yourself a meal that’s both wholesome and delightful. 

The history and origins of Cottage Pie showcase its status as a classic British comfort food that has been cherished for centuries. Its simplicity and adaptability make it an easy recipe for cooks of all levels to master.  

So, why not give it a try? Once you’ve tasted this heavenly dish, I’m confident that Cottage Pie will become a cherished favourite in your home as well. 

What Ingredients to Use and Why 

Alrighty then, it’s time to dive into this culinary masterpiece we call the Cottage Pie. Get ready for a joyride through our ingredients and their swanky contributions. 

Ground Beef: Ladies and gents, here’s the star of our show, the beef. This protein-packed wonder is going to give us the hearty foundation of our cottage pie. It’s like the lead actor in a blockbuster movie; without it, we’d just have a bunch of supporting characters wandering around aimlessly.  

You could replace it with ground turkey or lentils if you’re feeling adventurous or if the cows went on strike. 

Olive Oil: This liquid gold is going to kickstart our recipe, sautéing the veggies and adding a subtle hint of flavour. It’s like the director, setting the stage and getting everyone in their places. Feel free to switch to canola or sunflower oil, but remember, olive oil has a fan club for a reason. 

Onion, Carrots, and Garlic: Our trio of flavour-infusers! These guys are like the scriptwriters, they subtly guide the story, providing depth and complexity without stealing the show. Plus, they’re loaded with vitamins and minerals, making our pie not only delicious but also a bit healthier. 

Tomato Paste, Beef Stock, and Worcestershire Sauce: These are our special effects team, adding colour, depth, and that je ne sais quoi to our dish. They make our pie go from “Mmm, nice” to “Holy cow, this is good!” No Worcestershire sauce? Soy sauce could pinch hit in a pinch. 

Dried Thyme, Dried Rosemary, Salt, and Pepper: Let’s club together all our spices, the film editors of our dish. They trim, adjust, and balance the flavours to create a seamless flow. If you’re out of thyme or rosemary, dried oregano or basil could do a cameo. 

Potatoes: Now, these starchy superstars are going to form the fluffy, comforting blanket over our meaty mix. They’re the film score, providing the emotional backdrop that ties everything together. Substitute with sweet potatoes for a different vibe, but be prepared for a sweeter end result. 

Milk and Butter: The dynamic duo that’s going to transform our potatoes into a creamy dream. They’re like the makeup artists of our movie, making sure everything looks just right. You could use dairy-free milk and margarine for a lactose-free version. 

Grated Cheese (Optional): And finally, our optional but highly recommended topping. Grated cheese is the surprise plot twist at the end that leaves everyone cheering. It adds a beautiful golden crust and that gooey cheese pull we all love. Vegans or the lactose intolerant can use a dairy-free cheese substitute. 

And there you have it, folks! The behind-the-scenes tour of the culinary blockbuster that is our Cottage Pie recipe. Now, roll camera and let’s get cooking! 

Substituting Ground Beef in Cottage Pie 

As a devoted foodie, I’ve always loved experimenting with different ingredients. When it comes to Cottage Pie, you don’t have to stick to ground beef. In fact, there are several fantastic alternatives that can give the dish a unique twist. 

One of my favourite swaps is ground lamb, which transforms the dish into a Shepherd’s Pie. The rich flavour of lamb adds depth and complexity, making it a delicious alternative.  

Similarly, ground turkey or chicken can create a lighter, leaner version of the dish, perfect for those watching their waistlines. Don’t forget to adjust the seasoning accordingly, as poultry might require additional herbs or spices. 

For the more adventurous, consider trying ground venison, elk, or bison. These meats offer a distinctive taste, and because they’re leaner, they’re a healthier option too. Just remember to add a bit more fat, like olive oil or butter, to prevent the meat from drying out. 

Vegetarian and Vegan Cottage Pie 

For those of us who prefer plant-based diets, there’s no reason to miss out on the comfort of a Cottage Pie recipe. Vegetarian and vegan versions can be just as delicious and satisfying. 

To make a vegetarian Cottage Pie, simply replace the ground beef with a meat substitute, such as lentils, mushrooms, or a combination of both. Lentils provide a fantastic texture and are packed with nutrients, while mushrooms add a lovely umami flavour.  

When using mushrooms, I recommend using a mix of varieties, like cremini, shiitake, and portobello, to create a more complex flavour profile. 

For a vegan version, follow the vegetarian method but swap out dairy products for plant-based alternatives. Use vegan butter and a plant-based milk, like almond or soy, for the mashed potatoes. And if you’d like to include a cheese topping, choose a vegan cheese that melts well. 

Side Dishes for Cottage Pie 

Cottage Pie is a hearty and comforting meal in itself, but pairing it with the right side dishes can elevate the dining experience. Here are a few of my go-to choices: 

Green Salad: A fresh, crisp green salad with a light vinaigrette provides a lovely contrast to the rich flavours of the Cottage Pie. Choose a mix of lettuce, spinach, and arugula, and toss in some cherry tomatoes, cucumber, and red onion for extra crunch. 

Steamed Vegetables: Simple steamed veggies, like green beans, asparagus, or broccoli, can add colour and nutrition to your meal. Season them with a touch of butter, salt, and pepper, or a squeeze of lemon juice. 

Crusty Bread: A warm, crusty loaf of bread is ideal for soaking up any leftover gravy. Choose a rustic sourdough or a hearty whole-grain loaf for added texture and flavour. 

Roasted Brussels Sprouts: Roast Brussels sprouts in the oven with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper for a delicious and easy side dish. You can even add some diced bacon or pancetta for an extra layer of flavour. 

Cauliflower Cheese: For an indulgent side, try making cauliflower cheese. Cook cauliflower florets in a cheesy sauce and bake in the oven until golden and bubbly. This rich dish pairs perfectly with the savoury flavours of Cottage Pie. 

Remember, the beauty of food lies in experimentation, so don’t be afraid to try new side dishes and discover your own perfect pairings. 

Gluten-Free Cottage Pie 

With a growing number of people needing to avoid gluten, I was determined to devise a Cottage Pie recipe that everyone could enjoy. And guess what? It’s just as delicious as the original version! 

The bulk of a Cottage Pie is naturally gluten-free, with the usual suspects being the beef stock and Worcestershire sauce. For the beef stock, simply ensure you choose a brand labelled gluten-free. As for the Worcestershire sauce, look out for gluten-free versions, which are readily available in many supermarkets. 

If you want to thicken your sauce, use corn starch instead of flour. It’s a gluten-free alternative that works like a charm! Just mix it with a little cold water before stirring it into your pie filling. 

As for the mashed potatoes, they’re naturally gluten-free. So, you can enjoy the creamy, fluffy mash without any worries. Just ensure any dairy products you add, like butter and milk, are also gluten-free (most are, but always good to check). 

Voila! You now have a delicious, gluten-free Cottage Pie that everyone can enjoy. 

Preparing Cottage Pie in Advance 

If you’re like me, you love meals that can be prepared in advance. Thankfully, Cottage Pie is one of those dishes. 

Simply follow the recipe up to the point where you’d put the dish in the oven. Instead, let it cool, then cover it tightly with plastic wrap or a lid, and pop it into the fridge. It can stay there for up to two days before you need to bake it. 

When you’re ready to serve, preheat your oven, remove the wrap, and bake the pie as per the recipe instructions. You might need to add an extra 10 minutes or so to the cooking time since it’s starting from cold. 

This method is a lifesaver when you’re hosting a dinner party or just planning weekday meals. You can prepare the pie when you have some spare time and then simply bake it when you’re ready to eat. 

Freezing and Reheating Cottage Pie 

As a fan of batch cooking, I can tell you that Cottage Pie is a dream dish. It freezes beautifully and can be reheated with very little fuss. 

To freeze, prepare the pie but don’t bake it. Instead, let it cool completely, then wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and then in aluminium foil. Don’t forget to label it with the date; it’ll keep in the freezer for up to three months. 

When you’re ready to enjoy your pie, thaw it in the fridge overnight. Then, bake as per the original instructions, adding a little extra time as needed. If you’re in a hurry, you can also bake it straight from frozen.  

Just cover it with foil, bake until hot in the middle, then remove the foil and bake until the top is golden. 

This method makes this Cottage Pie recipe a fantastic option for meal prep or those busy nights when you don’t have time to cook from scratch. Just remember to handle it with care when it’s frozen to keep the dish intact. 

Making a Lighter Cottage Pie 

As someone who loves indulgent meals but also likes to keep things balanced, I’ve discovered some clever ways to lighten up a Cottage Pie without compromising on taste. 

Firstly, consider swapping ground beef for leaner ground turkey or chicken. It’s a simple switch that can significantly reduce the fat content. Don’t worry about the pie losing its hearty appeal; the turkey or chicken still offers a satisfyingly meaty texture. 

Next, let’s focus on the mashed potatoes. Instead of using butter and milk, try using a bit of chicken broth and Greek yogurt to add creaminess. You’d be amazed at how fluffy and tasty the potatoes can be with these lighter ingredients. 

For an extra veggie boost, you can also add more vegetables to the meat filling. Mushrooms, peas, or bell peppers could add texture, flavour, and nutrients to your dish. 

Remember, the key to a healthier dish is not to eliminate what you love but to find healthier substitutions that are just as delicious. It’s all about creating a balance that works for you. 

Adjusting Seasonings in Cottage Pie 

We all have different taste buds, and what might be perfect for me could be a tad bland or overly spiced for you. The beauty of cooking is that you can always adjust the seasonings to suit your palate. 

If you prefer a spicier kick to your Cottage Pie, consider adding a dash of cayenne pepper or some chopped fresh chili. For a smoky twist, a bit of smoked paprika could work wonders. 

For those who adore herbs, feel free to add more thyme or rosemary, or even try adding some fresh parsley or basil for a different flavour profile. 

And let’s not forget the humble salt and pepper – sometimes all a dish needs is a little extra pinch of one or the other to really make the flavours sing. 

Just remember to taste as you go, adding a little at a time, and you’ll create a Cottage Pie that’s perfectly tailored to your taste buds. 

Using Fresh Herbs in Cottage Pie 

I’m a huge advocate for fresh herbs; they can bring a vibrant, aromatic quality that dried herbs sometimes can’t match. If you want to use fresh herbs in your Cottage Pie, it’s a simple swap. 

The rule of thumb is that because dried herbs are more concentrated, you need three times as much fresh herb. So, for this recipe, instead of a teaspoon each of dried thyme and rosemary, you’d use a tablespoon of each, finely chopped. 

Just remember to add the fresh herbs towards the end of the meat cooking process. Fresh herbs can lose their potency when cooked for long periods, so stirring them in just before you assemble the pie will ensure their flavours are prominent. 

Choosing the Right Baking Dish for Cottage Pie 

Choosing the right baking dish for your Cottage Pie can make a difference in how it cooks and presents. 

For this recipe, a standard 9×13 inch baking dish works well. This size allows for a good ratio of meat to potato and ensures the pie heats evenly. 

If you don’t have a dish that size, don’t fret. You could use two smaller dishes or even individual ramekins for a fun, personalized touch. Just keep an eye on the cooking time, as smaller dishes may need less time in the oven. 

Glass or ceramic dishes are best, as they retain heat well and give the pie a lovely golden crust. Plus, they make for a beautiful presentation right out of the oven. 

As a devoted cook, I love how the right dish not only enhances the cooking process but also adds to the visual appeal of the meal. So, choose your dish wisely and enjoy the delicious results. 

Check Out These Other Recipes 

For those who have enjoyed my delectable Cottage Pie recipe, we have a few more that you might want to try your hand at! If you are in the mood for another comforting, savoury dish, we highly recommend my Meat and Potato Pie.

It’s a hearty recipe with a flavourful meat filling encased in a rich, flaky crust that might just remind you of the comforting layers of Cottage Pie. 

If you’re looking for another dish with a twist of flavours, why not give the Shepherd’s Pie a try? It’s a close cousin to the Cottage Pie, where succulent lamb mince is used instead of beef. Both dishes share a similar comfort food vibe, so if you loved my Cottage Pie, you’re almost certain to enjoy this as well. 

In the mood for a little seafood? My Fish and Chips recipe could be your next favourite. Just like the Cottage Pie, it’s a quintessentially British dish that’s sure to delight with its crispy battered fish and fluffy chips. 

If you fancy a bit of a departure from British cuisine, why not try my Beef Lumpia? This Filipino-inspired treat has a savoury filling similar to the meaty layer of my Cottage Pie, but wrapped in a thin, crispy pastry. 

Or, if you’re looking to explore another variation of a pie, my Cheese and Onion Pasties could be your next kitchen adventure. They offer a mouth-watering combination of cheese and onion wrapped in a flaky pastry, which might remind you of this creamy, cheesy topping of the Cottage Pie recipe. 

We hope these recipes inspire you to continue your cooking journey. We’d love to hear about your experiences in the kitchen, so don’t forget to leave feedback in the comments section. Enjoy exploring new tastes and revisiting the comfort of familiar ones! 

Cottage Pie

Cottage Pie

by Nabeela Kauser
Discover the mouth-watering cottage pie recipe, a classic comfort food with a rich history and origin. Learn how to make this easy, delectable dish perfect for any mealtime.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine British, Western
Servings 6
Calories 588 kcal


Beef Mixture

  • 800 g Beef Mince
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 large Onion Finely chopped
  • 2 Carrots Peeled, finely diced
  • 2 cloves Garlic Minced
  • 2 tbsp Tomato Puree
  • 250 ml Beef Stock
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 tsp Thyme Dried
  • 1 tsp Rosemary Dried
  • Black Pepper To taste
  • Salt To taste

Mashed Potatoes



  • Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F).
  • Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add finely chopped onion, diced carrots, and minced garlic. Sauté until the vegetables are softened, approximately 5 minutes.
  • Add ground beef to the skillet and cook until browned, using a wooden spoon to break it up.
  • Stir in tomato paste, beef stock, Worcestershire sauce, dried thyme, dried rosemary, salt, and pepper. Bring the mixture to a simmer and let it cook for about 10 minutes to allow the flavours to blend. Remove from heat.
  • In a separate pot, boil peeled and chunked potatoes in salted water until tender when pierced with a fork, about 15-20 minutes. Drain the potatoes and return them to the pot.
  • Add milk and butter to the pot with the potatoes. Mash them until smooth and creamy. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Transfer the beef mixture to a baking dish and spread the mashed potatoes evenly on top. Optionally, sprinkle grated cheese over the mashed potatoes.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, until the top is golden and the filling is bubbling.
  • Allow the cottage pie to cool for a few minutes before serving.
  • Serve the cottage pie hot and enjoy!


Cottage pie is a comforting dish that can be enjoyed on its own or paired with vegetables.
Feel free to customize the recipe by adding additional vegetables like peas or corn to the beef mixture.
Leftovers can be refrigerated for up to 3 days and reheated in the oven or microwave.
This recipe can be easily adjusted by doubling or halving the ingredients according to your needs.
Nutritional facts:
The provision of nutritional information is done so merely as a courtesy and should not be taken as a guarantee.


Calories: 588kcalCarbohydrates: 36gProtein: 28gFat: 37gSaturated Fat: 15gTrans Fat: 2gCholesterol: 115mgSodium: 297mgPotassium: 1322mgFiber: 5gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 3683IUVitamin C: 38mgVitamin D: 0.3µgCalcium: 90mgIron: 4mg
Keyword Beef, Comfort Food, Dinner, Food, Keema, Meat, Minced Meat, Pie, Recipe
Tried this recipe?Mention @CookwithNabeela or tag #CookwithNabeela!

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Welcome to Cook with Nabeela

Hi, I’m Nabeela and I love to cook! I want to share with you my favourite, delicious family-friendly recipes. I want to inspire you to create fantastic food for your family every day.

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