BeefCuisineFrenchItalianMainsMeatQuick & Easy

Cottage Pie

25 mins Cook
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NomNom Recipes 35

Cottage Pie – Comfort Food Hub! This British classic is filled with a delicious filling of ground beef, covered in gravy and creamy mashed potatoes, and baked until golden brown. One of the best comfort foods made from beef!

Wondering what the difference is between Cottage Pie and Shepherd’s Pie? Same recipe, except the Cottage Pie is made with beef and the Shepherd’s Pie is made with lamb!
(I hope Herder sees the creation of troops…)

Cottage Pie
Cottage Pie NomNomWow

Cottage Pie

Cottage Pie is a great British classic and we Australians have made it one of our winter favourites! Or in my case, a year-round favorite.

Easy to prepare, economical, with everyday ingredients and 100% freezable, it is a food with universal appeal (well, except for vegetarians)

The Cottage Pie has two components – a beef filling and a creamy mashed potato filling. The filling is meaty and salty, it takes willpower not to stuff it in the mouth during cooking…

…then you continue to make the creamy mashed potato filling, or it takes a lot of willpower to put it in your mouth too…

But you’ll keep going because you know the patience will be worth it, because your chest will swell with pride when you pull this bubbling beauty out of the oven and see that crispy gold leaf, everyone at the table will cheer with delight , no no matter how dull the day gets, it will go better with Cottage Pie.

What’s the difference between Cottage Pie and Shepherd’s Pie?

People often confuse the difference between Shepherd’s Pie and Farmhouse Pie. Both are prepared the same way – stuffed with ground beef in gravy, topped with mashed potatoes, sprinkled with parmesan and baked. (That crispy topping is everything!!)

The only difference is that the shepherd’s pie is made with lamb instead of beef.
So if you want, just replace the lamb with beef in this recipe and you have Shepherd’s Pie!

What goes in Cottage Pie

Here’s what you need to make your Cottage Pie.

Feel free to substitute any protein for beef – beef is delicious with lamb (making it a shepherd’s pie), chicken, turkey, pork. Also, don’t worry if you don’t have carrots and celery – skip them or add other diced vegetables like peas.

Here are the ingredients you need for the mashed potato filling.

I love parmesan on my farmhouse pies because it makes the top extra crispy and golden. But any processed cheese will do.

Cottage Pie from scratch

This cottage pie is made from scratch and it’s super easy. If you can make pâté and mash, you can also make a Cottage Pie, because it basically follows the same steps!

Cottage Pie – 2 little tips

I have just 2 tips for a successful farm pie:

  • To prevent the potatoes from sinking into the filling, cool the filling first. But it’s not a deciding factor, it’s just a visual thing, that if you don’t cool the stuffing, the potatoes will “bleed” into the beef mixture; and
  • make sure the stuffing is reduced enough (see video) to ensure the filling will not thin out after cooking. What a disappointment when you slice the potatoes and are greeted with beef sitting in a watery gravy!

How to freeze Cottage Pie

Cottage Pie is one of those rare make-ahead treats that are perfect. It will keep in the refrigerator for 4 days – assembled and ready to heat, or once baked.

What goes with Cottage Pie

This is a meat and carbohydrate-rich dish, so it goes well with fresh side salads, such as an arugula salad with vinaigrette or a garden salad with French or Italian dressing. I recently served it with a carrot salad with a honey Dijon vinaigrette and it was a hit!

For a cozy dinner on a cold winter night, try this with glazed roasted carrots and sautéed garlic spinach. The only other things you need are a glass of red wine and a crackling fire…

or in my case crouching next to an old electric heater!

Cottage Pie

Cottage Pie

Cottage Pie - Comfort Food Hub! This British classic is filled with a delicious filling of ground beef, covered in gravy and creamy mashed potatoes, and baked until golden brown. One of the best comfort foods made from beef!
prep time
10 mins
cooking time
25 mins
total time
35 mins



  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil

  • 2 garlic cloves , minced

  • 1 onion , finely chopped

  • 1 carrot , finely chopped*

  • 1 celery , finely chopped*

  • 750g / 1.5 lb beef mince (ground beef)

  • 1/4 cup (40g) flour (plain / all purpose)

  • 1/4 cup (55g) tomato paste

  • 2 cups (500 ml) beef stock / broth , low sodium

  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) red wine (or water)

  • 1 beef bouillon cube , crumbled (stock cube, or 1 tsp stock powder)

  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

  • 1 tsp dried thyme (or 3 sprigs fresh thyme)

  • 2 dried bay leaves

  • 3/4 tsp salt

  • 1/2 tsp black pepper


  • 1.2 kg / 2.5 lb potatoes , peeled and cut into 2.5cm / 1" cubes

  • 2/3 cup (165 ml) milk , warmed

  • 2 tbsp (30g) butter


  • 2 tbsp (30g) butter

  • 2 tbsp (20g) parmesan, grated


Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 1 minute. Then add the carrots and celery. Cook 3 minutes or until tender and sweet.

Turn up the heat.

Add the beef and cook, breaking it up as you go, until browned.
Add the flour and mix. Add the tomato paste, sauce, red wine, bouillon cubes, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, bay leaf, salt and pepper.
Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to low for a quick simmer - I turn it up to medium-high. Cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the consistency of a sauce (note 1) (see video).
Taste and add more salt if needed.
Transfer to a 6-cup (1.5 L/qt) pie pan. If you have time (even at night), cover and chill. Cold filling = easier to add mashed potatoes on top (Note 2)


Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F.
Cook potatoes in boiling water for 15 minutes or until tender. Then drain it into the pot of the stove which is turned off. Shake gently and steam dry for approximately 30 seconds (Note 3).
Add butter and press until melted, then add milk and salt. Press until smooth.
Spread over the pie and roughen the surface with a fork (rougher surface = more golden bits). Sprinkle with Parmesan and drizzle with butter (or sauté and just drizzle with olive oil)
Bake for 25-30 minutes or until top is golden brown and edges are bubbly. Insert a knife in the center to make sure it's spicy.
Let stand 5 minutes before serving, garnish with fresh thyme leaves if desired.


* Carrots and celery are used to make a wonderful mirepoix/soffritto flavored base for this pie. However, they can be omitted and 1 teaspoon of sugar added instead. Thickening of the filling - no matter how thick the sauce is when poured into the jar, it will be like this when cooked - no steam escapes during cooking to further reduce the sauce. Continue cooking until it reaches the desired consistency. Cooling the filling ensures that the potatoes do not sink into the filling and makes it easier to spread. If you're in a hurry - as I always do - put the potatoes in the freezer while you prepare them. It works very well. Watery potatoes will leak excess liquid during cooking into the filling, which will thin out the sauce. So don't skip the step of steam drying your potatoes! Also make sure the mashed potatoes are hot when you spread them on the pie. The cold mashed potatoes were tough and therefore more difficult to spread on top of the pie. Variation: If I'm doing this for company or to burn the calories, I'll add a generous handful of cheese to the potatoes, then put more cheese on top before baking. He doesn't need it, that's a bonus. For garnish, I sometimes add peas, or I reduce the amount of beef and add chopped vegetables like zucchini. Make Ahead Instructions: Assemble pie, but do not bake. Cool the mashed potato filling then refrigerate (4 days) or freeze (3 months). If frozen thawed (too long to cook from frozen) then cooked according to recipe. Or cook frozen - 45 minutes covered at 180°C/350°, then cook uncovered for 30 minutes. Also available in ramekins for individual portions! Nutrition per serving, assuming 5 generous servings.
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