Cottage Pie Recipe

Cottage Pie is my go-to dinner when I need something delicious, nourishing and comforting to end a busy day with. My version of this classic recipe is loaded with extra vegetables, which I grate to suit even the fussiest of eaters. As the pie cooks, the vegetables disintegrate to create a flavour-packed gravy. Although it’s a simple recipe, there is a little bit of extra preparation involved (having to make mashed potatoes to top the pie with) and of course a longer cooking time while the pie bakes in the oven until perfectly golden. The good news is that the entire thing can be made in advance and either refrigerated or frozen, so making extra will always pay off for those rainy days when you don’t necessarily feel like cooking, but want the comfort of a home-cooked meal. 

Can cottage pie be frozen?

Yes! Cottage Pie is the perfect meal to make ahead of time and freeze, ready for when you need it. Simply follow the recipe steps and assemble the pie. Refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before cooking, then cover with foil and bake at 200°C/400°F (180°C fan-forced) for 45 minutes, covered, and an additional 30 minutes uncovered.

Can I make cottage pie vegetarian?

Yes! Replace the beef mince with tinned lentils and replace the beef stock with vegetable stock. You can also omit the butter, milk and Parmesan cheese if desired. Simply spray the top of the mashed potatoes with olive oil prior to baking instead.

What extra vegetables can I add to cottage pie?

You can add up to 3 cups of vegetables to this cottage pie recipe. Grate the vegetables using a good quality box grater so that they melt into the sauce or finely chop for a more chunky pie filling. Broccoli (including the stalks!), cauliflower, mushrooms, spinach leaves, kale and peas are all great additions. You can use frozen or fresh vegetables.

What is a mashed potato shortcut?

You can top the cottage pie with store-bought potato gems/tater tots for a super quick and easy dinner or use store-bought mashed potato (although this will hike up the overall cost of the meal).

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Cottage Pie Recipe

Cottage Pie

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5 from 8 reviews

  • Total Time: 1 hour 30 mins
  • Yield: 6 1x



Cottage Pie Filling

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely diced (or grated)
  • 1 tsp garlic, freshly minced
  • 2 celery stalks, finely diced
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 2 zucchini/courgettes, grated
  • 1 kg (2 lb) beef mince/ground beef
  • ⅓ cup (40 g) plain/all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 3 cups (710 ml) beef stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper
  • ½ tsp salt

Mashed Potato Topping

  • 1.2 kg (2 lb) potatoes (all-rounder), peeled and quartered
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 cup (8 fl oz) milk, slightly warmed (see note 1)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ cup (50 g) Parmesan cheese, freshly grated


Cottage Pie Filling

  1. Heat the olive oil on medium heat in a large, deep pan. Add the onion and garlic. Cook, stirring for 1 minute until slightly softened.
  2. Add the celery, carrot and zucchini. Cook, stirring for 3-4 minutes, until softened.
  3. Increase the heat to high, add the beef mince and cook for 4-5 minutes or until starting to brown.
  4. Stir in the flour, followed by the tomato paste.
  5. Add the beef stock, bay leaves, thyme, Worcestershire sauce, pepper and salt. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to medium-low so that the sauce is just simmering.
  6. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Uncover and cook for a further 20 minutes, stirring regularly. The sauce will thicken into a lovely gravy (see note 2).
  7. Set the filling aside to cool.

Mashed Potato Topping

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil (you will need a pot large enough so that the potatoes are covered by at least 5 cm/2″ of water).
  2. Add the peeled, quartered potatoes to the water and cook for 15-20 minutes until soft enough to pierce with a fork.
  3. Remove the pot from the heat. Drain the potatoes using a colander and place the potatoes back in the pot. Allow them to steam dry for 1-2 minutes. This removes any excess water.
  4. Add the butter and mash the potatoes twice around the pot before adding the milk. Continue to mash until smooth and fluffy, and season with the salt.

Assemble Pie

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F (180°C fan).
  2. Once the beef mixture has cooled slightly, transfer it into a large baking dish (approximately 30 x 25 cm or 12 x 10″). You can skip this step if you have made your filling in an oven-safe pan. 
  3. Spoon the mashed potato on top of the beef mixture and use the back of a spoon to spread it out evenly. Do this while the mashed potato is hot, as it’s much easier to spread. Use a fork to rough up the surface gently.
  4. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake for 30 minutes or until the topping is golden and crispy.


Note 1 – Warm the milk slightly in the microwave or a saucepan. It makes the mashed potato extra creamy and easier to spread out on top of the beef mixture.


Note 2 – If the gravy is too thick, add 1 tbsp of water at a time until it is at your desired consistency. If it is too thin, continue cooking on high heat, stirring regularly until it meets your desired consistency. It should be thick enough for the mashed potato to sit on top without sinking.


Follow the recipe steps and assemble the pie. Refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before cooking, then cover with foil and bake at 200°C/400°F (180°C fan-forced) for 45 minutes covered and an additional 30 minutes uncovered.


Refrigerate for up to 2 days. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw completely overnight in the fridge before reheating. Leftovers are best frozen in individual serves and reheated in the microwave. 

  • Author: Nicole
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 15 mins
  • Category: Pie
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: English