Cottage pie

Prep: 35 mins Cook: 1 hr, 50 mins


Serves 10

This great-value family favourite freezes beautifully and is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser

Nutrition and extra info

  • Freezable

Nutrition: per serving

  • kcal600
  • fat34g
  • saturates16g
  • carbs40g
  • sugars7g
  • fibre4g
  • protein37g
  • salt1.15g
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  • 3 tbsp olive oil
    olive oil

    Olive oil

    ol-iv oyl

    Probably the most widely-used oil in cooking, olive oil is pressed from fresh olives. It's…

  • 1¼kg beef mince
  • 2 onions, finely chopped



    Onions are endlessly versatile and an essential ingredient in countless recipes. Native to Asia…

  • 3 carrots, chopped



    The carrot, with its distinctive bright orange colour, is one of the most versatile root…

  • 3 celery sticks, chopped



    A collection of long, thick, juicy stalks around a central, tender heart, celery ranges in…

  • 2 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • large glass red wine (optional)
  • 850ml beef stock
  • 4 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • few thyme sprigs


    This popular herb grows in Europe, especially the Mediterranean, and is a member of the mint…

  • 2 bay leaves

For the mash

  • 1.8kg potatoes, chopped



    The world's favourite root vegetable, the potato comes in innumerable varieties. A member of…

  • 225ml milk



    One of the most widely used ingredients, milk is often referred to as a complete food. While cow…

  • 25g butter



    Butter is made when lactic-acid producing bacteria are added to cream and churned to make an…

  • 200g strong cheddar, grated



    Once cheddar was 'Cheddar', a large, hard-pressed barrel of cheese made by a particular…

  • freshly grated nutmeg


  1. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large saucepan and fry the mince until browned – you may need to do this in batches. Set aside as it browns. Put the rest of the oil into the pan, add the vegetables and cook on a gentle heat until soft, about 20 mins. Add the garlic, flour and tomato purée, increase the heat and cook for a few mins, then return the beef to the pan. Pour over the wine, if using, and boil to reduce it slightly before adding the stock, Worcestershire sauce and herbs. Bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 45 mins. By this time the gravy should be thick and coating the meat. Check after about 30 mins – if a lot of liquid remains, increase the heat slightly to reduce the gravy a little. Season well, then discard the bay leaves and thyme stalks.

  2. Meanwhile, make the mash. In a large saucepan, cover the potatoes in salted cold water, bring to the boil and simmer until tender. Drain well, then allow to steam-dry for a few mins. Mash well with the milk, butter, and three-quarters of the cheese, then season with the nutmeg and some salt and pepper.

  3. Spoon meat into 2 ovenproof dishes. Pipe or spoon on the mash to cover. Sprinkle on the remaining cheese. If eating straight away, heat oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7 and cook for 25-30 mins, or until the topping is golden. Or follow the steps (below) to freeze.

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Comments, questions and tips

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Comments (266)

ShebaH's picture

awesome recipe!! Wine makes all the difference :) moved to states from N.Ireland, co-workers can't get enough of this when I bring it in for lunches! I do cut back beef stock to 500ml I like my gravy THICK :)

little_lady's picture

Halved the ingredients and made this for 2 of us, and it did us for 2 meals. Left out the celery and used some leeks I had in the fridge instead. Very tasty and will be making again.

carollesley's picture

Really good recipe! Did half the quantity to serve 5.....enough for 4 not 5. Used dried thyme as didn't have fresh. Would definitely do this recipe again.

scottyj1980's picture

Only feeds to of us :-)

NicWilkins69's picture

American here, great recipe! Thanks for naming it a cottage pie rather than a Sheppard's pie--I hate that. Anyway, I used a leftover pulled roast rather than mince. It was great. I used leftover 4 pound roast that was cooked in a slow cooker for 6 hours on high with one package each of dry ranch and aju mix, 1/4 pound butter, and 6 pepperoncinis. It's great by itself on a toasted roll with provolone. Cheers.

scottyj1980's picture

Sheppard's Pie is lamb

GregoryF's picture

Just as an FYI, Shepherd's Pie is usually made from lamb mince (hence the 'Shepherd') whereas Cottage Pie is made from beef mince. :)

fussyflossie's picture

I made 2 of these as I was catering for a crowd. Like others, I substituted leeks for celery. I thickened the base with cornflower as I have a wheat intolerance. Had lots of compliments, a really good recipe.

jobarr67's picture

This is a delicious recipe. I tend to make the base at least the day before I need it and then make up the mash and finish off later. Always goes down well. Definitely use the wine - adds good flavour.

thehitchrules's picture

Really delicious. Lots of flavours. Easy and enjoyable to make.
I halved it down as didn't need ten servings and it was lovely.

Agree that the nutmeg is a nice flavour in the mash.

dwatson27's picture

Took quite a while to prepare. Decided to prepare one day and assemble the next. The cheeses mash topping is fabulous! I used extra cheese in the mash. The Nutmeg adds a special touch but you could manage without it. I'm going to make it again for a big family gathering so that some of my family (who live away) can take freshly prepared portions home for their next evening meal. Definitely worth the effort!

LamiMN's picture

the mash is out of this world. I have never enjoyed cauliflower as i did with this meal.

Nicksachef's picture

I just cooked this tonight for my 2 boys and the wife, it's a very quick dish to prepare for the quality of meal, next time I will add some mushroom ketchup to the mince whilst browning. All in all, clean plates all round to my dogs dismay!

up-the-baggies's picture

Fantastic but it did take all day to prepare it...Might have something to do with drinking the rest of the wine after using a large glass in the cooking
Seriously, it does take time to prepare and cook it and you MUST allow time to cool down before adding the mash but it's well worth it.
Freezing ??....No, there was none left it was that nice !

kathyl17's picture

The BEST! I have made this several times for groups of up to 40 - people constantly rave about it. I make the filling ahead of time, freeze it, then a day before assemble with the potatoes - makes it easy on the day of the party to just cook. Making it again today for a family get-together. I don't add the cheese to the potatoes as some people don't like/are sensitive to cheese and it's never been missed. Try this and you'll love it!

lyvia972's picture

Excellent recipe. It might take a while to make but it's definitely worth it. I threw in all the ingredients mentioned and it tasted amazing. The red wine and the nutmeg are such a great addition to the recipe, they really add flavour to the dish and I would not cook it without them as I reckon they make this cottage pie so tasty.

chiniki84's picture

I really want to make this, but I have a couple of questions. The recipe calls for tomato puree - does this correspond to the American tomato paste, or to our tomato sauce? And how large are the baking pans? Thanks - I can't wait to try it!

pernicketywitch's picture

I wish I could answer easily - I am not sure even though I have been to USA many times. Our tomato puree comes in a very small tin or a tube and is very condensed and used for cooking. As opposed to our tomato sauce - which is your ketchup. As regards the pans/dishes I used a glass oven proof casserole dish for serving and cooked this in the oven without the lid about 25 mins before serving so the potato went nice and crisp and the whole dish was nice and hot. You will enjoy

w3ndy2's picture

Tomato puree is a very thick puree, most often found in a tube or small can so I think your version would be Tomato paste. We know tomato sauce as ketchup (ie, a dipping condiment for French fries) and it's definitely not that. x

pernicketywitch's picture

My word this recipe makes an absolutely gorgeous cottage pie. I replaced the celery with leeks and maybe should not have used an excellent bottle of Chateauneuf-du-pape to put in the sauce. But, it was amazing - a five star experience without a doubt.


Questions (11)

pixilate's picture

not everyone needs to prepare a recipe to provide for 10 as this recipe does, and there is no indication of what size the oven proof dishes should be for this volume to allow it to be scaled down.
Could this information in litre capacity for the dishes be included in recipes for those of us who have to cater for ourselves?, and what size dishes are required for this recipe?

Bounce1234's picture

where are the instructions on how to freeze this?

ClaireMG's picture

There is a box that says 'Tips', its in there, just under the recipe.

Peter Gater's picture

I am a half decent cook and can follow a recipe (I know - self praise is no recommendation!) but know little about the science of cooking. Not knowing what some ingredients do when incorporated into a recipe leaves me at risk when setting off on an 'experimental recipe'. For example when would you use plain flour instead of self raising? What does bicarbonate of soda do when added to a recipe.? Is there a book on the market that deals with this topic in a user friendly way? Regards and thanks. Peter

wendygal's picture

so if i am freezing this, do I put in the oven just the same, or do i skip the oven part and just freeze, and then put in the oven just once I want to use? thanks

goodfoodteam's picture

Hi there. You would assemble in the ovenproof dish then chill and freeze. When ready to eat defrost at room temperature before cooking as directed in the recipe. Thanks.

Spooninasaucepan's picture

I can't get the Tips slides to move. I keep clicking the arrows but getting no where!

scotlandstar's picture

Does anyone have the freezing instructions, or a method they've used to freeze this that has worked well previously?

ouchorocks's picture

The freezing instructions are underneath the recipe, in the little box on the left (third 'slide')

Em's picture

I'm an absolute amateur so apologies for the presumably silly question here, but I need some mothering please! I'm going to make this in the afternoon then serve it up in the evening. When re-heating, how hot should the oven be so it doesn't keep cooking/burn the pie? Thanks so much for any help you can give!

cgibson1989's picture

i just posted a tip on this

Tips (4)

up-the-baggies's picture

You MUST allow it to cool down before adding the mash

johnjustice's picture

Have just made this again as we have family staying with us. As usual the taste of this recipe is superb but I did ring the changes somewhat with the topping. Having read a Mary Berry recipe for a similar dish I used her suggestion. Simply boil enough baby new potatoes, skin on to cover the dish. I crushed them lightly in the pan then arranged them on the cold filling. Finally topped off with grated cheddar and cooked at 200c. fan for 30 - 35 mins. Superb and an interesting variation for the topping. Served with cut beans and peas.

gemma99's picture

I reheated a full pie last night and put it in the oven at 160deg (covered with foil) for around half an hour. it was piping hot and didn't burn

cgibson1989's picture

i personally don't have a microwave so when all cooked i cut into potions and put in freezer bags. after defrosting pie i heat fan assisted oven too 180 degrees and cook for 10minutes