Cottage pie in a rectangular dish with portion taken out

Cottage pie

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(476 ratings)

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 cloves, 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



    One of the most useful of spices for both sweet and savoury


  1. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large saucepan and fry 1¼ kg beef mince until browned – you may need to do this in batches. Set aside as it browns.

  2. Put the other 2 tbsp olive oil into the pan, add 2 finely chopped onions, 3 chopped carrots and 3 chopped celery sticks and cook on a gentle heat until soft, about 20 mins.

  3. Add 2 finely chopped garlic cloves, 3 tbsp plain flour and 1 tbsp tomato purée, increase the heat and cook for a few mins, then return the beef to the pan.

  4. Pour over a large glass of red wine, if using, and boil to reduce it slightly before adding the 850ml beef stock, 4 tbsp Worcestershire sauce, a few thyme sprigs and 2 bay leaves.

  5. 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.

  6. Meanwhile, make the mash. In a large saucepan, cover the 1.8kg potatoes which you've peeled and chopped, in salted cold water, bring to the boil and simmer until tender.

  7. Drain well, then allow to steam-dry for a few mins. Mash well with the 225ml milk, 25g butter, and three-quarters of the 200g strong cheddar cheese, then season with freshly grated nutmeg and some salt and pepper.

  8. Spoon the meat into 2 ovenproof dishes. Pipe or spoon on the mash to cover. Sprinkle on the remaining cheese.

  9. If eating straight away, heat oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7 and cook for 25-30 mins, or until the topping is golden.

  10. If you want to use a slow cooker, brown your mince in batches then tip into your slow cooker and stir in the vegetables, flour, purée, wine, stock, Worcestershire sauce and herbs with some seasoning. Cover and cook on High for 4-5 hours. Make the mash following the previous steps, and then oven cook in the same way to finish.

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Comments, questions and tips

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elisabeth leonard's picture
elisabeth leonard
7th Oct, 2019
Easy to make and delicious! However it took me about 1 hr 15 minutes to get the gravy to the right consistency. A few modifications which I was happy with. I added a dash of cinnamon to the gravy, and a bit of red wine vinegar to slightly brighten the rich sauce. I also added a bit of celery root in the mashed potatoes. Four hungry guys ate a large dish of it. I froze a smaller dish. If I make again, I’ll add extra garlic as others have suggested.
Jay Smerdon's picture
Jay Smerdon
12th Jun, 2019
I made this tonight, doing two versions, one meat and one vegetarian using Quorn mince. Yes it took a while but the wait was worth it. Absolutely delicious. I used a lot of pots and pans but washed up as I went along which was easier. Lovely recipe.
hilary doyle
3rd May, 2019
@kerry Rastas Woman after my own heart lol !!
23rd Apr, 2019
I will make this recipe again but definitely won’t be using the olive oil, it’s completely unnecessary. I used 5% fat minced beef and wish I hadn’t bothered using oil, as it just tastes oily and disgusting.
Megan Ann's picture
Megan Ann
23rd Apr, 2019
The gravy took a long time to reduce. Otherwise the recipe was great. I did substitute ground turkey for the beef and it was still delicious
Kerry Rastas's picture
Kerry Rastas
8th Apr, 2019
This has taken me the best part of the afternoon to cook. Yes, it's easy, but I've used every dish in the house, burnt the bottom of the pan and eaten half the mashed potato while waiting for the gravy to reduce. I should also mention that I have also consumed much of the leftover wine while waiting and am now half sozzled. These 5 star reviews better be right and dinner better taste amazing, but if not at least I had an excuse for an afternoon tipple
12th Jun, 2019
just let it flow whilst you drink a bottle of wine! the results are incredible, although i half everything as there is only 2 of us.
hilary doyle
3rd May, 2019
Any Irish in you? Cause that is the way to enjoy cooking!!!!! but the clean up is a pig ......just finish the bottle lol! believe me. Still giggling at your post, woman after my own heart hahahahaha!
Emma Loader's picture
Emma Loader
20th Mar, 2019
Absolutely delicious! I put in a bit more garlic and an extra tbsp of Worcester sauce. This will be my go to recipe from now on
Emma-Jane Walsh
21st Feb, 2019
Great recipe- to make it richer and more dinner party friendly I made a few adaptations. Double the garlic, fry off bacon lardons till crisp in another pan and add midway through cooking the mince mix, also added fresh Thyme and cooked with fresh Rosemary sprigs that I removed before baking. Also a bit of salt and black pepper. You couldn’t taste any of this individually- it just gave it a more rounded flavour. I did do the wine and the stock.


25th Sep, 2019
Hi there, I would like to cook the base of the recipe in a pressure cooker could you please tell me how I would do this and if I would need to change the measurements. many thanks
goodfoodteam's picture
26th Sep, 2019
Thanks for your question. You can certainly cook the base in a pressure cooker but we cannot give exact instructions without testing the recipe. We'd suggest referring to your instruction booklet for tips on timings.
20th Sep, 2019
What size oven dish should I use?
goodfoodteam's picture
21st Sep, 2019
Thanks for your question. As this recipe is made in two dishes we'd suggest using two rectangular dishes of roughly 26cm x 20cm or square dishes of roughly 25cm x 25cm.
14th Jul, 2019
I thought if you use cheese it’s a Cumberland pie. Cottage pie hasn’t got any cheese. Am I right?
goodfoodteam's picture
16th Jul, 2019
Thanks for your comment. We find the cheese makes a great addition to cottage pie but it is true Cumberland pie tends to refer to the addition of cheese and breadcrumbs too.
16th Mar, 2019
It says it freezes well. Has anyone done this? If so, what did you do? Any tips. Do you freeze it with the mash on? Do you freeze it fully cooked?
goodfoodteam's picture
16th Mar, 2019
Thanks for your question. Our freezing tips are: allow to cool completely after step 8, cover with cling film and freeze on the day of making. Defrost in the fridge overnight and cook as above or to cook from frozen, heat the oven to 180C/ 160C fan/ gas 4, cover with foil and cook for 1 1/2 hours . Uncover, increase the oven to 220C/ 200C fan/ gas 7 and cook until golden and bubbling.
14th Feb, 2019
Can this be prepared in advance and the cooked in the oven a few hours later
goodfoodteam's picture
15th Feb, 2019
Thanks for your question. Yes, you can prepare this in advance, even the day before, and then cook in the oven. Once cooled, put it in the fridge. Then cook as above. You may need to add another 5 mins or so to the cooking time if fridge-cold.


12th Jun, 2019
Don't deviate from the recipe, it's cracking!
11th Sep, 2018
This is the BEST recipe! I make it for my small children so leave out the wine, but it is still absolutely delicious! Thanks!
29th Aug, 2018
Fab recipe. I used lazy garlic as didn't any have fresh and as im a vegi and Worcestershire sauce has fish in it i used miso paste to replace it. Substituting was easy. The Quorn version was a hit.
spindoctor's picture
5th Feb, 2018
A quick tip to speed up cooking. Do what the professionals do when making a dish with mince. Brown the mince in the oven. Spread mince out on a baking tray and put into a hot oven, gas mark 8 or 180-200 degrees brown for about 6-10 minutes. drain of the fat and then add it to the pan when the recipe suggests
11th Mar, 2016
You MUST allow it to cool down before adding the mash
20th Mar, 2015
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.
17th Oct, 2013
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
8th Sep, 2013
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
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