Cottage pie in a rectangular dish with portion taken out

Cottage pie

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(349 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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18th Sep, 2018
14th Sep, 2018
The mash is amazing on it! Do not skip the cheese!
8th Sep, 2018
This does take a long time to make but it’s delicious. I made 4 portions using 40% of the ingredients apart from adding 1 glass of red wine, 1 tbsp tomato purée, 2 garlic cloves, 3 desert spoons of soy sauce and lemon juice and 1/2tsp of sugar (as a substitute for the Worcestershire sauce) , added about 4 mushrooms and quartered the carrots. I also used half sweet potatoes for the mash. Instead of simmering the meat mix I boiled it which meant it took 30 min vs 45 min. I also drained the fat from the mince after cooking it.
Karen Burrows's picture
Karen Burrows
7th Sep, 2018
Agree with the knighting comment below. This is crazy good. You need the wine. I added a bit of red wine vinegar and some soy and a whack more worchestershire. Out of this world flavour! The kids raved and want it again tomorrow. Which is good because I doubled the meat recipe to make 8 portions with potato. I have at least another 6 portions to put in a pie with puff pastry. Winner!
risky76's picture
8th Sep, 2018
You sound like me! I double everything to batch cook and freeze or to use for other dinners like pies or even to top a baked potato.
5th Sep, 2018
Whoever is responsible for the dish seriously needs to be knighted, it's a winner, stick with the recipe and you're in for a cracking dish, we cook it for 2 of us and then freeze the rest, proper homely meal.
12th Jun, 2018
the mash with all its depth brought out all its potentiality! :-)
1st May, 2018
I’m usually disappointed when making a cottage or shepherds pie from scratch, as I feel it’s always lacking a certain depth of flavour. Not so with this recipe! I think it must be down to the red wine. I didn’t add the cheese to the mash - dots of butter was all it needed. This will now be my ‘go to’ for when I fancy good old British comfort food!
Paulina Pachla's picture
Paulina Pachla
24th Mar, 2018
I've done my first ever cottage pie today using this receipe. And it was delicious! And, yes, recommended with a red wine. I had to do almost half portion though because there are only two of us. But still- I have dinner for three days! It takes so much time to do, so I cannot make it often. But it is worth it.
7th Mar, 2018
Excellent Cottage Pie recipe, very tasty. The "optional" large glass of red wine makes a difference to the depth of flavour of the gravy and is definitely worth including.


1st Jul, 2018
Hi there. After browning the meat, it says to cook the vegetables in oil for 20 minutes (or until soft) and then mix in everything, cook for an additional 45 minutes. So why can't I just skip the step 2 as surely the vegetables will get plenty cooked during the 45 minutes simmer period? In other words, why the need to cook the vegetables separately, adding 20 minutes to the process? Thanks for guidance!
5th Sep, 2018
Don't mess with the dish it's the most perfect recipe you can cook.
goodfoodteam's picture
4th Jul, 2018
Thanks for your question. This method really helps to enhance the flavour and also ensures the vegetables are soft. If you want to save time, you can cook them for less time.
20th Nov, 2017
Can I prepare this in the slow cooker?
goodfoodteam's picture
24th Nov, 2017
Thanks for your question. You could do the first step in the slow cooker. As detailed in the second of the recipe tips above, 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 step 2, above, and then oven cook to finish according to step 3.
29th Jul, 2017
If this serves 10 - should it be split across 2 serving dishes? Do you serve anything to accompany the cottage pie?
5th Sep, 2018
10? we use 500g of mine and half everything else, for 2 of us, yes we're greedy :-)
goodfoodteam's picture
31st Jul, 2017
Thank you for your question. We suggest dividing this into two ovenproof dishes. Serve it with a vegetable of your choice, buttered cabbage, broccoli or carrots will all go well.
17th Jul, 2017
It doesn't say how much Nutmeg to grate - should it be a pinch worth, or more?
goodfoodteam's picture
31st Jul, 2017
Thanks for your question. It's really a question of taste. A pinch will work well!


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