Cottage pie

Cottage pie

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(247 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 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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11th Apr, 2017
Superb recipe and as are most bbc good food, I think the Worcester sauce adds real flavour and garlic is great as we all not still living in the dark ages !! Like some
2nd Apr, 2017
Why on earth do you have garlic in a traditional english recipe, my grandmother and mother have made this since I can remember (1949) and never has garlic benn part of the recipe. Even pubs do not use garlic. I understand that garlic has become a taste for younger , but do they understand that the next day they can inte work or breath next to people. Finaly and most importantly, garlic adds nothing to this recipe
22nd Apr, 2017
Don't like it? Don't use it. Certainly not worth giving this 0 stars. This is an EXCELLENT recipe (even without garlic).
11th Apr, 2017
I appreciate that your mother made this in the past with no garlic, however you will find most public houses some element of garlic and my advice is enjoy the modern day cooking and my tip - try stronger toothpaste !
26th Mar, 2017
Didn't simmer mince as recipe states. Reduced it down enough to thicken then strained mince so could use sauce as a gravy. Red wine is a must. Used some sweet potatoes as didn't have enough regular potatoes and actually preferred this. Was really yummy. My 18 month old wolfed it down.
1st Mar, 2017
Beautiful recipe. Really enjoyed this meal. Made a smaller version by halving the suggested ingredients. Perfect results. I did add one egg yoke to the mash though and believe that this works great. A1 recipe
22nd Jan, 2017
We left out the wine, nutmeg and celery but it was fantastic, we will be having this again.
5th Jan, 2017
Excellent cottage pie the only thing I did not add was the red wine( which was optional) everyone enjoyed it and will definitely be cooking this one instead of my normal one.
8th Dec, 2016
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 :)
2nd Dec, 2016
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.


27th Feb, 2015
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?
7th Aug, 2014
where are the instructions on how to freeze this?
4th Nov, 2014
There is a box that says 'Tips', its in there, just under the recipe.
Peter Gater
11th Jul, 2014
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
5th May, 2014
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
13th May, 2014
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.
17th Apr, 2014
I can't get the Tips slides to move. I keep clicking the arrows but getting no where!
3rd Sep, 2013
Does anyone have the freezing instructions, or a method they've used to freeze this that has worked well previously?
4th Sep, 2013
The freezing instructions are underneath the recipe, in the little box on the left (third 'slide')
4th Jul, 2013
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!


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