Cottage pie in a rectangular dish with portion taken out

Cottage pie

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(358 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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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.
31st Oct, 2017
Very good recipe, even better with cinnamon instead of nutmeg.
21st Oct, 2017
I made the version as per the recipe - delicious! Then, I promised to make a batch for my sister and her family as she's just had a baby. She mentioned that the baby reacts badly when she eats anything with onions or tomatoes, so I left those and the red wine out and added chopped mushrooms and mushroom ketchup, plus a couple of squares of plain cooking chocolate. Delicious again! I love that this recipe is so versatile to adapt for personal preference or dietary needs
7th Oct, 2017
The tastiest cottage pie ever. Will definitely be my go to recepie from now on.
willmrpink's picture
10th Sep, 2017
Second time making this dish and certainly won't be the last.Delicious.
5th Sep, 2017
Lovely meal.... massive portion! It will last us three days with two adults and two young boys
12th Aug, 2017
Ticks all the boxes for what, for me, makes a decent cottage pie! The best recipes are those where you can follow to a T, or act as a worthy start point to adjust depending on what you fancy or have lying around. See previous inspirational comments :)
7th Jul, 2017
This recipe takes some time to make but it is worth it. I am not a great cook and often although I am following the recipe often it turns it to be a disaster. But I have made this cottage pie 5 times now and each time it has proved to be a succsss in our household. Well done BBC Good Food!
6th Jul, 2017
Made this for the first time on the weekend and my son and husband adored it. I added a good dash of red wine which seemed to make the gravy a little richer and tastier. It is not a 'quick dish' but well worth it.
3rd Jun, 2017
This is an absolutely yummy recipe which I have made on several occasions. If anyone is needing to make sure it is gluten free which I do for my Coeliac son, I substitute the Worchestershire sauce for a gluten free BBQ sauce and red wine vinegar.


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!


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