Cottage pie

Cottage pie

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(280 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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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.
16th Oct, 2017
Please can you tell me which BBQ sauce you use. Thank you


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?
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!
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


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