Cottage pie in a rectangular dish with portion taken out

Cottage pie

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(662 ratings)

Prep: 35 mins Cook: 1 hr, 50 mins

Easy

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

Ingredients

  • 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
    Onion

    Onion

    un-yun

    Onions are endlessly versatile and an essential ingredient in countless recipes. Native to Asia…

  • 3 carrots, chopped
    Carrot

    Carrot

    ka-rot

    The carrot, with its distinctive bright orange colour, is one of the most versatile root…

  • 3 celery sticks, chopped
    Celery

    Celery

    sell-er-ee

    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

    Thyme

    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
    Potato

    Potato

    po-tate-oh

    The world's favourite root vegetable, the potato comes in innumerable varieties. A member of…

  • 225ml milk

    Milk

    mill-k

    One of the most widely used ingredients, milk is often referred to as a 'complete' food…

  • 25g butter
    Butter

    Butter

    butt-err

    Butter is a dairy product made from separating whole milk or cream into fat and…

  • 200g strong cheddar, grated
    Cheddar

    Cheddar

    Ched-ah

    Once cheddar was 'Cheddar', a large, hard-pressed barrel of cheese made by a particular…

  • freshly grated nutmeg
    Nutmeg

    Nutmeg

    nut-meg

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

Method

  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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samgwells's picture
samgwells
1st Aug, 2020
5.05
Good recipe, stick to the timings, brown the mince well (not just gone from pink to grey) cook out the veg for the reccomended time and you have a winner, winner cottage pie dinner. Cut ingredinets in half if you are feeding 2 or 3 and have some even better left overs for lucnh the following day.
mrs linxman's picture
mrs linxman
22nd Jun, 2020
5.05
I made this Cottage Pie tonight for myself, hubby and 2 hungry teens, the hubby was super impressed, so much so that he felt he didn't need to use Worcester sauce on top. I only had 1000 grams of mince but didn't have any celery so I substituted it with some spinach. Only used 700 fluid ounces of beef stock and threw some leftover chicken gravy into the beef stock. I did use red wine but only a slug. The pie came out great and there's leftovers for 2 modest lunches which is a bonus. The only down side is the length of time it takes to make it, but I will make it again in the near future.
atomicadam13's picture
atomicadam13
24th Apr, 2020
5.05
I had no celery or no sprigs of thyme so substituted Leeks and ordinary thyme, delicious too.
Sazzy926's picture
Sazzy926
10th Apr, 2020
5.05
Lovely rich sauce. Very tasty. Have made this several times now and it never disappoints.
nannymoore
1st Apr, 2020
How can I half the recipe?
samgwells's picture
samgwells
10th Jul, 2020
5.05
Try using half the quantity of ingredients that are listed, that might work!
atomicadam13's picture
atomicadam13
24th Apr, 2020
5.05
Hi, well i made it with a standard pack of mince beef (500gramme ?) , used 1 x onion, 2 carrot and i had no celery so used 1 x Leek, I used 1kg of potato and just 500ml of gravy granules and everything else was the same measures as per the recipe. I had some mashed potato left over, made some very nice potato scones !
Tom28
28th Jan, 2020
3.05
I decided to try pressure cooking the beef filling after having prepared all the ingredients and seared the mince. It was surprising when the beef filling came out and had a very weak taste even though I had added plenty of salt & pepper seasoning and made the stock with less water. I hurried to enrich it by reducing the sauce, adding a second beef stock pot and adding extra seasoning. I chose to finish it with a teaspoon of mustard as I've done with past rich beef stews. It was enriched and tasted good in the end. The base tasted even better after it had been baked. If I make it again, I'll definitely add wine, make sure to use two beef stock pots/cubes at first, double the onion and double the thyme and bay leaves. Preparing and cooking the whole dish consumed over 4 hours of time.
FizzH89
26th Jan, 2020
5.05
Tried this for Sunday lunch, oh boy, this is a winner! Absolutely delicious, clean plates all round. Will certainly be adding this to our favourites list.
Judy de Jager's picture
Judy de Jager
18th Jan, 2020
5.05
I made the topping with mashed sweet potato in stead of potato. It was delicious! They whole family loved it!

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Alex Walker's picture
Alex Walker
20th Jun, 2020
If freezing in individual portions, how long should the cooking time be?
lulu_grimes's picture
lulu_grimes
28th Jun, 2020
Hi Alex, Try 15 minutes but give it a bit longer if the top hasn't browned. Lulu
Nicholas Price's picture
Nicholas Price
14th May, 2020
4.05
First time used this recipe and very pleased with the taste. However, I was very worried when opened up oven to take out and there was liquid simmering and some had spilled over into the oven. The lids were difficult to take off - the suction from the steam? - and I didn't want a nasty burn, so was careful. The 2 layers - meat and potato - have not stayed separated, but rather the potato topping has submerged into the meat, so don't have crispy potato top. I did simmer the meat mixture off longer to make it a thicker gravy, but I think that I overfilled the dish and should've left the lid off for the oven. It doesn't look like pic above, but it tastes good, all important. Nick P.S. tomato sauce is a must to add to finished product :)
lulu_grimes's picture
lulu_grimes
15th May, 2020
Hi Nick, When you say lids, did you cover these when cooking? Or was this foil as you were cooing from frozen? I agree with you about the sauce! Lulu
Mandylou68
3rd Dec, 2019
Hi, I don’t want to go shopping, and I only have 2 small onions, can I use leek instead? Thanks
lulu_grimes's picture
lulu_grimes
3rd Dec, 2019
Hi, Yes you can use leek instead, or as well as onion.
Monica Crampton's picture
Monica Crampton
16th Nov, 2019
Hi I want to make this for my dairy intolerant daughter, which alternative milk and cheese would you use? I'm guessing oatly barista?..
Jane37
4th Nov, 2019
I have just prepared these but not eating till tonight can i leave covered out of the fridge for a few hours?
goodfoodteam's picture
goodfoodteam
9th Nov, 2019
Thanks for your question. According to food regulations, cooked foods should not be left out for more than 90 mins before refrigerating. We'd suggest cooling then for up to 90 mins and then popping them in the fridge. Cook for an extra 5 - 10 mins in step 9 to allow for being fridge-cold.
rebecca1july
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

Pages

johnjustice
8th Dec, 2019
5.05
I have made this before as per recipe and it is 5 star. However changed it slightly today after my daughter decided she wanted mince and dumplings for dinner. This recipe is similar to the HAIRY BIKERS recipe for mince and dumplings, (no tin of chopped tomatoes though). I made this as per the Cottage Pie recipe but added dumplings towards the end. Very very nice. Word of warning... I added a glass of cheap Tempranillo wine from Aldi. No offence to them but my grandson said he could taste vinegar!!!! Now I may not have sweated off the alcohol long enough or it may have been the quality of the wine. Who knows but a lesson learned. Still an enjoyable way to change the recipe slightly.
scottyj1980
12th Jun, 2019
5.05
Don't deviate from the recipe, it's cracking!
mimi19836
11th Sep, 2018
5.05
This is the BEST recipe! I make it for my small children so leave out the wine, but it is still absolutely delicious! Thanks!
Leannejh
29th Aug, 2018
5.05
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
spindoctor
5th Feb, 2018
5.05
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
up-the-baggies
11th Mar, 2016
5.05
You MUST allow it to cool down before adding the mash
johnjustice
20th Mar, 2015
5.05
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.
gemma99
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
cgibson1989
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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