Cottage pie in a rectangular dish with portion taken out

Cottage pie

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(632 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…

  • 25g butter



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

  • 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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kym culver's picture
kym culver
29th Nov, 2018
To make this super tasty with really outstanding flavour, use double the amount of garlic (4 large cloves), 1 very large tablespoon MARMITE (yes!!) and a tsp of red pepper flakes. Never tastes too garlicky or salty, just great ingridients to bring out more flavour.
dawn forster's picture
dawn forster
21st Nov, 2018
Love love love this recipe, however I do add a couple of things , I add a tin of baked beans and a tin of chopped tomatoes , which the kids love and I don’t put in the red wine, I also put the mince into a sieve over a sauce pan and drain out most of the sauce from the mince before I put it into the casserole dish , which leaves a lovely gravy to put over it when serving , fastastic recipe
spindoctor's picture
3rd Nov, 2018
Great pie but 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 off the fat and then add it to the pan when the recipe suggests This saves about 20 mins of the prep time!!
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! :-)


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!
cgibson1989's picture
8th Sep, 2013
i just posted a tip on this


Be the first to suggest a tip for this recipe...Got your own twist on this recipe? Or do you have suggestions for possible swaps and additions? We’d love to hear your ideas.
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