Cottage pie recipe

(4547 ratings)

Cottage pie is a classic British dinner and it only takes 50 minutes to prepare and cook.

cottage pie recipe
(Image credit: Future)
Preparation Time20 mins
Cooking Time30 mins
Total Time50 mins
Five A DayOne
Cost RangeCheap
Nutrition Per PortionRDA
Calories570 Kcal29%
Sugar7 g8%
Fat30 g43%
Saturated Fat13 g65%
Salt2.2 gRow 4 - Cell 2
Protein42 g84%
Carbohydrates33 g13%
Salt2.2 gRow 7 - Cell 2

This cottage pie serves four people and is cooked in 30 minutes. Each portion is under 600 calories. 

You can prepare this comforting dinner ahead of time and then put it in the oven 30 minutes before you need to serve. For freezing instructions, scroll down to read our cottage pie tips. We like to have steamed vegetables on the side to keep it healthy but a salad, roast carrots, or even a slice of garlic bread are tasty alternatives.

Once you’ve mastered this cheap family meal, you should try our Shepherd's pie recipe. If you want the same flavours but a little lighter in calories, the Slimming World cottage pie recipe is perfect. 


  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 500g minced beef
  • 250g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 level tbsp plain flour
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • Dash of Worcestershire sauce
  • 450g mashed potato
  • Knob of butter (optional) 




  1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Add the onion and carrots and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have started to soften.
  2. Add the beef to the pan and cook for about 5-10 minutes, stirring to break up the meat, until it browns. Once the meat is crumbly, stir occasionally to prevent it from sticking and burning, but don’t keep stirring it, otherwise, it just cools the mixture, rather than letting the meat brown.
  3. Add the mushrooms to the pan and cook for a few minutes.
  4. Sprinkle over the flour, then mix it in well and cook for 3-4 minutes.
  5. Pour in the can of tomatoes, sprinkle in the stock cube, and bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, until it thickens slightly and the vegetables are tender. If the sauce seems very thick, just add a little boiling water.
  6. Set oven to 200C (180C fan, Gas 6).
  7. Stir the Worcestershire sauce into mince and season with salt and pepper. Spoon the filling into an oven-dish and level the surface.
  8. Spread the mashed potato over the mince and score the surface with a fork. Top with a knob of butter, if using.
  9. Bake in the centre of the oven for 20-30 minutes, or until the mash is golden and the filling is bubbling. Serve straight from the oven.

Watch how to make a cottage pie 

Top tips for making a cottage pie

Cottage pie is a great recipe to hide extra veggies in if you're wondering how to cook for the fussy eaters.  in your family. Just dice everything up nice and small and fry off with the onion and carrot. Making your own mashed potatoes is cheap and easy but you can use shop-bought.

If making your own we recommend using a sieve or ricer for a smooth finish. For more cottage pie tips including how to freeze it, continue reading below.

How do you store leftover cottage pie?

Leftovers, once cooled, can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two days. Made too much filling for your cottage pie? It needn't go to waste – try our leftover beef recipes for some inspiration. 

The best way to reheat is in a microwave for a few minutes until piping hot. You can also reheat in a hot oven. You might want to cover in foil to prevent the top getting too dark and the filling drying out. 

How to freeze cottage pie?

Freeze this cottage pie recipe either in portions or as a whole meal, which will last about three months in the freezer. Either way, wrap tightly in clingfilm to prevent freezer-burn. 

Make sure you leave plenty of time for defrosting. It's best to leave it in the fridge overnight. Make sure the cottage pie is completely defrosted before reheating again. Use the temperature and cooking times recommended in the recipe. 

What should you serve with cottage pie?

Cottage pie is such a hearty meal you don’t have to serve it with anything if you’re happy with just the pie, however, if you’re looking for a side, a steaming bowl of freshly cooked greens is a good choice. Opt for Tenderstem broccoli, runner beans, or peas, of if you want something a little more decadent, try creamy spinach with cheese

If you’re serving cottage pie in the summer months you might opt for a lighter side of a freshly prepared salad. Some people also serve bread and butter with their cottage pie to mop up leftover juices from the pies' gravy.

How can I make this cottage pie healthier?

There are several small tweaks you can make to cut the fat content in this pie. When frying off the onions in step 1, replace the oil with several sprays of low-calorie cooking spray. Use beef with a lower fat content - 5% or less.

Leave out the butter in the final step before cooking. You could replace a third of the meat with finely chopped mushrooms, or make it meat-free using low-fat Quorn (if you're serving to vegetarians, be aware the Worcestershire Sauce contains anchovies). For a twist on the cottage pie classic, vegetarians and meat eaters alike will love this Quorn Shepherd's pie

You could swap classic potatoes for sweet potatoes instead. Sweet potatoes are a great source of fiber, as well as a good source of vitamins B and C.

Does cottage pie have chopped tomatoes in it?

Yes, our recipe includes one can of chopped tomatoes. If you have a glut of homemade tomatoes you need to use, chop them up into small pieces. You will need around 400g and may need a little more hot water to loosen the mixture. The store cupboard staple can be used in a plethora of dishes –discover things to make with tinned tomatoes.

Does cottage pie contain cheese?

There is no cheese in the filling of a cottage pie but some recipes recommend topping the mash with grated cheddar. This will give the top a delicious rich flavour and the cheese will bubble and turn golden. You can also enrich the mashed potato with an egg yolk if you like. This also helps give it a deep golden colour. 

Why is my cottage pie runny?

It's likely the meaty base was too runny when you added the potatoes on top. Make sure you add enough flour to thicken up the sauce and make it nice and glossy. If it seems too thin before you add the potatoes, just bubble it for a few more minutes so that it thickens up.

It's also possible the potatoes were too wet when you added them. Make sure to drain them well, and leave them to sit for a few minutes before you make the mashed potato recipe . If they are too wet when you add them, the water will seep down into the sauce as it cooks. 

What is the difference between cottage pie and shepherd’s pie?

The main difference between cottage pie and shepherd’s pie is the meat. Cottage pie is traditionally made with minced beef, whereas shepherd’s pie is made with minced lamb. Mary Berry's dauphinois shepherd's pie is a wonderful variation of the classic, and is bound to please any dinner guest.

Both are made with minced meat, packed with veggies like onions and carrots and both are topped with mashed potato and an optional sprinkling of grated cheddar cheese.

Cottage pie is traditionally assembled and cooked in an ovenproof dish. We like this one from Le Creuset as it will look lovely when you bring it to the table. There are lots of colours to choose from.