Hairy Bikers' healthy cottage pie recipe

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The Hairy Bikers' healthy cottage pie is a delicious lower-fat pie with all of the flavour and none of the guilt and it make a great family supper.

Hairy Bikers' healthy cottage pie
  • healthy
Preparation Time20 mins
Cooking Time1 hours 10 mins
Total Time1 hours 30 mins
Cost RangeCheap
Nutrition Per PortionRDA
Calories247 Kcal12%
Sugar9.2 g10%
Fat6.9 g10%
Saturated Fat3.1 g16%
Salt1.68 gRow 4 - Cell 2
Protein17.5 g35%
Carbohydrates31 g12%
Salt1.68 gRow 7 - Cell 2

Hairy Bikers' cottage pie proves that comfort food doesn't have to be unhealthy.

The Hairy Bikers created this delicious healthy cottage pie for their show, The Hairy Dieters. This lower-fat cottage pie recipe has all the rich warming flavours of the traditional dish with just 242 cals per serving. Serving eight people, this family-sized meal combines lean minced beef together with plenty of veggies including celery and tomatoes to make a flavoursome sauce. Topped with a half-fat crème fraîche and leek-infused mashed potato, it won't feel like the healthy option. Leftovers can be refrigerated for up to two days. Make sure you reheat thoroughly before serving.


  • 400g lean minced beef
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, finely sliced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 400g can of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 500ml beef stock, made with 1 beef stock cube
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp dried mixed herbs
  • 4 tsp cornflour
  • 1 tbsp cold water
  • Flaked sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

For the leeky potato topping:

  • 750g floury potatoes
  • 2tsp sunflower oil
  • 2 slender leeks, trimmed and cut into 1cm slices
  • 150g half-fat crème fraiche flaked sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper




  1. To make this cottage pie, place a large non-stick saucepan or flameproof casserole dish over a medium heat. Add the mince and cook it with the onions, celery and carrots for 10 minutes until lightly coloured. Use a couple of wooden spoons to break up the meat as it cooks.
  2. Stir in the tomatoes, tomato purée, beef stock, Worcestershire sauce and mixed herbs. Season with a good pinch of salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover loosely and simmer gently for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally until the mince is tender.
  3. About 20 minutes before the meat is ready, make the potato topping. Peel the potatoes and cut them into rough 4cm chunks. Put them in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat slightly and simmer for 18–20 minutes or until the potatoes are very tender. Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan and fry the leeks for 5 minutes until softened but not coloured, stirring often. Drain the potatoes, then tip them back into the pan, season to taste and mash with the crème fraiche until smooth. Stir in the sautéed leeks and set aside.
  4. Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°C/Gas Mark 7. When the beef has been simmering for 40 minutes, mix the cornflour with the cold water to make a smooth paste. Stir this into the beef and cook for another 1–2 minutes or until the sauce is thickened, stirring often.
  5. Pour the beef mixture into a 2-litre shallow ovenproof dish. Using a large spoon, top the beef with the mashed potatoes and leeks. Spoon the mixture all around the edge of the dish before heading into the middle, then fluff up with a fork.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes until the topping is golden and the filling is bubbling. If making this ahead of time, let the pie cool, then cover and put in the fridge.  

Watch how to make Hairy Bikers' healthy cottage pie

Top tip for making Hairy Bikers' healthy cottage pie

The reason this cottage pie is so healthy is that the Hairy Bikers used lean beef, cooked without fat and have bulked out the mash with leeks to reduce the calories.

Why is my cottage pie runny?

To keep it healthier, this cottage pie does not have any thickener (such as flour or cornstarch) in the sauce, which is usually how you prevent the sauce from being runny. Instead it thickens naturally as it simmers, and you can leave it to bubble for longer if it needs to thicken further. It is meant to be nicely saucy, with a good gravy, rather than a chunky, drier filling.

Why has my cottage pie sunk in the middle?

This can happy if you add the potato mash to a piping hot beef sauce. The moisture in the potatoes seeps down into the sauce and causes the mash to look sunken. Instead, once you've mashed you potatoes, allow them to cool (and dry out) a little in the air. At the same time, allow the sauce to cool down quite a bit before you assemble the pie.

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Hairy Bikers

Simon King and David Myers are the fantastic duo that make up the Hairy Bikers and are best known as Si and Dave. The Hairy Bikers have several cookbooks published including How to Love Food and Lose Weight and Eat for Life. Hairy Biker recipes are always triple tested and try to be as fuss-free as possible so you can trust the timings. Si and Dave have also had several hit cooking shows as they remain as one of the UK’s favourite cookery duos.