Hairy Bikers cottage pie recipe

(3980 ratings)

The Hairy Bikers cottage pie is under 250 calories per portion and takes only 20 minutes to prepare.

Hairy Bikers cottage pie
(Image credit: The Hairy Dieters)
  • 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

This Hairy Bikers cottage pie is cheap, easy to make and low calorie too. 

The whole family will enjoy this lighter take on a British classic. Bulking out the mashed potatoes with leeks not only adds flavour but it helps reduce the calories too. This dinner is easy to prepare ahead and leftovers are easy to freeze too. 


  • 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

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




  1. Put 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 wooden spoon 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.
  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. Heat the oven to 220C (200C fan, Gas 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.

Watch how to make the Hairy Bikers cottage pie

Top tip for making the Hairy Bikers cottage pie

If you are making the cottage pie ahead, assemble it in the ovenproof dish and allow to cool. Cover with cling film and store in the fridge for up to two days. Cook for 30-35 minutes in the hot oven when you’re ready to serve. 

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.

Can you freeze the Hairy Bikers cottage pie?

Once the pie is assembled and cooled, wrap tightly in clingfilm and freeze for up to a month. You can defrost in the fridge overnight and then cook as per original cooking times, or to cook from frozen add an extra 10-15 minutes and ensure it is piping hot all the way through before serving. You may find it easier to divide the mixture into smaller containers for freezing. 

Profile picture of Jessica Ransom
Jessica Ransom

"If you're making the cottage pie for little ones it's best to use a zero salt beef stock and only add the seasoning to your portion. You might also like to blend it up so it's smooth and easy for them to feed themselves." 

The Hairy Dieters: How to Love Food and Lose WeightView at Amazon

The Hairy Dieters: How to Love Food and Lose Weight by Dave Myers and Si King (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, £8.49) - View at Amazon

This book is packed with more meal inspiration from Si and Dave that will help keep your diet on track. The meals are so tasty it is easy to forget you’re eating healthily with options for curries, pie and even cake! 

Once you’ve tried this recipe, why not make the Hairy Bikers’ steak and ale pie? You might also like Joe Wicks chicken pie or our easy cottage pie is another comforting option. 

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.

With contributions from