Classic Cottage Pie Recipe: Comfort Food at Its Best

Classic Cottage Pie: Comfort Food at Its Best
Cottage Pie Recipe pinit

Today, we’re bringing a taste of tradition to your kitchen with a classic Cottage Pie recipe. This hearty dish, rich with ground beef and topped with creamy mashed potatoes, is the epitome of comfort food. Perfect for a cosy family dinner, it’s sure to become a staple in your recipe collection.


Cottage Pie, often confused with Shepherd’s Pie, dates back to the 18th century in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Traditionally made with leftover roast meat, the term “cottage” refers to the modest homes of rural workers who created this dish to make the most of their resources. Over time, it evolved into the beloved version we know today, typically made with ground beef.

Serving Suggestions

Cottage Pie pairs wonderfully with a variety of sides. Consider serving it with a simple green salad or steamed green beans to add a fresh contrast to the rich flavours. For a bit of indulgence, buttery garlic bread makes a delightful accompaniment. A dollop of brown sauce or a splash of malt vinegar can also add a tangy kick.

Storing Instructions

To store leftover Cottage Pie, let it cool completely before transferring it to an airtight container. It will keep well in the refrigerator for up to three days. For longer storage, you can freeze the pie. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and then in foil, or place it in a freezer-safe container. It will last for up to three months in the freezer.

Reheating Instructions

Reheating Cottage Pie is simple and ensures it remains delicious:

  • Oven: Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F). Place the pie in an oven-safe dish and cover with foil to prevent the top from browning too much. Heat for about 20-25 minutes or until heated through.
  • Microwave: For a quicker option, use the microwave. Place a portion on a microwave-safe plate, cover, and heat on medium power for 3-5 minutes, stirring halfway through to ensure even heating.


We’d love to hear how you and your family enjoyed this classic Cottage Pie recipe! Share your thoughts and any personal twists you added in the comments below. Don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter for more comforting recipes and culinary inspirations from Great Food Ireland.

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How to Make Cottage Pie Recipe

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Classic Cottage Pie Recipe: Comfort Food at Its Best

Difficulty: Intermediate Prep Time 20 mins Cook Time 60 mins Rest Time 15 mins Total Time 1 hr 35 mins
Cooking Temp: 180  °C Servings: 6 Calories: 450 kcal per serving (300g each)


A timeless dish that brings warmth and comfort, this Classic Cottage Pie combines savoury ground beef with hearty vegetables, all topped with creamy, golden mashed potatoes. Perfect for family dinners, it's a beloved favourite that never disappoints.


Meat Filling:

Mashed Potato Topping:


Prepare the Meat Filling:

  1. Heat the Oil:

    Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat.

  2. Cook Garlic and Onion:

    Add the minced garlic and chopped onion, cooking until softened, about 5 minutes.

  3. Add Carrots and Celery:

    Add the finely chopped carrots and celery, cooking for another 5 minutes until the vegetables are tender.

  4. Brown the Beef:

    Increase the heat to high, add the ground beef, and cook until browned. Drain any excess fat.

  5. Add Flour and Tomato Paste:

    Stir in the flour and tomato paste, cooking for 2 minutes.

  6. Add Liquids and Seasoning:

    Gradually add the beef stock and red wine, stirring constantly. Add the crumbled bouillon cube, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, bay leaves, salt, and pepper.

  7. Simmer the Filling:

    Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat, and cook uncovered for 30 minutes until the sauce has thickened. Stir in the frozen peas and corn, then remove from heat and let cool slightly.

Prepare the Mashed Potato Topping:

  1. Boil the Potatoes:

    In a large pot, cover the potatoes with salted water and bring to a boil. Cook until tender, about 15-20 minutes.

  2. Drain and Steam Dry:

    Drain the potatoes and return them to the pot. Allow them to steam dry for a few minutes.

  3. Mash the Potatoes:

    Mash the potatoes with the warmed milk, butter, and grated cheddar cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Assemble the Cottage Pie:

  1. Preheat the Oven:

    Preheat the oven to 200°C (180°C fan).

  2. Transfer Meat Filling:

    Transfer the meat filling to a large baking dish (approximately 30 x 25 cm).

  3. Add Mashed Potato Topping:

    Spoon the mashed potatoes over the meat mixture, spreading it out evenly. Use a fork to create a textured surface.

Bake the Cottage Pie:

  1. Bake Until Golden:

    Bake for 25-30 minutes until the topping is golden and crispy.

Serve the Cottage Pie:

  1. Portion and Plate:

    Allow the Cottage Pie to cool for a few minutes before serving. Use a large serving spoon to portion out hearty servings.

  2. Garnish and Enjoy:

    Garnish with a sprinkle of fresh parsley for a pop of colour. Serve with a side of green salad, steamed vegetables, or garlic bread for a complete meal. Enjoy the warm, comforting flavours of this classic dish!

Nutrition Facts

Amount Per Serving
Calories 450kcal
Calories from Fat 198kcal
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 22g34%
Saturated Fat 9g45%
Cholesterol 85mg29%
Sodium 700mg30%
Potassium 1040mg30%
Total Carbohydrate 40g14%
Dietary Fiber 5g20%
Sugars 5g
Protein 22g44%

Vitamin C 25 mg
Calcium 125 mg
Iron 4.5 mg

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily value may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.


  • Wine Substitute: If you prefer not to use red wine, you can substitute it with an equal amount of beef stock or water.
  • Vegetable Variations: Feel free to add or substitute other vegetables such as mushrooms, bell peppers, or green beans for added flavour and nutrition.
  • Cheese Topping: For an extra cheesy topping, sprinkle some additional grated cheddar or Parmesan cheese on top of the mashed potatoes before baking.
  • Herb Options: Fresh herbs such as rosemary or parsley can be used in place of thyme for a different flavour profile.
  • Make-Ahead Tip: This dish can be assembled a day in advance and stored in the refrigerator. Simply bake it when ready to serve.
  • Leftover Usage: Leftovers can be repurposed into a delicious filling for stuffed bell peppers or as a topping for baked potatoes.
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Frequently Asked Questions

Expand All:
Can I make Cottage Pie in advance?

Yes, you can prepare Cottage Pie in advance. Assemble the pie but don’t bake it. Cover it tightly and store it in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. When ready to bake, follow the original baking instructions.

Can I use a different type of meat?

Absolutely! While traditional Cottage Pie uses beef, you can substitute it with lamb (making it a Shepherd's Pie) or even a plant-based ground meat for a vegetarian version.

How can I make the mashed potato topping extra creamy?

For an extra creamy topping, consider adding a bit more butter or a splash of cream. Using a potato ricer instead of a masher can also give you a smoother texture.

Is there a way to add more vegetables to the dish?

Certainly! Feel free to add finely chopped vegetables like mushrooms, bell peppers, or even spinach to the meat filling for added nutrition and flavour.

Can I freeze the Cottage Pie?

Yes, Cottage Pie freezes well. Let it cool completely before wrapping it tightly in plastic wrap and then in foil, or place it in a freezer-safe container. It will last for up to three months in the freezer. When ready to eat, thaw in the refrigerator overnight and reheat in the oven.

What should I serve with Cottage Pie?

Cottage Pie pairs wonderfully with a simple green salad, steamed vegetables, or garlic bread. For a bit of indulgence, a side of buttery peas or roasted root vegetables can complement the flavours beautifully.

How long does it keep in the refrigerator?

Stored in an airtight container, Cottage Pie will keep for up to three days in the refrigerator.

Did you make this recipe?

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Fiona O'Sullivan

Fiona O'Sullivan is the passionate editor of Great Food Ireland, a popular blog dedicated to celebrating traditional Irish cuisine and culinary heritage. With a rich background in food writing and a deep love for Ireland's gastronomic culture, Fiona brings a wealth of knowledge and enthusiasm to her role. She curates authentic recipes, shares culinary stories, and explores the vibrant food scene across Ireland. Fiona's dedication to promoting Irish food traditions has made Great Food Ireland a beloved resource for food enthusiasts around the world.

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