Cottage pie is just shepherd’s pie made with beef, and is popular in the UK. Delicious beef and gravy is topped with creamy mashed potatoes, and baked to perfection!
Whether it’s called shepherd’s pie (or cottage pie that you are familiar with), I’m just here to give you a super easy and delicious recipe!
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You may have already seen or used my recipe for simple shepherd’s pie from many years ago, or possibly even made my shepherd’s pie baked potatoes.
However, you may be calling your dish a shepherd’s pie when it’s not. Do you know about cottage pie?
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What’s the Difference Between Shepherd’s Pie and Cottage Pie?
It’s easy: shepherd’s pie is made with lamb, and cottage pie is made with beef. If you forget, you can always think that a shepherd tends sheep, and not cows. 🐑
A classic cottage pie (or shepherd’s pie) is extremely simple. It doesn’t have a ton of vegetables, garlic, tomatoes or Parmesan cheese (no, no, Gordon Ramsay! Make it how you like it, just don’t call it a CLASSIC shepherd’s pie)! The flavor comes from using quality ingredients and some British products, which have been used for years and years, to enhance the flavor of gravy in things like pies and meat dishes.
Can I Freeze Cottage Pie?
Absolutely, 100% yes, cottage pie is perfect for freezing! In fact, this is one of the first dishes I make when I leave for some time so my husband has something to grab when he doesn’t have time to cook. I love to have frozen cottage pie on hand myself, as it is a dish I just need to pop into the oven. Half an hour later, dinner is served!
It’s also a great dish for taking to anyone you’re cooking a meal for: someone who’s had a death in the family, just had a baby, or an elderly friend or relative.
Easy Cottage Pie Recipe
recipe by Christina Conte serves 4
FULL PRINTABLE RECIPE BELOW
Prepare the ground beef and gravy.
In a Dutch oven or large pot, sauté the diced onion over medium high heat, stirring occasionally, until translucent.
When the onion is just starting to brown, add the ground beef and break up into smaller pieces. Stir often, and continue to cook until the liquid starts to dry (if not using Bisto, add a tablespoon of flour at this time).
Add enough water or stock, just to cover the ingredients, and simmer.
At this point, add salt, OXO cube (or Beef Better than Bouillon), Bisto granules, Worcestershire Sauce and some freshly ground black pepper to taste.
- Preheat the oven
Continue to simmer the meat over medium heat for about 5-10 minutes, then taste. Add more salt if needed, then remove from heat. While the meat is simmering…
Make the mashed potatoes.
Boil the potatoes in salted water until a fork or knife inserted breaks the potato. Drain and mash with good quality butter.
Then add some milk (and cream, if desired), until a soft and creamy consistency is reached.
Assemble the cottage pie(s).
Ladle the beef and gravy into oven safe ramekins or bowls to make individual cottage pies.
Or simply make one large dish.
Spoon (or pipe) mashed potatoes onto each dish to cover completely. It really comes out fine if you just spoon them on and then pull a fork across the potatoes.
So it looks something like this. At this point you can add shredded Cheddar cheese on top, if desired.
Freeze or bake.
At this point, if you’re going to freeze them, let them cool, then cover with cling wrap and then foil. Refrigerate until cold, then freeze.
If baking, place on a cookie sheet and bake for about 25-30 minutes or until bubbly and the potato is browned on top.
To bake from frozen.
Defrost completely in the refrigerator. About two hours before you want to eat, remove the pies from the fridge and allow to stand at room temperature for about an hour to an hour and a half. Place into preheated oven and bake until lightly browned.
Serve whilst hot, but don’t burn your tongue!
Isn’t this one a cutie?
Why not make a simple apple crumble or rhubarb crumble with custard for dessert?
Cottage Pie (British Beef and Mashed Potato Recipe)
A traditional cottage pie recipe that is as simple and delicious as they come!
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 OXO beef bouillon cube (or 1 tsp beef flavor Better Than Bouillon)
- 1 Tbsp Bisto
- 1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
- Kosher or sea salt
- about 5 large potatoes
- butter, as desired
- milk and/or cream, as desired
- (optional: shredded Cheddar cheese)
- Sauté the diced onion over medium high heat, stirring occasionally, until translucent.
- When the onion is just starting to brown, add the ground beef and break up into smaller pieces. Stir often, and continue to cook until the liquid starts to dry (if not using Bisto, add a tablespoon of flour at this time).
- Add enough water, just to cover the ingredients, and simmer. At this point, add about 1/4 tsp. salt, one OXO cube (or 1 tsp Beef Better than Bouillon), 1 Tbsp Bisto granules, 1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce and some ground black pepper to taste.
- Preheat oven to 375ºF (190ºC).
- Continue to simmer the meat over medium heat for about 5-10 minutes, then taste. Add more salt if needed, then remove from heat.
- Ladle the beef and gravy into oven safe ramekins or bowls to make individual cottage pies, or just one large dish. Spoon (or pipe) mashed potatoes onto each dish to cover completely. Add shredded Cheddar cheese on top, if desired.
- Place dishes/ramekins onto a rimmed baking sheet and bake until bubbly and the potato is a little browned, approximately 25-30 minutes. You can finish off the pies under the broiler if you like them to have more crispy, and brown tops.
Serve hot, but if serving in the individual bowls or ramekins, place on another plate and be sure to warn diners that the bowl is extremely hot. Do not serve to children in this manner.
TIP: if you are having a hard time adding the potatoes on top of the meat, just let the meat cool a little. The potatoes will be easier to add (just don't let the mashed potatoes get cold or they will be difficult to add).
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 633Total Fat: 27gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 101mgSodium: 435mgCarbohydrates: 83gFiber: 9gSugar: 6gProtein: 41g
Nutrition information is only estimated.
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Greetings! I’ve been reading your site for some time now and finally got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from Austin Texas! Just wanted to say keep up the fantastic job!
I live in Nebraska. What is a good substitute for Bisto?
You can order it on Amazon, or you can add a tablespoonful of flour when the meat has dried up (before adding the water) and cook it until it starts to brown, then add the water a little at a time (the flour will thicken the sauce in place of the Bisto). Then season with the beef bouillon and salt to taste! :)
I’m sorry, what stock do you mean?
Sorry, I meant water, I’ve fixed it! :)
I love all of the design variations. So pretty and such an incredibly comforting, flavorful dish! :-) ~Valentina
Well, now I know I’ve been making cottage pie all these years and misnaming it shepherd’s pie! In any event it’s a wonderful dish. Pure comfort food!
When I was young, growing up in England, cottage pie was a way to use up the beef from the Sunday roast. On Monday we would have cold sliced beef, hot mashed potatoes and maybe a salad, then during the week the last of the roast beef would be run through the mincer and cooked that way. It is a completely different taste to using fresh ground beef. The English are brillliant at using all leftovers – hence the things like trifle to use up stale cake, etc.! Thanks for great recipes and good memories.
Absolutely agree, thank you, Jackie!
WoW, Christina, I made this cottage pie and it was so good and (don’t get mad) that was even without the beef bouillon or Bisto granules! I don’t normally leave out ingredients but it was a big football weekend so the store shelf was empty of beef bouillon and I was not familiar with Bisto granules. Anyway, I wanted to make it so badly I just decided to make it without those 2 ingredients and it was still really good!!! i used an oval casserole dish. I am sure it will be even better the next time with ALL of the ingredients! (Our mom was Italian so I never even heard of this!) Thanks for this delicious and not too difficult recipe!
Oh goodness, Kathy, there’s nothing wrong with not using the bouillon or granules, it’s actually even more authentic as these things weren’t available many, many years ago! You may just want to add the bouillon next time and skip the granules. Thanks for the lovely review :)