Cottage Pie in cast iron skillet

BEST Cottage Pie Recipe

Cottage Pie is a traditional British dish made of meat and vegetables in gravy, all topped with mashed potatoes. It is the ultimate comfort food! Cottage Pie is sometimes confused with Shepherd’s Pie and the only real difference between the two is the type of meat that is used!

Cottage Pie vs Shepherd’s Pie

What is Cottage Pie?

The term ‘Cottage Pie’ was first used in the 1790’s when people began to use potatoes in every day cooking. Potatoes were an affordable crop that was filling and hearty and could last for months through a long, cold winter.

Cottage Pie is a versatile dish because it is typically made with leftover meat and vegetables from other meals. Anything is game here! I have even used leftover turkey and mashed potatoes from Thanksgiving in this recipe!

Cottage Pie is the catch-all – any meat, any veges, mixed with gravy and topped with potatoes. The perfect meal!

What is Shepherd’s Pie?

You are much more likely to find the term Shepherd’s Pie, a dish that came about in the middle of the 19th century, on a menu in the US, even if the dish contains beef. Traditionally, Shepherd’s Pie contains minced mutton (lamb) because Shepherd’s look after sheep.

But the terms Shepherd’s Pie and Cottage Pie have been used interchangeably for years.

The lamb in Shepherd’s Pie has a distinct flavor that is a bit gamey and totally recognizable, making the two dishes distinctly different in flavor.

Comfort food at it’s finest

Cottage Pie and it’s cousin, Shepherd’s Pie, are country cooking at its finest. This meal is homey and comforting not even a little bit fussy.

Actually, if you want to get fussy, you can pipe your mashed potatoes on the top instead of spreading them on the way I do.

This is one of the first dishes that I make if I have a crowd coming over for a family-style dinner. Piping on the potatoes can help to elevate the look of the dish for guests but is not necessary!

Cast iron skillet full of Cottage Pie and a serving in a white bowl.

Can I make this recipe ahead of time?

The beauty of Cottage Pie is not only that it uses up any leftovers from other meals, it can also be made ahead of time.

You can make your Cottage up to 3 days before serving and store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

Then just bake it off when you are ready to serve it!

Can I freeze Cottage Pie?

Yes! My adult son loves when I make freezer meals for him to stock his fridge and Cottage Pie is always his #1 request!

You can make a large family-size pie or separate into individual serving sizes.

Wrap in clingfilm and then in foil and make sure to label with the date and the contents!

You can thaw in the refrigerator overnight and then bake as directed in the recipe below. Or you can remove the foil and clingfilm and bake from frozen. Just add about 30 minutes additional to the baking time.

A serving of Cottage Pie with minced beef and mashed potatoes in a white bowl.

What to serve with Cottage Pie

Cottage Pie already has some vegetables in it but it goes so well with:

You could also choose to add additional vegetables into the pie itself. Chopped turnips, peas, corn, celery or whatever else you have on hand would be delicious!

By the way, if you are ever in St Louis, check out the Scottish Arms Restaurant.  AMAZING, AUTHENTIC FOOD, and a huge, well-stocked bar!!

Watch my full video on how to make Cottage Pie!

Cottage Pie (aka Shepherd’s Pie)

Recipe by Tanya Ott


Prep time


Cooking time




  • For the Mashed Potatoes
  • About 4 medium russet potatoes, peeled and chopped

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 50 grams unsalted butter

  • 4 Tablespoons cream or milk

  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

  • 1/4 cup shredded parmesean

  • For the Filling
  • 2 pounds ground beef or other meat of your choice

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 medium onion, chopped

  • 1 to 2 carrots, chopped

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 2 Tablespoons worchestershire sauce

  • 3 Tablespoons tomato paste

  • 250 mL red cooking wine

  • 1 to 2 springs rosemary, finely chopped

  • 250 mL beef stock

  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch

  • Salt and pepper to taste, about 1/2 teaspoon each


  • Preheat oven to 375°.
  • Brown ground beef in a large skillet, drain the grease and set aside. While the ground beef brown, boil water and salt in a large stock pot and add potato chunks. Boil until soft and then drain.
  • Add olive oil to the skillet and saute the onions and carrots until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  • Add Worcestershire sauce, tomato puree or ketchup, wine and rosemary. Stir and let simmer until the wine is mostly evaporated.
  • Brown ground beef in a large skillet, drain the grease and set aside.
  • In a small bowl, stir together the room temperature chicken stock and the cornstarch. Once mixed, add to the skillet mixture and stir to incorporate.
  • Bring to a boil and allow to boil for 2 to 3 minutes. Lower the heat and season with salt and pepper. Taste to adjust seasoning. Remove from heat and set aside while you prepare the mashed potatoes.
  • Add drained potato chunks to the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl with a hand mixer. Add the butter and mash the potatoes with the beater attachment until mostly smooth. Add beaten egg and shredded parmesan and mix. Taste and season as desired with salt and pepper.
  • Pour meat mixture into a baking dish or pan. Spread mashed potatoes evenly on top.
  • Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the gravy is bubbling and the mashed potatoes are slightly browned and everything is warmed through.

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