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How to Cook Cottage Pie

Updated on December 2, 2015
Gloriousconfusion profile image

Before I became a London solicitor, I used to help in our family restaurant. I love good food, enjoy creative cooking and hate food waste,

Cottage Pie Just Out of the Oven


Cottage Pie, sometimes called Shepherds Pie, is a Family Favorite in my Home

Cottage pie is a traditional English dish, made with minced beef, topped with mashed potato which has been browned and crisped in the oven. My mother taught me how to cook cottage pie, and I have been making it for over fifty years, improving on it as time goes by. This is the best cottage pie you will ever taste, and, once you have tried my recipe, I know you'll agree.

Some people call this Cottage Pie "Shepherd's Pie", but what does it matter as long as it tastes good? And it does!

Cottage Pie is Easy to Eat Because it has Everything in the Same Dish

Children love it because it is soft and tasty; elderly people love cottage pie because it'is soft and easy to eat if they have difficulty chewing anything tough; and everyone in between loves it because it's delicious.

Cottage Pie is Also Fairly Easy to Make, Very Cheap and Nutritious

My detailed instructions and explanations for this Cottage Pie Recipe will help beginners to give it a try

Most of the seasoning mentioned below is optional, and if you prefer your cottage pie to have a bland flavor, with fewer of the highly-flavored ingredients, or if you simply haven't got some of the ingredients to hand, you can still make a good cottage pie as long as you have the main ingredients, namely minced beef, onion, tomato and potato.

You can rate this recipe - did you enjoy it?

4.5 stars from 2 ratings of How to Cook Cottage Pie

Cook Time

Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 45 min
Ready in: 1 hour 5 min
Yields: Serves three people

Equipment for making Cottage Pie

The main utensil is a large saucepan and an oven-proof baking dish

- Medium-sized Saucepan

- Oven-Proof Baking Dish

- Wooden spoon for mixing

- Blender or mincer if the meat is not already minced

- Potato Peeler

- Potato Masher (you can use a fork if you haven't got a masher)

A Suitable Pie Dish for Cottage Pie - You can Take it Straight From Oven to Table

Pyrex No Leak Lids 3 Cup Rectangle Baking Dish with Plastic Lid
Pyrex No Leak Lids 3 Cup Rectangle Baking Dish with Plastic Lid

This is similar to the Pyrex oven-proof baking dish that I myself use to make cottage pie.

It is just big enough for three portions, and you can buy a bigger one if you prefer. Features:

- Leak proof and air tight seal for secure storage.

- Vents for microwaving

- Microwave and dishwasher safe


Ingredients Needed for Cottage Pie Recipe - to Serve Three People - You wll need to vary the quantities if you want to feed more people


Assemble the Cottage Pie Ingredients before you start:

  • 13 oz. (350 g) Minced beef, preferably best beef mince, which is lower in fat
  • 3 medium sized Potatoes
  • 1 medium sized Onion
  • 1 tin of Chopped tomatoes
  • 4 Cabbage leaves
  • 2 tablespoons Olive oil, or other cooking oil
  • 2 tablespoons of Milk
  • 1 large blob of Butter
  • 2 tablespoons of Sage and Onion stuffing
  • 2 cloves of Garlic
  • 1 teaspoon of Mixed herbs
  • 1 Clove
  • 1 Bay leaf (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • A few drops Worcestershire Sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Bisto or other gravy thickener
  • Salt, to taste

NB: Precise amounts are not particularly important for this recipe, so you can add more or less or vary the ingredients,

Method for Making Cottage Pie

Your Cottage Pie Dinner Will be ready in 50 Minutes

Method for making Cottage Pie:

1. Fry the onion in the olive oil in a saucepan on a low heat until golden brown. Add the minced meat, breaking it up and squashing it with the wooden spoon. Continue to turn the meat and squash it down, so that it cooks and browns evenly. (If the meat is not broken up and squashed, it will form into lumps).

2. Add the garlic, and all the spice and herbs, stirring them in to spread them through the meat. Add the tinned chopped tomatoes and a little Worcestershire Sauce, stir well, and simmer on a low heat for about twenty minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent the mixture sticking to the pan. If the meat starts to dry out, add a little water.

3. Whilst the meat cooks, peel and cut the potatoes into small pieces, cover them with water in a saucepan and boil for about 15 minutes until soft, adding a small amount of salt if desired. Drain off most of the water, leaving about 1 tablespoon of of the water in the saucepan with the potatoes. Add the milk, and then mash the potatoes into the liquid, ending up with a fairly soft consistency.

4. Wash the cabbage and boil for 5 - 10 minutes. You can cook them in with the potatoes, and then fish them out and save separately before you mash the potatoes. This will save dirtying another saucepanpan. Do not cook the cabbage for long, as it will cook further in the Cottage pie.

5. Add the Bisto or other gravy thickening to the minced meat and stir until the gravy has thickened. Then spoon the meat mixture into a medium-sized oven-proof dish.

6. Sprinkle the sage and onion stuffing mixture evenly over the meat. Then cover the meat evenly with the cabbage. This will stop the gravy seeping into the mashed potatoes.

7. Spread the mashed potato evenly on top of the cabbage, using a fork to make a light pattern in the potato, and then put some small blobs of butter on the top. The butter will melt whilst cooking and spread into the ridges formed by the fork.

8. Cook the cottage pie on the top shelf in a medium hot oven until golden brown for about 30 minutes, depending on the oven and heat. Check whether it is done - it should be golden brown and slightly burnt . If necessary, cook for a further 5 - 10 minutes.

Some Minor Points about Cottage Pie:

A little advice from one who knows!

1. If your family say they don't like vegetables, Cottage Pie is an ideal meal for disguising secretly added vegetables - for instance you can add a grated carrot, greens or finely chopped celery to the minced meat, and nobody would notice the difference. Just don't tell them what's gone into your Cottage Pie.


2. For health reasons, I would suggest that you use as little salt as possible, and that you use olive oil for frying, as it consists of polyunsaturated fat, and is therefore healthier than most other cooking oils. You could even use a little olive oil on top of the potato instead of butter, if you are really health-conscious, but I must say that butter does give the mashed potato topping a better flavor.

How do You Like to Buy Your Minced Meat? - Take this Poll about minced meat and see how many people share your views

Many people like to buy their beef in a whole piece, and then mince it themselves, so that they know what's going into it, whilst others are happy to buy the meat already minced.

Currently there is a scandal in the UK about Polish suppliers adding horse meat to minced meat used for commercial beefburgers without the customers' knowledge, and it has led to the withdrawal of millions of beefburgers in many well-known shops. So how do you like to buy your meat?

Do you mince your own meat?

See results

Here's a Foodie Shopping Bag - You Can Get this Egglantine the Eggcentric Egg Design on a Shopping Tote on Zazzle:

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    • Gloriousconfusion profile image

      Diana Grant 2 years ago from United Kingdom

      Yes, because my mother always did that, I just followed her, and of course, for children who don't like greens, this is a good way of hiding them!

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 2 years ago from Canada

      When I first visited this recipe I did not realize that you use cabbage leaves in your recipe. I have never tried that before. Learn something new everyday. How unique each person's recipes are.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 3 years ago from Canada

      I grew up in a large family so hamburger cooked up a dozen different ways was a staple in our meals. You reminded me that it has been awhile since I've cooked up this very economical dish.

    • MartiLawrence profile image

      Marti Lawrence 3 years ago from Grain Valley, Missouri

      Looks delicious!

    • Gloriousconfusion profile image

      Diana Grant 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      @Keith J Winter: I like the idea of cheese on top - I bet that tastes lovely

    • Keith J Winter profile image

      Keith Winter 4 years ago from Spain

      I often make cottage pie. It has become a favourite with my Spanish friends. My variation is to fry onions until they are brown, and then line the bottom of the casserole dish before adding the other ingredients. I often finish off with a little grated cheddar on top of the potato.

    • profile image

      ohcaroline 4 years ago

      I've never had cottage pie. I may have to give it a try.

    • Gloriousconfusion profile image

      Diana Grant 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      @CampingmanNW: That's great - hope you enjoy it

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 4 years ago from Central Florida

      We have a New England variation of this once in a while. Always warming and tasty. Yours look lovely.

    • CampingmanNW profile image

      CampingmanNW 4 years ago

      I have printed your recipe to add to my collection, thank you very much

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      It's called Shepard Pie here where I'm from and hmm good just had it the other day for dinner. Nice lens, congrats

    • HeatherM2 profile image

      HeatherM2 4 years ago

      I haven't cooked Shepards Pie in a long time... hmm great idea. Congrats on your purple star :)

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 4 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Sounds delicious! Congratulations on the purple star!

    • Gloriousconfusion profile image

      Diana Grant 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      @SusanDeppner: Thanks

    • Gloriousconfusion profile image

      Diana Grant 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      @AlleyCatLane: Did you mean that the potatoes are topped with ground beef, which might make them a bit soggy???? Or did you mean beef topped with potatoes? Much nicer I would have thought.

    • Gloriousconfusion profile image

      Diana Grant 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      @Michey LM: I'm sure you'll both enjoy it!

    • Gloriousconfusion profile image

      Diana Grant 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      @Frischy: I think Picky will enjoy it!

    • Frischy profile image

      Frischy 4 years ago from Kentucky, USA

      This looks good, and another recipe of yours I might be able to tempt my picky eater to try. Thanks!

    • Michey LM profile image

      Michey LM 4 years ago

      I know it under the name of Shepherds Pie... my husband used to make his own version which was delicious.

      Some day I'll try your recipe, so I pin to have it handy.

    • profile image

      AlleyCatLane 4 years ago

      Sherpard's Pie in my neck of the woods is made with mashed potatoes topped with ground beef and then cheddar cheese. Yummy!

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 4 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      I don't think I have ever had cottage pie. It really sounds great. Thanks for sharing this recipe.

    • profile image

      flowski lm 4 years ago

      I'd love to try this dish, sounds delicious!

    • Gloriousconfusion profile image

      Diana Grant 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      @Paul Ward: Grated cheese - a nice addition. I'm not so keen on baked beans as an accompaniment for my particular cottage pie recipe, as it has cabbage in it, and I'm not sure they go together. I prefer peas, cabbage or sprouts.

    • Paul Ward profile image

      Paul 4 years ago from Liverpool, England

      One of my favourites. I like a bit of grated cheddar in the mashed potatoes and serve it with baked beans - great on a winter night,.