This easy Cottage Pie recipe has a flavorful gravy with ground beef, ground sausage, and mixed vegetables topped with fluffy mashed potatoes and cheddar cheese.

Want some more of my favorite meals? Try Taco Soup, Chicken Tetrazzini, Chicken Casserole, or Harissa Pasta!

An easy Cottage Pie recipe in a cast iron pan with some meat and vegetable gravy showing under the layer of cheesy mashed potatoes.

Why I love Cottage Pie:

  • Comfort Food – There is just something about old-fashioned comfort foods that warm my heart…and belly and Cottage pie is on my favorite’s list (right there with Chicken Pot Pie and Lasagna).
  • Delicious – Even my pickiest eaters enjoy this meal because the meat and gravy filling is flavorful and perfectly complimented by the mashed potatoes.
  • Practical – I love that I can whip this up with pantry ingredients anytime, and it’s one of my favorite things to use up my leftover Mashed Potatoes. It also makes an excellent freezer meal, so go ahead and double it.

Cottage Pie vs. Shepherd’s Pie

The main difference between Cottage Pie and Shepherd’s pie is cottage pie uses ground beef, and Shepherd’s pie uses ground lamb. Both pies are cooked with vegetables and gravy and baked under a layer of mashed potatoes. To make Shepherd’s pie using this recipe, simply substitute ground lamb.

How to make Cottage Pie:

Make Mashed Potatoes (or use leftover mashed potatoes): Boil potatoes in a saucepan with 2 inches of water until fork tender, about 12-15 minutes. Drain water and allow potatoes to steam in the pot with a lid for a few minutes. Mash lightly with potato masher, then add butter, sour cream, milk, parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper and combine.

A pot of homemade mashed potatoes with sour cream and butter on top, ready to be mixed.

Prepare meat Gravy: Brown ground beef and sausage in a 12 inch oven safe skillet, breaking it into small pieces as it cooks. Drain some of the grease and remove meat to a plate. Sauté onion, celery, and carrots in the pan for 5-8 minutes, until tender. Add garlic and flour then toss together. Cook for 1 minute. Add beef broth, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, herbs, and bay leaves then stir. Simmer for 5 minutes then taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Remove bay leaves then stir in frozen peas, corn, and cooked meat.

Ground beef, sausage, and vegetables being mixed together to make an easy shepherd's pie.

Assemble: Spoon the mashed potatoes over the meat mixture to completely cover the top. Sprinkle with shredded cheddar cheese.

A homemade Cottage Pie in a cast iron pan with fluffy mashed potatoes being placed on top of the homemade gravy.

Bake for about 30 minutes, until golden and bubbling. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before serving to allow the gravy sauce in the meat mixture to cool and thicken.

A plate with the best Cottage Pie recipe with fluffy and cheesy mashed potatoes on top.

Variations:

Shepherd’s Pie: Use ground lamb in place of ground beef.

Vegetarian: Omit meat and either double the vegetables or add a cup of cooked barley, farro, or wild rice.  Use vegetable stock instead of beef stock, and substitute wine vinegar for Worcestershire if desired.

Gluten-Free: Replace flour by mixing 1 tablespoon of cornstarch to the beef broth before adding to the pan.

Making Ahead, Storing, and Freezing Instructions:

To Make Ahead:  Cook the meat gravy and mashed potatoes and store separately in the fridge for up to 3 days. Rewarm the mashed potatoes in the microwave with a little splash of milk, to re-soften them, and then assemble before baking.

To Freeze: Cover with plastic wrap and aluminum foil and freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw completely before baking until warmed through.

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Recipe

An easy Cottage Pie recipe in a cast iron pan with some meat and vegetable gravy showing under the layer of cheesy mashed potatoes.
Prep 30 minutes
Cook 1 hour
Total 1 hour 30 minutes
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Ingredients
 
 

For the Filling:

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 lb ground sausage (I use Jimmy Dean pork sausage)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small yellow onion , chopped
  • 2 ribs celery , chopped
  • 1-2 carrots , chopped (about 1 cup)
  • cloves garlic , minced
  • 1/4  cup  all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups low-sodium beef broth
  • tablespoons  tomato paste
  • cube beef bouillon
  • tablespoons  Worcestershire sauce
  • teaspoon  fresh thyme , chopped (or ¼ teaspoon dried thyme)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary , chopped (or ¼ teaspoon dried rosemary)
  • bay leaves
  • ½ cup frozen corn
  • ½ cup frozen peas

For the mashed potatoes

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Make mashed potatoes: Add potatoes to a saucepan with 3 inches of water. Cover and bring to a boil. Cook until fork tender, about 12-15 minutes.
  • Drain the water and leave the potatoes in the pot. Cover with the lid and allow to steam for a few minutes.
  • Mash the potatoes lightly with a potato masher (avoid over-mixing the potatoes). Add butter, sour cream, milk, parmesan cheese and salt and pepper and stir just until smooth. Set aside.
  • Make the meat gravy: In a large, oven-safe* 12 inch skillet with sides, add the ground beef and ground sausage (or ground lamb, to make shepherd's pie). Season with salt and pepper.
  • Cook over medium heat until browned, breaking the meat into small pieces with a wooden spoon as it cooks.  Drain some of the grease (reserving some in the pan) and remove meat to a plate.
  • Add the onion, celery and carrots to the pan and sauté for about 5-8 minutes, until tender. Add garlic and flour and toss to combine. Cook for 1 minute.
  • Add the beef broth, bouillon cube, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, herbs, and bay leaves and stir to combine.
  • Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Taste and add extra seasonings, if needed. Remove bay leaves and stir in frozen peas, corn, and cooked meat.
  • Assemble: Spoon the mashed potatoes over the meat mixture to completely cover the top. Sprinkle with shredded cheddar cheese.
  • Bake for about 30 minutes, until golden and bubbling. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before serving, to allow the gravy sauce in the meat mixture to cool and thicken.
  • Store leftovers in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. 

Notes

Serving size is about 1 ¼ cups.
Skillet size: If you don’t have large enough oven-safe skillet, assemble cottage pie in a 9×13 inch pan.
For Shepherd’s Pie: Substitute ground lamb. 
Vegetarian:  Omit meat and either double the vegetables or add a cup of cooked barley, farro, or wild rice.  Use vegetable stock instead of beef stock, and substitute wine vinegar for Worcestershire if desired.
Gluten-Free: Replace flour by mixing 1 tablespoon of cornstarch to the beef broth before adding to the pan.
Make Ahead Instructions:  Cook the meat gravy and mashed potatoes and store separately in the fridge for up to 3 days. Rewarm the mashed potatoes in the microwave with a little splash of milk, to re-soften them, and then assemble before baking.
Freezing Instructions: Cover with plastic wrap and aluminum foil and freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw completely before baking until warmed through.

Nutrition

Serving: 8gCalories: 589kcalCarbohydrates: 41gProtein: 30gFat: 34gSaturated Fat: 15gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 109mgSodium: 1249mgPotassium: 1298mgFiber: 3gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 2610IUVitamin C: 14mgCalcium: 189mgIron: 4mg

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I originally shared this recipe October 2019. Updated November 2023.

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Lauren Allen

Welcome! I’m Lauren, a mom of four and lover of good food. Here you’ll find easy recipes and weeknight meal ideas made with real ingredients, with step-by-step photos and videos.

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Comments

  1. I found this super bland. I TRIPLED the tomato paste, garlic and Worcestershire. More spices were needed like garlic powder, onion powder and celery salt. Also added franks hot sauce. Made it more edible but was still missing something, added wine and brown sugar, perfection!

  2. 5 stars
    I made this last night verbatim EXCEPT i sautéed my veggies in some red wine..also not a huge lamb fan so i loved the meats in this version…this was absolutely punched with flavor ! My boyfriend was a huge fan – served with flaky layer biscuits 🙂 Huge comfrot meal

  3. 5 stars
    Excellent!! This dinner was delicious and easy to make. 3 out of 5 kids asked for it to be their special birthday dinner this year.

  4. Excellent recipe! The meat sauce is outstanding. Made this with few departures. I used I used organic beef but decided to go with Jimmy Dean sausage. I used organic beef bone broth and a heaping teaspoon of “Better than Bouillon” low-sodium organic vegetable concentrate instead of a bouillon cube. I added 2/3rds cup frozen peas and 2/3rds cup frozen corn. I added no salt or pepper but I did use a scant teaspoon of “Devil’s Dust” seasoning from a company called Spice & Tea Merchants ( spice merchants.biz ) and about 1/4 teaspoon “Black Garlic” from Trader Joe’s in addition to the recommended fresh garlic. I used salted butter in the mashed potatoes. The finished dish did not want for salt. The flavor really popped,—and that sauce…Will def make this again! Thank you.

  5. Ummm…the explanation of the difference between cottage and shepherds pie says “lab” instead of “lamb”. Dog lovers might be offended. 😉 My family loves your recipes though. They’re all delicious. I like trying new foods too. We’re vegetarian but have no trouble subbing in vegetables where needed. Your meal plans are fun and a blessing.

    1. Oops, that’s quite the typo – definitely meant ‘lamb’ and not ‘lab’! 😅 Thanks for pointing it out, and no offense to dog lovers intended! Really glad to hear you and your family are enjoying the recipes, and it’s awesome you’re finding them easy to adapt to vegetarian. Thanks for the kind words about the meal plans – it’s great to know they’re making mealtime fun and a bit easier.

  6. 5 stars
    absolutely delish. I doubled the mixture to save some for the freezer to have ready for a quick meal. Oh, and I used a lot more mashed potatoes because #boymom LOL

  7. Hi, this looks good, except it is cottage pie with a twist (adding the sausage). It is NOT Sheppard’s Pie, that is made with lamb.

  8. 5 stars
    I made it and it turned out perfect! I did double the veggies and I added a teaspoon of marjoram for an extra kick.All herbs I used were fresh fr6om my herb garden. I also prefer and use fresh peas to frozen. I’ve made cottage pie many times. This recipe is closest to mine and was a big hit with my British husband so that’s high praise! Really easy to follow.

  9. 5 stars
    Super super yummy! Best recipe I’ve found!

    Question.. I was wanting to make this & freeze it. Do we cook it & freeze it with the potatoes on top? I didn’t know if yhe consistency of the mashed potatoes would change or not.

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