This DELICIOUS Cottage Pie is made with a mixture of ground beef, ground sausage, and mixed vegetables in a delicious gravy and baked under a layer of fluffy mashed potatoes.

This traditional English dish is a close relative to Shepherd’s Pie only it’s made with beef instead of lamb. After Thanksgiving I love to use leftover mashed potatoes (and even turkey) to make this cottage pie recipe.

Overhead photo of a cast iron pan with baked cottage pie consisting of a meat and vegetable gravy mixture topped with mashed potatoes and melted cheddar cheese.

Cottage Pie

I am soo in love with this amazing dinner! The wonderful flavors of the meat and gravy filling, paired with the creamy mashed potatoes really makes it the epitome of comfort food! It’s right up there in the “comfort food favorites” category with chicken pot pie and lasagna, and I love to make a double batch and freeze the second for a quick and easy freezer meal.

Don’t be intimidated by the long list of ingredients–it really does come together quite quickly and you can even prepare it ahead of time–see more tips on that below.

Cottage Pie vs. Shepherd’s Pie

Cottage pie is a meat pie that is topped with mashed potatoes and baked in the oven.  It’s often confused with Shepherd’s pie because, up to the 20th century, the names were used interchangeably.  Now, cottage pie and shepherd’s pie differ only in the type of ground meat they are made with.  Cottage pie has historically been made with any type of meat but is most commonly made with ground beef where Shepherd’s pie is made with lamb.  Both pies are cooked with vegetables and gravy and baked under a layer of mashed potatoes.

For Shepherd’s Pie, simply substitute ground lamb for the meat in the recipe and keep everything else the same!

What You’ll Need for Cottage Pie:

  • Meat: this cottage pie calls for ground beef and sausage but depending on the type of savory pie you want to make, you can use ground lamb (for shepherd’s pie), or essentially any leftover meat in your fridge.
  • Spices: fresh thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, salt and pepper.
  • Vegetables: onion, celery, carrots, corn, and peas.
  • Mashed potatoes: made homemade, or in the Instant Pot, or use leftovers!
  • Gravy ingredients: garlic, flour, beef stock, tomato paste, beef bouillon, Worcestershire sauce.
  • Cheese: parmesan cheese goes in the mashed potatoes and shredded cheddar cheese is added on top before baking.

How to make Cottage  Pie:

  • Prepare the mashed potatoes. Add potatoes to a saucepan with 2 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.

Lightly mashed potatoes in a saucepan with butter and sour cream added to mix in.

  • Prepare the meat. In a large, oven-safe* 12 inch skillet with sides, add the ground beef and ground sausage. 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.
  • Prepare the vegetables/gravy. Add the onion, celery and carrots to the pan and saute for about 5-8 minutes, until tender. Add garlic and flour and toss to combine. Cook for 1 minute. Add the beef broth, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, herbs and bay leaves and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Tastes and add extra seasonings, if needed. Remove bay leaves and stir in frozen peas and corn and cooked meat.

A cast iron skillet with a mixture of cooked ground beef, carrots, peas, corn and a gravy sauce.

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

A cast iron skillet with the filling for cottage pie and half of the pan with mashed potatoes smoothed on top.

  • Bake. 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.

Baked cottage pie with cheddar cheese melted on top of a layer of mashed potatoes inside a cast iron pan.

What to serve with Cottage Pie:

This is really a complete meal, so I don’t necessarily think it needs a side, but if you’d like to add something else to eat with it I would suggest something light like:

Making Ahead, Storing, and Freezing Cottage Pie:

To make ahead:  Cottage pie can be made up to 3 days in advance.  For best results, store the mashed potatoes and filling separately in the fridge until ready to assemble the cottage pie. Before topping the pie with the mashed potatoes you may want to add a little more milk to them (and season them if needed) to soften them.

To Store: Store leftover cottage pie covered in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.  Adjust storage times based on how fresh your ingredients were to begin with and take care to remember that leftover meat should not be stored for more than 5 days after it’s originally cooked.

To Freeze: To freeze cottage pie, bake in a freezer safe casserole dish and allow it to cool completely.  Double wrap it in plastic wrap and tinfoil and store it in the freezer for up to 2 months.  To reheat, place the frozen pie in the oven at 350ºF for about 1 hour and 30 minutes, or until warmed through.

A side profile of a half eaten pan of cottage pie showing the different layers including a bottom layer of meat and vegetable mixture, mashed potatoes on top, and then melted cheese.

Cottage Pie Variations:

You can customize cottage pie based on your dietary needs or preferences.

  • For Shepherd’s Pie: Substitute lamb (I prefer ground lamb) for the ground beef and sausage.  Keep all else the same.
  • For Vegan Cottage Pie:  Leave out the meat and either double the vegetables or add a cup of cooked barley, farro, or wild rice.  Use veggie stock instead of beef stock/bouillon and substitute wine vinegar for Worcestershire if desired.  Additionally, use vegan butter, and vegan milk as well as a sour cream substitute such as coconut milk for the mashed potatoes.  Finally, omit the cheese from the recipe!
  • For Vegetarian Cottage Pie:  Leave out the 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.
  • For Gluten-Free Cottage Pie:  The flour in cottage pie is used to thicken the gravy.  In place of flour you can make a cornstarch slurry by mixing 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with beef broth in step 8.

A serving of cottage pie on a plate with a spoon and cottage pie in the background.

 

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Recipe

Overhead photo of a cast iron pan with baked cottage pie consisting of a meat and vegetable gravy mixture topped with mashed potatoes and melted cheddar cheese.
Prep 30 mins
Cook 1 hr
Total 1 hr 30 mins
Add to Meal Plan

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 black pepper
  • 1 small yellow onion , chopped
  • 2 ribs celery , chopped
  • 1-2 carrots , chopped (about 1 cup)
  • cloves garlic , minced
  • 1/4  cup  white flour
  • 2 1/2 cups 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

  • 2 1/2 pounds potatoes , Yukon gold or russet potatoes
  • ¼ cup  sour cream
  • ½ cup milk
  • tablespoons butter
  • Salt and pepper , to taste
  • ½ cup freshly shredded parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese , for topping

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 filling: 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 saute for about 5-8 minutes, until tender. Add garlic and flour and toss to combine. Cook for 1 minute.
  • Add the beef broth, 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 the pie: 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.

Notes

  • If you don’t have a skillet that’s large enough, or oven-safe, you can add the meat mixture to a 9x13 inch pan and then top it with the mashed potatoes. I just like to avoid the extra dish!
  • To make ahead:  Cottage pie can be made up to 3 days in advance.  For best results, store the mashed potatoes and filling separately in the fridge until ready to assemble the cottage pie. Before topping the pie with the mashed potatoes you may want to add a little more milk to them (and season them if needed) to soften them.
    To Store: Store leftover cottage pie covered in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.  Adjust storage times based on how fresh your ingredients were to begin with and take care to remember that leftover meat should not be stored for more than 5 days after it was originally cooked.
    To Freeze: To freeze cottage pie, bake it as directed in a freezer-safe aluminum pan and allow it to cool completely.  Double wrap it in plastic wrap and tinfoil and store it in the freezer for up to 2 months.  To reheat, place the frozen pie in the oven at 350ºF for 1 ½ hours.

Nutrition

Serving: 8gCalories: 524kcalCarbohydrates: 33gProtein: 34gFat: 29gSaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 106mgSodium: 1162mgPotassium: 1329mgFiber: 5gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 1841IUVitamin C: 25mgCalcium: 228mgIron: 8mg

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About The Author

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. 4 stars
    I find that tomato paste needs mor than 5 minutes to cook out the bitter, I simmered for 30 minutes. Most Brit cottage suggest 30 to 45 minutes. Otherwise spot on with all ingredients. Thanks!

  2. 5 stars
    Now that autumn is here I get to make this delicious recipe again! I’ve made it several times, every time wonderful. Once, I made it vegetarian by using lentils. The broth/sauce is so yummy that it is enough to flavor the lentils.

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