This is the best homemade cottage pie recipe and is my all-time favourite! It’s a perfect recipe for cold, gloomy days when you need something warm, comforting and delicious. You can prep this dish in advance or even freeze it for later!

the best homemade cottage pie


Cottage pie is the ultimate British comfort dish that layers seasoned ground beef and vegetables beneath a creamy blanket of mashed potatoes. Baked until bubbling, golden and crispy on the edges.

The name “cottage pie” dates back to the 18th century in England. Traditionally, cottage pie was made with leftover roasted meat, minced and combined with vegetables to create a flavourful filling. Over time, ground beef became the primary meat used in this dish, leading to the cottage pie we know today.

the best homemade cottage pie


  • Beef mince: Choose 15-20% fat beef mince to ensure a juicy and flavorful filling.
  • Aromatics: Garlic and onions add depth and aroma to the dish.
  • Vegetables: Carrots and celery provide a delicious crunch and natural sweetness.
  • Flavor boosters: Ingredients like tomato puree, English mustard, and Worcestershire sauce elevate the taste profile.
  • Thyme: Fresh thyme or dried thyme brings a hint of earthiness and warmth.
  • Red wine: For those seeking an extra layer of complexity, red wine enhances the depth of flavor.
  • Potatoes: Choose starchy potatoes like Maris Piper or King Edward for creamy mashed potatoes.
  • Dairy: Whole milk, unsalted butter, and grated mild cheddar cheese create delicious mashed potatoes.
the best homemade cottage pie


Please note: This is just an overview – the full ingredients and directions are in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.

Step 1: Prepare the filling.

  • Heat olive oil and sauté garlic and onions until soft.
  • Add carrots and celery, followed by beef mince. Cook until browned.
  • Stir in tomato paste, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, salt, and pepper.
  • Deglaze with red wine, if using. Add flour and beef broth. Simmer until thickened.
  • Transfer to a baking dish and let it cool.

Step 2: Make the mashed potatoes.

  • Boil potatoes until tender. Drain and mash with milk and butter until smooth.
  • Add grated cheddar, salt, and pepper. Mix until creamy.

Step 3: Assemble and bake.

  • Preheat the oven and spoon mashed potatoes on top of the beef filling, creating a decorative pattern.
  • Bake until golden brown and bubbling. Let cool slightly before serving.
the best homemade cottage pie


Leftover cottage pie can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. You can also make cottage pie ahead and refrigerate (unbaked) for up to 2 days. Alternatively, you can freeze it for up to 3 months. When reheating, cover with foil to prevent drying out and bake until heated through.


  • Perfect mashed potatoes: Creamy mashed potatoes are essential. Use starchy potatoes and mash them with milk and butter until silky smooth.
  • Let it simmer: Let the filling simmer, allowing the flavors to meld. Don’t rush this step; patience is the secret ingredient.
  • Cheese lover’s twist: The addition of cheddar cheese to the mashed potatoes adds a rich flavor and helps the potato layer crisp up in the oven. Don’t skimp on the cheese!
the best homemade cottage pie


This best homemade cottage pie pairs wonderfully with simple sides like steamed vegetables, buttered peas, or a crisp green salad. For a complete British experience, serve with a dollop of tangy brown sauce or a splash of gravy.

You may also enjoy…

Juicy Garlic Parmesan Chicken Thighs with Baby Potatoes

Roasted Pumpkin Orzo with Crispy Prosciutto

One-Pan Creamy Parmesan Tuscan Chicken

Authentic Chicken Quesadilla

Caprese Stuffed Chicken


What’s the difference between Cottage Pie and Shepherd’s Pie?

Cottage pie traditionally features minced beef as its main ingredient, whereas Shepherd’s pie is made with minced lamb. Despite this distinction, both pies share the same comforting concept of a meat filling topped with creamy mashed potatoes.

Can I make this recipe vegetarian?

Certainly! Substitute the beef mince with plant-based alternatives like lentils, mushrooms, or textured vegetable protein for a satisfying vegetarian version.

Can I make cottage pie in advance?

Absolutely! Cottage pie can be assembled and refrigerated or frozen before baking. Just adjust the baking time accordingly when reheating.

The Best Homemade Cottage Pie

Recipe by Magda | Good Food Discoveries
5.0 from 21 votes
Course: DinnerCuisine: British, IrishDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time




Total time





This is the best homemade cottage pie recipe and is my all-time favourite! It’s a perfect recipe for cold, gloomy days when you need something warm, comforting and delicious. You can prep this dish in advance or even freeze it for later!

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  • For the beef filling:
  • 750g (1.65 lb) 15-20% fat beef mince

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1 large onion, finely diced

  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced

  • 2 celery sticks, diced

  • 2 tablespoons tomato puree/paste

  • 2 teaspoons English mustard

  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

  • 4 springs fresh thyme leaves (or 1 tsp dried)

  • ½ cup (125ml) dry red wine (optional)

  • 2 tablespoons plain (all-purpose) flour

  • 2 cups (500ml) beef broth

  • Salt and pepper, to taste

  • For the mashed potatoes:
  • 1kg (2.2 lb) potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

  • 1/3 cup (80ml) whole milk

  • 4 tablespoons (55g) unsalted butter

  • 150g (1 ½ cup) grated mild cheddar cheese

  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  • Prepare the beef filling:
  • Heat olive oil in a large frying pan or skillet over medium heat. Add onions and garlic, and cook until they begin to soften.
  • Add diced carrot and celery and cook for another minute.
  • Increase heat to high. Add ground beef, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, and cook until browned and no longer pink. Drain excess fat if necessary.
  • Stir in tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, fresh or dried thyme, salt, and pepper. Cook for a few minutes.
  • Pour in red wine (if using) and deglaze.
  • Add plain flour and mix with beef. Pour in beef broth and let the mixture simmer until it thickens, stirring often.
  • Transfer to a large oven dish (mine is 12 x 9 inches), spread evenly and set aside to cool down.
  • Make the mashed potatoes:
  • Boil the potatoes in salted water until tender. Drain well.
  • Add milk and butter. Mash very well. Taste and add salt if needed. The mashed potatoes should be creamy and smooth.
  • Add grated cheddar and combine well with a mash.
  • Assemble and bake:
  • Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
  • Spoon the mashed potatoes on top of the beef filling, spreading them with a fork or spoon to create a decorative pattern.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the filling is bubbling around the edges.
  • Let the cottage pie cool for a few minutes before serving. Garnish with freshly chopped parsley and enjoy!

Recipe Video


  • Leftover cottage pie can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
  • Make sure to cool down the beef filling before topping it with mashed potatoes.
  • The nutrition information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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  1. Would this recipe work without the cheddar cheese?

    1. Absolutely! Cheese adds flavour and helps mash crisp up in the oven, but the recipe works perfectly without cheese.

  2. Excellent! My family loved this recipe and ate all the leftovers in 1 day.

  3. Our family loved this recipe and ate all the leftovers in 1 day!

  4. Super good recipe we enjoyed it