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Traditional Cottage Pie Recipe

Traditional Cottage Pie Recipe

Traditional Cottage Pie Recipe

This is a traditional cottage pie recipe that all the family will love. There are not many meals that get everyone’s approval more than this simple traditional Cottage Pie recipe.

This is typical British fare and we love it as we can cook a large batch which will keep us going for a while – it freezes nicely and reheats well.

cottage pie

This recipe is a great meal prep idea. We make a large batch and freeze individual cottage pies in takeout foil pans in the freezer, which can be reheated in the oven during the week to feed one or two persons. We always have a couple frozen in our freezer waiting to be eaten!

Cottage Pie or Shepherd’s Pie?

A British Cottage pie recipe uses ground beef as the primary ingredient, whilst a Shepherd’s Pie uses ground lamb.

minced beef

So to make a Shepherd’s Pie you just have to substitute the ground beef in this recipe for ground lamb. So this recipe also doubles up as an easy traditional Shepherd’s pie recipe!

cottage pie filling
Cottage pie filling

A little more on the origins of the two types of pie here: British pie origins

cottage pie shepherd's pie
Traditional Cottage Pie Recipe

Cottage pie ingredients

There are several ways to make this dish. Some people use celery for example.

As we have some fussy non-celery-likers in this house, I have left this ingredient out, and to be honest, I prefer it like this.

We use carrots, onions, sweet corn and peas as the main ingredients apart from the potato and mince, but you are of course free to experiment.

You will find that I have included Marmite as a secret ingredient here.

Marmite 250g Single Pack

This is a really typical British ingredient and is just yeast extract that I use to cook in some of my recipes (try my marmite cheese toast, for example!) 

They say you love it or you hate it. But all my kids were brought up eating it, and all of them still love it.

shepherd's pie

In Australia, they have a similar product called Vegemite. It is similar to Marmite, but all it does is add a bit of extra taste and saltiness to the sauce.

If you do not have it in the cupboard do not worry, you can leave it out, but I find it does improve the taste.

Mashed Potato on Traditional Cottage Pie

The secret to making this simple cottage pie recipe a success is getting it right with the amount of potato, and making a perfect mashed potato.

You need to have enough mashed potato to cover all the sauce so that it can cook nicely underneath the potato ceiling.

You are actually better off making a bit too much mashed potato.

Then if you do have some leftovers you can make some fish cakes, bubble and squeak cakes or potato patties later.

shepherd's pie recipe

In my mashed potato recipe you can see my own ‘secret ingredient’ for the mashed potato – a bit of Hellmann’s Real Mayonnaise! 

It just adds a bit of creaminess that is SOOOO good!

It is also nice if you can leave some peaks on the potato. This will give you some nice crispy bits on the top when it is finished.

This is a very tasty and easy-to-make dish that anyone can try, and it is difficult to get wrong.

shepherd's pie with lamb

The quantities given below are enough to fill a 3-liter oven dish like the one shown in the pictures. This will give you 6-8 portions.

And again, if there is anything left over, it will keep well in the fridge or freezer for later.

If you try this recipe, please let me know in the comments section below how you get on!

How to make an Easy Cottage Pie

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traditional cottage pie

Traditional Cottage Pie

Yield: 8
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

This delicious cottage pie is typical British fare that will keep you warm in the winter. Replace the minced beef with minced lamb for a super shepherd's pie recipe.


  • 1 Tbsp Olive oil
  • 1 kg Ground beef
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 large Onion, finely chopped
  • 1 sprig Rosemary, leaves removed and chopped finely
  • 2 cups of frozen peas (petit pois)
  • 4 Carrots chopped into rounds, then quartered into roughly 1cm pieces
  • 100g sweetcorn, drained
  • 600ml Beef stock
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 2 tsp Marmite
  • 1 tbsp Tomato puree
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp mixed herbs
  • Parmesan Cheese, finely grated
  • For the mash:
  • 1kg Potatoes, peeled and halved (the best tasting ones you can find)
  • 20 g Knob of Butter
  • 1/2 tsp Nutmeg powder
  • 50 ml Splash of Milk
  • 2 tbsp Hellmann’s Mayonnaise
  • 50g Cheddar Cheese, grated
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Boil a pan of water with a pinch of salt, and use it to boil the potatoes. 
  2. In the meantime, use some olive oil to fry the garlic and onions (I use my wok). When soft, place into oven dish.
  3. Then fry the mince in the same pan until all browned. When ready, pour away any excess fat from the meat.
  4. Then add the onion, garlic, carrots, sweetcorn, Worcestershire sauce, Marmite, beef stock and tomato puree, bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir intermittently.
  5. Remove the potatoes from the heat after about 15 minutes, when the potatoes are tender but before they start falling to pieces. Drain the potatoes, add the butter, milk and mayonnaise then mash them using a masher until they are smooth.
  6. Then add the cheddar cheese to the potatoes, the nutmeg, salt and pepper and mix all together. Do this when the potatoes are still hot. Try and get as smooth as possible, removing all the lumps if you can.
  7. Finally, add the peas, the mixed herbs and rosemary to the meat sauce before seasoning to suit, and pouring into the oven dish. 
  8. Then cover the meat sauce with the mash, smoothing it over the entire surface. Then use a fork to run lines through the mash, and raise a few peaks. Finally, sprinkle with some Parmesan to finish off.
  9. Cover and keep the oven dish in the fridge until you plan to cook this meal (same day).
  10. To cook, place in a pre-heated oven at 180C for 40-50 minutes or until the sauce is nicely bubbling and the mash has browned nicely.


If you get the meat sauce right, this meal needs no condiments. The vegetables complement each other perfectly and give a great tasting filling. 

However, I must admit that it does go down well with some Heinz tomato ketchup 😃.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 622Total Fat: 31gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 126mgSodium: 558mgCarbohydrates: 41gFiber: 6gSugar: 6gProtein: 44g

This nutrition information was automatically calculated by Nutritionix, but may not be 100% accurate.

Did you make this recipe?

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Monday 18th of July 2022

It was an easy winters night keeper and you were right that there was no need to use condiments and normally I’d be giving it a bit more sauce for boost but it was lovely and kind of shortened the quantity of meat to 400gms of mince and it filled a loaf pan with potato on top and browned the potato in the air fryer and enough for mince on toast tomorrow. Vegemite works well you don’t have to buy any of those other brands and of course the favour was better for it and used celery as well .


Monday 29th of August 2022

Of course, vegemite would do the trick. Celery also a good addition. Glad it worked out. You must be in Aus?

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