Cottage Pie is a rustic, savory pie of ground beef in a flavorful gravy, vegetables, topped with mashed potatoes and cheese. An easy comfort food favorite!
I have to confess I love a one dish meal, especially in the winter.
Inspired by St. Patrick’s Day, this Irish recipe is for a classic: savory Cottage Pie.
Cottage Pie is a dish with peasant roots featuring meat, vegetables and potatoes that combine to be quintessential comfort food.
What is Cottage Pie?
Cottage Pie is an easy recipe combining ground beef in a savory sauce or gravy, with vegetables.
Onion, carrot and peas are typically added to the meat then added to a baking dish.
The cottage pie is topped with mashed potatoes and cheese.
How Cottage Pie Got Its Name
Truly a dish of Great Britain, not just Ireland, the name was derived from the country folk who lived in cottages, credited with devising the savory Cottage Pie.
A British friend who lives in England always rakes the top of her cottage pie with the tines of a fork to make the potatoes have the texture of a thatched roof of a rustic cottage.
The Difference between Shepherd’s Pie and Cottage Pie
In the United States, Shepherd’s Pie is probably more well known.
Classic Shepherd’s Pie would use mutton or lamb for the protein though beef is tolerated as a swap out.
It’s such an easy recipe I make a Southwestern Turkey Shepherd’s Pie to use Thanksgiving leftovers.
The name ‘Shepherd’s Pie’ is derived from those who tend the sheep since that is the meat in the dish.
Cottage Pie actually predates Shepherd’s Pie back to the 1700’s. It originated as a dish intended to use up roast meat adding a potato crust on the top.
In Ireland potatoes were very affordable offering them a starring role in most classic Irish recipes of the time.
Ingredients in Cottage Pie
The core of the traditional Cottage Pie remains the same today:
Minced or ground beef cooked with onions, carrots, garlic and often peas, into a gravy-like sauce
Baked with the topping of mashed potatoes and usually cheese
The ingredients are divided between the main components and the ingredients for the irresistible sauce:
- Ground Beef
- Olive Oil
- Yellow Onion
- Garlic Cloves
- Flour (gluten-free or regular depending on your preference/needs)
- Red Wine
- Balsamic Vinegar
- Beef Stock
- Tamari (gluten-free) or low-sodium Soy Sauce (gluten)
- Bay Leaf
- dried Thyme
- frozen Peas
- Sharp Cheddar Cheese
- Yukon Gold Potatoes
- Kosher Salt and fresh Ground Pepper to taste
Don’t let the length of the ingredient list scare you!
There is very little preparation of the ingredients and the majority of the list are added into the sauce.
In my recipe adaptation, I used Yukon Gold potatoes which tend to be creamy when mashed and have a beautiful golden hue.
How Long Does Cottage Pie Cook?
The assembled Cottage Pie recipe cooks in aproximately 20 minutes.
Each component (the ground beef, vegetables, gravy and mashed potatoes) is cooked before the Cottage Pie is assembled.
So the final cooking time is to warm the Cottage Pie through.
Total cooking time is aproximately 85 minutes for all recipe steps.
How to Make Cottage Pie – Step by Step:
Cottage pie is an easy recipe and makes a complete meal in one casserole!
It is a relaxed, filling dish with rustic flavors and presentation.
For detailed instructions please refer to the recipe card at the bottom of this blog post.
- In a large skillet, heat the olive oil.
- Add the ground beef and cook just until the pink color has disappeared (photo 1; not yet fully cooked). Remove from the skillet and set aside.
- Heat the remaining olive oil in the skillet and add the onion, carrots, shallots and garlic. Cook until the vegetables are soft (15-20 minutes). (photo 2)
- Add the beef back to the skillet and stir to fully combine.
- Dust the flour over the skillet mixture; add the ketchup. Stir.
- Add the wine and vinegar. Bring to a low boil.
- Add the beef stock, soy sauce/tamari, bay leaf and thyme. Bring to a sturdy simmer and cook until the liquid is absorbed (45 minutes). (photo 3)
- While the beef mixture is simmering, prepare the Mashed Potatoes. (photo 4)
- Stir the frozen peas into the beef mixture and discard the bay leaf.
- Spoon into a 2 1/2 or 3 quart baking dish. Top with the mashed potatoes and sprinkle the grated cheese on top. Bakes for 20 minutes until heated through.
Can Cooked Cottage Pie Be Frozen?
Yes! It can be kept in the freezer for 4-6 months.
How to Freeze and Reheat Cottage Pie:
- Prepare the recipe as directed without the grated cheese on top.
- Allow to fully cool.
- Wrap tightly with plastic wrap followed by foil.
- Place in freezer.
- Remove the Cottage Pie from the freezer the night before serving to allow to fully defrost in the refrigerator.
- (The day of serving) Remove the plastic wrap and foil.
- Sprinkle the grated cheese on top.
- Cook in a 350 degree oven until heated through (20-30 minutes).
More International Recipes You’ll Love:
- 10 Authentic Irish Recipes for St. Patrick’s Day
- Mexican Lasagna with Hatch Chilies
- Seychelles-Style Coconut Chicken Curry
Originally published March 9, 2015; updated March 2019.