Cottage Pie (Shepherd’s Pie)

This traditional cottage pie is a cozy and delicious one-pot meal. It’s a hearty casserole filled with beef and vegetables in a rich beef gravy and topped with a thick crust of buttery mashed potatoes. A historic dish dating back to the 18th century in England, Ireland, and all of the British Isles, the cottage pie was just the kind of thing a housewife would prepare to use up scraps and leftovers. I can imagine this pie being prepared over a fire in the hearth, in a thatched-roof cottage somewhere chilly and wind-swept (yeah, the romantic in me gets a bit carried away sometimes). {And if you love a hearty, homemade supper, check out my recipe for Old-Fashioned Swiss Steak.}

Traditional Cottage Pie (Shepherd's Pie with Beef)

And if this description sounds just like a shepherd’s pie, that’s because it’s essentially the same thing, with the main difference being that a cottage pie filling is made with beef and a shepherd’s pie is made with lamb. Many people use the names interchangeably. And we don’t need to be picky about names here, because no matter what you call it, this meal is delicious. You can use this as a shepherd’s pie recipe. Like I always say, use what you have and what you like. Beef, lamb, turkey, and even ground venison will work in this recipe.

Besides being delicious comfort food, this easy cottage pie recipe is frugal, too. Potatoes, carrots, and peas are inexpensive vegetables, and the beef is stretched a bit with the addition of chopped mushrooms. And if you’re feeling ambitious, double the recipe and make two pies so that you have an extra for the freezer. 

Cottage Pie (Beef Shepherd's Pie)

Ingredients for Cottage Pie:

Don’t let the long list of ingredients intimidate you. The ingredients for cottage pie (or shepherd’s pie, if you prefer, are basic and you probably have most of them on hand. And because this cottage pie can easily be made gluten-free, I’ve included tips here for using gluten-free ingredients. 

Potatoes – Use potatoes that are starchy, like russet potatoes or Yukon gold. Red potatoes are too low in starch and won’t give you the fluffy potatoes we want here. 

Olive Oil – I use olive or avocado oil but use your favorite cooking oil. 

Onion – Use any type of onion you prefer and have on hand. 

Carrots – Just regular fresh carrots are what you need for this recipe. 

Ground Beef – I like to use grass-fed 85% lean ground beef (or beef mince as they call it across the pond). If you prefer to make a shepherd’s pie go ahead and substitute ground lamb (lamb mince). 

Mushrooms – White button mushrooms or cremini mushrooms worked perfectly. 

Garlic – Fresh garlic works best, but you can substitute granulated garlic in a pinch. 

Butter – You can use salted or unsalted butter. The recipe calls for a small amount of butter and it won’t make much of a difference either way.

All-Purpose Flour – Just regular all-purpose flour acts as a thickener for the rich brown gravy. If you are gluten-free, simply use a gluten-free all-purpose flour. 

Tomato Paste – You can use tomato paste from a can or a tube. 

Beef Broth – Use your favorite store-bought or homemade beef broth or stock. You may also use water plus stock cubes or beef base. If you are gluten-free, make sure whatever broth you use is gluten-free. And if you only have chicken broth on hand, that will work, too. It will just give a slightly different flavor to your gravy. 

Worcestershire Sauce – Use any brand you like. For gluten-free, be sure to use a Worcestershire sauce that is specifically labeled as such. Many Worcestershire sauces contain barley malt vinegar which is a source of gluten. You can also substitute tamari or omit the Worcestershire sauce, 

Peas – I like to use frozen peas here. If using fresh peas, go ahead and cook them first. I’m not a fan of canned peas, but if you are, you can substitute canned peas. 

Cheddar Cheese – This is an optional ingredient, but feel free to top your pie with cheddar cheese, or add shredded cheddar to the mashed potato topping. 

Traditional Cottage Pie (aka shepherd's pie with beef)

Cook’s Tips:

  • To make the best fluffy and creamy mashed potatoes, I find a potato ricer to be a helpful tool. 
  • I prefer to make this a one-pot meal by using a large, deep-sided cast-iron skillet to make this recipe. If you don’t have a deep oven-safe skillet, just transfer the filling to an oven-safe casserole pan before baking.
  • For a more complex flavor, substitute some of the beef broth with red wine.
  • Replace the ground beef with ground turkey to lighten up the recipe, or use ground lamb to make it a traditional shepherd’s pie, go ahead and use ground lamb. 
  • Change up the vegetables based on what is in season or what’s ready in the garden. Substitute sweet corn kernels for the peas in mid-summer. Or try mashed butternut squash or pumpkin instead of potatoes for a pie with a fall flavor.

If you try this recipe for Cottage Pie, I hope you love it. And don’t forget to follow me on FacebookPinterest, and Instagram so you don’t miss a post. 

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Cottage Pie - Homemade Cottage Pie with a Rich Gravy and Topped with Buttery Mashed Potatoes

Cottage Pie

  • Author: Melissa Lynn
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Yield: 6 1x


A hearty homemade Cottage Pie topped with buttery mashed potatoes, and filled with vegetables, and ground beef in a savory gravy.


Units Scale

For the Mashed Potatoes:

  • 2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/23/4 cup whole milk
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 egg yolk

For the Filling:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 1/4 cup beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary (or 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary)
  • 1 sprig of fresh thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme)
  • 1 cup frozen peas


1 cup shredded cheddar cheese


To make the mashed potatoes:

  1. Place potatoes in a pot and cover with cold water. Add a large pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Boil potatoes for 15-20 minutes, or until completely tender. Drain.
  2. Use a potato ricer, or pass potatoes through a strainer using a wooden spoon into a mixing bowl. If you prefer more rustic potatoes, add cooked potatoes to a mixing bowl and mash thoroughly with a potato masher.
  3. Stir in butter, then add milk to potatoes until they reach desired consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then stir in the egg yolk. Set aside until filling is ready.

To make the filling:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté onion and carrots for 7-8 minutes, or until they begin to soften.
  3. Add ground beef to the carrots and onions, using a spatula to break up the ground beef and mix with the vegetables. Stir in mushrooms and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Cook 7-8 minutes, or until the beef is browned and the mushrooms are cooked (you want the mushrooms to shrink in size and lose their moisture.) Drain off any excess grease.
  4. Add butter, flour, and tomato paste to the filling mixture, and stir gently for 1 minute.
  5. Stir in beef broth, stirring out any lumps. Add Worcestershire sauce, rosemary, thyme. Bring to a simmer and simmer uncovered for 5-6 minutes or until gravy has thickened.
  6. When the filling has thickened, stir in the peas. Adjust seasonings to taste. If using sprigs of fresh herbs, remove them from the filling before adding the potato topping.

To make the pie:

  1. Top the filling with mashed potatoes. If using cheddar cheese, sprinkle the cheese over the potatoes. (If you didn’t cook the filling in a large, oven-safe pan, then transfer the filling to a buttered casserole dish before topping with the mashed potatoes.)
  2. Bake for 30 minutes. If you want a browner crust, broil for a few extra minutes.
  3. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then serve.
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes

Cottage Pie (Beef Shepherd's Pie)



  • Joan
    July 17, 2020 at 2:32 pm

    My husband and I both loved this. Super comfort food on a chilly day.

  • Miz Helen
    March 9, 2022 at 8:53 pm

    Congratulations, your post has been featured on Full Plate Thursday, 578. Thanks so much for sharing with us and hope you come back to see us soon!
    Miz Helen

  • Tammy
    March 7, 2023 at 8:40 pm

    Total comfort food 😀 This looks so good. It’s a nice idea for St. Patrick’s Day too! I haven’t had cottage pie in ages..thank you for the inspiration!


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