Cottage Pie aka Shepherd’s Pie

Cottage Pie aka Shepherd's Pie by Spicie Foodie

The first time I tasted shepherd’s pie was in an old Scottish pub back in the states. I’m not sure how long the restaurant has existed, or if it still does, but the building was an old brown stone common to many older American cities. The place was small, dimly light, rustic yet very cozy and relaxed. Their single malt Scotch and British ale selection was among the best in the city. From the first visit I was hooked both on the excellent British Isles fare and the atmosphere. It became one of my favorite restaurants to go to.

Cottage Pie aka Shepherd's Pie by Spicie Foodie

That restaurant is in fact where I tried my first dishes from English, Scottish and Irish cuisine. I fell in love with the simple elements and ingredients of all three cuisines. I loved it all -the pies, root vegetables, salads, soups and fish dishes. After we moved to Europe I missed the restaurant but other local pubs quickly took its place. In Europe there is no shortage of British pubs and then of course the Isles are a short plane hop away.

Cottage Pie aka Shepherd's Pie by Spicie Foodie

Let me step back away from my memories and tell you a bit more about Shepherd’s pie. This “pie” is basically minced (ground) meat, usually mixed with a couple of spices and vegetables, topped with mashed potatoes and baked. Traditionally Shepherd’s pie was made with leftover mutton or lamb and vegetables. A different version using minced beef became know as cottage pie. According to some sources the cottage pie also differed in that sliced potatoes were used for the topping in lieu of mashed. The slices then gave the pie a similar look to that of shingles on a cottage and hence the name. Nowadays many people also use mashed potatoes for cottage pie -you could say it’s a matter of personal choice.

The modest ingredients are quite evident of the dish being a humble and stable food for peasant families back in the day. But trust me what this dish lacks in extravagant ingredients it more than makes up for in taste. It is one of my favorite foods to eat and to cook. You may in fact already have all of the ingredients in your pantry and refrigerator. The effort is minimal and it is a great dish to experiment with and adjust to your particular cravings. Okay, let me share my simple recipe with you.

Cottage Pie aka Shepherd's Pie by Spicie Foodie

4.8 from 8 reviews
Cottage Pie (aka Shepherd's Pie)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Cottage pie, also know as Shepherd's pie, is an easy meal made with minced beef and topped with mashed potatoes before baking. A great meal for the whole family.
Recipe type: Beef, Baked, Casserole
Cuisine: English, British, Irish, Scottish
Serves: 4
Meat Filling Ingredients:
  • 500 g or 1 lb. minced beef
  • 1 large (200 g or 1.75 cups) cubed carrot
  • 1 medium (100 g or 3.5 oz) finely chopped yellow onion
  • 1.5-2 tbsp olive or vegetable oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp. tomato puree
  • 1 tsp. worcester/Worcestershire sauce
  • 250 ml or 1 cup beef broth (low-sodium & no MSG)
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp salt, adjust to taste
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. flour to thicken
Mashed Potato Topping:
  • 500 g or 1 lb starchy potatoes, peeled & evenly cut
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 80 ml or ⅓ cup whole fat milk
  • salt to taste
Side Dish
  • peas
  1. Boil the potatoes in salted water, once fork tender drain. Add the butter, half the milk and some salt and begin mashing. Continue mashing and adding more milk until you achieve the consistency desired. Set potatoes aside.
  2. Preaheat 220c or 428f and have a baking dish ready. Heat the oil, saute the onions for 3 minutes then add the carrots. Cook for 5 minutes or until they begin to soften. Add the minced beef and cook for about 8 minutes. Drain all excess fat, and add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Mix in the tomato puree, worchester sauce, beef broth, flour, salt, ground black pepper, thyme and bay leaf. Cook until nearly all of the liquid has been absorbed.
  3. Pour the minced beef mixture into the pan, even out into an even surface and depth. Next spread the mashed potatoes over the meat making sure to achieve an even depth and surface. Bake in center of oven for 20 minutes, then place under the broiler setting for 5 minutes to brown the potatoes. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before serving with green peas on the side.
Instead of baking in one large baking dish you can bake in small individual ones. And for a fun pattern use a fork to spread the potatoes on top of the meat before baking.

Cottage Pie aka Shepherd's Pie by Spicie Foodie

Shepherd’s and Cottage pies are some of my comfort foods. They remind me of the restaurant and of course always satisfy my belly. It is a great meal that your family will love. I also think it is a dish you’ll want to make over and over again. Enjoy!

Cottage Pie aka Shepherd's Pie by Spicie Foodie

Check out these other shepherd’s and cottage pie recipes from foodie friends.
Shepherd’s Pie, New Mexico Style by MJ’s Kitchen
Vegan Shepherds Pie by Feasting At Home
Chicken Cottage Pie with 3-Vegetable Mash by Simply Delicious
Jameson Shepherd’s Pie with Purple Potatoes by Our Lady of Second Helpings


Yummy Pics: A Food Blogger's Guide to Better Photos, Photography eBook by Spicie Foodie



  1. says

    Yummeh! It sounds so simple yet looks so delicious. Great idea to bake it in individual servings, saves the hassle of slicing and portioning. Nancy, I think I will love your shepherd’s pie. The one I tasted at a hotel last year had too much cream or cheese in it and that put me off. I noted yours does not contain these 2 ingredients. Yay!

    • says

      Really? I don’t think I’ve ever tasted one with cream. I have to admit that it doesn’t sound very good to me. Thanks Phong and I hope you can give it a try soon. :)

  2. says

    Your cottage pie looks amazing! That is a comforting speciality I adore. Now, I’m hungry!



    P.S. When this dish is made with beef, then it is called “Cottage Pie”, but if lamb is employed, then it is called “Shepherd’s Pie”… ;-P

    • says

      Hi Rosa,

      Yes, I am aware of the differences. Actually if you read the third paragraph that is where I mentioned the differences. Thanks!

      Comfort food all the way!:)

  3. says

    Now that I’ve actually had Shepherd’s/Cottage pie I can imagine the feeling of eating this dish in an old Scottish pub with a pint of beer. YUM! I wasn’t aware of where the name cottage came from – the slice potatoes that resembled shingles. I love that! Your pie looks SO good! I can smell it and taste it from your pics. When I made this pie the first time my husband was assisting with the pics. Once I scooped out a serving, he tasted it and couldn’t stop eating. He had eaten a whole serving before we even put it on the table for supper. :) Thanks so much for the shout out! I need to go check out the other versions. Have a great day!

    • says

      Hi MJ! I think this dish is one that men always love. My husband is the same way. My pleasure and you know I loved your version. You too have a great Wednesday!

  4. says

    My son once even announced on television that Shepherd’s Pie was his favorite food. Now that he returned home a vegetarian, like his father, I have to reinvent the wheel! Actually, I do have a vegetarian version I have made for years, but it doesn’t compare to this mouth-watering version!

  5. says

    Oh boy we could start a debate lol. This is a classic Quebec comfort food too but we do it with ground beef, corn and mashed potatoes…that is it. Peas and carrots have no place for us in this recipe. And the best is the French name is Pâté Chinois which translate to Chinese Pate…because historically that is what they fed the Chinese railroad workers. No Chinese cuisine connections at all.

    • says

      Hi Evelyne,
      I had no idea about the Pâté Chinois. In France it is called Hachis Parmentier and I never ate one with corn -then again corn isn’t a staple on this side of the world. But that is why it is such a great dish because everyone can transform it into their own. Thanks:)

  6. says

    My children loves shepherd pie. But it’s a long time I have not cooked it. Wonder how I have forgotten about it…..hmmm. Must cook again someday. Yours look very delicious. I like that you make into individual portions. I must try that too instead of one big dish. Thanks very much for sharing.

  7. says

    Shepherd’s pie has always been a great staple meal in New Zealand and, in fact, we had it last night for dinner and I brought some leftovers to work for lunch. The flavours are even better the next day.

  8. Hannah says

    Had a little chuckle at “worchester” sauce – it’s actually Worcester, said like wooster :) thanks for the recipe x

    • says

      Haha, I always do that with the spelling. It’s the whole Worcestershire sauce name that always has me throwing in an h in there. English is my second language and it really shows sometimes:)

  9. says

    It’s been years since I’ve made a shepherd’s pie…and hubby loves them! I must try your individual servings…you styled them perfectly!!!

  10. says

    I haven’t had a cottage (or shepherd’s!) pie in ages! And it’s such a great dish for this time of the year, when it still gets dark and gloomy early, and it’s cold, and I want something really warm for dinner. Super recipe and photos – thanks so much.

  11. Donna Evans says

    Hi Nancy;

    Just read your version of Cottage Pie, and it sounds very similar to mine. I made my version last weekend and my son-in-law to-be couldn’t get enough of it. I tend to make any type of stew-dish with all the veg in the fridge, so this version had peppers (red and yellow sweet), sweet potato, carrot, onion, celery, mushrooms, and lentils (I only had 1 lb of beef and didn’t want to skimp on the protein). I used rosemary, thyme, and a few other spices as well as Worcestershire sauce. I put all the veg into the food processor and blitzed, much easier and quicker than chopping all those veggies. What I got was the thickest and tastiest pie that we have ever had, the potato topping was crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. I think I will have to make it again real soon.

    Happy Cooking

  12. says

    What a wonderful, nostalgic blast to the past–I’ve been reading Scottish and Irish historical novels from the 18th-century lately, and it would be so cool to make this recipe to nibble on while reading. Thank you for sharing this! I’d love to have a local restaurant I could go to to get warm, comforting British dishes.

  13. says

    I have always loved the sound of Cottage Pie along with the cozy image that the name conjures up. Your description of that pub is fantastic…I have yet to find a place like that in my area, but I’ve been looking! Until I do, I know I will have to make this beauty. :)

  14. Moira says

    Cottage pie is indeed delicious but Shepherds pie is traditionally made with minced lamb instead of beef which gives it an entirely different flavour.

  15. says

    Your recipe looks fantastic! I am trying it tonight using Bison (Buffalo) but we don’t have buffalo here in America available commercially they are technically bison! They are a leaner healthier version of beef. So, I guess I am making American cottage pie?

  16. Rachel says

    So, how long did it take you to cook the stew until most of the liquid had been absorbed? I tried cooking it for about 30 minutes, and adding more flour, but there was still a ton of liquid. Maybe 10% had been absorbed, but that was it.

    • says

      Hi Rachel,

      Did you have the lid on the pan? Try cooking without the lid and turn up the heat a bit to allow more evaporation. It usually takes me anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes for nearly all of the liquid to be absorbed — I’ve had to add a bit more broth at times.


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  2. […] Cottage Pie: Often, and incorrectly, called Shepherd’s pie by many, this meat pie is a classic Irish, Scottish, and English dish. It is super easy to prepare and tastes even more delicious the next day. You can prepare it day before and it also freezes well. I like baking it in a baking dish, but for a fun twist I love using individual (or one serving) sized dishes. […]

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