This is a classic recipe for Cottage pie (also known as Shepherd’s Pie) made easy! A traditional Irish dinner made with leftover meat — usually beef or lamb, a mix of veggies (usually peas and carrots), gravy, and mashed potatoes. Everything bakes together for a complete one-pan meal. Freezer friendly too.
More widely known as Shepherd's Pie this is a traditional Irish dinner loved by just about everyone and is easy to bring to your dinner table.
Cottage pie is made with ground beef, beef gravy, peas, carrots and then topped with mashed potatoes.
The potatoes are crisped to a golden brown in the oven for the final touch.
Shepherd's pie is actually made with lamb whereas cottage pie is made with beef.
★ Why You'll Love this Recipe ★
There are a few ways I make my cottage pie extra tasty without very much extra effort. This recipe is easy and delicious!
First, I use red potatoes. I love their flavor. OR I use russet potatoes and add cheddar cheese. Both options are a win! Your choice.
I add red cooking wine to the beef gravy. Just a few dashes adds a rich, sophisticated favor without a lot of extra effort.
★ Ingredients You'll Need ★
This yummy dinner comes together with some pretty traditional ingredients. Nothing too fancy. There are a couple ingredients that are optional so your choice.
Here's everything you'll need:
- Potatoes. See Tips below about choosing your type of potato.
- Sour cream. This is optional but I love the tangy it added to the mashed potatoes.
- Butter. We love Irish butter. It's creamier and has a more rich flvor due to higher butterfat content.
- Pepper, parsley, salt to season the potatoes. You can also add in chives or cheddar cheese.
- Ground beef. I like to use 80/20 or leaner. Drain any excess fat to reduce calories and also to prevent the beef from tasting greasy. See Tips about other meat options.
- Onion. Yellow or white onions are best.
- Rosemary. You can use fresh or powdered. Fresh will provide a lot stronger flavoring.
- Beef gravy. You can use canned gravy to save time or make your own. See Tips below for making your own.
- Peas and carrot. Frozen or fresh. You can even go with canned, just drain away excess liquid first.
- Red cooking wine. This is optional. You can find cooking wine next to the vinegar usually in the salad dressing aisle.
★ How to Make this Recipe ★
This classic dish is actually quite easy to make, especially if you have some leftover mashed potatoes to work with.
The full recipe is listed below but here's a quick look at the steps involved in preparing this classic cottage pie:
- Peel, chop and boil potatoes. Drain.
- Mash and blend potatoes with sour cream, butter, salt and pepper, parsley and cheese (optional).
- Cook ground beef and vegetables (peas, carrots, onion).
- Add beef gravy plus fresh rosemary and cooking wine (optional).
- Add beef and vegetables to baking pan or use cast iron skillet.
- Layer with masher potatoes and bake.
Simple as that!
★ Tips & FAQs ★
Try using Ground Turkey
You can lighten up this classic dish by cutting fat without cutting all the flavor.
My favorite way to do this is by using a blend of ground turkey and ground beef. I do this a lot when I make classic Italian dishes and it works really well. I usually do half and half ratio.
If you want more traditional beef flavor and don't mind a few extra calories, then go ahead and make this with just beef.
Want an ultra light version of this cottage Pie? Go ahead and use all ground turkey.
Try other meats.
You can use cubed steak or lamb if you want to add a more sophisticated flavor to this dish. Experiment and see what you like best!
If you're using lamb, then you can call this Shepherd's pie.
Mashed Potatoes - Homemade, Store-bought, or Instant?
Listen, I love mashed potatoes and I love short cuts. Almost equally. So this is a really tough question for me to weigh in on.
However, I do have a definitive opinion on this subject. Homemade mashed potatoes are better. Hands down. There are somethings you can short cut without loosing a lot of flavor but mashed potatoes isn't one of those. In my opinion.
Now, if you're a fan of boxed mashed potatoes, or you just don't have the kind of time it takes to peel, cook and whip all those potatoes into shape, I get it. Not judging. Do the boxed! But if you're asking me what's better, I'm going to say homemade every time.
You can also get the best of both worlds and opt for store-bought masher potatoes that come ready made to save time. Usually you can find these in the refrigerator section of the grocery store.
This recipe calls for canned gravy but often times I will make this with homemade gravy. I like to use leftover juices from pot roast as gravy. You can also make a quick homemade gravy using beef broth + a roux to thicken it and some added beef bouillon.
I have a tutorial for making chicken gravy. Follow the same steps using beef broth (bones optional). Check out the gravy tutorial here.
Adding Wine (Optional)
I also like to add a splash of wine to my gravy to give it more flavor. You can use dry red wine, marsala wine, cooking wine or even a bit of red wine vinegar. I've also used a little bit of whiskey!
What kind of potatoes work best?
It's all about flavor here so I prefer red potatoes. They are a bit more time consuming to peel since they are so small but worth it!
You can also use gold or white potatoes. Any potatoes work, so choose your favorite or use what you have readily available. As I mentioned, when I use white potatoes, I add cheese for extra flavor. However, this is optional.
The fun of this recipe is that you can flavor your potatoes and give this dish a whole new spin. You can certainly stick with classic mashed potatoes but stir in some cheddar cheese and you'll get cheddar potatoes, use sour cream and chives whipped potatoes for a burst of extra flavor or try mashed sweet potatoes!
If you're making Cottage or Shepherd's Pie for the first time, I would go with regular mashed potatoes. Then experiment with other flavors the more times you make this recipe.
For cheesy potatoes, try any type of cheese! Just stir the cheese into the potatoes after you mash them. The cheese will melt when you bake this whole dish. Mmmmm....
Traditional Cottage Pie recipes call for peas and carrots but you can substitute any veggies you want. Or add extras. Veggies I think taste great in this dish are: corn, spinach, celery, bell peppers, yellow beans, broccoli, zucchini, squash, asparagus and/or parsnips. Basically, any combination of vegetables you love!
What to serve with Cottage Pie
What I love about this dish is it truly covers all the food groups. So you really don't need to serve anything with it. It's a complete meal in itself.
★ Storeage ★
Instead of baking, you can freeze this pie for later. Cover with foil or plastic wrap and freeze for up to 3 months.
To reheat from frozen, bake covered at 350˚for about 35-40 minutes. Remove foil about for last 10 minutes of baking to achieve a golden brown crust on top.
Note: If freezing in a glass baking pan, be careful to slowly heat up the baking dish along with the oven to prevent cracking and shattering of the glass due to too rapid of a shift in temperature change.
You can store leftovers in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Cover tightly in plastic wrap or store in a airtight container.
Remove plastic and reheat using the microwave. I usually poke the potatoes with a fork before heating to vent.
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Ground Beef Cottage Pie
- 6 russet potatoes see notes below
- 2 tablespoon sour cream
- 2 tablespoon butter
- salt and pepper to taste
- ½ teaspoon parsley
- ¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese optional
- 1 lb ground beef
- ½ cup mixed diced peas and carrot frozen or fresh
- ½ onion diced
- 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary chopped
- 10.5 oz can beef gravy
- 2 tablespoon red cooking wine optional
- Peel and boil potatoes in a large pot over medium-high heat until soft; about 10-15 minutes. Drain and return potatoes to pot.
- Add butter, sour cream, salt, pepper and parsley then beat with a hand mixer on high until smooth. *If you want cheesy potatoes, stir in a ¼ cup of shredded cheddar cheese while potatoes are still hot.
- In a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat, add ground beef, peas, carrots, and onion and cook for 5-7 minutes or until beef is browned and onions are translucent.
- Add rosemary then add gravy then salt and pepper to taste.Add optional red wine if you'd like. Bring to a boil them remove from heat; stirring frequently.
- In each of the 8x8 baking dishes or two deep-dish pie pans layer in cooked beef and vegetables with gravy then top with a layer of mashed potatoes.
- You can use a fork to make a pattern in the top if you want, or just smooth the top of the potatoes with a spatula or the back of a spoon.
- Bake at 400˚for about 15-20 minutes or until top of potatoes is golden brown and sauce is bubbling.