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Easy Cottage Pie Recipe

Jennifer has worked in the restaurant industry for over 10 years. At home, she enjoys cooking up tasty meals and treats.

Cottage pie made with sweet and tangy ground beef, vegetables and savoury whipped garlic potatoes

Cottage pie made with sweet and tangy ground beef, vegetables and savoury whipped garlic potatoes

Cottage Pie vs. Shepherd's Pie: What's the Difference?

There is often confusion over the difference between cottage pie and shepherd's pie. Both are oven-baked pies made with meat, vegetables and mashed potatoes, and both are prepared in the same way. The only difference between them is the meat.

  • Cottage pie is typically made with ground beef or chunks of roast beef.
  • Shepherd's pie is traditionally made with lamb; hence the name.

My Cottage Pie Recipe

This cottage pie recipe differs slightly from the traditional version, which is typically made with beef stock or gravy. The beef is sweet, tangy and very flavourful. It is topped with vegetables and savoury whipped garlic potatoes then it's baked until crisp and golden.

This is one of my favourite easy dinner recipes for nights when I'm stuck for dinner ideas. It's also great for serving large families and gatherings.

How to Freeze and Reheat Cottage Pie

One of the best things about cottage pie is how simple it is to prepare ahead of time and freeze it.

  1. Prepare the cottage pie according to the directions below until the baking stage. Instead of baking, freeze it. Use a disposable foil baking pan or a glass baking dish with a sealable lid.
  2. When you're ready to bake the pie, take it out of the freezer and bake it at 325°F for about an hour. Keep it covered with foil until the last 15 minutes of baking time. If extra crispiness is desired, broil it for an additional 5 to 10 minutes on low-broil.
  3. Another option is to remove the pie from the freezer and let it thaw in the fridge for 24 hours. Then simply bake it according to the baking directions below.
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Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

15 min

45 min

1 hour

4 to 6 servings


For the filling:

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon worcestershire
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons bbq sauce
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce (optional)
  • pinch salt and pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen veggie blend (carrots,peas, and corn)

For the topping:

  • 5 to 6 medium potatoes (2 to 3 large or 7 to 8 small)
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/2 to 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • pinch salt and pepper


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil with a pinch of salt. Peel the potatoes and cut them into quarters. Boil the potatoes until they are tender (about 10 to 15 minutes).
  2. In a medium-high heat pan, heat the olive oil. Chop the onion and sauté it in the pan for about 2-3 minutes. Add the ground beef and cook, stirring often, until it's fully browned.
  3. Reduce the heat to low once the beef is fully cooked. Season the beef with garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Add worcestershire, ketchup, bbq sauce, and hot sauce (optional). Cook for another 2 to 3 minutes on low heat, stirring occasionally.
  4. Spread the ground beef mixture evenly in the bottom of an 8 or 9-inch baking dish. Then, evenly spread the frozen veggie mixture over the beef.
  5. Drain and mash the potatoes with a potato masher. Continue to mash the potatoes with the butter until it is melted. Start whisking after adding about half a cup of milk. If the potatoes are still a little dry, add more milk and whisk until smooth. Add as much milk as you need for creamy whipped potatoes (up to 1 cup).
  6. Whisk in the garlic powder, salt, and pepper to the potatoes. Spread the potatoes evenly over the ground beef and vegetables. With a fork, press the potatoes into the baking dish all over. Sprinkle the top with paprika.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes at 350°F, or until lightly browned. Bake for 3 to 5 minutes longer on low-broil for a more crispy topping.

Cottage Pie Variations

By adding your favourite ingredients, you can easily customize this cottage pie recipe to make it your own. I usually use whatever frozen vegetable blend I have on hand, such as peas, corn, and carrots. I occasionally use fresh vegetables such as green beans and carrots. It really just depends on what vegetables I have on hand. That's what makes this cottage pie recipe so versatile; you can use whatever vegetables you want.

I almost always use ground beef for the meat. Using any leftover meat in this recipe is another great idea. If I have any leftover roast beef, I will use that instead. In that case, I switch up the ingredients and use leftover roast gravy instead of ketchup and barbecue sauce. You could also make this with leftover turkey or chicken. However it's made, this dish is always incredibly delicious and flavourful.

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