Cottage pie is the ultimate cozy comfort food. Ground beef, onions, carrots, and peas in a thick and luscious gravy with a golden brown mashed potato topping.
A few years ago, I posted a recipe for Shepherd’s Pie With Ground Beef for Two. Since then, along with the many happy comments I’ve received about the recipe, I’ve gotten a LOT of not-so-happy messages about its name (I get it) and questions asking how to make it a full-size pie.
So today I present to you, a full-size COTTAGE pie, because I love you guys and I want you to be happy. <3
What is cottage pie?
Cottage pie is basically shepherd’s pie made with ground beef. The beef filling includes garlic, onions, carrots, and peas, which all cook in a thick and luscious gravy. And then the filling is covered with mashed potatoes, which turn golden brown and beautiful when baked.
It’s an extremely cozy dinner that is perfect on a chilly evening after a long day.
What’s the difference between shepherd’s pie and cottage pie?
The only difference between shepherd’s and cottage pie is the meat they use. Historically, cottage pie referred to all meat and potato pies, but these days, we typically call pies made with lamb “shepherd’s pie” and use “cottage pie” for beef pies.
Ingredient and Equipment Notes
- 10-inch oven-safe skillet: This recipe is designed to go from stovetop straight to the oven, but if you don’t have an oven-safe skillet, you can do the stovetop portion in whatever large skillet you own and then transfer the filling to an 8×8 or 9×9-inch baking dish.
- Ground beef: You can use whatever ground beef you have on hand (I used 85% lean) since you’ll be draining off the fat. If you would like to make shepherd’s pie, you can substitute ground lamb here.
- Tomato paste: This recipe uses tomato paste or ketchup to add depth of flavor to the filling. If using tomato paste and you have most of a can leftover, check out my post What to Do With Leftover Tomato Paste for storage tips and recipes to use up the leftovers.
- Peas: Peas are optional and can be replaced with corn if you’re not a fan.
- An egg yolk: An egg yolk is added to the potato topping to help with browning. You can omit it, but you won’t get the same golden color from your potatoes after baking. For ideas on how to use the leftover egg white, check out my What to Do With Leftover Egg Whites post.
How to Make Shepherd’s Pie
1. Cover your potatoes with cold water and let them simmer while you make the filling.
2. Brown the ground beef and use a slotted spoon to transfer it to a bowl. Pour off all but a couple teaspoons of fat left in the pan.
3. In the same pan, cook onions and carrots until they begin to soften and then add garlic and thyme and cook for 30 seconds. Add flour and tomato paste followed by chicken broth and Worcestershire sauce and simmer until thickened. Salt and pepper to taste.
4. Stir in ground beef and peas.
5. Mash the potatoes and add butter, milk/cream, and egg yolk.
6. Drop the mashed potatoes over the filling in dollops.
7. Spread potatoes out over the top, making sure the filling is completely covered.
8. Bake until the topping is golden brown and beautiful.
Can I use beef broth instead of chicken broth in this recipe?
Absolutely. I call for chicken broth because that’s what people tend to have on hand, but you can use beef broth, diluted chicken stock, or vegetable broth.
Can I make shepherd’s pie ahead of time?
I think the potato topping tastes best straight out of the oven, but if you want to make this in advance and reheat later, you definitely can. Bake the pie, cover tightly, and store it in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours before serving.
More Easy Comfort Food Recipes
- Yield: This recipe makes four large servings or five to six smaller ones.
Easy Cottage Pie
- 10-inch oven-safe skillet*
- 2 large russet potatoes* peeled and chopped
- Salt and pepper
- ¼ cup (56g) butter cut into chunks
- 2 tablespoons milk or cream
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 medium onion diced
- 2 medium carrot diced
- 2 garlic clove pressed or minced
- ⅛ teaspoon ground thyme
- 2 tablespoons (16g) all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon ketchup or tomato paste
- 1½ cups chicken broth
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- ½ cup frozen peas
Start the Potatoes
- Preheat your oven to 400°F.
- Add potatoes to a medium pot and cover with cold water. Add ½ teaspoon of salt, and bring to a simmer. Cook until potatoes are fork-tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Make the Filling
- While the potatoes cook, heat olive oil in a 10-inch oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. Add beef and ¼ teaspoon of salt. Cook, breaking up the meat into crumbles as you go until it is well-browned. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the beef to a bowl and set aside.
- Spoon off and discard all but a couple teaspoons of fat from the pan. Heat the pan over medium heat and add the onions and carrots. Cook until the onions begin to soften, about 5 minutes.
- Add garlic and ground thyme, and cook for 30 seconds.
- Stir in the flour and ketchup/tomato paste and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the chicken broth and Worcestershire sauce. Bring everything to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 6 minutes, until the mixture has thickened.
- Remove from heat and add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the hamburger and the frozen peas.
Finish the Potatoes and Assemble
- Add cubed butter to the potatoes and use a potato masher to mash them until smooth. Stir in the milk/cream. Add salt and pepper to taste before stirring in the egg yolk until well combined.
- Spoon the potatoes over your meat mixture in the skillet and spread them out evenly over the top.
- Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until the potatoes are lightly golden. Cool for 10 to 15 minutes before serving, and enjoy!
Recipe Adapted From The Best One-Dish Suppers
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