A Not So Traditional Cottage Pie

Last modified on April 15th, 2019 at 11:57 am

Our not so traditional Cottage Pie is a comfort food classic that is cooked with rich, meaty flavours topped with broth based mashed potatoes. It’s the perfect dish for a cozy night in.

A dish that comes to us from England, the classic shepherd’s pie is made traditionally with minced lamb or mutton mixed with green peas and carrots, and topped with creamy mashed potatoes before being baked in the oven. Over on this side of the world, a traditional cottage pie is made with the same corn, green peas and carrots, topped with creamy mashed potatoes except on a base of ground beef. For our version, we add a few secret ingredients to put a not so traditional twist on a favourite.

Cottage pie in a cast iron skillet with blue napkin underneath, next to a plate with a portion of the cottage pie.

But no matter what meat (or even non-meat) you’re using, a Cottage Pie is basically a meat and potatoes casserole and we can all agree that it’s one of the ultimate comfort foods, especially in the winter. Made with a flavourful mix of onions, carrots, and celery. ground beef, tomato paste and garlic, the richness of the meat is added using bone broth. The key to a really delicious and flavourful Cottage Pie is all in the meat and vegetables, potatoes and the assembly. It’s the perfect comfort food to be eaten by itself, or serve alongside a nice simple salad.

Small white plate with a serving of the cottage pie

Fun fact c/o of Jamie Oliver: The name “cottage” was applied to this kind of meat pie around the time potatoes were being introduced in the UK, because they were an affordable for thing for peasants, many of whom would live in cottages, to eat.

How to Make Our Not So Traditional Cottage Pie?

Cottage Pie Ingredients

Olive oil, ground beef, onion, carrot, mushrooms, garlic, beef stock, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, corn, peas, russet potatoes, egg, salt and pepper

Some ingredients for traditional cottage pie: Small bowls of diced carrots, corn kernels, green peas, worcestershire, beef stock and cloves of garlic

Boil and Mash the Potatoes

Your Cottage Pie is only as good as the mashed potatoes you top it with. Creamy, fluffy and rich, our russet mashed potatoes are flavoured by boiling the potatoes in beef broth. Yes, you read right. Instead of boiling them in water, we boil our potatoes in broth allowing the potatoes to take on the flavour. Once cooked, just mash them right into the broth.

Chef’s Tip: Boil your potatoes in beef broth and once soft, mash them with one egg for the ultimate creamy and rich potatoes.

After you’ve mashed them, our other trick of cracking an egg into our potatoes. This makes them crisp up in the oven leaving the insides creamy and rich. Season your potatoes with salt and pepper and get ready to assemble.

Sauté the Beef and Vegetables

Browning your meat is the first step to ensuring your pie is flavourful and rich. If time allows, cook your meat off in batches allowing all sides to brown and get a charred crust. Crowding your meat in the skillet makes the meat steam, preventing it from getting the flavour of a caramelized crust.

Next, add in mushrooms and onions and cook until the onions are translucent. While a traditional Cottage Pie doesn’t have mushrooms, to us this casserole is the perfect way to add in additional vegetables. Add in remaining vegetables of carrots, corn and green peas. Finally, season with salt and pepper and cook with beef broth, Worcestershire and tomato paste, cooking until thick.

A man stirring and sauteeing ground beef with carrots, peas, and corn for a cottage pie

How to Assemble Cottage Pie

Start by packing your meat and vegetables down into your cast iron skillet before you spread your mashed potatoes atop. Be sure to cover all the meat and vegetable mixture with the potatoes allowing no space between the two.

Topping the beef filling with potatoes for the Beef Shepherd's Pie

Then grab your fork and starting in the centre of your potatoes, glide your fork in a circular motion inward out until you reach the edges. The imprint of the fork in the potatoes allows the higher edges to crisp and firm up in the oven. This provides an interesting design your potatoes and a crispy and soft pillowy effect to the taste.

You’re left with is a flavourful beef and vegetable base with a fluffy and rich tasting mashed potato topping. When cooking your Cottage Pie to keep the meat, vegetable and potato ratio equal so that each bite is the perfect combination of all three.

Bon appetit,

Chef Sous Chef

Traditional Cottage Pie in a Cast Iron Skillet on a Napkin

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A Not So Traditional Cottage Pie

Beef Shepherd's Pie in a cast iron skillet next to a plate with a piece of shepherd's pie and small bowl of parsley

Our Not So Traditional Cottage Pie is a comfort food classic that is cooked with rich, meaty flavours topped with broth based mashed potatoes. It’s the perfect dish for a cozy night in.  

  • Author: Chef Sous Chef
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 80 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
  • Yield: 68 people 1x
  • Category: Food + Drink, Main
  • Method: stovetop, oven baked
  • Cuisine: English, North American




  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1.5 lbs medium ground beef
  • 1 large onion (peeled and diced)
  • 1 large carrot (peeled and diced)
  • 2 cups mushrooms (roughly chopped)
  • 2 cloves garlic peeled and finely diced (peeled and minced)
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp worcestershire
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas

Potato Topping

  • 2 lbs russet potatoes (peeled and cut into large chunks)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup bone broth
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper


No. 1 | Preheat oven to 375˚F

No. 2 | Clean, peel, and chop potatoes, place in large pot with 1/2 cup of beef stock, and 1/2 tsp salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover. Cook until fork tender, approximately 20 minutes. Work on step 3 while potatoes are cooking.

No. 3 | Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a cast iron skillet set on medium high heat.  Once the oil begins to smoke, place 1 inch pieces of ground meat in the pan leaving space between. Sear for two minutes then stir the meat and continue to cook until browned. Cook in batches if necessary to ensure not to crowd the pan. Keep cooked meat aside in a bowl.

No. 4 | Using the same pan, add an additional 1 tbsp of oil (if necessary). Sauté the onions for 30 seconds, then add mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper.  Once mushrooms release liquid, add minced garlic, and continue to cook until mushrooms are tender. Mix the browned beef into the mushrooms, then add the carrots, peas, and corn. Pour in broth, tomato paste, worcestershire and cook until thickened, about 5-7 minutes. Taste, and adjust seasoning to taste.

No. 5 | In the pot with the potatoes, add 2 tbsp of olive oil and black pepper. Mash until smooth and taste for seasoning. Adjust as necessary. Crack and egg open and immediately mash it into the mixture as quick as possible so the egg does not scramble.

No. 6 | Smear potatoes on top of the meat mixture and smooth or distribute evenly to achieve your desired look

No. 7 | Cook in preheated oven for 50 mins or until potatoes are golden brown


  • While traditional cottage pie is made with ground beef, this can be substituted with any ground meat of your choice.

Keywords: cottage pie recipe, shepherd’s pie

Traditional Cottage Pie Pinterest Image


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  • Reply
    November 24, 2017 at 1:26 pm

    Both the husband and I loved it—and went back for seconds! He even commented on how fluffy the potatoes were. And although the recipe said to leave the pie in the oven for 50 minutes, since mine gets pretty hot, 40 minutes would have been perfect (less browning on top).

  • Reply
    January 14, 2018 at 1:20 am

    Is the 1/2 cup broth enough liquid to boil the potatoes?

    • Reply
      Chef Sous Chef
      January 14, 2018 at 9:23 am

      Hi Lindsay,

      The potatoes get cooked by a combination of the broth and the steam from the broth. This amount ensures that you can mash the potatoes in the broth and still get a good consistency. If you have concerns, you can add extra broth, but just make sure to drain some of the excess before mashing so the potatoes don’t turn out soupy.

  • Reply
    January 14, 2018 at 7:32 pm

    Just finished up dinner. Absolutely delicious! Make sure to get a good seal when you cover the potatoes as they are steaming. I added a little parmigiano reggiano on top of the mash before browning.

    • Reply
      Chef Sous Chef
      January 14, 2018 at 7:41 pm

      We’re so glad you loved it! Great idea to add the parm.

  • Reply
    Iain Morrison
    July 14, 2018 at 10:10 pm

    It is not traditional in the UK to have corn in a Shepherd’s Pie, or a Cottage Pie. Peas and carrots? Yes! BTW, your recipe is for Cottage Pie, because “Shepherd’s Pie” is always made from Lamb, because shepherds look after sheep…not cows.

    • Reply
      Chef Sous Chef
      July 20, 2018 at 1:36 pm

      Hi Iain, Thanks for the comment and info. Mystique is obsessed with corn and puts it in everything. In our house we always called it Shepherd’s Pie whether it was ground beef or lamb, and that’s why we called it the Not So Traditional Ground Beef Shepherd’s Pie. Thanks again for reading and taking the time to comment!

  • Reply
    November 5, 2018 at 7:35 pm

    yep, this is an awesome recipe, loved it.

    • Reply
      Chef Sous Chef
      November 5, 2018 at 10:53 pm

      Thanks Steve! We’re so glad you enjoyed the recipe.

  • Reply
    December 10, 2020 at 1:21 pm

    Hello, what size skillet are you using for this recipe? Thank you. Diana

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