Pub Style Cottage Pie Recipe

With ground beef, fresh herbs, veggies, potatoes and a splash of beer this easy Pub Style Cottage Pie is the best cottage pie recipe you’ll ever try! It comes together quickly, using ingredients you likely have in the freezer or pantry and makes a delightful, comforting dinner any night of the week.

A cottage pie with a slice taken out topped with fresh thyme

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This Cottage Pie recipe is one that may look intimidating when you first glance at the ingredients list but in reality, it comes together quickly! With a hearty meat and veggies layer and creamy mashed potatoes on top, Cottage Pie is the hallmark of filling comfort foods.

In addition to all the classic ingredients, this Pub Style Cottage Pie has my secret ingredient in the gravy – beer!

Do yourself a favour and whip up two of these at a time so you have an extra to throw in the freezer!

What is Cottage Pie?

Cottage Pie is comfort food that originated in England. There are many variations of it, some of which I listed below, but the base is always a ground beef pie in a sauce with onions and other vegetables, topped with a layer of mashed potatoes.

Cottage pie has been around since the 18th century, and the name comes from the fact that many peasants, who lived in cottages, often made the dish. At the time, any dish with minced meat and mashed potatoes was considered a cottage pie.

A slice of a classic cottage pie on a plate

Cottage Pie vs Shepherd’s Pie

Cottage Pie and Shepherd’s Pie are often used interchangeably as they are very similar. Both are meat pies topped with mashed potatoes and baked. The significant difference between the two is that to be a true shepherd’s pie, it must be made with ground lamb. Cottage pie, on the other hand, is made with ground beef.

You’ll find dishes similar to Cottage Pie all around the world, including the Chilean “pastel de papa” and French “hachis”. Cumberland pie is simply cottage pie topped with breadcrumbs.

Whatever you call it, this meat pie is a comforting, filling dinner that’s easy to make.

Ingredients for an easy cottage pie recipe

Ingredients & Substitutions

  • Ground beef – I prefer lead ground beef for less excess fat.
  • Olive oil – You can substitute another oil to cook the ground beef.
  • Salt and pepper – Add flavour to the meat.
  • Onion – Onion is one of the original ingredients of cottage pie!
  • Garlic – Fresh, minced garlic to add flavour to the meat.
  • Fresh thyme – For flavour!
  • Tomato paste – Helps add a bit of creaminess to the sauce.
  • Frozen veggies – Keeping things simple! I like the blend with corn, peas and carrots.
  • Stout – My special twist on cottage pie! You can replace it with extra beef broth if you choose.
  • Worchestershire sauce – Just a splash for flavour.
  • Beef broth – The beef broth makes up the “gravy” for the bottom half of the dish.
  • Potatoes – The core of this easy cottage pie recipe. Mashed potatoes make the second layer of this meat pie.
  • Unsalted butter – No need for salted butter with the salt already added to the dish.
  • Milk – This gets added to the mashed potatoes.
  • Sour cream – I add sour cream to the mashed potatoes for a creamy texture.

How To Make Cottage Pie

In a large pot add the potatoes and cover with water.  Add 2 tsp of salt and boil until the potatoes are soft. 

Ground beef in a pan with some olive oil, salt and pepper

Drain the water from the pot.  Add 2 tbsp unsalted butter, 1/4 milk and 1/3 cup sour cream.  Mash until smooth.  Cover while the filling is being made.

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Onions, garlic and thyme in a pan

Over medium-high heat add 1/2 tbsp of olive oil to a large pan and 1 lb of beef, sprinkle with half of the salt and pepper. Brown meat in a large pan breaking it up with a wooden spoon into small pieces.  Brown 1 pound at a time so meat browns nicely.  Too much meat in the pan will cause it to boil in its own juices and turn it into an icky grey. 

Once the first lb is browned and minced, transfer to a dish while you work on the 2nd lb sprinkling with the remaining salt and pepper. Remove the second lb of beef from the dish and let rest with the rest of the beef.

Crumbled cooked ground beef and veggie mix.


Add another tbsp of olive oil to the pan and add in the diced onion, garlic and 2 tsp fresh thyme.  Cook until the onions become translucent and soft.

Add the beef back to the large pan, add in the 2 cups of frozen veggies, 3 tbsp of tomato paste, 3/4 cup stout, 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce and 1/2 cup beef broth.  Mix to combine.

And while cooking enjoy the rest of that beer!


Let simmer for 5-7 minutes until half of the liquid has been absorbed or boiled down. The alcohol will boil off of the beer during this step.


Add the beef mixture to a 9″ X 11″ casserole dish or 11″ round casserole dish.  Spread evenly over the bottom of the dish.  

A casserole dish filled with cottage pie filling and halfway topped with mashed potatoes


Top with the mashed potatoes using a spoon or spatula to spread over the beef mixture evenly and use. Spread using an “S” pattern to create peaks of mashed potatoes.  These peaks will brown during the baking process adding texture and flavour.


Bake for 20 minutes turning to broil for the last 5 minutes to brown the top of the potatoes.  Watch this step carefully so you don’t burn the top.  It should just become golden with some darker browning on the peaks.

Remove from the oven and let rest 10 minutes before serving.

An overhead picture of an easy cottage pie with a slice on a plate nearby

Easy Cottage Pie Variations

  • Cottage pie is traditionally made with root veggies like parsnip, turnip, rutabaga and sometimes cabbage
  • Shredded cheese is can be added on top of the mashed potatoes. Cheddar is a great choice.
  • For extra flavour and cheese in the mashed potatoes, stir in some parmesan.
  • You can replace the beer with additional beef broth if you chose.

What To Serve with Cottage Pie

Cottage pie can be served as a complete meal or served with soup and salad. I personally find this recipe filling on its own so usually don’t take a side but here are some great sides that will go well with this dish.

The best cottage pie recipe ever on a plate with a fork.

How to Store

You can store cottage pie in the fridge for 3 to 5 days. It’s not advisable to eat ground meat more than 5 days after it has been cooked, so be sure to enjoy your meat pie within 5 days.

Can Cottage Pie Be Made in Advance?

Cottage Pie can easily be made in advance. You can prepare, cover and store in the fridge for up to a day before baking. You can also freeze cottage pie for a few months and bake from frozen until the centre is hot. If the potatoes are browning too much and the pie isn’t heated through, just cover with foil and continue baking.

A slice of a classic cottage pie on a plate

Pub Style Cottage Pie

Alisa Infanti | The Delicious Spoon
With ground beef, veggies, beer and mashed potatoes, this is the best cottage pie recipe you'll ever try!
5 from 7 votes
Prep Time 35 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Resting Time 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Course Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine British
Servings 8 servings
Calories 474 kcal

Equipment

  • Oven
  • 9" X 11" or 11" round oven safe baking dish
  • Large Pot with Lid
  • Potato peeler
  • Potato Masher
  • Chopping Knife
  • Large pan
  • Wooden Spoon
  • Measuring Cups
  • Measuring Spoons

Ingredients
  

For the filling

  • 2 lbs lean ground beef
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 cups frozen mixed vegetables
  • ¾ cup Stout
  • 2 tsp Worchestershire sauce
  • 1 cup beef broth

For the topping

  • 1 ½ pounds potatoes peeled and cubed
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup milk
  • cup sour cream

Instructions
 

  • In a large pot add the potatoes and cover with water.  Add 2 tsp of salt and boil until the potatoes are soft.  Drain the water from the pot.  Add 2 tbsp unsalted butter, 1/4 milk and 1/3 cup sour cream.  Mash until smooth.  Cover while filling is being made.
  • Preheat oven to 350F
  • Over medium-high heat add 1/2 tbsp of olive oil to a large pan and 1 lbs of beef, sprinkle with half of the salt and pepper. Brown meat in a large pan breaking it up with a wooden spoon into small pieces.  Brown 1 pound at a time so meat browns nicely.  Too much meat in the pan will cause it to boil in it's own juices and turn it an icky grey.  Once the first lb is browned and minced, transfer to a dish while you work on the 2nd lb sprinkling with the remaining salt and pepper. Remove the second lb of beef to the dish with the rest of the beef.
  • Add another tbsp of olive oil to the pan and add in the diced onion, garlic and 2 tsp fresh thyme.  Cook until the onions become translucent and soft. Add the beef back in the large pan, add in the 2 cups of frozen veggies, 3 tbsp of tomato paste, 3/4 cup stout, 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce and 1/2 cup beef broth.  Mix to combine.
  • Let simmer for 5-7 minutes until half of the liquid has been absorbed or boiled down. The alcohol will boil off of the beer during this step.
  • Add the beef mixture to a 9" X 11" casserole dish or 11" round casserole dish.  Spread evenly over the bottom of the dish.  
  • Top evenly with the mashed potatoes using a spoon to create small peaks of the mashed potatoes.  These peaks will brown during the baking process adding texture and flavour.
  • Bake for 20 minutes. You may wish to place a baking sheet on the rack below to avoid any spill-over messes. Turn to broil for the last 5 minute to brown the top of the potatoes.  Watch this step carefully so you don't burn the top.  It should just become golden with some darker browning on the peaks.
  • Remove from the oven and let rest 10 minutes before serving.

Nutrition

Serving: 316gCalories: 474kcalCarbohydrates: 21.8gProtein: 34.3gFat: 26.6gSaturated Fat: 10.8gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 11.2gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 114mgSodium: 1128mgPotassium: 972mgFiber: 3.1gSugar: 2.8gVitamin A: 1186IUVitamin C: 21.8mgCalcium: 80mgIron: 4.42mg

Notes

Storage: 
Cottage Pie can easily be made in advance and stored in the fridge for up to 5 days once baked. Reheat in the microwave or in an oven-safe dish.
You can prepare, cover and store in the fridge for up to a day before baking.
You can also freeze cottage pie for a few months and bake from frozen until the centre is hot. If the potatoes are browning too much and the pie isn’t heated through, just cover with foil and continue baking.
Substitutions:
Beer can be substituted for additional beef broth.
Frozen veggies swapped for fresh chopped.
 
 
Please Note:

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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For the step-by-step version of this recipe, check out the How to Make Pub Style Cottage Pie Story.

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6 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Looks amazing and the filling to topping ratio is JUST right. I cannot even remember the last time I had a really good meal at a pub – I wish our local Irish pub had fresh homecooked food like that!

  2. 5 stars
    Made this cottage pie and it was so delicious! The addition of the stout is really made such a difference, thank you for sharing your recipe!

  3. 5 stars
    My family is going to love this recipe! Making this later this week! Excited and looks so delicious!

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