A melt-in-your-mouth, savoury, tasty, heart-warming meal

PREP TIME: 30 mins
COOKING TIME:  45 mins
IDEAL FOR: family meal, crowd pleaser

Cottage Pie vs Shepherds Pie

OK, so let’s start off by getting any confusion out of the way.

There really isn’t much difference, TBH.

Cottage pie is traditionally beef mince.

And came about in the 1790’s.

Shepherd’s pie is traditionally lamb mince (think a Shepherd and his/her flock).

And came about in the 1870’s.

But for a longtime they have been pretty much interchangeable so I wouldn’t get too worried.

Anyway, we‘ve got that cleared up.

Who could resist a cottage pie

Cottage pie

The cottage pie is slightly more mysterious than it’s cousin, shepherd’s pie

No one knows exactly where it came from or who created it.

But they do know the name ‘cottage’ pie came about due to potato being introduced as an affordable crop in England and Ireland

And therefore, was an inexpensive dish that the peasant rural workers – who lived in ‘cottage’s’ – used to whip up.

It was a great dish to use any kind of leftover roasted meat and combining mash, often lining the pie dish as well as the top.

Oh, and if you top the potato crust with breadcrumbs, you’ve turned your dish into a “Cumberland pie”.

Cottage pie in this heat?!

I know it’s summer.

But it’s the kind of dish that can still be enjoyed any time of year.

After long day at the beach or a long walk with friends or family.

Coming home to cottage pie is never a disappointment to anyone.

Who could resist this delicious, meaty, potato-laden meal.

Plus, it’s filling, inexpensive and great for freezing

Lou’s KIDS Kitchen Corner

I also think it’s a great recipe for any young person to learn for the reasons above, especially, inexpensive.

Students around the world should be able to get their hands on potatoes, mince and a few veg!

This week, my old young pal, Dylan, jumped online so we could ‘Zoom-cook’ over the inter-web and down the lens.

He’s job this week (outside of online & home schooling) was to learn some cooking skills and whip up a family meal for seven.

Yes, seven.

We don’t muck about.

If you’re going to learn to cook, you might as well learn to feed an army.

So, a cottage pie suits both the budget and is a great recipe to start your cooking career off on.

Dylan, chopped, sautéed, simmered, boiled, mashed, mixed, and cooked his heart out for his family.

And the result can only be judged by the smiles on the faces of his family.

Nice one Dylan!

The perfect cottage pie 🙂

What dish would you recommend to a young aspiring cook? Leave a comment…

Cottage Pie

Melt-in-your-mouth, meaty-savoury, potato-laden heaven
Course Main Course
Keyword crowd pleaser, family meals, midweek meal
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 4 people
Cost £


  • (Ovenproof dish (approx 20cm by 30cm)


  • 50 g butter (or you could use vegetable oil instead)
  • 600 g minced beef
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 sprigs of thyme, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stick, finely diced
  • 9 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce, to taste (you may won't to add a little more, depends on your taste)
  • 100 ml red wine optional
  • 500 ml beef stock
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the mash topping

  • 1 kg white potatoes
  • 75 g butter
  • 100 – 150 ml milk
  • 200 g strong cheddar (or you could switch out for Parmesan)
  • nutmeg (Optional)


  • Melt the butter in a pan on a medium heat.
    Add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, thyme and bay leaf and fry over a medium/low heat for around 10 minutes, or until softened.
  • Add the mince and cook until brown (if you are doing a larger quantity you may need to do the meat in batches)
  • Now add the tomato purée, Worcestershire sauce and cook for 2 minutes.
  • Turn the heat up to high and add the red wine. Let it bubble away and reduce for 5 minutes then add the stock and reduce to a medium heat.
    Simmer for a further 20 minutes, stirring often (nb: you want the liquid to reduce so it's a nice thick gravy covering the mince).
  • While this is bubbly away, cut the potatoes into quarters and cook in a pan of boiling, salted water until cooked through (approx for 15 to 20 minutes).
    Drain and leave to steam dry.
  • Preheat the oven to 190C/170C fan.
  • Taste the mince and season to your taste with salt and pepper.
    Take out the bay leaf and (if any) Thyme stalks.
    Now, transfer it to an ovenproof dish (approx 20cm by 30cm).
  • Mash the potatoes with the butter, milk, pinch of salt and pepper (*some freshly grated nutmeg – Optional) and 3/4 of the grated cheddar cheese, then spread over the top of the mince.
    Sprinkle the rest of the cheese over the top and cook for 45 minutes, or until golden and bubbling.
    Serve with peas and carrots.


Recipe inspired by James Martin