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Cottage Pie

Equipment needed

  • Oven
  • large saucepan
  • wooden spoon or spatula
  • saucepan with lid
  • potato masher
  • chopping board
  • sharp knife
  • tablespoon
  • ovenproof dish
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Cottage pie
(Makes 4 portions)
For a change try using Quorn mince instead of beef.
Preparation time: 60 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 500g lean beef mince
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 200ml beef stock
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes

For the mash

  • 1kg potatoes, peeled and cut into even sized chunks
  • 125ml milk
  • 100g reduced fat strong cheese


  1. Heat 1/2 tbsp oil in a large saucepan until hot and then fry the mince until browned. Set aside as it browns. Put the rest of the oil into the pan, add the onions, garlic and carrots and cook on a gentle heat until soft, about 20 mins.
  2. Add the tinned tomatoes and tomato purée, increase the heat and cook for a few mins, then return the beef to the pan.
  3. Add the stock and Worcestershire sauce, bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 45 mins. By this time the gravy should be thick and coating the meat. Check after about 30 mins – if a lot of liquid remains, increase the heat slightly to reduce the gravy a little.
  4. Meanwhile, make the mash. In a large saucepan, cover the potatoes in cold water, bring to the boil and simmer until tender. Drain well, and mash thoroughly, add in the milk and three-quarters of the cheese, then season with pepper.
  5. Spoon the meat into the ovenproof dishes. Spoon on the mash to cover, putting the mash around the edge first helps seal the meat sauce when it’s cooking. Sprinkle on the remaining cheese. Heat the oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7 and cook for 25-30 mins, or until the topping is golden.

Budget tips: Replace half the meat with 250 grams of red lentils – remember to wash them first.

Storage: Once cooked this dish can be cooled and refrigerated in a non-metallic container to be enjoyed for lunch the next day by heating in the microwave. Ensure food is piping hot throughout before serving.

You can freeze this dish in individual portions. After stage 4 spoon the meat mixture into 4 suitable containers and top with the mash. Put the lid on securely and freeze for up to 3 months (aluminium foil tins are perfect as you can put them straight into the oven once defrosted).

Swaps and additions: Add other vegetables to this dish if you have them handy such as celery, courgettes, peas. Mash parsnip or swede in replacement of the potato or mashed sweet potato. For a vegetarian version you can replace the beef mince with soya mince and the beef stock with veg stock.

Serving suggestions: Serve with a side of vegetables.