Cottage Pie
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3.08 from 67 votes

The Best Cottage Pie

The Best Cottage Pie Recipe ~ ground meat with veggies and gravy under a glorious crown of golden potatoes ~ Cottage Pie and its cousin Shepherd's Pie are the crown jewels of Irish and British country cooking and everyone should know how to make one.
Prep Time25 mins
Cook Time50 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: British, Irish
Servings: 6 servings


  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 leeks trimmed, thinly sliced, and washed
  • 1 bunch thin young carrots or 2 regular sized trimmed, peeled and sliced
  • 1 and 1/2 lb ground beef short ribs you can use regular ground beef as well
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste I always keep a tube in the fridge
  • 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup good beef stock or bone broth
  • a sprinkle of Wondra flour a quick dissolving flour optional
  • salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste

mashed potato topping

  • 1 and 1/2 lb russet potatoes peeled and cut in chunks
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter divided
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Preheat oven to 350F
  • Heat the oil in a skillet and sauté the leeks and carrots for about 5 minutes. Remove to a plate.
  • Brown the ground beef, breaking it up as it browns so it has a nice crumbly texture. If it's excessively greasy, drain some off. I didn't, I like to retain the fat for flavor unless there's a ton of it.
  • Stir in the tomato paste, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and broth to combine. Bring up to a simmer and let simmer gently for 15 to 20 minutes to allow the broth to reduce. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If your gravy is very thin you might want to stir in a sprinkling of Wondra flour, about a teaspoon to start, which will thicken it up instantly. Be sparing with it, a little will do.
  • Add the vegetables back into the pan and mix well. Turn the mixture into a large pie plate or casserole dish. Spread out evenly.
  • Meanwhile boil the potatoes until very tender. Drain and mash with the buttermilk and 3 tablespoons of the butter. Add more buttermilk if the potato mixture seems dry. Fold in the cheese and season with a little salt and pepper if needed.
  • Spread the mashed potatoes over the top of the pie. Melt the remaining 1 tablespoon butter and gently brush over the mashed potatoes.
  • Put the baking dish on a baking sheet to catch any drips, and bake for about 50 minutes, or until browned and bubbling.