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A ground beef and vegetable filling is coated in flavorful gravy and topped with mashed potatoes, making this Cottage Pie a nourishing, cozy and easy dinner. The simple recipe is a classic comfort food favorite — and it’s perfect for St. Patrick’s Day!

Close up shot of cottage pie in a white cast iron skillet

If you’re in need of an easy ground beef casserole that’s filled with healthy veggies and satisfying, creamy mashed potatoes, then you have come to the right place! You can prep this dish in advance with some very basic ingredients and just a few minutes of time. A perfect easy dinner recipe that the whole family can enjoy!

What’s the difference between Cottage Pie and Shepherd’s Pie?

Cottage Pie and Shepherd’s Pie are both savory meat pies with a crust or topping of mashed potatoes. Traditionally, Shepherd’s Pie is made with ground or minced lamb, while a Cottage Pie is made with ground or minced beef. We prefer beef in this house, so the Cottage Pie has always been our preference!

Why is Cottage Pie called “Cottage Pie?”

The term “Cottage Pie” was used in 1791, when the potato was introduced as an edible crop affordable for the poor (“cottage” was a term used to describe a modest dwelling for rural workers). There are many variations of the recipe, but the defining ingredients include minced or ground beef with onions (and sometimes other vegetables) in a gravy or sauce, topped with mashed potatoes, and baked in the oven. That’s exactly what we’re doing here — with a few shortcuts for convenience that don’t detrimentally impact the taste of the dish!

Close overhead shot of cottage pie with mashed potatoes on a plate

How to make Cottage Pie:

In less than an hour, you can have a warm, cozy and healthy family-friendly meal on the table. Let’s get started…

Ingredients:

  • Butter
  • Onion and garlic
  • Ground beef
  • Rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper
  • Tomato paste
  • Beef broth
  • Frozen peas and carrots
  • Mashed potatoes

First, cook the onion, garlic, ground beef and herbs in a skillet and then drain off the fat. I’m using a 2-quart cast iron skillet here (so that I can use the same dish in the oven).

Overhead shot of ground beef filling for cottage pie

Next, add the tomato paste, beef broth, peas and carrots. I love to use a bag of frozen vegetables for a shortcut!

Bag of frozen peas and carrots

Cook and stir the beef and gravy over low heat, just until combined.

Front shot of ground beef filling for cottage pie in a white cast iron skillet

At this point, you may need to transfer the beef mixture to a 2-quart baking dish (or you can keep it the skillet if you’re using an oven-proof skillet). Top with a nice, thick layer of mashed potatoes and the quick Cottage Pie is ready for the oven!

Process shot of spreading mashed potatoes on top of cottage pie

Bake the dish covered in a 300 degree F oven for about 25 minutes, or until the filling is nice and warm. Then remove the cover, crank up the oven to 425 degrees, and brown the potatoes on top!

Close up front shot of cottage pie in a white cast iron skillet with wooden serving spoon

What do you have with Cottage Pie?

Thanks to the meat, potatoes and veggies, you’ve got a complete, satisfying meal in one dish! If you’d like to offer a few sides, here are some easy options that go with Cottage Pie:

Is Cottage Pie healthy?

This casserole is full of lean protein (thanks to extra-lean ground beef) and plenty of filling, nourishing vegetables. Each serving contains 415 calories, 25 grams of protein, and 16 grams of fat. Depending on the specific brands of ingredients you use, this recipe can be made gluten-free. Cottage Pie is not Keto-friendly or low-carb, thanks to the potatoes!

Close up front shot of a bowl of Irish cottage pie

Cook’s Tips and Recipe Variations:

  • Can I make Cottage Pie the day before? Yes! You can assemble this dish in advance and keep it covered in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
  • To freeze Cottage Pie: After baking, let pan cool to room temperature, then cover tightly with foil and place in the freezer for up to 2 months. When ready to eat, reheat the dish (still covered with foil) for 1 hour in a 350ºF oven.
  • I typically use two containers of store-bought mashed potatoes for this recipe; however, you can substitute with about 4-5 cups of your favorite homemade mashed potatoes.
  • Substitute mashed sweet potatoes for the regular white potatoes if you prefer.
  • Instead of the frozen peas and carrots, you can substitute with an equal amount of frozen mixed vegetables (peas, carrots, corn and green beans) or any other variety that your family prefers.
  • For even more savory flavor, add 1-2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce to the beef mixture at the same time that you add the broth.
  • Make it a Shepherd’s Pie by swapping out the ground beef and using ground lamb instead. You can also substitute with ground turkey or ground chicken, if you prefer.
Overhead shot of cottage pie on a blue and white plate

More easy ground beef casserole recipes that you might enjoy:

Close up shot of cottage pie in a white cast iron skillet

Cottage Pie

4.67 from 3 votes
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 55 minutes
Resting Time 10 minutes
Total: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 6 people
Calories 415.9 kcal
A ground beef and vegetable filling is coated in flavorful gravy and topped with mashed potatoes, making this Cottage Pie a nourishing, cozy and easy dinner!

Ingredients
  

  • 1 tablespoon salted butter
  • ½ cup onion, diced
  • 1 ½ teaspoons minced fresh garlic
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 ½ teaspoons minced fresh rosemary (or ½ teaspoon dried rosemary leaves)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons fresh thyme leaves (or ½ teaspoon dried thyme leaves)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 ounces (about 5 tablespoons) tomato paste
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 lb. frozen peas and carrots
  • 4-5 cups mashed potatoes, or enough to cover the top of your dish (I used 2 containers of refrigerated store-bought mashed potatoes (24 ounces each))
  • Optional garnish: chopped fresh parsley

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven 300°F. Spray a 2-quart dish (about 8- or 9-inch square baking dish) with cooking spray and set aside.
  • Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes, until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.
  • Add the ground beef, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper; cook over medium heat until meat is no longer pink. Drain off fat. Stir in tomato paste, beef broth, carrots and peas. Cook and stir over low heat, just until everything is combined.
  • Transfer meat mixture to prepared baking dish. Spread the mashed potatoes on top.
  • Cover the dish with a piece of foil that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Bake, covered, for 25 minutes, or until the filling is hot. Increase the oven temperature to 425°F, remove the foil, and return the dish to the oven for about 10 more minutes (or until the potatoes start to brown).
  • Let the pie rest for 10-15 minutes before garnishing with parsley and serving.

Notes

  • Can Cottage Pie be made the day before? Yes! You can assemble this dish in advance and keep it covered in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
  • To freeze Cottage Pie: After baking, let pan cool to room temperature, then cover tightly with foil and place in the freezer for up to 2 months. When ready to eat, reheat the dish (still covered with foil) for 1 hour in a 350ºF oven.
  • I typically use two containers of store-bought mashed potatoes for this recipe; however, you can substitute with about 4-5 cups of your favorite homemade mashed potatoes.
  • Substitute mashed sweet potatoes for the regular white potatoes if you prefer.
  • Instead of the frozen peas and carrots, you can substitute with an equal amount of frozen mixed vegetables (peas, carrots, corn and green beans) or any other variety that your family prefers.
  • For even more savory flavor, add 1-2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce to the beef mixture at the same time that you add the broth.
  • Make it a Shepherd’s Pie by swapping out the ground beef and using ground lamb instead. You can also substitute with ground turkey or ground chicken, if you prefer.

Nutrition

Serving: 1/6 of the recipeCalories: 415.9kcalCarbohydrates: 46.3gProtein: 25.1gFat: 16.7gSaturated Fat: 8.1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.3gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.5gCholesterol: 73.7mgSodium: 1298.3mgPotassium: 320.4mgFiber: 6.9gSugar: 4g
Keyword: cottage pie, ground beef casserole
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American, Irish
Author: Blair Lonergan
blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I had not had this since my grandmother made for us when I was a small kid. I saw the recipe here and could not resists and I would swear it tastes the same as it did then. Super easy to prepare, with basic ingredients and Delicious results!!! well done…Love it

  2. 4 stars
    This dish has good flavor. I made my own mashed potatoes and should have created more peaks on top for browning. I also would have liked more gravy so I’ll double next time. Yes there will be a next time!

  3. Blair, when you use your cast iron skillet, do you use the lid instead of foil for the first part of baking?