Minced beef cooked with vegetables and baked beans in a rich warming sauce and covered in creamy mashed potato – perfect for the whole family
1 hour 10 mins
Cottage pie recipe
This healthy Cottage pie recipe is so simple but always really hits the spot. This is such a nostalgic recipes for and a real childhood favourite. I’ve squeezed in a few extra veggies into the minced beef filling, which I have always done this to get the children eating more vegetables than they think they are! Traditionally I would have always used butter in the mashed potato topping, but I’ve substituted this for light cream cheese here to save on calories, but still yield a creamy and delicious mashed potato.
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What is Cottage pie?
Cottage pie is a classic British recipe made from minced beef cooked down with onion and carrots, and in this version parsnip and baked beans (my Mum always added baked beans to cottage pie and I think it makes it so much nicer). A beef stock cube is crumbled in to give more depth and savoury flavour to the meat. This is then all mixed together with tomato puree and a splash of Worcestershire sauce and then covered with a mashed potato and cream cheese topping. Finally, this is baked in the oven until golden brown on top.
What’s the difference between cottage pie and shepherd’s pie?
The main difference between these two traditional recipes is the meat that is used. Shepherd’s pie uses minced lamb and cottage pie uses beef. Apart from that the method is the same, and depending on the version you cook, they pretty much use the same accompanying ingredients. Traditionally cottage pie used sliced potato to top the pie mixed and shepherd’s pie used mashed potato.
Cottage pie ingredients?
To make the pie mix you will need:
- Beef mince (ground beef) – I have used extra lean beef mince (less than 5% fat content) here to reduce the amount of fat.
- Beef stock cube – This needs to be one of the dried stock cubes so that it can be crumbled in.
- Onion – A good sized onion that is finely chopped.
- Carrot – Two carrots that are grated.
- Parsnip – A medium sized grated parsnip.
- Tomato puree – I use a puree from a tube but you can use tomato puree that comes in a tin. The leftovers from the tin can then be frozen in an ice cube tray for later use. Tomato puree is a great ingredient to infuse the tomato flavour into the sauce and thicken it up.
- Worcestershire sauce – This savoury sweet fermented sauce gives real depth to the pie mix and also adds a nice tang from the vinegar.
For the potato topping you will need:
- Potatoes – You want a nice fluffy potato for mashing so something like Maris Piper or King Edward potatoes.
- Light cream cheese – I’ve used this instead of butter to reduce the amount of calories. It does however create a really lovely creamy mashed potato.
What can I serve with cottage pie?
- These Spring leeks and peas make a fresh accompaniment to the rich cottage pie.
- Frozen peas (cooked)- this was what I always had alongside cottage pie as a child.
- Fresh broccoli- as this is my kids favourite vegetable it’s what tends to be my default accompaniment for cottage pie.
- Any other fresh, seasonal green vegetables, steamed or simmered for a few minutes: fine green beans, runner beans, sugarsnap peas, mange tout, asparagus.
How long can I keep Cottage pie in the fridge?
Cottage pie can be kept in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.
Make sure that you have allowed the cottage pie to fully cool before putting it in to the fridge.
To make sure that the cottage pie stays fresh place it into a reusable, clean airtight container. You can alternatively wrap it in clingfilm, you just need to make sure that this is airtight.
Can I freeze cottage pie?
Cottage pie can be frozen for up to 3 months.
I normally freeze any leftovers in portion sizes making it ideal for a quick dinner. You will need the cottage pie to cool completely before putting it into the freezer. Again I use a reusable airtight container that is freezer safe. Alternatively you can put the portions carefully into freezer safe food bags or wrapped in clingfilm. Make sure to label the container with the date it goes into the freezer.
How do I reheat cottage pie?
You can reheat cottage pie in the oven, microwave or air fryer. If the cottage pie is frozen make sure it’s fully defrosted before reheating. This can be done in the fridge overnight.
- Oven – To reheat in the oven, place the cottage pie on an ovenproof dish and cover with tin foil – this will prevent the top burning. I normally remove the foil for the last 10 minutes to just crust up the top again. Heat the oven to 180°C and then cook – a single portion may only need 10-20 minutes or an entire cottage pie will need to cook for 35-45 minutes. Check to make sure that it’s fully cooked through and piping hot in the middle before serving. If you want to use a food thermometer to double check the internal temperature then it should be 165°F (75°C) before serving.
- Microwave – Place the Cottage pie on a microwave safe dish and cover with a lid or cling film. Cook for 2-3 minutes depending on the size of the piece. Check it’s fully cooked through before serving. If it still requires more cooking continue in 30 second increments. Again the internal temperature should be 165°F (75°C) before serving.
- Air fryer – Preheat the air fryer to 180°C. (if you have a pre-heat function). Place the cottage pie onto some baking paper to prevent it from leaking and then lift it into the air fryer. Cook for 3-5 minutes depending on the size of the portion. The internal temperature should be 165°F (75°C) before serving.
How does cottage pie work on Slimming World?
This Slimming World cottage pie recipe is very low syn if you are following Slimming World, with only 2 syns per serving. The syns come from the light cream cheese in the mashed potato, but this is really worth it for a smooth and creamy mashed potato which bakes with a lovely crispy edge. Most light cream cheese (soft cheese) brands are around 2 syns per 25g, which means that the pie is 8 syns in total, and 2 syns per portion. You can use extra light cream cheese if you prefer which is lower in syns. The filling of the cottage pie is syn free- just make sure that you use the extra lean beef mince (less than 5% fat). It is always recommended that you check the syns yourself using your Slimming World resources to make your own calculations, as changes may have been made since publication of this recipe.
Does cottage pie contain any allergens?
Cottage pie possibly has ingredients that cause allergies.
- Beef stock cube – Some stock cubes may contain dairy, wheat and gluten so it’s best to check the ingredients in the brand you are using.
- Worcestershire sauce – The traditional sauce contains fish (anchovies)
DISCLAIMER: This information is given as a guide and is by no way definitive. It’s still really important you check all the ingredients you are planning on using to make sure that they don’t contain allergens if this is something that affects you.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT: COTTAGE PIE
Can I use a chicken or vegetable stock cube instead of beef?
Yes either of these will work. The flavour won’t be quite as deep as the beef stock though.
How can I make this vegetarian?
The beef mince can be replaced with Quorn mince and use a vegetarian stock cube. You will also need to use a vegetarian alternative to Worcestershire sauce, such as Henderson’s relish. You could also add some tinned (cooked) green lentils at the same time as adding the beans. The cooking method would stay the same.
Can I make this in advance?
Yes this is a good recipe to make ahead of time. Once prepared it can be stored in the fridge overnight but just make sure to cover it well with clingfilm or a lid to ensure an airtight seal.