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Cottage Pie with serving spoon.
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5 from 3 votes

Make Ahead Cottage Pie

Make Ahead Cottage Pie is an Irish tradition that is the ultimate in comfort food. It's easy to make and freezes beautifully.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 20 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: British
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 447kcal
Author: Chula King


Meat Mixture

  • 1 ½ cups low sodium beef broth (See Tip 1)
  • 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 ¼ pounds lean ground beef (See Tip 2)
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil or unsalted butter
  • 1 ½ cups chopped onion (1 large onion)
  • 1 ½ cup carrots cut into ¼-inch pieces (3 large carrots)
  • ¾ teaspoon Kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups frozen green peas

Mashed Potatoes

  • 3 pounds peeled and sliced Russet potatoes
  • 1 Tablespoon salt
  • 6 Tablespoons (¾ stick) unsalted butter
  • cup milk
  • ¾ cup (3 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


Meat Mixture

  • In a small bowl, combine beef broth, Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste and Dijon mustard; whisk until well blended. Set aside.
  • Brown ground beef in a large non-stick skillet. Drain in a colander and rinse well with hot water to remove as much fat as possible. Wipe skillet with paper towel and place over medium heat. (See Tip 3)
  • Heat olive oil or butter in skillet over medium heat. Add onion and carrots; cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add ground beef, flour, salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Cook several minutes. Add beef broth mixture; cook stirring constantly over medium heat until bubbly and thickened. Cover and continue cooking over medium low heat 45 minutes or until the meat and vegetables are tender. (See Tip 4)
  • Spoon into a buttered casserole dish(es). Pipe mashed potatoes over meat mixture. May be prepared in advance up to this point. (See Tip 5)
  • Bake at 375º F for 25 to 30 minutes, or until top of potatoes is lightly browned and mixture is bubbly. Yield: 8 servings. (See Tip 6)

Mashed Potatoes

  • Place potatoes and 1 Tablespoon salt in a large saucepan. Cover potatoes with water; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and continue cooking until potatoes are very soft, about 20 minutes; drain well in colander. Return potatoes to pan and heat over medium heat for several minutes to dry out. Add butter and cheese. Mix well. Add milk; beat with an electric mixer until potatoes are smooth and creamy. Add salt and pepper to taste. Allow potatoes to cool slightly.
  • Place potatoes in piping bag fitted with a large (1M) star tip.


  1. May use chicken broth rather than beef broth.
  2. I used 90% ground beef, but you could also use 85% ground beef.
  3. I know that rinsing the cooked ground beef removes some of the beef flavor. However, it also removes most of the grease. You could certainly skip this step.
  4. I like to cover the pan with paper towels before putting the lid on. The reason is that the paper towel traps the condensate and keeps it from falling back into the meat mixture. This keeps the meat mixture nice and thick.
  5. Refrigerate the Cottage Pie that you're going to eat, and freeze the others. I thaw the frozen Cottage Pies in the microwave before putting them in the oven.
  6. The leftovers are just as good the next day. I generally heat the leftovers in the microwave.
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Calories: 447kcal | Carbohydrates: 41g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 78mg | Sodium: 1434mg | Potassium: 1516mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 4618IU | Vitamin C: 41mg | Calcium: 180mg | Iron: 10mg