This Best Cottage Pie Recipe, aka Shepard’s Pie with Beef, features a savory meat filling topped off with creamy mashed potatoes and baked to golden brown perfection! Learn how to make Shepherd’s Pie in on pan, just in time for Saint Patrick’s Day!

Cottage pie with some of it missing to see the inside filling.

Cottage Pie vs Shepherd’s Pie – What’s the Difference?

Cottage Pie and Shepherd’s Pie are very similar.

Both are British recipes. Both are savory pies filled with meat and vegetables, then topped with mashed potatoes.

In fact, Shepherd’s Pie is a type of the broader term “Cottage Pie.”

The only real difference is that Cottage Pie usually refers to a savory pie made with beef filling, while Shepherd’s Pie is traditionally made with lamb.

However, the terms are often used interchangeably.

Shepherds Pie being spooned out of pan

Easy Cottage Pie for Saint Patrick’s Day (Or Any Other Day!)

Today I’m sharing my fast and Easy Cottage Pie, which is started on the stovetop and finished in the oven.

Although we already posted a lovely Crockpot Shepherd’s Pie Recipe, it’s not quick to make. The chunks of lamb roast need ample time to slow cook and soften.

However, this Shepherd’s Pie is prepped and baked in less than 1 hour.

This is accomplished by using ground beef, instead of a beef or lamb roast, and by using store-bought or leftover mashed potatoes.

(Instead of making mashed potatoes from scratch before making the Cottage Pie.)

Portion of the Ultimate Shepherd's Pie served on a plate

Shepherd’s Pie with Beef

I love this version of Cottage Pie because it offers a robust beefy flavorkissed with dijon mustard and herbs.

The bold filling is chunky and colorful, mixed with onions, carrots, corn, and peas. It is the perfect complement to the fluffy mashed potato top.

And even if you choose to buy pre-made mashed potatoes (no judgment; life is busy!) we doctor the potatoes by adding a little butter and shredded cheddar cheese to the mix to offer extra richness… And help create a crispy crust and add extra flavor!

This Beef Shepherd’s Pie is fast to assemble, and oh so comforting. You are going to absolutely LOVE it!

Cottage pie filling being cooked in a cast iron skillet.

Cottage Pie Ingredients

  • Ground beef – Or ground lamb.
  • Onion
  • Carrots
  • Garlic
  • Corn– Frozen
  • Peas– Frozen
  • Beef broth
  • Tomato paste– For tang and thickening.
  • Worcestershire sauce– To accentuate the beef flavor.
  • Dijon mustard– For intrigue! 
  • Cornstarch– For thickening.
  • Dried thyme
  • Mashed potatoes – Store-bought or homemade
  • Cheddar cheese– To mix into the mashed potatoes
  • Salt and pepper
Mashed potatoes being mixed with cheese in a mixing bowl.

How to Make Shepherd’s Pie from Scratch

  1. Sizzle – Brown the ground beef in a large cast-iron (or oven-proof) skillet on medium to medium-high heat. Make sure to break the beef up into little pieces as it cooks.
  2. Sauté – Cook the onions, carrots, and garlic until the onions and carrots are soft. If the carrots aren’t cooked enough in the skillet, they will not soften in the oven.
  3. Mix – Stir all the filling ingredients together. Then spread the mixture out into an even layer in the skillet.
  4. Smear – Spread the mashed potatoes and cheese mixture over the top of the beef filling.
  5. Bake – Bake until the mashed potato top is crispy around the edges.


If using store-bought mashed potatoes instead of your homemade mash, you may need to drain off the extra liquid or press the top with paper towels, before mixing in the cheese. (If you want to take it to the next level, add some rosemary to the potatoes before baking for an amazing extra taste of goodness!

Use ground lamb in place of ground beef to make a traditional Shepherd’s Pie.

Get our Full Printable Cottage Pie Recipe (Best Shepherd Pie) Below. Enjoy!

Cottage pie in a cast iron skillet.

Tips & Tricks

  • Don’t over mix the mashed potatoes! If making your own mashed potatoes, make sure not to over mash, or they could end up gluey. It is okay if they have some lumps in them!
  • For a healthier version, you can replace the ground beef with ground chicken or ground turkey!
  • Add different veggies like mushrooms and cauliflower to this cottage pie recipe! For ease, you can use frozen veggies, if desired.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Do You Serve with Cottage Pie?

Cottage Pie is a One-Pot Meal, so technically, you do not need to serve anything with it.

However, if you like to have more options on the table, consider serving it with: Irish Soda BreadChopped Apple SaladGuinness Ice Cream FloatsIrish Pub Cheese, and Crackers, and/or Baileys Irish Cream Jello Shots!

Can You Freeze Cottage Pie?

Yes. Cover it with foil. Then wrap the entire dish in plastic wrap. When ready to use, take off the plastic, and bake at 350 degrees F for one hour. Keep the foil over the top.

You can also thaw it at room temperature, then reheat for 30 minutes.

Is Shepherd’s Pie A Good Make-Ahead Meal?

Yes! This recipe for cottage pie is great for Meal Prep, or for taking to a friend in need.

UnBaked: You can make the Cottage Pie up to the point of baking, then wrap and refrigerate it for up to 5 days. When ready to use, bake for 25-35 minutes.

Meal Prep or Leftovers: Place the leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 7 days.

Can I Make A Vegetarian Cottage Or Shepherds Pie?

Absolutely! You can do this by substituting a vegan ground beef or sausage in place of the ground beef. Then use vegetable broth in place of beef broth. You can also cook a one-pound bag of brown lentils and add the cooked lentils in place of the beef.

What If I Wanted To Bake This In A Larger Baking Dish?

If you wanted to bake this in a 9×13 casserole dish, it should take just the same amount of time as in this cast iron/oven-safe pan.

Irish Cottage Pie on a plate with more in the background.

More Irish Recipes You Will Love

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Cottage Pie Recipe (Best Shepherds Pie)

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Easy One-Pot Cottage Pie with cozy beef filling and a crispy mashed potato crust!
Servings: 8



  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Place a deep 13-14 inch cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the ground beef, and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Break the ground beef into small pieces, with a wooden spoon, as it browns.
  • Once the ground beef is fully cooked, move it to the sides of the skillet. Add the onions, carrots, and garlic. Sauté for 5-8 minutes to soften the onions and carrots. (The carrots should be partially cooked before baking.)
  • Stir the mixture together. Then add in the frozen corn and pea, broth, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, cornstarch, and thyme. Mix well. Taste, then salt and pepper as needed.
  • Turn off the heat. Spread the mixture evenly over the bottom of the skillet.
  • Mix the shredded cheese into the mashed potatoes. (If using store-bought mashed potatoes, you may need to drain off the extra liquid or press the top with paper towels, before mixing in the cheese.)
  • Scoop the mashed potatoes over the meat filling and spread it to the sides of the skillet, making sure there are no gaps. Immediately place the cottage pie in the oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden on top.



Use ground lamb in place of ground beef to make a traditional Shepherd’s Pie.


Serving: 1.25cups, Calories: 560kcal, Carbohydrates: 48g, Protein: 30g, Fat: 28g, Saturated Fat: 12g, Cholesterol: 95mg, Sodium: 562mg, Potassium: 1134mg, Fiber: 6g, Sugar: 7g, Vitamin A: 4424IU, Vitamin C: 46mg, Calcium: 176mg, Iron: 4mg
Course: Main
Cuisine: British, Irish
Author: Sommer Collier
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