Okay, I’m going to squeeze in one more wintry comfort food dish before the weather really starts warming up! This Cheesy Cottage Pie is chock-full of vegetables in a rich beef gravy, and topped with a layer of super smooth and creamy cheddar mashed potatoes. It’s kind of a labor of love, but you won’t regret one minute of it—promise! This Cheesy Cottage Pie tastes even better as leftovers, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I ate it for lunch, then dinner, and then breakfast the next day. Yup, it’s that good.
Can I Make This Cottage Pie Vegetarian?
If you’re interested in making a vegetarian cottage/shepherd’s pie, check out my Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie, or replace the ground beef in this recipe with about 1.5 cups cooked lentils, and replace the beef broth with vegetable broth.
Fresh or Frozen Vegetables?
I’m all about using frozen vegetables for this recipe because they’re fast, easy, and you can keep them on hand in your freezer without them going bad. My grocery store didn’t have the frozen pea and carrot mix this particular day, so I chopped up one large fresh carrot (about 1 cup chopped) to use in place of the frozen. Whether you use fresh, frozen, or a mix of both, just make sure you have about 3 cups of vegetables total.
The Mashed Potato Short Cut
If you’re in a hurry and looking to make this recipe a lot faster and easier, you can use store bought mashed potatoes, but keep in mind that it will increase the recipe cost quite a bit. You’ll need about 6 cups of prepared mashed potatoes.
Cheesy Cottage Pie
Cheesy Mashed Potatoes
- 2.5 lbs. russet potatoes ($0.87)
- 1 tsp salt, divided ($0.05)
- 2 Tbsp butter ($0.36)
- 1/2 cup milk ($0.16)
- 4 oz. shredded cheddar ($0.85)
Cottage Pie Filling
- 2 Tbsp olive oil ($0.23)
- 1 yellow onion ($0.21)
- 2 cloves garlic ($0.16)
- 1/2 lb. ground beef ($2.65)
- 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour ($0.01)
- 1 cup beef broth ($0.13)
- 1/2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce ($0.03)
- 1 tsp dried rosemary ($0.10)
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme ($0.05)
- 2 cups frozen peas and carrots ($0.26)
- 1 cup frozen corn ($0.30)
- 1/2 tsp salt ($0.02)
- Peel and chop the potatoes into 1-inch cubes. Rinse them in a colander with cool water, then place them in a pot and add enough fresh water to cover them completely. Add 1/2 tsp salt, place a lid on the pot, and bring it up to a boil over high heat. Boil the potatoes until very tender, about 7-10 minutes.
- Drain the potatoes in a colander and rinse them again briefly with hot water. This removes excess starch and helps give the mashed potatoes a light and fluffy texture.
- While the potatoes are draining, add the butter and milk to the pot used to boil the potatoes. Heat the butter and milk over low until the butter is melted and the milk is hot. Add the drained potatoes back to the pot, then mash until smooth. Taste and add salt to taste (about 1/2 tsp). Stir in the shredded cheddar. Set the potatoes aside until you're ready to assemble the casserole.
- While the potatoes are cooking, begin to preheat the oven to 350ºF and begin the filling for the cottage pie. Dice the onion and mince the garlic. Add the onion and garlic to a large skillet along with the olive oil and sauté over medium until the onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Add the beef to the skillet and continue to sauté until the beef is fully cooked. Add the all-purpose flour and continue to stir and cook for about 2 minutes more, or until the flour coats the bottom of the skillet.
- Add the beef broth and stir to dissolve the flour from the bottom of the skillet. The broth will come up to a simmer fairly quickly, at which point it will thicken into a gravy.
- Add the Worcestershire sauce, rosemary, thyme, frozen peas and carrots, and frozen corn to the skillet. Heat through, then taste and add salt if needed (I added 1/2 tsp).
- Finally, assemble the cottage pie by transferring the beef and vegetable mixture to the bottom of a 2 quart casserole dish (mine was 9"x11"). Top with dollops of the warm cheesy mashed potatoes, spreading it out smooth to cover the surface.
- Bake the Cheesy Cottage Pie for 30 minutes in the preheated 350ºF oven. If you want extra browning on top, switch the oven to broil after baking and allow it to broil for a few minutes or until the desired browning has been achieved. Let the casserole rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.
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How to Make Cottage Pie – Step by Step Photos
Peel and cube about 2.5 lbs. russet potatoes into 1-inch pieces. Rinse them briefly with cool water in a colander, then add them to a large pot and add enough water to cover the potatoes. Add 1/2 tsp salt, place a lid on the pot, and bring it up to a boil over high heat. Boil the potatoes until they are very tender, about 7-10 minutes.
Once the potatoes are tender, drain them in a colander and rinse them briefly a second time with hot water. Let them drain in the colander. While the potatoes are draining, add 2 Tbsp butter and 1/2 cup milk to the pot you just used. Heat them over low until the butter is melted and the milk is hot. Add the drained potatoes back to the pot and mash until smooth (I also whipped mine with a hand mixer). Taste and add more salt if needed. I added 1/2 tsp salt.
Finally, stir in 4 oz. shredded cheddar. It’s okay if the cheddar doesn’t fully melt. Set the mashed potatoes aside until you’re ready to assemble the cottage pie. Placing the lid back on top will help them keep warm.
While the potatoes are cooking you can begin the filling. Also begin to preheat the oven to 350ºF. Dice a yellow onion and mince two cloves of garlic. Add both to a large skillet along with 2 Tbsp olive oil. Sauté over medium until the onions are soft and translucent. Add the ground beef and continue to sauté until the beef is cooked through.
Add 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour to the skillet with the beef and continue to sauté for about 2 minutes more, or until the flour coats the bottom of the skillet. Add 1 cup beef broth (I use Better Than Bouillon) and stir to dissolve the flour from the skillet. The broth will quickly come up to a simmer, at which point it will thicken into a gravy.
Once the gravy has thickened, add 2 cups frozen peas and carrots (or in my case, 1 cup frozen peas plus 1 cup fresh chopped carrot), 1 cup frozen corn, 1/2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce, 1 tsp dried rosemary, and 1/2 tsp dried thyme.
Stir everything to combine and heat through. Give the beef and vegetable mixture a taste and add salt if needed (I added 1/2 tsp salt).
Finally, assemble the Cheesy Cottage Pie. Pour the beef and vegetable mixture into the bottom of a 2 quart casserole dish (mine was 9″x11″). Add the cheesy mashed potatoes on top in dollops and spread it smooth to cover.
Bake the Cheesy Cottage Pie in the preheated 350ºF oven for 30 minutes. It should be bubbling up all around the edges. If you want extra browning on top, like I have in my photos, switch your oven to broil and broil for a few minutes more, or until you get the desired amount of browning.
Let the casserole rest for 5-10 minutes before serving. This will allow the gravy time to cool just enough to thicken up a bit and make serving a little easier.