Cottage Pie or Shepherds Pie (if made with lamb)

Tonight I am well stuffed (in the culinary sense)… I baked a wartime ‘cottage pie’ and fear that an actual cottage could have been the main ingredient as I am so full! This was one-hell-of-a-satisfying-meal on a cold winter night! I must make this more often…

One of the most satisfying things about the meal was the comments that flew my way as it was being gobbled down

Youngest hobbit…” Yum- this tastes good! There is no bits of starch in it like last time…”

Eldest hobbit …. ” Jeremy (boyfriend) wants to hire you as a cook”..

Eldest hobbits boyfriend.… ” Every meal I have tasted here has tasted so good..”

Middle hobbit …” Ewww- what’s that????” (this is not surprising as he is a vegetarian who doesn’t like vegetables)

Eldest hobbit….(who is also vegetarian but who I prepared a separate topping for)… ” ………just silence….”  (trust me this is good!)

Try this fabby, tasty, tummy filling, stick to your ribs meal- it is worth the effort!

Cottage Pie

  • 1 lb mince beef or soy mince made up to 1lb in hydrated weight ( note a weeks ration of mince beef for one person was about 1 lb ). Make it with minced lamb for a Shepherd’s pie.
  • several large potatoes
  • 2 oz cheese
  • dried herbs (Rosemary & Thyme work well)
  • salt and pepper
  • beef stock or vegetable stock ( 1 pint or more)
  • bisto gravy powder
  • peas and finely chopped carrots and onion optional
  • blob butter or margarine


  1. Brown the mince
  2. Add the chopped veggies (optional)
  3. Add salt and pepper and herbs
  4. Add beef stock, stir and simmer for 15 minutes (thickening towards the end by mixing bisto powder with a little cold water to a runny paste and adding to beef stirring all the time- beef sauce should be quite thick!)
  5. Meanwhile chop up all the potatoes into small chunks
  6. Place in salted hot water and bring to the boil until tender and drain.
  7. Mash with generous (if rations allow) blobs of butter or margarine, add salt and pepper to taste
  8. Finally add milk so mash is spreadable
  9. Place mince sauce in a small cooking tray with deep sides or shallow casserole dish
  10. Pipe or spread mashed potato on top
  11. Sprinkle with 2 oz of grated strong cheddar (or vegan alternative) and some dried herbs if you like
  12. Place in oven for 20 minutes at 200 c
  13. Finish off under broiler/grill to brown top

Serve with steamed fresh veggies!

Serves 4 with veggies

“This post is part of Twinkl’s VE Day Campaign, and is featured in their Best Wartime Recipes to Celebrate VE Day from Home post”

30 thoughts on “Cottage Pie or Shepherds Pie (if made with lamb)

    • Hey Pat- did you get this cooked? I was thinking of doing this again tomorrow but I don’t have enough potatoes in the house- darn!!!!! C xx

    • Note
      There is no cottage cheese in Cottage Pie ! But FYI you can use cottage cheese in many baking recipes that use cheese, just drain it well first.

      Try this traditional Scottish oven baked cheesecake (Crowdie or Highland Curd Tart filling), but baked in the microwave, Read recipe and see notes before beginning

      Blend the following: 225g plain cottage cheese (or ricotta), 50g caster sugar, 25mls pouring cream, 2 whole eggs + 2 yolks, 2 level tbls cornflour, zest of 2 lemons. First pour the mixture through a sieve then pour into a lightly oiled ring microwave pan, place the pan on a trivet in the microwave and cover with kitchen paper. Microwave on high for 3 minutes and test for wobble, at regular 1 minute intervals until the majority has firmed but still has a little wobble. This, as always, depends on your own microwave. Remove from the microwave and cool on a rack with an upturned sieve over the whole lot. This will allow it to cool without sweating. When set and cool turn it out onto a plate and either brown very quickly under a very hot grill or use a kitchen blow torch.

      This mixture can be baked in a shortcrust pastry shell
      Any other citrus fruit zest can be used, lime is good but use what you will.
      Serve warm, cool or cold with fruit and cream, or just as it is.

  1. This sounds like the shepherds pie I’ve been feeding my kids for years, except I don’t use cheese. Truly satisfying food.

    • Yes I think Cottage Pie and Sheperd’s Pie are the same thing- truly delicious. I don’t think you can beat something like this on a cold winter’s night!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

      C xx

      • Sorry I’m a bit late to the party, but take it from a Brit, cottage pie and shepherd’s pie are different. One uses beef mince and one uses lamb. Easy to remember, just think of shepherds and sheep.

      • My Dad was a Cook/Chef in the Royal Airforce stationed in Canada during the 2nd world war, he taught us that a Cottage pie is made with beef and a shepherds pie with lamb, he also taught me how to make it, my family love both and I am eternally grateful for that.
        I have tried to pass the recipe on but I am retired in Florida now and every thing is fast food from the takeaway or salads and I am afraid that his recipe will be lost forever, so sad. Elaine originally from England.

      • Yes, definitely beef for cottage pie and lamb for shepherd’s pie – and my husband does his own version which we call his “Piggery Pie” as he uses pork mince !

      • “We mostly made ours with beef at home, when I was growing up, but always called it shepherds pie regardless.”

        Absolutely. Same in our house when I was a kid back in the ’70s.

        Technically wrong of course, but I suspect countless Mums called it that.

      • Hi Ginny. As a fellow Brit I have to disagree with you on this, I’m with Lorna, Barb & Elaine and there is a difference. True it’s a popular misconception but as Lorna states, quote : ‘cottage pie and shepherdโ€™s pie are different, one uses beef mince and one uses lamb. Easy to remember, just think of shepherds and sheep.’

      • As a Brit I have to call this one out. Either term can be used for either meat.
        We mostly made ours with beef at home, when I was growing up, but always called it shepherds pie regardless.
        Itโ€™s personal preference which type of meat you use and which term you use.
        Incidentally, a similar type of dish is the Cumberland pie which is basically a cottage / shepherds pie with breadcrumbs and cheese sprinkled on top of the mashed potato. This is my absolute favourite version of shepherds pie cottage pie.

    • Depends which part of the UK you originate from. I’m Scottish so if you want to go the whole hog then it’s breakfast in the morning, then lunch around mid day followed by dinner in the evening. A high tea in the afternoon can be popular (wee sandwiches, pastries, dainties and scones with jam and cream) yet another ‘invention’ of the Victorian era when dinner was eaten much later therefore a refuel was needed mid afternoon.

      My Geordie in laws just have breakfast in the morning, dinner at mid day and tea time is the main evening meal.

      My other English relatives sometimes have Tiffin or elevenses (between breakfast and lunch) followed by the Victorian type of high tea (between lunch and dinner) then supper in the late evening.

      I think it mainly depends on how much you have eaten previously that day and what time you are hungry again.

      • “My Geordie in laws just have breakfast in the morning, dinner at mid day and tea time is the main evening meal.”

        Not just Geordies.

        We’re from London. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Neither Shepherds nor cottage pie should include sugar – is just is not done in England – I think this is an American idea as you appear to have a sweeter tooth than us – not a criticism just a difference. It is also more common to make the potato mash with butter or margarine rather than with cheese. The cheese would make it more luxurious and would be called a cheesy mash. In any event love the blog

    • I’m a Brit too and would never consider adding sugar to the gravy, ditto the cheese in the mash in place of butter – but I do add extra veg to the filling to make it go further, most especially turnip, carrots or greens – even cubed spuds too. I have recently used lentils or chick peas (which work well) also cooked barley (especially good with lamb) but it’s a bit of a ‘what needs using up ?’ situation at present.

  3. Hi Linda I’m British and thanks for spotting that teaspoon of sugar- it wasn’t used in the recipe so that was my fault for listing it in the ingredients!!! LOL! Also I always use margarine or butter to make mash (see method) and this recipe was from a British wartime cook book and it called for a sprinkling of cheese over the top ๐Ÿ™‚

    Thanks so much for reading xxxx

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    • Yes thats correct! Minced beef or minced meat here is hamburger. But mincemeat used to make mince pies at Christmas is dried fruit in a spiced sauce xxxx

    • I have an American friend who still asks for ground beef at the butchers when he means minced beef – or any meat for that matter !

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