Delicious and Authentic English Cottage Pie Recipe

There’s nothing quite like a wholesome meal made with traditional ingredients to warm your belly and comfort your soul. And that’s exactly what you’ll get with this delicious recipe for Traditional English Cottage Pie with Cheese and Leek Topping. This classic dish, also known as Shepherd’s Pie, is made up of lean ground beef, carrots, peas, onions, tomato puree, Worcestershire sauce and a blend of herbs, all topped off with smooth and creamy mashed potatoes. But what really makes this dish shine is the cheesy leek topping that creates a mouth-watering crust over the entire pie.

Originating in England, the Cottage Pie has been a favorite for generations, and with good reason: it’s easy to make, filling and absolutely delicious. It’s perfect for dinner parties or for quiet evenings at home with your family. And best of all, this recipe allows for plenty of substitutions and variations to suit your tastes or dietary needs.

So whether you’re a fan of traditional British cuisine or just looking for a hearty and satisfying meal to share with your loved ones, this recipe is sure to impress. So let’s roll up our sleeves and get ready to create a masterpiece in the kitchen!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Traditional English Cottage Pie With Cheese and Leek Topping
Traditional English Cottage Pie With Cheese and Leek Topping

Picture this: it’s a chilly evening, and raindrops are trickling down your windowpane. You’re looking for something warming, comforting, and hearty to soothe your soul. That’s precisely when you’ll want to turn to this remarkable traditional English cottage pie with cheese and leek topping. Trust me; nothing beats a gloomy day like a bubbling dish of this delicious classic.

First off, let’s talk about the filling. This recipe uses 600g of lean ground beef that’s been cooked until it’s tender and falling apart. It also features diced onions, carrots and peas, and a mixture of Worcestershire sauce, tomato puree, salt, pepper, flour, and mixed herbs for an unbeatable flavor combination. But wait – it gets better! The topping consists of creamy mashed potatoes combined with melted cheddar cheese for an extra indulgent twist. As if that wasn’t enough of comfort food heaven, I’ve added buttery sautéed leeks on top for a final flourish.

Now let me tell you why else you’re going to adore this recipe. First off, it’s easy to make. You don’t need any fancy equipment or ingredients; everything is readily available at your local grocery store. Secondly, it makes enough for leftovers – perfect for meal prepping or enjoying the next day as lunch.

Thirdly, this dish is versatile. You can customize it to your liking by swapping out the ground beef for minced chicken or lamb or making a vegetarian option with chickpeas or lentils instead of meat. Plus, you can adjust the seasoning and spices according to your taste buds’ preferences.

Finally – and most crucially – this cottage pie is deeply satisfying. Like a warm hug from an old friend, it’s an embrace in edible form. This recipe has become famous worldwide because of its delicious taste and heartwarming effect.

In conclusion, there are numerous reasons why you’ll fall in love with this traditional English cottage pie recipe. It’s ideal for cold days or when you’re craving something filling, comforting, and delicious. So, it’s time to put on your apron and preheat your oven – I promise your tastebuds will thank you!

Ingredient List

 Get ready to enjoy a classic and comforting English Cottage Pie.
Get ready to enjoy a classic and comforting English Cottage Pie.

Here are the ingredients you will need to make this Traditional English Cottage Pie With Cheese and Leek Topping recipe:

  • 600 g lean ground beef
  • 2 onions, peeled and diced
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp dried mixed herbs
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 250 g frozen peas
  • 800 g cooked and shredded beef
  • 500 g potato, sliced
  • Butter for frying
  • For the cheese leek topping:
    • 2 leeks, sliced
    • Butter for frying
    • 50 g butter, room temperature for mash potatoes
    • Milk to make mashed potatoes creamy
    • 200 g cheddar cheese, grated

All these easily available ingredients will make for a truly amazing pie that everyone will love.

The Recipe How-To

 This hearty meal will please even the most voracious eaters at your dinner table.
This hearty meal will please even the most voracious eaters at your dinner table.

Here’s the step-by-step guide on how to make Traditional English Cottage Pie With Cheese and Leek Topping Recipe, which is perfect for a hearty family dinner.


  • 600g lean ground beef
  • 2 diced onions
  • 1 sliced carrot
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons of flour
  • 500ml beef broth
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon tomato puree
  • A handful of peas

Preparing the Filling

First, preheat the oven to 400 F (200 C). Then in a large, ovenproof dish add some butter and cook the onions over medium heat until they become tender. Then add the ground beef into the pan and cook until browned all over, using a spatula to break up any lumps.

Next, add the sliced carrots, minced garlic, dried mixed herbs, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for around two minutes. Add in flour and stir well. Then add in some beef broth, stirring continuously until it starts thickening. Finally, add the Worcestershire sauce, peas, and tomato puree. Simmer for around ten minutes until everything is cooked through.

Making the Topping

While that mixture is simmering away, put a pot of water onto boil. Peel around six large potatoes and cut them into chunks before adding them to the boiling water. Cook for around twenty minutes or until they become soft.

Once they are ready, drain them then mash them with some butter and milk until they become smooth. Add in some shredded sharp cheddar cheese, salt and pepper to taste.

Assembling the Dish

After this, add the cooked and drained leeks to the onion and beef mixture that was earlier prepared, stirring it together. Spoon the mashed potato topping over the top of the mixture, starting from around the edges and working your way inward to create a smooth covering on top.

Then sprinkle with some extra grated cheese and bake it in the oven for around 30 minutes or until the cheese becomes golden brown and crusty.


Serve hot and enjoy. This recipe serves six people, so invite your family or friends over for a taste of this Traditional English Cottage Pie with Cheese and Leek Topping Recipe.

Substitutions and Variations

 Delicious layers of tender beef and flavorful vegetables bathed in a rich gravy.
Delicious layers of tender beef and flavorful vegetables bathed in a rich gravy.

As with any recipe, there are plenty of opportunities to experiment with substitutions and variations to create a dish that is unique to your tastes. Here are a few ideas on how you can make this Traditional English Cottage Pie with Cheese and Leek Topping recipe your own:

– Vegetarian Option: If you’re looking for a vegetarian version of this dish, try substituting the ground beef for brown lentils or a meat substitute like Beyond Meat or Quorn. Vegetable broth can be used in place of Worcestershire sauce for an equally tasty flavor.

– Different Cheeses: Though cheddar cheese is traditional and commonly used for this recipe, you can also experiment with different types of cheeses like gouda, gruyere, or parmesan. For added richness and depth, try mixing two or three types of cheeses together.

– Change up the Toppings: If you’re not keen on leeks, consider swapping them out with other toppings like caramelized onions or sautéed mushrooms. For an even heartier dish, sprinkle some bacon crumbles over the mashed potato topping.

– Add Vegetables: You can add additional vegetables to this recipe such as carrots or peas. Simply adding some fresh green beans or broccoli can also enhance this dish tastefully.

By utilizing these substitutions and variations of ingredients in Local Recipes’ Traditional English Cottage Pie with Cheese and Leek Topping recipe, you’ll be able to create a customized version that suits your preferences.

Serving and Pairing

 A golden cheese and leek topping crowns this scrumptious pie and adds a lovely texture.
A golden cheese and leek topping crowns this scrumptious pie and adds a lovely texture.

When it comes to serving and pairing this traditional English cottage pie with cheese and leek topping, there are a few things you should keep in mind. First and foremost, this hearty and comforting dish is meant to be enjoyed during colder weather as it is sure to warm you up from the inside out.

To balance out the rich flavors of the beef and mashed potatoes, I recommend serving this cottage pie with a simple side salad dressed in a tangy vinaigrette. The crisp greens and bright acidity of the dressing will cut through the richness of the cottage pie and help to cleanse your palate between bites.

If you’re looking for something a bit more indulgent, why not pair this cheesy, meaty pie with a full-bodied red wine like Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon? The tannins present in these wines will complement the savory flavors of the beef while adding some depth and complexity to each bite.

Alternatively, if you’re not in the mood for wine, a cold beer like an English Bitter or Stout would also pair nicely with this dish. The malty sweetness of these beers will complement the savory notes of the beef while providing some refreshing carbonation to wash it all down.

No matter how you choose to serve and pair your traditional English cottage pie with cheese and leek topping, I’m certain that this classic comfort food dish will leave you feeling satisfied and well-fed. So why not gather your friends and family around the table for a cozy night in full of good food, good company, and great conversation?

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 Every bite is like a hug from your grandma, warm and fulfilling.
Every bite is like a hug from your grandma, warm and fulfilling.

When it comes to cottage pie, it can be a lifesaver to make it ahead of time, especially if you’re cooking for a crowd or have a busy week ahead. To make-ahead, cook the whole dish as directed and let it cool entirely. Then cover tightly with plastic wrap or foil and place in the fridge for 24-48 hours.

When you’re ready to serve, preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C) and reheat the pie covered in foil for about 30-40 minutes until heated through. Don’t forget to remove the foil for the last 10 minutes to achieve that delicious cheese crust on top. If you prefer a crispier topping, you can broil it for 5-7 minutes after removing the foil.

If you anticipate having leftovers, store them in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. However, please note that it’s best to consume them within three days due to the ground beef ingredient. When reheating from leftover, place one portion on a microwave-safe dish and cover loosely with a damp paper towel. Heat in 30-second intervals until warm enough, stirring occasionally.

Whether you’re enjoying this dish on the day of cooking or reheating leftovers, add an extra sprinkle of salt and pepper before serving. It will elevate every bite of this classic British comfort food!

Tips for Perfect Results

 Don't let the simplicity of the dish fool you, it's full of rustic charm.
Don’t let the simplicity of the dish fool you, it’s full of rustic charm.

Now that you have your traditional English Cottage Pie with Cheese and Leek Topping recipe ready to go, let me share some tips for achieving perfect results every time.

1. Use lean ground beef: I recommend using lean ground beef for this recipe to ensure a meaty yet not overly greasy pie. The fat content in ground beef can vary, but aim for 90% lean meat.

2. Don’t skip the Worcestershire sauce: This ingredient adds a tangy depth of flavor to the dish. Be sure to get a good quality Worcestershire sauce for the best taste.

3. Add dried herbs: The recipe calls for mixed herbs, but if you have individual dried herbs such as thyme or oregano, feel free to use them instead. Dried herbs give the dish a savory aroma and lend a subtle earthiness to it.

4. Cook the veggies thoroughly: Make sure the carrots, peas and onions are cooked through before adding them to the mixture. Undercooked veggies can be tough and unappetizing.

5. Mash the potatoes smoothly: When making mashed potatoes for the topping, make sure they are smooth and creamy with no lumps left in them. A chunky texture will affect the overall consistency of the pie.

6. Preheat your oven: Always preheat your oven to ensure even cooking throughout. If you pop the pie into a cold oven, it may take longer than expected to cook and result in uneven browning.

7. Cover with foil if it’s browning too quickly: Depending on your oven, you may need to cover the top of the pie with foil halfway through cooking if it’s getting too brown on top.

8. Let it rest: As tempting as it may be to dig right in after taking your pie out of the oven, let it rest for 5-10 minutes before cutting into it. This allows time for the juices to settle and will make for a neater, tastier slice.

Follow these tips and you’ll have the perfect traditional English Cottage Pie with Cheese and Leek Topping every time. Enjoy!


As a chef who specializes in British cuisine, I understand that you may have some questions about this Traditional English Cottage Pie with Cheese and Leek Topping recipe. So, to help you achieve the perfect results every time, I’ve put together a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) that will hopefully clear up any confusion or doubts you may have. From ingredient substitutions to cooking times and storage recommendations, let’s dive right in!

Can you put leeks in shepherd’s pie?

To make this delicious British lamb and leek cottage pie, start by preparing the mashed potato topping. Mash the potatoes until they are smooth and then mix in some butter and milk to make them creamy. Next, add the cooked and drained leeks to the mashed potato and mix everything together.
Once the potato mixture is ready, transfer the lamb filling into an ovenproof dish and spread the mashed potato mixture over the top. Using a fork, create a pattern on the surface of the mashed potato and then sprinkle some grated cheese over the top.
To ensure easy handling and prevent any spills, place the dish on a baking sheet before putting it in the oven.

What is traditional cottage pie made of?

In British cooking, a Cottage Pie signifies a dish made up of a layer of beef, covered with thinly sliced potatoes that resemble the tiled roof of a cottage. Similarly, a Shepherd’s Pie is made with a layer of lamb and topped with mashed potatoes.

What is the difference between cottage and Cumberland pie?

When it comes to making a hearty British dish, cottage pie is a popular choice with its sliced potato topping. However, if you’re feeling adventurous, you can switch things up and try using mashed potatoes instead. Another tasty option is Cumberland pie, which is quite similar to cottage pie, except it uses larger chunks of beef instead of ground meat.

Is cottage pie Irish or English?

You might have heard of Cottage Pie or Shepherd’s Pie, a delicious savory pie that originated from the UK and Ireland. Typically, it’s composed of minced meat and topped with either mashed or sliced potato.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, this Traditional English Cottage Pie with Cheese and Leek Topping is the perfect recipe for a comforting and satisfying meal. With its tender and juicy ground beef filling, smooth and creamy mashed potato topping, and flavorful cheese and leek topping, this dish is everything you need in a traditional British comfort food.

So why not give it a try? This recipe is easy to follow, versatile, and can be customized to fit your preferences. You can also make some substitutions or variations to suit your own taste buds. Whether you make this for a weeknight dinner or for a special occasion, it will surely be a crowd-pleaser.

So go ahead, gather your ingredients, and start cooking! Trust me; you won’t regret it. It’s time to indulge in some delicious Traditional English Cottage Pie with Cheese and Leek Topping. Happy cooking!

Traditional English Cottage Pie With Cheese and Leek Topping

Traditional English Cottage Pie With Cheese and Leek Topping Recipe

Cottage pie, like its opposite lamb number, Shepherd's pie, was the ingenious idea of housewives many years ago, in order to create another warm and comforting meal usually from the Sunday Lunch left-overs! Cooked beef or lamb were diced or shredded and sometimes the vegetables were added to the meat mixture - such as peas or carrots. This recipe uses raw minced beef, but you could use minced cooked beef if you wish, I have added it as an alternative. The leeks were always added to the mashed potato topping when I was growing up - it was another way of utilising the leftovers! A bit like a Bubble and Squeak topping. I am not a lover of peas being added in my Cottage Pie, so I have suggested them as an option - I always prefer carrots as the vegetable to be added. Try to use mature Farmhouse Cheddar cheese for the topping - a little goes a long way, as it is so strong in flavour. The cheese is very luxurious, but takes this simple and comforting pie to a higher taste level, in my humble opinion! Serve bubbling hot straight from the oven with steamed cabbage, carrots or any seasonal vegetables and a jug of gravy.
Course Main Course
Cuisine British
Keyword < 60 Mins, Easy, European, Kid-Friendly, Meat, One-Dish Meal, Onions, Potato, Savory, Savory Pies, Toddler-Friendly, Vegetable
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Calories 796.7kcal


Cottage Pie Filling

  • 600 g lean ground beef or 600 g cooked beef, shredded
  • 2 onions, peeled and diced
  • 1 large carrots, peeled and finely diced or 1 large cooked carrot, diced
  • 1 ounce butter or 1 ounce dripping
  • cooked peas (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon dried herbs or 1 -2 tablespoon fresh mixed herbs, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 tablespoon tomato puree
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 250 ml beef stock (OR 250 ml red wine mixed with 2 teaspoons sugar) (optional)
  • salt
  • pepper

Cottage Pie Topping

  • 1 kg potato, peeled and cut into small even sized pieces
  • 2 large leeks, cleaned and finely shredded or 2 large cooked leeks, sliced into rings
  • 2 ounces butter
  • 2 -4 tablespoons milk
  • 4 ounces mature farmhouse cheddar cheese, grated
  • salt
  • pepper


  • To make the pie filling:
  • Fry the onions and carrots if using, in the butter or beef dripping until they are soft.
  • Add the minced/chopped beef and cook for about 10 to 20 minutes or until the onion and carrot have browned and the minced beef has taken on some colour and is firm. (It also depends if you are using cooked or raw minced beef.).
  • Season well with salt and pepper, then add the mixed herbs. Stir in the flour, and mix well.
  • Mix the tomato puree and Worcestershire sauce with the stock and add it to the meat mixture, bringing it all to simmering point. Simmer until the stock has reduced by aboout a third, add the peas if using and take off the heat. Set aside whilst you make the topping.
  • To make the topping:
  • Boil the potatoes in slightly salted water then mash them well, adding half of the butter and all of the milk gradually. Season to taste.
  • If using fresh leeks, fry the leeks gently in the remaining butter, until soft and slightly coloured.
  • Stir the cooked leeks into the mashed potato mixture and give it all a good mix.
  • Assemble:
  • Put the meat mixture into a large and deep well greased baking dish and spread the potato mixture on top; then sprinkle with the grated cheese. You can also use 4 - 6 smaller pie dishes if you wish.
  • Put into a pre-heated oven, 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6 for about 25 to 30 minutes until the topping is crusty, golden and bubbling.
  • Serve with an assortment of fresh seasonal vegetables and a jug of gravy.


Serving: 432g | Calories: 796.7kcal | Carbohydrates: 60.2g | Protein: 44.3g | Fat: 42.4g | Saturated Fat: 23.3g | Cholesterol: 174.1mg | Sodium: 512.2mg | Fiber: 7.9g | Sugar: 7.7g

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