Irish Cottage Pie

This Irish Cottage Pie recipe is similar to what you’ll find in Ireland and pretty much all pubs across the United Kingdom! Traditional Irish Shepherd’s Pie, is made using lamb, carrots, green peas and then topped with creamy mashed potatoes.

Cottage pie is a spin off the famous lamb dish only it uses ground beef instead of ground lamb. This recipe comes together in no time and is perfect for the “meat and potatoes” folks in your family!

Cottage pie with a scoop out.

Why this recipe works

As with most foods, each region has its own version of this dish. Whether it be in Scotland, the UK, England, Ireland, France ( in France, it’s called “hachis parmentier”) or America, it’s always a meat casserole topped with creamy mashed potatoes! 

  • Simple ingredients you’ll find at your local grocery store
  • Delicious and flavorful meat filling with a nice vegetable mixture
  • Easy comfort food that’s good not only on St.Patrick’s Day, but any day! This is often served with Irish colcannon or champ!
  • This makes a whole second meal! A great way to use leftover mashed potatoes and / or use your leftover Sunday roast!
  • One Dish Dinner – you’ve got meat, potatoes and vegetables all in one dish!

I like to make this Irish pub dish on a rainy day! It’s a perfect rainy-day-food and it makes you feel like you’re at an Irish Pub! Sláinte

Here’s what you’ll need

If you’ve ever traveled to Ireland, you know that Irish food is delicious, yet simple. Sometimes simple is best and this Irish Cottage Pie recipe is quick and easy!

Ingredients on white wooden table.

This recipe uses ground beef, russet potatoes (also known as Idaho potatoes), yellow onion, tomato paste, a few garlic cloves, chopped carrots, green peas and mashed potatoes.

The cottage pie seasonings are salt, black pepper, a little ground sage, ground thyme, Worcestershire sauce, beef stock (or beef broth) and a few dried bay leaves.

I add a little Allspice and a few tablespoons of all-purpose flour to the meat mixture-this ensures the meat and vegetables thicken a little and the dish isn’t watery. Some Irish Cottage Pie recipes call for red wine but this one does not.

Ground meat: I use ground beef, either 73% or 80%- both of which need to be drained after cooking.

Potatoes: I recommend using a russet or Idaho potato for Irish Pub Cottage pie. Waxy potatoes, like Yukon Gold and Red Creamer potatoes don’t bake up as fluffy as russets.

Green peas: Frozen green peas work great in this delicious dish, however, if you want to use canned green peas you can – just drain and rinse them first.

Carrots: 2-3 large carrots finely chopped

Garlic: 2-3 cloves of garlic or 1-2 teaspoons of minced garlic.

Allspice: gives a hint of a deeper flavor but you can omit if you don’t have it

How to make Irish Cottage Pie

This is an overview. Please refer to the recipe card and recipe notes below for details.

First, make the mashed potatoes. Peel and dice potatoes and place in a large stockpot of cold water. Bring water to boil and cook 8-12 minutes until potatoes are fork tender; drain potatoes in a colander and reserve one cup of the potato water

Return potatoes to stockpot and add butter; mash potatoes with a potato masher and gradually add in the one cup of reserved potato water; season to taste with salt and black pepper; set aside

Cubed russet potatoes going into stockpot of water.

In a large skillet, brown ground meat (break it up into small pieces with a wooden spoon.) Once the meat is browned and there is no visible pink, drain the meat and return it to the skillet. Add in chopped onion and cook on medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes.

Minced garlic being added to browned beef, onions and carrots in skillet.

Sprinkle in flour and combine well. Add in diced or finely chopped carrots, minced garlic, ground sage, ground thyme, allspice (optional), beef broth, a splash of Worcestershire sauce and bay leaves.

Turn heat to medium low and cover; cook until the carrots are tender. At this point, you will want to taste and adjust seasonings for salt and pepper.

Once the savory cottage pie meat filling is done, place the meat in an even layer in a baking dish or oven safe casserole dish

Mashed potatoes being spread over meat filling with spatula.

Use a spatula to scoop and spread the mashed potatoes over the top of the meat mixture

Place the Irish cottage pie in a 350°F oven, uncovered, on the middle rack for 10-15 minutes

If you want the top of the dish to have a mashed potato crust on top, turn the oven to the broil setting and broil for a few minutes or until the tops of the potatoes turn slightly golden brown.

Once your cottage pie is done, let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes to rest then serve.

Recipe Tip

Make more mashed potatoes than you think you’ll need – don’t ask me how I know this. You can always make potato cakes if you have more than enough leftover potato mash

If you’ve got leftover meat filling, you can always make meat pies!

Recipe FAQ

What’s the difference between Shepherd’s Pie and Cottage Pie?

A traditional Shepherd’s Pie recipe typically uses ground or cubed lamb, usually leftover from Sunday dinner. Cottage pie uses ground beef.

What to serve with Cottage Pie?

This Irish casserole has meat, potatoes and vegetables in it, so you’ve already got all the bases covered! You can always serve a side of colcannon or champ, a slice of Irish soda bread or a crisp green salad.

Make ahead and storage

This Irish Pub Cottage Pie will hold up in the refrigerator when covered airtight with foil or plastic wrap. To reheat, I recommend placing foil over the top and baking at 300°F until the center is warm.

You can also reheat individual servings by just popping them in the microwave for a couple of minutes.

Spoonful of cottage pie hovering over casserole.

Use this easy Irish cottage pie recipe for any occasion! It’s an especially comforting dinner and a perfect meal when it’s cold outside!

More Irish recipes

Cottage pie with a scoop out.

Irish Cottage Pie Recipe

Similar to Shepherd's Pie, but made with savory ground beef, peas and carrots nestled under creamy mashed potatoes
5 from 4 votes
Print Rate
Course: Dinner, Entree, Main Course
Cuisine: American, English, European, International, Irish, Irish-American
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Yield: 6 cups
Author: Anecia Hero


  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 3 pounds russet potatoes
  • 1 cup reserved potato water (see recipe notes)
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup chopped onion , white, yellow or sweet yellow
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 cup frozen peas (thawed)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (fresh) about 2-3 cloves minced
  • 2 tablespoons flour, all-purpose
  • cups beef broth or beef stock
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • ¼ teaspoon ground sage
  • ¼ teaspoon ground thyme
  • ½ teaspoon Allspice (optional)
  • 2 dried bay leaves


Make Mashed Potatoes

  • Peel, cube or dice potatoes and place in a large stockpot with 6-8 cups of cold water; bring to boil and cook 8-10 minutes until potatoes are fork tender; drain potatoes and reserve 1 cup of the potato water
    3 pounds russet potatoes
  • Return potatoes to stockpot; add butter; mash with potato masher and gradually add in the reserved potato water; taste for salt and pepper; set aside
    1 stick butter, 1 cup reserved potato water (see recipe notes)

Make the Irish Cottage Pie Meat Filling

  • Thaw the frozen peas under running water and set aside
  • In a large skillet on medium heat, brown beef until there is no visible pink; drain and return browned beef to skillet
    2 pounds ground beef
  • Add onions and saute 3-4 minutes
    1 cup chopped onion
  • Sprinkle in flour and combine well; add carrots and remaining ingredients; cover, turn heat to medium low and allow to simmer until carrots are tender; once carrots are tender, add thawed green peas and let the dish simmer a few minutes; remove bay leaves when done
    1 cup chopped carrots, 1 tablespoon minced garlic (fresh), 2 tablespoons flour, all-purpose, 1½ cups beef broth or beef stock, 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, 2 tablespoons tomato paste, ¼ teaspoon ground sage, ¼ teaspoon ground thyme, ½ teaspoon Allspice (optional), 2 dried bay leaves, 1 cup frozen peas (thawed)
  • Scoop meat mixture in an even layer into an oven safe baking dish, casserole dish or ramekins
  • Scoop the potatoes onto the meat mixture and, using a spatula, gently spread the potatoes over the mixture
  • Place in 350°F oven, uncovered, on the middle rack for 15-20 minutes or until the cottage pie is warmed throughout
  • Remove from oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes prior to serving
  • See recipe notes if you want a crispy potato topping


Reserved potato water:
When you drain the potatoes, put a bowl under the colander and catch about a cup of the potato water. You’ll add this back into the potatoes after you mash them…this makes ’em creamy without having to add a lot of dairy.
Crispy potato topping:
Place the cottage pie under the broiler at about 400°F for 2-5 minutes, or until the tops of the potatoes begin to turn a light golden brown. Remove and let rest before serving (it will be HOT!)

Nutrition Estimate

Serving: 1cupCalories: 626kcalCarbohydrates: 51gProtein: 37gFat: 31gSaturated Fat: 9gPolyunsaturated Fat: 5gMonounsaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 98mgSodium: 644mgPotassium: 1690mgFiber: 4gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 4350IUVitamin C: 19mgCalcium: 86mgIron: 6mg
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