There’s nothing quite like a big bowl of slow cooker cottage pie to warm you up on a cold, rainy winters night. Delicious minced beef and onions are slow cooked with carrots, celery and herbs and finished with gravy. This is topped with piles of creamy mashed potato (and a little cheese if you like!) and then popped in the oven for a few minutes to crisp up.
The slow cooker lets the flavours of the cottage pie mingle beautifully and the vegetables soften.
Cottage pie also freezes really well, so if you happen to have any leftovers you can pop them into a different dish, cool, cover and freeze for up to one month. Leftover cottage pie is also really nice reheated for lunch the following day.
Ingredients for slow cooker cottage pie
For the Savoury mince filling
- 1-2 medium onions, peeled and finely diced
- 1-2 carrots, peeled and finely diced
- 1-2 sticks of celery washed and finely diced
- A clove of garlic, peeled and crushed or finely grated (optional)
- 500g-750g 5% fat minced beef
- The 12% or 20% stuff will be fine too but 5% is less fatty and doesn’t shrink. I normally buy either 500g or 750g of minced beef but this recipe works well with other amounts too. Just adjust the amount of other ingredients you use so it’s relatively in proportion. I NEVER measure anything for this recipe, just go with your instinct.
- Rosemary and Thyme (Dried is fine)
- Worcester Sauce
- Salt and freshly ground mixed peppercorns
- A beef stock cube or stockpot
- A little sunflower or olive oil
- Frozen Garden Peas
- Gravy Granules
For the Mashed Potato Topping
- Potatoes – Maris Piper or red potatoes are good. Peeled and quartered
- Salt and ground white pepper
- Butter* or margaine. If you’re following a dairy-free diet you can use dairy free margarine
- Milk* optional
- Mature Cheddar or Red Leicester Cheese grated * optional
In a pan (or if you have a sear and stew slow cooker, in the slow cooker pot) pour about 1 tablespoonful of sunflower or olive oil.
Add the onions, celery and carrot and gently sweat the vegetables over a medium heat for 3-5 mins until they’re looking glossy (it may take longer) The vegetables should be slightly softened.
Add the minced beef and crushed garlic if using and stir gently to break up the mince beef so it can all brown evenly.
Once the beef is brown, transfer to the slow cooker.
Add a shaking of rosemary and thyme, the stockpot, a shaking of worcestershire sauce and enough water to come up to the level of the mince. It won’t evaporate so it needs to be about the same amount that you’d like to have at the end of cooking.
Add the garden peas if using and give the mince a good final stir.
Replace the slow cooker lid and set to high if you’ve just got the afternoon or low if you’ve got all day.
If it looks like it is cooking too quickly or not cooking quickly enough, turn it up or down as necessary. Slow cookers all cook at different speeds and so it’s best to simply do what your slow cooker needs you to do!
Towards the end of cooking time (about 45-60 mins before you’re hoping to serve the cottage pie make the mashed potatoes. If you’d like to prepare the raw potatoes ahead of time pop them in a dish, cover them with cold water to stop them discolouring. I normally put a lid or a plate over the top of the dish too.
Put the potatoes into a pan, cover with boiling water and add a good pinch of salt
Cook until soft
When lovely and soft, drain the potatoes in a colander. Pop them into a large mixing bowl and mash them with a fork or potato masher.
Add salt, white pepper, butter and a splash of milk if liked to taste
Sprinkle some grated cheddar or red leceister cheese into the mash and mix in well, saving a little grated cheese for the top. You can see my full Mashed Potato Recipe here
To Assemble the dish
Add some gravy granules to the minced beef and stir in well. Check the seasoning and adjust if necessary. I like using freshly ground mixed peppercorns or white pepper to give it a little lift.
In an ovenproof dish put the minced mix on the bottom, the mashed potato on the top and sprinkle with cheese.
If you have lots of time available put the cottage pie in the oven for 15-20 mins on 200oC. If not pop under the grill and grill until the cheese is bubbly or the topping is golden brown if you’re not using cheese
Serve with carrots and buttered savoy cabbage and lashings of gravy.
What to do with leftover cottage pie
Leftovers can be reheated for lunch the following day or cooled quickly or transferred to a freezer proof dish, wrapped carefully and put in freezer for up to one month (unless your freezer rating suggests for longer than this)
Variations on Cottage pie
Using more or less the same ingredients and method but using lamb mince not beef mince will give you shepherds pie.
If time is short or you don’t have access to an oven or grill, you can serve the mashed potato and mince separately and this is known as Savoury Mince.
Savoury mince can become savoury mince and dumplings if you add dumplings.
Dumplings are easy to make you use 1 part suet to 2 parts self raising flour, some salt and pepper and enough water to make it into a sticky but formed dough. I normally pop them on top of a stew or savoury mince for the last hour of cooking.
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