My comforting cottage pie

My comforting cottage pie

I’ve always loved cottage pie – it’s another one of the many tasty meals I’ve grown up tucking into, as it was something my mum and grandma would often make. 

Cottage pie is such a comforting tummy warming meal. And after hearing Steve Wright on Radio 2 talking about the fondness of traditional hearty pub food (cottage pie was mentioned!), I felt inspired to share my own version of this yummy fork food, as I know when I worked at Juvela gluten free foods, what people mostly asked about, was how to make gluten free versions of traditional dishes that they had enjoyed before they had needed to follow a gluten free diet.

Now, whilst the kitchen can look a little messy in the midst of preparation for a cottage pie, the sheer satisfaction of sliding this completed dish into the oven and giving the kitchen a good old tidy whilst it bakes makes me happy!

On this occasion I’ve added chopped tomatoes to my cottage pie. By doing this, it saved needing to thicken the mince and gave it a really nice flavour. I also chopped my veg rather chunky, but finely diced I think would work really well too.


Ingredients (serves 4)

500g good quality minced beef (I get mine from my local butcher)

1 large onion – finely chopped

¼ swede – diced

2 large carrots – diced (if the skin is good leave it on, just wash and slice…lots more flavour and very good for you)

2 sticks celery – diced

2 knorr *stock pots or cubes (low salt ones are not gluten free)

¼ teaspoon *paprika (optional)

Ground *black pepper

575ml (pint) boiling water

400g tin chopped tomatoes

1.5kg marris piper potatoes – peeled and cut into even size pieces

25g butter 

75g mature cheddar cheese – grated



Prepare and chop all the vegetable. Including peeling, slicing and popping the potatoes into a pan of cold water so they are ready to boil when needed.

Picture of the base ingredients for my comforting cottage pie.

Pop the mince, chopped onion and a good twist of black pepper, into either a large saucepan or deep frying-pan then onto the heat – stirring well to break down the mince and brown the meat evenly. I don’t add oil when I’m browning mince. It’s just my preference.

Minced beef and onion in a frying pan..preparation for my cottage pie.

Add the stock pots/cubes, mix well and cook out for a few minutes, allowing the flavour to incorporate into the mince. If using, you can also sprinkle in the paprika at this point. 

Browned mince beef and onion in a deep frying pan

Add the diced, carrot, celery and swede to the mince. Give everything a good stir.

Diced vegetables and minced beef in a frying pan in preparation for my comforting cottage pie.

Pour in the boiling water. Bring to the boil then turn down to a gentle simmer. Leave to cook for 20 minutes.

Minced beef with lots of veggies in a deep frying pan ...preparation for cottage pie.

Whilst the mince is cooking put the potatoes on to boil. They will take approx. 15-20 minutes to cook. Once cooked drain them well and mash, adding butter and seasoning to taste – add more butter if you fancy! 

Mashed potatoes in prep for my comforting cottage pie

Going back to the mince, stir in the chopped tomatoes and cook out on a fast simmer for about 10 minutes. Check for seasoning. I didn’t feel the need to add any additional salt as I felt the stock pots had balanced the flavour really well, but I did add plenty of back pepper.

Minced beef base for my comforting cottage pie

Transfer the mince into a large ovenproof dish – the one I used measured 10 x 9 inch and 2 inch deep and was perfect. 

Minced beef base in dish waiting for mashed potato to complete my comforting cottage pie.

Spoon the mashed potato evenly over the top, then press down and neaten up using a fork.

My comforting cottage pie - almost oven ready

Grate the cheese over the top of the mash. I also like to finish with a good twist of black pepper too. 

My comforting cottage pie with grated mature cheddar - oven ready

Transfer the pie into a hot oven 220C/425F/Gas 7/200C Fan and bake for about 25 minutes until it’s golden brown and piping hot.

My comforting cottage pie fresh from the oven

You can make the cottage pie in advance and once cooled store in the fridge for up to 48hrs. Should you choose to do this don’t sprinkle the grated cheese over the top until you are ready to bake it. It will also freeze really well.

Serving suggestion

We loved the cottage pie with wilted spinach and peas, but any green veg would work. Or you may fancy a chunky slice of gluten free bread with a spot of butter…… and I think Warburtons Artisan tiger bloomer would be the perfect choice of gf bread for this meal!

My comforting cottage pie with wilted spinach and peri pois.

Thanks for checking out my recipe….hope it’s made you peckish and inspired you to head into your kitchen to conjure up something very delicious! If you fancy having a browse for even more tasty ideas, you can take a look at my ever growing collection right here! 

 For now

Liz x


P.S. Should you fancy making a more traditional cottage pie with a rich gravy rather than a tomato base this all you would need to do:  Once the mince has browned and you have got to the stage of adding the veggies, pour in enough boiling water to just cover everything. Bring to the boil and then turn down to a fast simmer and cook for about 25 minutes – just keep your eye on it in case you need to add a drop more water. After this time, add a few drops of gravy browning (just check it’s gluten free…I use Sarsons), and then blend a good dessertspoonful of cornflour (check no may contain warnings on pack) with a little cold water to make a runny paste. Pour this slowly into the the mince whilst stirring at the same time until you reach your desired thickness. You may not need to add it all or you may need a bit more. It will all depend on how much liquid remains in the mince. Season to taste and from here transfer the minced beef into an ovenproof dish and follow the recipe as above (add mash, etc). If you do end up with a bit more gravy than you planned, you can always reserve it and serve it with the cottage pie.

Gluten free cottage pie


*Check this product out to ensure no gluten containing ingredients or ‘may contain’ or ‘not suitable’ warnings on the pack. If in doubt leave it out.

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