Close this search box.

Healthy Cottage Pie

This Healthy Cottage Pie is a classic dish from my childhood that has been reimagined with a nutritious twist. If you’ve never had Cottage Pie or Shepherd's Pie; imagine succulent ground beef with a medley of vegetables, including carrots, celery, corn, and peas, all nestled under a blanket of creamy mashed potatoes! This dish is gluten free, packed with protein and gives all the comforting feels.

Easy English Cottage Pie

When I was growing up one of my favourite meals was Shepherd’s Pie. My mom made a very simple version but an extremely tasty one at that. We grew up eating a great deal of meat and potatoes. My family heritage is heavily Irish, English, and a smattering of French. We didn’t have money to toss about on fancy things or expensive cuts of meat but my father LOVES beef so we did on the odd occasion split a cow with family friends. It gave us enough meat for the entire winter. I would often be asked by my mother to go to the “deep freezer” to fish out a chuck roast or ground meat. I swear I almost fell in on many occasions. My family didn’t gravitate too far from beef. I mean yes, we had chicken and pork also but never anything like lamb or goat or duck. Especially when my dad was home. He was a cow man and wanted steak on his plate.

Now that I am eating all things again I wanted to revisit the humble Shepherd’s Pie and found something interesting. The whole time I thought I was eating Shepherd’s Pie, I was actually eating COTTAGE PIE. Turns out Shepherd’s Pie is made with ground lamb and Cottage Pie is made with ground beef. WHO KNEW? Not this kid from small-town Ontario that’s for sure. So here I am sharing my version of Healthy Cottage Pie with more veggies than the average because while I love giving my body the protein it needs, I also want to give it the fibre it needs also.

This quintessential comfort dish, with its rich layers of savoury ground beef, tender vegetables, and a creamy mashed potato, serves as a meal that is always welcomed, floods in memories of childhood and is dang right delicious! This recipe is an ode to the power of simple, wholesome ingredients coming together to create a delightful meal. From the choice of meat to the selection of vegetables and the preparation of the iconic mashed potato crust, each component plays an important role in crafting a gluten free yet traditional Cottage Pie.

Ingredients for Cottage Pie

  • Olive Oil: A heart-healthy oil that adds a subtle flavor and is perfect for sautéing vegetables.
  • Chili Flakes: Adds a hint of heat to the dish, enhancing the overall depth of flavors.
  • Onion: A foundational ingredient that offers sweetness and a robust flavor to the base of the pie.
  • Garlic: Brings aromatic and savory notes that enhance the richness of the minced beef.
  • Carrot: Adds sweetness, color, and vitamins to the dish. 
  • Celery: Contributes a mild, slightly peppery flavor and crunch.
  • Ground Beef: The main protein source, providing richness and depth. Grass-fed minced beef is leaner and richer in certain nutrients. Ground lamb, turkey or chicken can be used for a slightly different and less traditional twist on this dish.
  • Worcestershire Sauce: Adds umami and complexity to the meat.
  • Dried Thyme & Oregano: Herbs that offer earthy and slightly bitter notes, enhancing the meat and vegetables.
  • Tomato Paste: Concentrates the tomato flavor, enriching the beef mixture. I’ve read recipes of people using ketchup as it adds sweetness and tomato but that would be a less healthy option.
  • Gluten-Free Flour: Used to thicken the sauce without adding gluten, making the dish accessible to those with gluten sensitivities. Cornstarch or arrowroot powder can be used as a thickening agent as well.
  • Bone Broth: Adds richness and nutrients to the pie, enhancing the flavor and moisture of the meat mixture, however; vegetable or beef broth can be used as well.
  • Frozen Corn: Canned corn provides sweetness and a pop of colour. 
  • Frozen Peas: Add a sweet, fresh element and vibrant colour to the dish.
  • Baby Spinach: Introduces a nutritional boost and wilts down to complement the meat and vegetables without overpowering the dish.
  • Sea Salt and Cracked Pepper: Essential seasonings that enhance and balance the flavors of all ingredients.
  • Russet Potatoes: The base of the creamy mashed topping, known for their fluffiness and ability to absorb flavors. Yukon gold potatoes can be used for a creamier texture. I’ve also heard of people mixing half and half with sweet potato for a slightly different flavour; go wild!
  • Butter: Adds richness and creaminess to the mashed potatoes.
  • Parmigiano Cheese: Brings a nutty, salty depth to the mashed potatoes.
  • Heavy Cream: Contributes to the luxurious texture of the mashed potatoes. For a lighter version, you can omit the cream or use a milk alternative.
  • Paprika: Used as a garnish, it adds colour and a subtle sweetness to the finished dish.

What Is Cottage Pie?

Cottage Pie is the very definition of home-cooked comfort food for a Canadian gal like me! This classic recipe started in British kitchens and is simplicity at its finest. At its heart, it’s a savoury blend of ground beef, tenderly cooked with onions, maybe a carrot or two, and peas for a pop of sweetness, all nestled under a fluffy blanket of golden-browned mashed potatoes. It’s the kind of meal that brings everyone to the table with eager anticipation, a dish that carries the stories of generations through its simple, yet satisfying layers.

What’s The Difference Between Cottage Pie and Shepherd’s Pie?

The primary difference between both meat pies is in the choice of meat. Cottage Pie is made with ground beef and what I think many of us didn’t know is Shepherd’s Pie traditionally uses ground lamb. That is the main difference, pretty much everything else about these dishes is the same otherwise, they both layer the meat at the bottom, vegetable(s) in the middle, followed by a heaping layer of creamy mashed potatoes on the top. 

How to Make Cottage Pie

To make your Cottage Pie, start by preheating your oven to 400F. Warm the olive oil with a sprinkle of chilli flakes in an oven safe pan or cast iron skillet over medium high heat, and add the finely diced onion, carrot, and celery into the pan, sautéing them for about 5-7 minutes until they start to soften and release their fragrant aromas. This vegetable base is then enriched with minced garlic, sautéed for an additional minute, and seasoned well with salt and pepper to build layers of flavor early on. Add the ground beef to the mix, broken up and brown until no pink remains, with dried herbs and a splash of Worcestershire sauce stirred in for depth and complexity.

Create a small well in the center of the pan and add the tomato paste, which is then cooked into the beef for a minute, infusing the mixture with its rich, concentrated tomato flavour. This is the moment to add the frozen corn and peas, bringing pops of sweetness and colour to the mix. A sprinkle of gluten-free flour over the beef, followed by the pouring of bone broth, thickens the sauce as it’s stirred and brought to a gentle bubble. After cooking for three minutes, fold in the baby spinach until it wilts, then smooth the top of the meat mixture with a spatula, preparing it for the creamy layer.

While all that is happening with the meat and vegetables make sure you are taking care of the mashed potatoes. Once they are prepared and ready, scoop onto the beef mixture using an ice cream scoop – a trick that ensures an even distribution. With a spatula, smooth the potatoes into a uniform layer, and for a finishing touch, sprinkle paprika over the top, adding a subtle smoky flavour and a hint of colour. Some people also like to add shredded cheddar cheese to the top for a little extra something something but this is a more traditional recipe so I opted to omit it. Bake the pie in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, until the top begins to turn golden and the edges bubble with the promise of a hearty meal. After removing it from the oven, let the cottage pie sit for 10 minutes before serving. This will ensure each serving comes out of the hot pan easier and mouths can avoid being burnt!

How to Store Cottage Pie

This Cottage Pie recipe is an easy make-ahead meal that is perfect for storing and reheating, allowing for a comforting meal any time. You can store the leftovers in the fridge with a cover to enjoy later or the next day. Alternatively, you can freeze it whole or in portions after cooling completely for a quick, satisfying option on busy days.

How to Freeze Cottage Pie

Being able to freeze this meal means that you can have it way later, share it with others or have a comforting meal in a pinch. If you’d like to freeze the dish as a whole or in portions just put it into a freezer safe container with a lid once it has completely cooled down. To reheat, take the container out of the freezer and let it sit in the fridge overnight or on the counter for a few hours. You can reheat in the microwave or an oven-safe container. One hot tip if reheating in the oven is to do it at a low temperature to ensure the inside meets the outside temp.

Why I Love Cottage Pie

Cottage Pie holds a special place in my heart, blending the nostalgia of family dinners with the joy of creating something delicious and nutritious. It’s a dish that speaks to the soul, offering warmth, comfort, and a sense of home. Growing up, Cottage Pie was more than just comfort food; it was a symbol of family gatherings and happy times. The dish’s simplicity, combined with its rich flavours, made it a favourite during my childhood, especially on cold, snowy days when the warmth from the oven and the aroma of the pie were enough to make the entire house feel like home.

Something that I love about my version is that I’ve tried to incorporate as many additional vegetables as possible to make it a bit more balanced and nutritious without taking away from the traditional flavors. The grass-fed organic ground beef used in my version of this recipe is a great source of high-quality protein, essential for muscle repair and growth. It’s also richer in certain nutrients compared to grain-fed beef, including antioxidants and vitamins. The assortment of vegetables—carrots, celery, and peas—brings a bunch of vitamins, minerals, and fiber to the dish, contributing to a healthy digestive system and providing essential nutrients to support overall health. Baby spinach, with its subtle presence, is a powerhouse of iron and calcium, crucial for healthy bones and blood. When prepared with bone broth, this dish becomes even more nutritious, offering the benefits of collagen and other healing nutrients that support joint health and the immune system.

Other Traditional Recipes to Try

French Onion Soup Pasta Bake

Mushroom Bourguignon

Dill Pesto Salmon

Healthy Cottage Pie

Teri-Ann Carty
This Healthy Cottage Pie is a classic dish from my childhood that has been reimagined with a nutritious twist. If you’ve never had Cottage Pie or Shepherd's Pie; imagine succulent ground beef with a medley of vegetables, including carrots, celery, corn, and peas, all nestled under a blanket of creamy mashed potatoes! This dish is gluten free, packed with protein and gives all the comforting feels.Ingredients (include measurements, one row per ingredient):
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Course Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine Brittish, Canadian
Servings 6


  • large oven safe cast iron pan or deep sided pan, large pot, casserole dish, chefs knife, cutting board, spatula, ice-cream scoop


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp chili flakes
  • 1 medium onion finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 medium carrot small dice
  • 1 celery stalk small dice
  • 1 pound grass fed organic ground beef
  • 1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp each dried thyme and oregano
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp gluten-free flour
  • 1 cup bone broth
  • ½ cup frozen corn
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 2 fistfuls baby spinach
  • sea salt and cracked pepper

Creamy Mashed Potatoes Ingredients

  • 3 russet potatoes peeled & cubed
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • ½ cup parmigiano cheese
  • 1 cup bone broth
  • big splash heavy cream
  • sea salt and cracked pepper
  • paprika for garnish


  • Place peeled potatoes in a large pot and run cold water over them until the starch on the potatoes washes away.
  • Cover the potatoes with water by 2”, salt the water and bring to a boil. Reduce the meat to medium and cook until fork tender. Drain water, put the lid on the potatoes and let them steam for 5 minutes.
  • Add the remaining ingredients and mash using a potato masher or potato ricer if you want a smoother texture (I used a masher). Set aside while you make the filling.
  • Preheat oven to 400d.
  • Heat oil and chili flakes in oven safe pan over medium high heat.
  • Cook onion, carrot and celery for 5-7 minutes, stirring often. Add in garlic and saute for 1 minute more. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Add in ground beef. Break beef up with and cook until no pink remains. Stir in dried herbs and Worcestershire sauce.
  • Create a small well in the centre of the pan and add tomato paste. Stir into the beef cooking for 1 minute.
  • Stir in corn and peas.
  • Sprinkle flour on top of beef and then pour bone broth over meat mixture, stirring to combine. Bring mixture up to a bubble and cook for 3 minutes. Fold in spinach and remove from heat.
  • Smooth the top of the meat mixture using a spatula.
  • Use an ice cream scoop to measure out mashed potatoes. This isn’t mandatory but I find it helps evenly distribute the potatoes. Next, use spatula to smooth out the potatoes in an even layer. Sprinkle top of the potatoes with paprika and bake for 20 minutes.
  • Remove the oven and let it sit for 10 minutes before serving.


The cottage pie will be quite soft if serving immediately. Thats OK!
If you are making this in advance, allow for it to cool completely before covering and storing in the fridge. Re-heat when ready to eat!
This makes a great make ahead meal as well. Allow for the pie to completely cool before portioning out. The pieces will hold together easier if you wait.
This freezes like a dream as well.
Keyword easy dinner, gluten free, meal prep, traditional recipe

4 Responses

  1. Love this!! I recently made Shepard’s pie (with ground lamb) and I mixed the potatoes with roasted cauliflower and mashed it altogether with butter and cream. I grated Parmesan on the top and broiled it in The oven till the cheese melted and browned! It was amazing! Next time I make it, I’ll definitely try your recipe!

  2. This Cottage Pie was delicious! I made it today and took it to my in-laws house for dinner. My husband is already asking me to make it again. He’s the first one home. It’ll be easy for him to heat in the oven for our supper. Thank you so much for the recipe. 😉

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Join my mailing list and be the first to get my recipes, discounts to brands I love and more! I promise not to spam you.