Make Delicious Slow Cooker Cottage Pie Full of Hearty Beef Flavor

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Cottage pie is a savory pie made with minced beef topped with creamy mashed potatoes. This slow cooker cottage pie recipe makes it easy to create this comforting classic at home with minimal effort. With rich, tender beef and creamy mashed potato topping, this dish is sure to become a new family favourite.

Making cottage pie in the slow cooker allows the flavors to develop and meld together beautifully. The beef filling cooks low and slow, becoming incredibly tender and full of flavor. Meanwhile, the potato topping can be quickly prepared on the stove just before serving. This method produces a cottage pie that looks and tastes like you spent all day cooking it, with only a fraction of the work.

Cottage pie is the ultimate comfort food, with succulent beef smothered in creamy mashed potato. This slow cooker version allows you to create this satisfying dish with ease. The long cooking time results in incredibly tender beef and deep flavor. Let’s look at how to make this filling classic at home in the slow cooker.

What is Cottage Pie and Why Use a Slow Cooker?

Cottage pie originated in England and consists of minced beef cooked with onions, carrots and herbs to make a flavorful sauce. This beef filling is then topped with creamy mashed potatoes and baked until golden brown.

Making this dish in a slow cooker offers several advantages:

  • The low, slow cooking results in very tender beef in a rich gravy sauce.
  • The hands-off approach allows the flavors to meld and intensify over time.
  • Minimal preparation is required compared to conventional stovetop methods.
  • It’s an easy, fuss-free way to create a hearty family meal.

If you’ve never tried cottage pie before, this slow cooker version is a fantastic introduction. The beef filling is packed with flavor while the creamy mashed potato provides a comforting contrast in texture. Let’s look at what ingredients you’ll need.

Browning ground beef on the stove

How do you keep mash from sinking into cottage pie?

To prevent the mashed potato topping from sinking into the filling of a cottage pie, ensure that the meat filling is hot when you spread the mashed potatoes over it. This creates a temperature differential that helps the mashed potatoes adhere to the filling. Additionally, you can fluff up the surface of the mashed potatoes using a fork before baking, which creates peaks that brown nicely and add a pleasant texture. Lastly, be mindful of the thickness of the mashed potato layer; a thicker layer is less likely to sink.

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  1. How long does it take for a slow cooker to cook?

    A slow cooker typically takes 4-6 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low to cook food thoroughly.

  2. How long to heat up a cottage pie?

    A cottage pie needs about 15-20 minutes in a 350°F oven to fully heat through and brown the mashed potato topping.

Cottage pie ingredients in a slow cooker

Cottage pie in the slow cooker

Make our delicious slow cooker cottage pie with hearty beef flavor. This simple recipe includes mashed potato and can be frozen for later enjoyment.
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 7 hours
Course Appetizer
Cuisine British
Servings 4 people


  • Slow cooker (4-6 quart size)
  • Large skillet or Dutch oven
  • Pot for boiling potatoes
  • Masher or ricer for mashed potatoes
  • Casserole dish for baking (2-3 quart size)


  • 1 tb ground beef (lean ground chuck or sirloin)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2-3 carrots, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1-2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup beef broth or stock
  • Herbs like thyme or rosemary
  • Salt and pepper


  • Brown the ground beef in a skillet with oil. Drain fat and transfer to slow cooker.
  • Add onions, carrots, garlic, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, broth, herbs and seasonings to the slow cooker.
  • Cook on low for 6-8 hours until beef is very tender.
  • Boil potatoes until fork tender. Drain and mash with butter, milk, cheese and seasoning.
  • Transfer beef filling to a greased casserole dish. Top with mashed potatoes.⅚
  • Bake at 400F for 15 minutes until hot and bubbling.
  • Let rest 10 minutes before serving.


Keyword cottage pie in the slow cooker

Ingredients to Make Slow Cooker Cottage Pie

For the Beef Filling:

  • 1-1.5 lbs lean ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2-3 carrots, diced
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the Mash Topping:

  • 3 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup cheddar cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

That’s really all you need for an amazing cottage pie cooked entirely in the slow cooker. Now let’s look at the easy process step-by-step.

Step-by-Step Instructions for Slow Cooker Cottage Pie

Browning the Beef

  • Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Add the ground beef and cook for 5-7 minutes, breaking it up with a spoon, until browned.
  • Drain excess fat and transfer beef to the slow cooker.

Browning the beef first adds richer flavor. If you prefer, you can skip this step and just combine everything in the slow cooker.

Building Flavor in the Filling

  • To the slow cooker, add the onions, carrots, tomato paste, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, beef stock, bay leaf, thyme, salt and pepper.
  • Stir to combine with the beef.

Using tomato paste adds sweetness and thickness, while the Worcestershire sauce provides depth of flavor. The bay leaf and thyme add aromatic notes while the stock keeps it moist.

Cook on Low for 6-8 Hours

  • Cover and cook for 6-8 hours on low, until beef is very tender.
  • Discard the bay leaf.
  • Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
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The long cooking time results in incredibly tender, fall-apart beef in a rich sauce. The hands-off cooking gives you time to prepare the potato topping.

Make the Creamy Mashed Potato Topping

  • Place potatoes in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook until tender, about 15 minutes.
  • Drain potatoes and return to pot. Mash thoroughly with milk, butter, cheese, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Fluffy mashed potatoes make the perfect topping for this hearty pie. Mixing in butter, milk, and cheese ensures a smooth, creamy texture and rich flavor.

Assemble and Bake the Cottage Pie

  • Transfer beef filling to a casserole dish.
  • Top with an even layer of mashed potatoes, spreading to the edges to seal.
  • Bake at 400F for 15 minutes until hot and bubbling.
  • Allow to rest 10 minutes before serving.

Baking the assembled pie develops a beautifully golden crust on the mashed potatoes. Letting it rest allows the filling to firm up while the potatoes finish cooking through.

And that’s it! With just a few easy steps you can enjoy an amazing homemade slow cooker cottage pie. The beef filling is so tender it melts in your mouth, all enveloped in creamy comforting mashed potatoes.

Now let’s look at some top tips for making this recipe along with answers to common questions.

Cottage pie ingredients in a slow cooker

Tips for Amazing Slow Cooker Cottage Pie

Choosing the Right Cut of Beef

  • Lean ground beef provides the best texture and flavour.
  • Ground chuck or sirloin are ideal choices.
  • Fattier beef like ground beef can become greasy.

Can It Be Made Ahead of Time?

  • The beef filling can be made 1-2 days in advance.
  • Cook as directed then cool and refrigerate until ready to use.
  • Prepare the mash topping right before assembling and baking the pie.

Reheating and Freezing Cooked Pie

  • Leftover pie can be refrigerated for 3-4 days. Reheat individual portions in the microwave.
  • The assembled unbaked pie can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before baking as directed.
  • The baked pie can also be frozen. Thaw overnight in the fridge, then reheat in a 300F oven for 20-25 minutes.

Variations and Substitutions

  • Use lamb or turkey mince instead of beef.
  • Add other vegetables like peas, corn, or green beans.
  • Use parsnips instead of carrots.
  • Top with cheddar, gruyere or blue cheese for a different flavor.
  • Replace beef stock with mushroom or vegetable stock.
  • Add red wine, Guinness, or Worcestershire sauce for extra depth.
  • Swap in sweet potatoes or cauliflower for regular mashed potatoes.

This recipe is very flexible so you can customize it to your tastes. The basic method remains the same but the flavors can vary wildly based on your choice of ingredients.

Questions and Tips

  • How can I reduce the cooking time? Cook on high instead of low for 4-5 hours.
  • Why does it boil over sometimes? There may be too much liquid in the filling. Try cooking it uncovered for the last hour.
  • Should the beef be immersed in liquid? No, just lightly sauced is best. The potatoes will release liquid as they cook.
  • Can I assemble it the night before? Yes, store in the fridge overnight unbaked. Add 15 minutes to the baking time.
  • My pie crust was soggy, help! Be sure potatoes are dry before adding to the pie dish. Let pie rest so filling can fully absorb liquid.
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With these tips, you’ll be able to adapt this recipe to your tastes and troubleshoot any issues. Now let’s do a quick recap of the benefits of making cottage pie in the slow cooker.

Why Make Cottage Pie in the Slow Cooker?

Compared to the stovetop method, making cottage pie in the slow cooker has some great advantages:

  • It’s much less hands-on time and easier overall
  • You get incredibly tender beef in rich gravy
  • The meat cooks in its own juices instead of added liquid
  • Flavours have hours to develop and intensify
  • Perfectly timed sides as potatoes cook while beef simmers
  • More leeway for prep and cook time

Basically, it’s an easy weeknight win! You get this hearty classic meal without spending hours cooking. Everything cooks low and slow resulting in a cottage pie with incredible depth of flavor. Give this slow cooker recipe a try soon and enjoy fall-apart beef topped with creamy potatoes.


Do you put the egg in mash for cottage pie?

No, egg is not traditionally used in the mashed potato topping for cottage pie. The main ingredients are potatoes, butter, milk, and seasoning.

How do you make a Mary Berry cottage pie?

To make Mary Berry’s cottage pie, brown the beef and onions, add carrots, tomato purée, stock and herbs, top with mashed potato and bake until golden brown.

What to put in cottage pie to bulk it out?

Good options to bulk out cottage pie and add extra nutrition include lentils, barley, finely diced vegetables like carrots, celery, peas or sweetcorn, oats or breadcrumbs.

How long to cook cottage pie from butchers?

Cottage pie made with pre-prepared meat filling from the butcher’s usually takes around 30-40 minutes to cook through fully when baked in the oven.

How long does it take to heat up shepherd’s pie?

To fully heat through and crisp up the mashed potato topping, shepherd’s pie takes 15-20 minutes in a 350°F oven or about 5 minutes in the microwave.

In Summary:

  • Cottage pie features a saucy beef filling topped with mashed potatoes
  • Making it in the slow cooker results in super tender meat and rich flavor
  • Browning the beef provides added depth but is optional
  • Cook on low 6-8 hours until beef is fall-apart tender
  • Prepare creamy mashed potatoes while beef simmers
  • Assemble pie in a dish and bake until hot and bubbling
  • Customize with different meats, vegetables, seasonings and toppings
  • Perfect hearty one-pot meal for cozy dinners

I hope you’ll give this easy slow-cooker cottage pie a try soon. The incredible flavour and hands-off convenience is sure to make it a new regular meal. Let me know in the comments how it turns out!

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