Guinness Cottage Pie is a hearty dish filled with ground beef, onions, and vegetables. Topped with a mashed potato crust, this savory pie is perfect for celebrating St. Patrick's Day, or as a weeknight meal.
Cottage pie, or shepherd's pie, is a classic comfort food originating from the United Kingdom and Ireland. This pie is filled with ground beef, peas, carrots, onions, and a flavorful sauce. Creamy homemade mashed potatoes serve as a crust that tops this hearty pie.
Guinness beer is the special ingredient in this recipe, adding an extra layer of depth and flavor to the beef filling. Or, beef broth can easily serve as a substitute to make this a family friendly recipe.
Cottage pie VS. shepherd's pie
So, what's the difference? Apparently up until the 20th century, both names were use interchangeably. Nowadays, shepherd's pie is made with lamb, and cottage pie is made with beef.
However - feel free to use whichever name you prefer. People grow up in families calling this dish by one name or the other, regardless of the meat used. And other than the meat, the dishes are essentially the same.
For more information: Wikipedia - Shepherd's Pie
Ingredients and substitutions
There are two main steps in making your Guinness cottage pie. First, you'll make your filling, then you'll make your mashed potatoes. I'd recommend boiling your potatoes while your make your filling to save time.
The best potatoes for mashing are russet or yukon gold potatoes. Either potato will work well for this recipe.
Heavy cream can be substituted with whole milk.
For your pie filling, I recommend using an 85/15 ground beef or 90/10 ground beef. Any beef with a higher fat percentage and you may want to drain some of the excess grease from the pan once it has cooked through.
Guinness can be substituted with beef broth.
Any type of frozen vegetables can be added to this recipe - I used frozen peas and carrots.
Best pan for shepherd's pie
For this recipe, I made my pie in a 10.25 inch cast iron pan - this Lodge cast iron pan to be exact. You can use any oven-safe skillet or saute pan for this recipe.
Or, cook your meat filling on the stove top and transfer to a 2 quart baking dish to finish in the oven.
Mashed potato crust
For a full post about making my favorite mashed potatoes: Creamy Mashed PotatoesUse a fork to create texture on top of your pie before baking. This step is optional, but gives the pie a nice textured crust once baked.
A tip - lay a sheet of foil below your pie in case any filling drips over the sides!
If you'd like a nice browned crust on top of your pie, turn on the broiler for a few minutes before removing from the oven.
Guinness Cottage Pie
- 1 pound ground beef 85/15 or leaner
- 1 medium onion diced
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 8 ounces Guinness beer or beef broth
- 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 cups frozen peas and carrots
- 2 pounds russet potatoes
- ½ cup heavy cream or milk
- ¼ cup unsalted butter
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- To save time, I recommend starting your potatoes, then preparing the meat filling while your potatoes boil.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a 10 inch cast iron skillet over medium heat, add onions and crumble ground beef into pan. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until beef is browned and onions begin to turn translucent.
- Add butter and minced garlic, stirring to combine. Cook for another 30 seconds, then add flour and stir to coat. Cook for another minute.
- Add Guinness, worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, and thyme to pan, stirring until incorporated. Add frozen peas and carrots, stirring to combine. Remove pan from heat and set aside until potatoes are ready.
- Peel potatoes and cut in half as needed to get uniform size throughout.
- Place in a large pot and cover with water. Over medium-high heat, bring to a boil. Reduce to medium heat and simmer until potatoes fall apart when pierced with a fork. Drain well.
- Add heavy cream and drained potatoes back to your stock pot. Using a potato masher or an electric mixer, blend potatoes and heavy cream until no lumps remain. Add butter, salt, and pepper, and mix until combined.
- Spread mashed potatoes into an even layer over meat filling. Optionally, add texture to the top of your pie using a fork.
- Bake pie, uncovered, for 30 minutes, or until heated through and bubbling around the edges. Remove from oven and serve.
- Filling may bubble over the edges of your pan while baking. I suggest adding a layer of foil to your lower oven rack to catch any potential drips.
- Guinness beer can be substituted with beef broth.
- A 10.25 inch Lodge cast iron skillet was used for this recipe. If you do not have an oven safe skillet, simply cook your meat filling on the stove top, then transfer your filling to an oven safe dish for baking. Any 2 quart sized baking dish will work.