Shepherd's pie or cottage pie is a meat pie with a crust of mashed potato.[1][2][3][4][5]

The recipe can vary widely. The defining ingredients are minced meat (commonly beef when named cottage pie or lamb when named shepherd's pie), typically cooked in a gravy with onions and sometimes other vegetables, such as peas, celery or carrots, and topped with mashed potato. The pie is sometimes also topped with grated cheese.


The term cottage pie was in use by 1791,[2][6] when the potato was being introduced as an edible crop affordable for the poor (cf. "cottage" meaning a modest dwelling for rural workers). The term shepherd's pie did not appear until 1854,[2] and was used synonymously with cottage pie, regardless of whether the meat was beef or mutton.[1][4][7][8][9][10][11] In the United Kingdom, the term shepherd's pie is now commonly used when the meat is lamb.[12][13][14]


In early cookery books, the dish was a means of using leftover roasted meat of any kind, and the pie dish was lined with mashed potato as well as having a mashed potato crust on top.[8][9]


Other mashed-potato-topped pies include:

  • The modern Cumberland pie is a version with either beef or lamb, and a layer of breadcrumbs and cheese on top. In medieval times (and modern-day Cumbria) the crust was pastry, and the filling was meat with fruits and spices.[15]
  • A St. Stephen's Day pie is made using turkey and ham.[16]
  • In the Netherlands, the dish filosoof (philosopher) is similar to shepherd's pie and sometimes served with apples.
  • A fish pie is another British dish of fish and seafood in sauce topped with mashed potato.
  • In Quebec, a variation of the dish is called Pâté chinois. It is made with ground beef on the bottom layer, canned corn in the middle, and mashed potato on top.

See also


  1. ^ a b The Oxford English Dictionary, Second Edition, Oxford University Press, 1933
  2. ^ a b c "shepherd's pie". Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 2017-02-10. 
  3. ^ "The Chambers Dictionary", Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd, 1999
  4. ^ a b Concise Oxford English Dictionary, Eleventh Edition (Revised), Oxford University Press, 2006
  5. ^ "Jewish Cookery by Florence Greenberg", Penguin Books Ltd, 1947–1963
  6. ^ "Home : Oxford English Dictionary". Retrieved 7 December 2015. 
  7. ^ The Glutton's Glossary: A Dictionary of Food and Drink Terms. Routledge. 1990. Retrieved 20 January 2009. 
  8. ^ a b Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management by Isabella Beeton, recipe 1427 in 1907 edition. Uses beef or mutton. Recipe not in original 1861 edition.
  9. ^ a b Cassell's New Universal Cookery Book by Lizzie Heritage published by Cassell and Company, 1894
  10. ^ The Constance Spry Cookery Book by Constance Spry and Rosemary Hume, J M Dent & Sons, 1956
  11. ^ Chambers Dictionary, Ninth Edition, published by Chambers Harrap Publishing Ltd, 2003
  12. ^ "Delia Smith: Shepherds Pie with Crusted Leeks". Retrieved 24 January 2009. 
  13. ^ "BBC Food Recipes: Shepherd's Pie". Retrieved 1 October 2011. 
  14. ^ "Shepherds' Pie and Cottage Pie". Retrieved 24 January 2009. 
  15. ^ "What is Cumberland Pie?". Retrieved 6 December 2010. 
  16. ^ "BBC - Food - Recipes : Turkey and ham pie". Retrieved 7 December 2015.