Shepherd’s Pie Or Cottage Pie?

                          Shepherd’s Pie Or Cottage Pie?
What Do You Call It?
From Sarah:
Growing up in Southern Illinois (although still YANKEE Country)
our family called it Shepherd’s Pie. We fixed it with EITHER Beef or Lamb since we raised our own.
I don’t remember ever hearing it called Cottage Pie.
I’d never eaten Mutton either because our lamb was always from a young sheep. Mutton is from an older sheep
Since we had a garden and always had plenty of veggies we never made it with store bought vegetables.
Mom fixed it with onions, carrots, corn and sometimes peas. She probably added green beans a time or 2. It was one of those dishes you could use what you had.

All of this started because of a post I saw called Cottage Pie. I posted some of Chorizo and Thymes Recipes earlier. It was different than I usually made mine.


She uses bacon in hers.
Please check out Roberta’s Cottage Pie recipe. She mentions the difference between the 2 pies as well.

So that got me searching the history of the two.

The first article I ran across was this one by Jamie Oliver.

10 things you didn’t know about shepherd’s pie

By | September 22, 2014

Now, there’s a headline you probably weren’t expecting to read – frankly, it’s not one we expected to write, either. However, tonight at 8pm, Jamie focuses on a magnificent shepherd’s pie in episode four of Comfort Food, and it got us thinking about the dish.

Being the epitome of simple, homely comfort, the idea that there may be “more to know” about shepherd’s pie is mildly amusing. I should have known better, however. No matter how ubiquitous or basic you think a dish is, if it’s been around in a country’s food culture for a long time, chances are it’s got a few stories to tell.

shepherd's pie

Here are the best of the ones I came across when looking into a dish many of us have been eating for comfort our entire lives:

  1. Let’s start with a fairly well-known one: there is a difference between “cottage pie” and “shepherd’s pie”, and it’s in the meat. Shepherd’s pie should only be named as such if it contains lamb, and “cottage” usually applies to one made with beef.
  2. The name “cottage” was applied to this kind of meat pie around the time potatoes were being introduced in the UK, because they were an affordable for thing for peasants, many of whom would live in cottages, to eat. It seems a bit convoluted but hey, we’re always an odd bunch with our etymology.
  3. The term “cottage pie” predates “shepherd’s” by nearly a century,  but each was used synonymously with the other for a long time.


Spring lamb shepherd’s pie

Next up:
A Bit More History

Culinary Craftiness

Cottage Pie Vs. Shepherd’s Pie: Is There A Difference?

Posted on April 17, 2014 by
Mince Pyes | Culinary Craftiness

As I was preparing to write up how I make Shepherd’s Pie, my innate curiosity about the history of the dish got the better of me and I ended up spending a good 3 hours doing research.  If you know me, you know I adore all things of a historical nature and this subject happened to fit right in with my current historical romance novel work-in-progress (aka wip).  Okay, so apparently, there is a difference between Cottage and Shepherd’s Pie, but most people are using the names interchangeably.

British and/or Irish in origin, the term Cottage Pie came about long before Shepherd’s,1791 vs. 1870.  Centuries before these–in medieval times–pyes were made using a pastry crust with whatever ingredients one had on hand to make pockets that held minced meat and vegetables as a way to stretch out foodstuffs to feed more mouths.  I think this is ironic since I make my version for the very same reason.  It’s quick and easy, and definitely fills the bellies of my crew.
Shepherd's Pie vs. Cottage Pie | Culinary Craftiness

Cottage Pie vs. Shepherd’s Pie: Is There a Difference?

Next is called

Shepherd’s Pie – and how I learned to Bloom

You’ll need: cooked ground beef, french onion soup, sour cream, dry Italian seasoning, shredded cheddar cheese, leftover mashed potatoes, frozen mixed veggies, and one pack of brown gravy mix.

This brown gravy mix is important so don’t try to substitute canned gravy or actual gravy, because this mix is going to act as a thickener for us and also lend a lot of great flavor to boot!


Fellwalk London Food

There is some confusion outside the UK between shepherds pie and cottage pie
Basically shepherds look after sheep, hence a lamb or mutton pie is called a shepherds’ pie (but not shepherd’s pie if you want to be pedantic). 
Dishes containing beef and sweetcorn are not shepherds pie, you could call them  “Pâté chinois“, a north American  variation consisting of layers of minced beef and sweet corn or creamed corn, topped with mashed potato in the same way as shepherds pie (said to have originated in Quebec from Chinese descendants of railway workers, but anything less like Chinese food is hard to imagine).
Any British beef and mashed potato pie is called a . The name “shepherds pie” does not appear to be old, first appearing in the 19th Century, although the dish itself must be much older. It may well be that the name cottage pie was used for all pies of this type before the term shepherds pie came into use. does not mention shepherds pie and refers to a cottage pie made from mutton. refers to a first known mention of Shepherds pie in 1885, discovered by . The  french equivalent is “”

Any British beef and mashed potato pie is called a cottage pie. The name “shepherds pie” does not appear to be old, first appearing in the 19th Century, although the dish itself must be much older. It may well be that the name cottage pie was used for all pies of this type before the term shepherds pie came into use. Dorothy Hartley does not mention shepherds pie and refers to a cottage pie made from mutton. Alan Davidson refers to a first known mention of Shepherds pie in 1885, discovered by Jane Grigson. The  french equivalent is “hachis Parmentier

This one is different.
This mildly eclectic recipe calls on baked beans (US Boston beans) and curry powder to liven up this traditional English dish. Omit the beans and curry powder if you want authenticity.
It is not uncommon to mix cheese into the mashed potato.
the cooked lamb mixtureadding the mashthe finished pie

Field Guide: Shepherds pie and Cottage pie:-
Shepherds, (people who look after sheep
note non-resemblance to cowboys including lack of horses. 
A sheep, note lack of resemblance to a cow including woolly coat
Call is baaaa! not mooo!

Firehouse Shepherd’s Pie

Meet the crew of New City Fire Engine Company No. 1, and check out their take on shepherd’s pie. You’ll see a great trick for cutting an onion easily. Classic comfort food, shepherd’s pie is a delicious meat pie, starring seasoned ground beef and sautéed veggies baked with a fluffy mashed potato topping. See how they do it down at the station! Watch the video, then get a top-rated recipe for Shepherd’s Pie.

Recipe courtesy of Alton Brown
Alton Brown’s Shepherd’s Pie

From Sarah:
I call it Shepherd’s Pie no matter what it has in it.
Cottage Pie just doesn’t sound the same.
What do you call it and how do you make it?
I would love it if you could ADD YOUR COMMENTS AND OR RECIPES LINKS in the comments. Or do a post of your own.
I would really like to know.
Love Sarah

15 Comments Add yours

  1. TeresaR says:

    We’ve always called it Sheperds’ Pie and make it with beef. Like you, we’ve pretty much used our leftover veggies in addition to fresh veggies. My mom tends to add peas but since I hate peas I make my Sheperds’ Pie without them. Regardless its still a family favorite.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love peas but my son never liked them cooked and neither does Danny .


  2. You are such a wonderfully thorough writer. Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for saying that. I wish U had seen this 2 days ago when it came in. HUGS

      Liked by 1 person

  3. shyutgal says:

    I always thought the difference was that Cottage Pie had a pie crust (dough) 0n top and Shepherd’s Pie had a mashed potato “crust” on top?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tell you one thing, It has made a great conversation piece.


  4. Chris White says:

    I adore both. There’s also another delicious dish called Cumberland Pie.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Chris White says:

        Hi. OK. Very tired lately. Just doing 1 post a week for now. I’ll get back on my game soon I hope. All the best.


  5. Here in the UK if it’s made with lamb then it is called Shepherd’s pie. When made with beef we call it cottage pie.

    Great pie for cold winter evenings.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What do you think of Cumberland pie?
      I am more than ready for cooler temps here.
      Thanks for your visit, Hugh. I usually am a bit quicker on responding. Have a wonderful weekend.. Sarah

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I love it. The extra bit of crunchy breadcrumbs over the top gives it a better texture. All great pies in my opinion.

        Have a great weekend, Sarah.


  6. EttaD says:

    It all look so delicious!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have been craving them since.

      Liked by 1 person

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