Cumberland pie is such an incredibly comforting dish, it will quickly become a family favourite. Similar to a cottage pie, but made with chunks of tender beef in a rich gravy that just melt in your mouth and then topped with slices of potato and cheese and breadcrumbs. And it only takes 10 minutes to prepare!
Don't be put off the long cook time of this recipe, as it involves just 10 minutes prep and it is all done in one pan. The rest of the time is letting the oven work its magic and cooking it low and slow until the beef is cooked to perfection.
Why you will love it
- Easy - Once the beef and vegetables are browned, it's as simple as putting it in the oven and leaving it to cook before topping it with potato slices. Simple!
- Comforting - A hearty and warming pie is total comfort food. This thick and rich gravy will just warm your belly.
- Budget friendly - This is quite an inexpensive meal to make. Using diced beef makes it cheaper and the root vegetables are fairly cheap. You can also bulk it out with beans and vegetables.
- Freezes well - This Cumberland pie recipe freezes and reheats really well, making it perfect for batch cooking and storing in the freezer for a rainy day.
What is Cumberland Pie?
You might be wondering what the difference is between a Cumberland pie and a cottage pie. Well, for a start, a Cumberland pie uses chunks of beef rather than minced beef. Also, rather than mashed potato on top that you would find on a cottage pie, a Cumberland pie has slices of potato layered on top. It is SO much better in our opinion.
This delicious pie dates back to medieval times where it would have probably been made with game and had dried fruit added to it. It might of had a pastry crust back then too, but it has changed over time. It comes from Cumbria in the North West of England (the region we live in) it is very popular and loved by tourists and locals alike.
- Beef - We used diced beef for this, as it is what makes a Cumberland pie different from a cottage pie. It is a cheaper cut of meat, but this is cooked low and slow, so it breaks it all down and makes the meat really tender.
- Flour - Don't skip this ingredient, because it is what is going to help make the gravy nice and thick.
- Stock - Use a rich beef stock pot to make a really incredible gravy. If we were making this for our kids, then we would use a low salt stock.
- Worcestershire sauce - This is our (not so) secret ingredient for any stew/casserole. It adds a real depth of flavour.
- Potato - You can use any potatoes for this. Keep the skin on for extra fibre.
- Breadcrumbs - If you want this topping extra crispy, then you can use panko breadcrumbs, but that wouldn't be very traditional.
- Cheese - A mature cheddar works well here because it has a strong flavour, so a little bit goes a long way.
A full ingredients list with measurements is in the recipe card below.
How to make Cumberland pie - Step by step
One: Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4. Toss the beef chunks in the flour, salt and pepper.
Two: Using a large, oven proof pan, heat the oil for the beef and add the coated beef chunks. Brown on all sides, about 4 minutes. Once browned, remove from the pan and set aside.
Three: Heat the remaining oil and add the shallots, celery, leek and carrots. Cook on low until softened, about 6 minutes.
Four: Add the beef back into the pan, along with the tomato puree, stock and Worcestershire sauce. Mix well.
Five: Cover and put in the oven for 2 hours. Remove the lid and cook for a further hour.
Six: Add the sliced potatoes to a pan of boiling water. Simmer for 6 minutes.
Seven: Once cooked, transfer the beef and vegetables to a large baking dish. Layer the potatoes on top in an overlapping pattern.
Eight: Mix together the cheese and the breadcrumbs and sprinkle over the potatoes. Put back in the oven for 30-40 minutes, until the cheese has melted and the topping has browned.
This Cumberland pie has pretty much got everything in it. It's got protein, it's got vegetables and it's loaded with carbs on top. However, we always try to serve plenty of extra vegetables on the side to make it a more nutritious balanced meal.
While this pie has its own gravy inside it, why not add more by topping it with our amazing Onion Gravy?
Store: Once it is fully cooled, you can store it in air tight containers in the fridge for up to 2 days.
Freeze: This freezes really well making it a great batch cook meal. We portion it out into freezer containers and it will keep for up to 3 months in the freezer.
Defrost: Defrost overnight in the refrigerator.
Reheat: Make sure it has fully defrosted and then you can either heat it through in the microwave for a couple of minutes or put it in the oven for 15 minutes.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, you can make this in advance. Just follow all the steps until the last step and then cover it and put it in the fridge until you are ready to cook it. You might need to put it in the oven a little longer if it has come cold from the oven.
You could certainly cook the beef mixture in the slow cooker. Still brown the beef and vegetables and then put them in the slow cooker with the rest of the stew ingredients for 8 hours on low. Then follow the rest of the recipe in the oven, as the potatoes really need to go in the oven to get nice and crispy.
More beef recipes
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- 700 g (1.5 lb) Beef chunks
- 3 tablespoon Plain flour
- Sea salt and black pepper
- 3 tablespoon Olive oil - (for the beef)
- 2 tablespoon Olive oil - (for the veg)
- 4 Shallots - diced
- 1 rib Celery - diced
- 1 Leek - thinly sliced
- 2 Carrot - peeled and diced
- 1 tablespoon Tomato puree
- 600 ml (2.5 cups) Beef stock
- 2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 600 g (1.33 lb) Potato - cut into 0.5cm rounds
- 70 g (0.66 cups) Breadcrumbs
- 150 g (1.33 cups) Cheddar cheese - grated
- Toss 700 g Beef chunks in the 3 tablespoon Plain flour and salt and pepper.
- Using a large, oven proof pan, heat 3 tablespoon Olive oil and add the coated beef chunks. Brown on all sides, about 4 minutes. Once browned, remove from the pan and set aside.
- Heat 2 tablespoon Olive oil and add 4 Shallots, 1 rib Celery, 1 Leek and 2 Carrot. Cook on low until softened, about 6 minutes.
- Add the beef back into the pan, along with 1 tablespoon Tomato puree, 600 ml Beef stock and 2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce. Mix well.
- Preheat your oven to 160°C/140°C(fan)/320°F/Gas 4.
- Cover and put in the oven for 2 hours. Remove the lid and cook for a further hour.
- Add 600 g Potato (sliced) to a pan of boiling water. Simmer for 6 minutes.
- Once cooked, transfer the beef and vegetables to a large baking dish. Layer the potatoes on top in an overlapping pattern.
- Mix together 150 g Cheddar cheese and 70 g Breadcrumbs and sprinkle over the potatoes. Put back in the oven for 30-40 minutes, until the cheese has melted and the topping has browned.
- This recipe does have a LONG cooking time. That is how you get the results, by cooking low and slow. In a world of rising energy costs, I know that can be a little off putting to some people. So, we recommend using this recipe as an opportunity to batch cook some cookies and muffins whilst the oven is already on.
- You could swap the potato topping for mashed potato if you prefer. You could add some cauliflower in to the mashed potato for some hidden vegetables.
- To make this gluten free, make sure you use gluten free flour and breadcrumbs.
The nutritional information provided is approximate and is calculated using online tools. Information can vary depending on various factors, but we have endeavoured to be as accurate as possible.