How to make Cumberland pie

Updated April 17, 2017

Cumberland pie is a variation of Cottage pie, a traditional British dish made with beef, vegetables and potatoes. It is a simple, inexpensive dish but makes a tasty, hearty meal. This recipe for Cumberland pie serves 5, takes approximately 45 minutes to prepare and around 3hrs 30 minutes to cook.

Slice the celery sticks into 1cm pieces. Chop the onion. Half 2 carrots lengthways, then slice them into generous chunks. Cut the braising beef into large pieces. Grate the cheddar and Parmesan.

Heat the oven to 160C / 140C fan or gas mark 3. Heat 1 tbsp oil and the butter in a casserole dish. Add the celery, onion, carrots, bay leaves and one of the thyme sprigs and let them soften for 10 minutes. Add the flour and stir. Add the tomato puree and Worcestershire sauce and stir. Crumble in the stock cubes and stir.

Add 600ml hot water, stirring continuously. Add the beef and leave to simmer. Cover the dish and cook in the oven for 2 hours 30 minutes. Take the lid off and cook for up to an hour. Check that the meat is very tender and the sauce nice and thick.

Bring a pan of potatoes to the boil. Take the pan off the heat when the potatoes are around three-quarters cooked.

Move the beef and sauce into a baking dish. Slice the potatoes longways, around 1cm thick. Season the potatoes and add the rest of the oil and thyme leaves. Create a layer of potato slices on top of the beef and sprinkle with cheddar and Parmesan.

Increase the oven temperature to 200C / 180C fan or gas mark 6. Bake the pie for up to 40 minutes, until the top turns golden and crispy and the sauce starts to bubble.


After adding the potato and cheese, you can cover and chill your pie for 24 hours, or freeze it for up to 3 months.

Serve your Cumberland pie with peas.

Things You'll Need

  • 2 celery sticks
  • 1 onion
  • 2 large carrots
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 3 thyme sprigs
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 beef stock cubes
  • 850g braising beef
  • 850g large potatoes
  • 25g cheddar cheese
  • 25g Parmesan cheese
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About the Author

C. Giles is a writer with an MA (Hons) in English literature and a post-graduate diploma in law. Her work has been published in several publications, both online and offline, including "The Herald," "The Big Issue" and "Daily Record."