How to Make Cumberland Pie

Melissa Bahen

Cumberland Pie is a delicious, comforting dinner that is easy to make. We’re sharing how to make Cumberland Pie plus tips!

Cumberland Pie. To be honest, I hadn’t ever heard of it before I sat down to write this article when wanting to learn how to make Cumerland Pie.

But guess what? I’ve eaten Cumberland Pie plenty of times and even make it for my family fairly regularly. I’ve just always called it something else.

So let’s jump right in and discuss, because I’m guessing you’re more familiar with this cozy comfort food classic than you think.

Cumberland Pie Pic

What is Cumberland Pie?

Cumberland Pie is basically a savory, cheesy potato-topped beef and veggie casserole–the ultimate comfort food. Sound familiar?

I make this all the time for my family. It’s an easy dinner favorite, but I’ve always called it Shepherd’s Pie.

What’s the Difference Between Cumberland Pie and Shepherd’s Pie?

As it turns out, I have been wrong! Shepherd’s Pie is very similar but traditionally has lamb in it instead of beef, hence the name.

Another savory pie that is similar to Cumberland Pie is Cottage Pie. Both of these dishes call for beef, but Cumberland Pie usually calls for chunks of beef while Cottage Pie calls for ground beef.

Another hallmark of Cumberland Pie, and one that sets it apart from both Shepherd’s Pie and Cottage Pie, is toasted bread crumbs on top of the potato layer.

Cumberland Pie Image

The History of Cumberland Pie

Cumberland Pie comes to us from Cumbria, a county in the northwest corner of England where it borders Scotland.

Cumbria is home to the jaw-droppingly gorgeous Lake District, one of the most lovely places I’ve ever visited in my life, full of lush, emerald hills, rugged mountains, and crystal clear bodies of water.

It is in this moody, magical corner of the globe that Cumberland Pie first appeared and is still made today.

Centuries ago, it was a regular pie with a crust, but the modern version with a potato topping is way more common nowadays.

Ingredients for Cumberland Pie

Cumberland Pie has a pretty short list of ingredients, which is why it is a weeknight family favorite.

  • Beef - Either cubed or ground, beef anchors the Cumberland Pie.
  • Potatoes - I’ve seen Cumberland Pies with a cheesy sliced potato topping, but like a Shepherd’s Pie, most recipes call for an easy, fluffy mashed potato topping instead.
  • Veggies - Onions, carrots, sometimes celery or garlic, plus herbs all add a ton of flavor to Cumberland Pie.
  • Cheese - A shredded cheddar works perfectly. Breadcrumbs: The thing that most sets a Cumberland Pie apart!
Cumberland Pie Photo

How to Make Cumberland Pie

Cumberland Pie is essentially a savory beef stew or casserole topped with a tasty potato/cheese/breadcrumb layer.

Aside from the mashed potato topping, it can be made, assembled, and baked all in one pan as long as you use a dish that can go from stove top to oven, like a dutch oven.

If you don’t have a dish that will work, you can still make this delicious dinner, you’ll just have to use separate dishes for the stove top and oven portions.

Cumberland Pie makes a great make-ahead meal because you can literally prepare the entire thing, cover and refrigerate it, and then bake it off within a couple of days. If you want to bake it farther in the future, just freeze it!

Without further ado, here are the basic steps in making Cumberland Pie:

  1. Prepare your mashed potato topping.
  2. Brown the beef, season, and set aside.
  3. Cook the veggies, then add any additional seasonings, sauces, or other ingredients for the filling.
  4. Add the beef back in, and pour the filling into an oven-safe baking dish.
  5. Top with mashed potatoes, shredded cheese, and bread crumbs, and bake until golden and piping hot.
Cumberland Pie Picture

Favorite British Recipes

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Melissa Bahen

About Melissa

Melissa is an author and blogger living with her husband and four kids on a darling hobby farm in western Oregon. Her cookbooks, Farmhouse Weekends and Scandinavian Gatherings, and her blog, Lulu the Baker, celebrate her love for food and modern country life.