Cumberland Pie Recipe

Janette Fuschi | Culinary Ginger

Cumberland Pie is a wonderfully comforting dish. Similar to shepherd’s pie, it’s a dish you’ll be craving when the weather cools.

Cumberland pie is a wonderfully comforting casserole of ground beef and vegetables topped with mashed potato, bread crumbs and melted cheese. Is this not shepherd’s pie? No, it is not, please read on…

There are 3 British pies that are very similar with subtle differences and I’m here to explain them all. Shepherd’s pie is made with lamb; cottage pie is made with beef and Cumberland pie can be made with either.

Cumberland Pie Photo

The topping is slightly different on the Cumberland pie than the others, which are traditionally just plain mashed potato, this pie comes topped with cheese and bread crumbs. This would explain why you see shepherd’s pie these days’ in various ways as it is seemingly a combination of all 3.

Cumberland Pie Picture

Cumberland pie is rarely seen unless you’re in the county of Cumbria situated in North West of Britain which lies in the most beautiful area of the Lake District. It is one of the top tourist destinations and this is where you will see the traditional recipe served by locals and eaten by tourists.

Cumberland Pie Image

Stemming from Medieval times, the pie used to be made with a pastry crust, but has evolved over the year into the use of mashed potato, which does make it easier and faster to make.

For this recipe, I’m making this pie with cubed beef. The choice of vessel is entirely up to the cook, but it does need to be oven-proof. My preferred method (and which aides in an easy cleanup) is using the same pan to cook the beef and vegetables for the finished dish. This time around I used my cast iron Dutch oven for a unique presentation, but any 1-quart baking/casserole dish will work as well.

Cumberland Pie Pic

If you’re in the mood for some lamb, you can make the traditional shepherd’s pie I posted earlier this year.

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Cumberland Pie Recipe

    4 Servings


For the Topping:
  • 3 pounds Russet Potato, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 4 tablespoons Unsalted Butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup Milk, warmed
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese
For the Filling:
  • 1 tablespoon Vegetable Oil
  • 2 pounds Beef Chuck, or round roast, cut into cubes
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 medium Onion, chopped
  • 8 ounces Carrot, sliced
  • 2 cloves Garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Fresh Thyme, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons Tomato Paste
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Flour
  • 1 cup Beef Stock


For the topping:

  1. To a large pan add the potatoes, add cold water until the potatoes are covered and bring to a boil.
  2. Turn down to a low boil and cook for 20 minutes until tender.
  3. Drain the potatoes a colander, and add back to the pan. Mash until smooth and add the butter, milk, salt and pepper to taste. Mix well and set aside.
  4. Preheat oven to 350°F.

For the filling:

  1. Add vegetable oil to a heavy skillet over medium-high heat and add 1/2 of the beef. If the pan is too crowded, the meat will not brown, it will boil. Season with half of the salt and pepper, sauté until browned. Remove and set aside, repeat with the other half of the beef.
  2. To the drippings (add more oil if needed) add the onion, cook until softened. Stir in the carrots, garlic and thyme, cook for 1 minute.
  3. Add the tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce, mix well. Sprinkle the flour and mix in well, cook for 1 minute.
  4. Add the beef stock and bring to a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes until some of the liquid has reduced.
  5. Stir in the beef and turn off the heat.
  6. Transfer the beef to your preferred dish and top with the mashed potato, grated cheese and breadcrumbs. Bake for 30 minutes until the top is golden.


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Related Recipes:
British Recipes, Potato Recipes, Beef Recipes, Cheese Recipes, Dinner Recipes, Family Meals and Snack Recipes
Recipe Yields:
4 servings
Prep Time:
Cook Time:
Total Time:
Related Post:
Author: Janette Fuschi
Recipe Yields: 4 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 65 minutes

Nutrition Facts

Servings Per Recipe 4

Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat 518
Calories 1100

% Daily Value*
Total Fat 65g
  Saturated Fat 28g
Sodium 1477mg
Total Carbohydrate 73g
  Dietary Fiber 4g
  Sugars 6g
Protein 50g

* Percent Daily Value are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
** Nutrition Facts are estimated based on ingredients and data provided by Fat Secret. Please consult a doctor if you have special dietary needs.
Janette Fuschi

About Janette

Janette is a British ex-pat living in Southern California. On her blog, Culinary Ginger, you'll learn all about it. On Food Fanatic, you'll see her favorite British classics, and ours too!

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