Can You Freeze Cottage Pie?

Cottage pie is a classic British comfort dish that is delicious to enjoy on a cold winter night. It consists of a beef mince and vegetable filling, topped with creamy mashed potato and melted cheese.

However, it does take some time to prepare so can you prepare it in advance and store it until you want to eat it? The answer is yes. You can freeze it and reheat it after a hard day at work allowing you to relax. In this article, we will tell you how to freeze cottage pie and how to defrost it. 

How To Freeze Cottage Pie

1. Prepare the cottage pie.

You will need to cook each component of the pie separately, and then assemble it before freezing. 

2. Cool down the cottage pie at room temperature.

This will take about an hour, depending on how big the pie is. You don’t want to put the cottage pie in the freezer while it is still warm as it will bring up the temperature and other food may start to defrost and may even spoil. 

3. Divide the cottage pie into meal-size portions.

It is a good idea to do this so that you only defrost as much as you need for a meal. This will save on waste. However, if you think that you will use all the cottage pie in one sitting, you can still freeze all of it. 

4. Put the pie or the portions in airtight containers.

Wrap the containers in cling film to give them extra protection from freezer burn. Freezer burn occurs when air gets to the food, and it ruins the taste and texture. It can even strip the food of its nutrients. Put labels on the containers with the date and contents.

5. Freeze.

Tips For Freezing Cottage Pie 

  1. Don’t reheat your cottage pie from frozen as it will probably heat unevenly. It is best to thaw it in advance in the fridge.
  2. Add some grated cheese to the cottage pie when reheating as this will enhance the dish and make it nice and gooey. Bake the cottage pie for half the time before adding the cheese. This should be enough time for the cheese to melt.
  3. You can use the same method to freeze shepherd’s pie. Shepherd’s pie is very similar to cottage pie but it is made with lamb mince (see also Can You Freeze Moussaka?). In fact, you can free any pie in the same way such as fish (see also Freezing Fish Pie), chicken, or turkey.

For How Long Can You Freeze Cottage Pie?

You can freeze cottage pie for three months so why not make it in bulk and stock up for quick and easy meals after a hard day at work? However, cottage pie will last for up to four days in the fridge so if you’re not sure whether you’re going to use it within the next few days, keep it in the fridge. If you don’t use it within a few days, then you can freeze it. However, the earlier you freeze it, the fresher it will taste when you come to defrost and reheat it.

How Do You Defrost Cottage Pie?

The best way to defrost cottage pie is slowly and steadily. Take it out of the freezer the night before you want to use it and put it in the fridge. Doing it this way helps the cottage pie regain taste and texture. It also means that the pie will cook evenly. However, if you have forgotten to take it out of the freezer, you can defrost cottage pie in the microwave. Thaw it out completely in the microwave but don’t reheat it. It will taste better if you reheat it in the oven. You will have more control over the pie, and it will cook more evenly. However, it won’t taste quite as fresh as if you thawed it out in the fridge. Still, a good dose of grated cheese and salt and pepper should make it very tasty. Don’t defrost the cottage pie at room temperature. The meat and dairy content will encourage bacteria to grow if the pie is left out for too long, i.e. longer than two hours. 

Can You Refreeze Cottage Pie? 

If you defrost your cottage pie in the microwave, we don’t recommend refreezing it as the texture will have changed a lot already. However, if you defrost the pie in the fridge, you can refreeze it but the texture will change and it won’t taste as good. There is also a risk of the meat spoiling. One way to avoid the problem of refreezing is to freeze the cottage pie in meal-size portions so that you only defrost as much as you need for the meal. 

Is It A Good Idea To Freeze Cottage Pie? 

Yes, it is a great idea to freeze cottage pie. You can keep it in the freezer for around three months and if you defrost it in the fridge, you will barely notice the difference between fresh and frozen. It is an excellent make-ahead meal. Just remember to wrap it well and keep your freezer at the right temperature, that is, a minimum of 0 F.

Frequently Asked Questions

Hopefully, you now know all there is to know about freezing cottage pie but in case you are still curious about freezing cottage pie or pies in general, we have answered a few questions here.

Should you cook your cottage pie before freezing it?

Yes, you should as it will make it easier to reheat it. You must, however, cool it down completely before you freeze it.

What can I add to the beef mince?

You can add frozen vegetables such as peas and sweetcorn, grated zucchini, sliced mushrooms, canned tomatoes, spinach, parsley, and gravy.

Can you freeze cottage pie in a Pyrex dish?

Yes, this is a good idea as you can both freeze in a Pyrex dish and reheat the cottage pie in it. It is much easier not to have to change dishes.

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