Cumberland Pie: The Warm Embrace of British Comfort Food

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Key Takeaways

Key Takeaway Arrow

Cumberland pie hails from Cumbria in the North West. Its journey from a local treat to a national favourite is remarkable.

Key Takeaway Arrow

This pie boasts a meaty base (often lamb or beef) and is crowned with a unique breadcrumb and cheese topping.

Key Takeaway Arrow

Unlike Shepherd’s or Cottage pies, Cumberland pie is set apart by its breadcrumb and cheese crust.

From Cumbria With Love: Origins of the Pie

Nestled in the North West of England, Cumbria lends its name to this delight. While its exact origins are as cloudy as a Lake District morning, the Cumberland pie’s transition from a regional favourite to a national staple is a tale worth telling. As with many British classics, this pie evolved, adapting to the palates of generations, solidifying its place at our dinner tables and in our hearts.

Diving Into the Dish: Ingredients and Layers

A Cumberland pie, unlike my last attempt at a DIY shelf, has layers that actually hold together. With a meaty base, often lamb or beef, accompanied by vibrant veggies and topped off with – wait for it – a golden breadcrumb and cheese crust, it’s the very definition of ‘yum’. And, while purists might follow the traditional recipe, there are countless spins and twists to make it your own.

a cross section of a cumberland pie

A Step-by-Step Culinary Adventure: Crafting the Perfect Cumberland Pie

  1. Meaty foundation: Start with quality minced meat, browned to perfection.
  2. Rich gravy: Think luscious, thick, and oh-so-tasty.
  3. Breadcrumb brilliance: Mix breadcrumbs with cheese (because, cheese!) and sprinkle generously for that crispy top.

Toss it in the oven and let the magic happen!

Pairs and Complements: What to Serve With Cumberland Pie

Though Cumberland pie is the main event, its supporting acts are not to be overlooked. Mashed peas or a fresh salad? Both fab choices. And to wash it down? A robust red wine or perhaps a frothy ale. It’s a British culinary orchestra, and every element plays its part.

Cumberland Pie FAQs

How does Cumberland pie differ from Shepherd's or Cottage pie?

While all three boast a meaty base, it’s the topping that sets them apart. Cumberland pie wears a breadcrumb and cheese crown.

Can I prepare a vegetarian or vegan Cumberland pie?

Absolutely! Swap the meat for hearty lentils and ensure your toppings are plant-based. Not sure which lentil to pick? Give our guide to different lentils a read!

What's the best way to reheat leftover Cumberland pie?

A moderate oven until piping hot, ensuring the topping gets crispy but not burnt.

Cumberland and Beyond: A Tour of British Pies

The UK’s pie scene is as varied as its accents. The Shepherd’s pie with its mashed potato rooftop, the Steak and kidney pie wrapped in pastry, and the creamy wonders of the Fisherman’s pie. Each pie tells a story, capturing a slice of Britain’s culinary tapestry.

a cooked cumberland pie

Conclusion: A Pie That’s More Than Just a Dish – It’s Heritage

The Cumberland pie isn’t just dinner; it’s a delicious bite of British history, a testament to our nation’s love for comfort and tradition.

Andy Canter


Ever since I started cooking I’ve been fascinated by how different people’s techniques are and how they best utilise the ingredients around them. Even the person living next door will have their own unique way of frying an egg or cooking a salmon fillet.

This fascination led me on a journey across the globe to discover the countless practices and traditions the world of cooking has to offer. I thought you’d enjoy and find value in sharing that journey with me so I created Cooked Best!