Crispy Fish Pie


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Fish pie is a pub classic here in the UK. This version is a slight twist on the usual with a delicious (and easy) crispy, cheesy crushed potato topping.

Closeup of A dish of fish pie with a scoop taken out.

What’s fish pie, anyway?

Go to any pub in the UK and there’s a good chance you’ll find a fish pie on the menu.

And I don’t mean pastry filled with fish. I’d say a classic British fish pie is more like the fish equivalent of a cottage or shepherd’s pie. Think a creamy white sauce with big chunks of fish in it, and possibly a few veggies, all topped with mashed potatoes, plus cheese if you like.

It’s seriously scrummy, and perfect crowd pleasing and healthy comfort food.

A twist on the classic

My main inspiration for this was a recipe from Mary Berry Cooks the Perfect Step-by-step.

What particular drew my attention to her fish pie recipe was the crispy small potato top she chose over a traditional mashed potato one.

Mmmm… just look at that crispy, cheesy crushed potato topping!!

How do you make fish pie?

A traditional fish pie is actually really easy to make. All you do is make a white sauce, stir in your choice of fish, then pour into a dish. Top with mashed potato and bake.

This easy version is no different:

Step 1: Fry a leek. Make a white sauce in the same pan. Add yummy flavours.

Step 2: Add fish to the sauce. Pour into a baking dish.

Step 3: Top sauce and fish with spinach (for extra nutrition!).

Step 4: Crush boiled potatoes and spread over the top. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with cheese and paprika. Mmmm.

Step 5: Bake!

You see – super easy and tasty. As you can see I decided to make my fish pie even easier by adding a crispy cheesy potato topping instead of the traditional mashed potatoes.

A dish of fish pie with a scoop taken out on a blue cloth.

What kind of fish to use

Fish pies can include any kind of fish: white fish (any you like), salmon, canned fish (tuna or salmon?), smoked fish, prawns/shrimp if you like.

It’s true that fish can be expensive. But on the other hand a little goes quite a long way, as this pie is quite big, serving at least 6.

Also, you can make it a bit more economical by replacing a bit of the fish with some hard-boiled eggs. It might sound weird, but trust me, it works really well.

If you decided to add prawns, you can add them uncooked because they cook very quickly. For extra ‘oomph’ add a bit of smoked fish. Delicious!

How to serve this meal

I usually serve this with a simple salad or some vegetables – just whatever vegetables I happen to have.

These 10-minute frozen sauteed green beans are perfect!

More easy fish dinners

Another classic comfort food pie that’s on the lighter side is this creamy chicken and leek pie. I hope you give this a try too!



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A dish of fish pie with a scoop taken out on a blue cloth.
5 from 4 votes

Crispy Fish Pie

A creamy and delicious fish pie with a crispy, cheesy crushed potato topping. Mmmmm!
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 40 minutes
Total: 1 hour
Servings: 6


For the pie filling

  • ½ stick butter
  • 1 leek, washed and chopped
  • 1/4 cup plain flour
  • cups warm milk
  • ¼ cup grated cheese
  • small bunch fresh parsley, chopped
  • tablespoons chopped fresh dill, optional
  • grated rind ½ a lemon
  • 1 heaped teaspoon mustard
  • salt and pepper
  • pounds fish of your choice , e.g. white fish fillet, salmon, smoked fish, raw prawns, skinned if necessary and chopped into large chunks
  • 7 ounces fresh spinach

For the crispy potato topping

  • small potatoes, scrubbed (you can leave the skins on)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • handful of parmesan cheese, grated
  • sprinkle of paprika, optional
  • salt and pepper

To serve

  • salad or vegetables


  • Melt the butter in a large saucepan and fry the leek for a few minutes until softened. Stir in the flour and cook for a minute or two, then remove from the heat and very slowly add the warm milk, stirring all the time. Return to the heat and stir until thickened and smooth (a good few minutes). Add the cheese, parsley, dill (if using), lemon rind, mustard and salt and pepper to taste.
  • Add the raw fish to the sauce and stir, then remove from the heat and pour into a medium baking dish (about 10 by 7 inches or similar).
  • Put the spinach in a colander and pour a kettle of boiling water over it to wilt it. Squeeze out as much of the water as possible by squeezing with the back of a spoon. Scatter over the fish and sauce filling.
  • Now while the filling cools a little, preheat the oven to 180C / 350F, and make the topping.
  • Boil the potatoes for 15 minutes, then drain and return to the pan. Crush lightly with a fork and stir in half the olive oil and the parmesan cheese.
  • Spread the topping evenly over the cooled filling, then drizzle over the rest of the olive oil, the cheese and paprika (if using). Grind over a little salt and pepper.
  • Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until the filling is bubbling and the potatoes browned and crisp. Serve with a salad or vegetables of your choice.


Adapted from Mary Berry’s recipe from Mary Berry Cooks the Perfect Step by Step.
This makes a great freezer meal. I doubled the recipe and froze some fish pie for a lazy day. Assemble ahead, then pop in the freezer. When you’re ready to eat the pie, defrost, then cook.
Feel free to replace some of the fish with hardboiled egg to make this a more economical dish.
Letting the filling cool a little will make sure the topping doesn’t sink into it!


Calories: 373kcal, Carbohydrates: 22g, Protein: 34g, Fat: 16g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Cholesterol: 81mg, Sodium: 181mg, Potassium: 1074mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 5g, Vitamin A: 3560IU, Vitamin C: 20.2mg, Calcium: 228mg, Iron: 4.9mg
Like this recipe? Rate and comment below!

About Helen Schofield

Don't expect to find anything fussy or complicated here. Just QUICK, EASY & (mostly!) HEALTHY recipes from the Mediterranean and beyond. ENJOY!

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  1. 5 stars
    Hi Helen,
    I ‘ve been wanting to make this recipe for quite some time and I wasn’t disappointed. It was easy to make, tasty and I liked the crispy top. I used a combination of seafood to make up the 800g of fish (smoked haki, salmon, white fish and prawns). I would definitely make this recipe again, thanks Helen!

    1. Hi Karen! Aw, thank you so much for letting me know! I haven’t made this in a while, so now you’ve definitely made me want to! Maybe I should make a how-to video to go with the post, too. I’m so glad you enjoyed it. My salmon fish cakes always get quite good reviews too, in case you’re also interested in those!

  2. Honestly, I’ve never had fish pie.But is sounds and looks super delicious! Can’t wait to try this one!

  3. Dear Helen, I love this recipe; I was searching for something new to do with salmon and I was watching the show of Mary Berry and was thinking of fish pie (no, unfortunately it’s not so popular in Holland:-(( where I live now). To reduce the callories, i woudl use olive oil instead of butter. Would this work?

    I’m reading regularly your blog but my day job is extremely busy:-( and therefore did not comment in the past months. I’ll make this pie tonight and will let you know how it turns out.

    All the best!!

    1. Hello! I remember you and am so happy that you’re still following along with the blog. There is no obligation to comment, but of course it’s wonderful that you have today!

      I’m also very pleased that you’re going to give the pie a go. I’ve just made a small change to the recipe as I hadn’t stated that you need to chop the fish into large chunks (although I’m sure that was obvious anyway!).

      I think it would be fine to use olive oil in the sauce instead of butter. I bet that will give a lovely delicate flavour. I haven’t tried it of course, but I would think using the same amount of oil as butter would work – about 50ml.

      Good luck and thanks again for passing by! 🙂