Smoky Fish Pie being spooned

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And look at that. I’m bringing you a cozy warming meal that isn’t a soup! Just as I was starting to seem a little predictable with my comforting cold-weather meals, I did the unexpected. I made a fish pie. If you dig British cuisine, you’re probably familiar.

I grew up eating Shepherd’s Pie (doused in French Canadian gravy aka ketchup), but fish pie is pretty new to me. And I love it. Any fish lover should. It’s hearty, meaty, and with this recipe, you get a layer of smokiness which is extra welcoming during these chilly months.

A traditional British fish pie, or Fisherman’s Pie, is usually made with white fish like haddock, cod, or halibut, and is layered with a white sauce or cheddar cheese sauce using the milk that the fish was poached in. In this recipe, I’ve simplified things by using ready-to-eat canned mackerel and smoked kippers from King Oscar—no poaching required :)

Smoky Fish Pie

Smoky Fish Pie.

In a nutshell, this beauty tastes like fish chowder in pie form.

Most savory pies, like steak pies or chicken pot pies, are encased in a flaky buttery crust. Which is awesome, no doubt. But this savory gem brings a smooth yet crispy mashed potato topping to your plate with a little sprinkle of Pecorino Romano. The white sauce is basically a béchamel stirred up with onions, garlic, shredded carrots, celery, parsley, and tarragon. (I’m not sure that traditional fish pie’s incorporate tarragon, but my mother-in-law uses tarragon in her famous crab cakes, and it adds a certain je ne sais quoi to seafood dishes.)

Unlike with Shepherd’s Pie, no ketchup is necessary for this one. I do, however, like to dab on some punchy horseradish :)

King Oscar canned mackerel packaging

King Oscar’s Royal Fillets—Mackerel in Olive Oil.

I’ve noticed that the majority of time-saving recipes using canned fish use canned tuna. I get it: it’s familiar. But it’s not going to stop me from pushing people to try other (and more sustainable) options, like sardines or mackerel—which, might I add, offer up a way better flavor and texture than its dry and flaky counterpart.

Hand-packed in buttery olive oil, KO’s mackerel is light in taste and oh-so-tender. On top of that, it’s wild-caught in the Northeast Atlantic Ocean between Norway and the Faroe Islands and is MSC-certified sustainable. That means it’s good for us AND our planet! (All the thumbs up.)

As for the smoked fish in this recipe, you can use any canned smoked fish, but I highly recommend sticking with King Oscar and using their Kipper SnacksThey’re so soso good.

Smoky Fish Pie, plated.

If you make this dish, snap a photo and tag me on the Insta @killing__thyme! I love seeing your creations, and you could be featured in my monthly newsletter <3

Smoky Fish Pie

This comforting recipe for Smoky Fish Pie is a simplified spin on a British classic.
Cuisine Pescetarian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4
Author Killing Thyme



White Sauce

  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1/2 small yellow onion diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 large carrot shredded
  • 1 rib of celery finely sliced
  • 1 TBSP fresh tarragon finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley
  • 2 TBSP all purpose flour
  • 1.5 cups of milk
  • Kosher salt + cracked black pepper

Mashed Potatoes

  • 5 Yukon Gold potatoes; peeled rinsed, and halved
  • 1 TBSP butter
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • Pinch of Kosher salt and cracked black pepper


  • 1/2 cup of frozen peas
  • 1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano


  • Preheat oven to 350º F.
  • Place your peeled, rinsed, and halved potatoes into a pot and add just enough cold water to cover the potatoes. Add a pinch of salt, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, bring the heat to low, cover the pot, and let the potatoes simmer for 15 minutes or until tender enough to poke through with a fork. In the meantime, work on your white sauce.
  • Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and onion, and cook for 2 minutes or until the onions are translucent and fragrant. Add carrot, celery, and fresh herbs, and simmer for 5 minutes, or until carrots and celery are soft, stirring occasionally.
  • Bring the heat down to medium-low and stir in the flour until the vegetables are coated and the mixture is thick and sticky. Then, add half of the milk, stirring constantly as the mixture thickens. Continue to stir as you add the rest of the milk. Bring the heat up to medium and keep stirring until the mixture is thick and creamy. This should take about 2 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and add a pinch of salt and pepper. Taste, and season with more salt and pepper as you see fit.
  • Drain all of your canned fish; place fish fillets onto a cutting board and roughly chop it all. Place the fish in a medium 8x8 or 8x10 (ish) baking dish. Toss and mix the fish around to ensure the smoked fish and mackerel are evenly dispersed.
  • Top the fish with the frozen peas, and then the white sauce.
  • Once the mashed potatoes are done, drain the pot. Place the pot back onto the burner over medium heat and heat just enough to shake out any extra water (optional). Add the butter, a pinch of salt and pepper, and a splash of the milk. Mash with a potato masher and add more milk as needed until you get a smooth consistency.
  • Spoon the mashed potatoes over the fish and white sauce and spread them out evenly. Drag a fork across the top of the potatoes to create lines or zigzags—creating these ridges will create crispy bits.
  • Finally, sprinkle the grated Pecorino Romano over the potatoes and bake for 15 minutes.
  • To get more crisp on the top, once 15 minutes is up, turn the broiler on and broil the pie until you get golden crispy bits on top. (Time varies with each broiler, so just keep a very close eye on it).
  • Remove from oven and let it stand for five minutes to cool.
  • Garnish with fresh parsley if you want, and serve. (I like to eat mine with some horseradish.)


Please note that it's best to spread the mashed potatoes while they're hot.
Smoky Fish Pie


  • Martha M Sands
    January 30, 2019 at 8:34 pm

    Perfect comfort food for this cold, cold January night. Made it exactly as written, and am very glad I did. If you’d like to see pictures, I’ll try to figure out how to send them. Meanwhile, several pics are posted on my FB page, and over at the King Oscar FB page as well (in their messages). Yum!

    • Killing Thyme
      January 31, 2019 at 9:45 am

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Martha! It’s important to be able to have good food to curl up with this time of year. What the heck else can we do? It feels like winter is never going to end! Thanks so much for stopping by with feedback :)

  • Barb
    January 25, 2019 at 1:27 pm

    This was excellent!

  • Tina
    January 13, 2019 at 8:25 am

    5 stars
    This looks really delightful, and I love the convenience of using the tinned fish! I bet this has a nice smoky flavor, and a hearty meal to have on a cool night.

  • Marisa Franca
    January 5, 2019 at 10:51 am

    What a great idea. We’ve just discovered Cottage Pie (Hunter’s Pie) and now we can make another comfort dish using fish. Hubby loves to fish and we enjoy seafood – I’m looking forward to trying it with a white sauce and potatoes.

  • Debra
    January 2, 2019 at 8:43 pm

    Brilliant idea to do a shepherds pie type thing with fish! This fish from a tin would be a life saver in the winter when I don’t always like to go out to buy fresh fish. I can see this quickly becoming a family favorite.

  • Traci
    December 31, 2018 at 9:08 am

    What a beautiful recipe and lovely spin on Shepard’s Pie! That bechamel…with the veggies AND tarragon…YUM girl! Great combo! Can’t believe I’ve never had fish pie…I’ve been missing out! Thanks for the great recipe :)

  • Carmy
    December 30, 2018 at 9:33 pm

    Ahaha, I also grew up with the great French Canadian gravy called ketchup. I don’t think I’ve tried a fish version but I think I’m going to have to give it a go. I’m trying to get more fish into my diet for 2019 so what better way to eat it than with mashed potatoes?!

  • Daniela
    December 30, 2018 at 4:35 pm

    I’ve been to the UK a few times, but I had no idea this dish existed! I’m originally from Costa Rica, and we make our own version of a fish pie that’s very similar to this one, except made with can tuna. Small world, huh? I love the addition of the horseradish in this pie, so I will definitely give it a try.

  • Tracy
    December 29, 2018 at 6:31 pm

    We just recently started eating a lot of Cod but have been getting bored with our go to recipes. This one was SO good – thank you!! Totally comforting and warm for the cold winter nights and a great new recipe! Our daughter loved it!

  • Lisa
    December 27, 2018 at 11:28 am

    The mackerel and kippers in your fish pie give a double dose of heart healthy Omega-3 Fatty acids — not that it has to be healthy for me to dive into a comfort dish like this one. Your photography is beautiful and it really makes me want to stick a fork through my computer screen. I’m pinning and bookmarking to make this one in January — when all I want is creamy casseroles!!! Another great recipe!

  • […] Smoky Fish Pie […]

  • Gloria
    December 26, 2018 at 1:09 pm

    Wow I love the sounds of this recipe. What a delicious twist on pot pie. Great for comfort food season. Perfect to take to a “potluck”. Great to make and have leftovers too. I think you have all the boxes checked with this fun recipe.


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