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Perfect Tamale Pie Recipe

The Perfect Tamale Pie Recipe - Easy to Make and Gluten Free! | ASpicyPerspective.comThis is the Perfect Tamale Pie Recipe for tamale lovers… Without the patience to make authentic tamales.

Perfect Tamale Pie Recipe - Easy to Make and Gluten Free! | ASpicyPerspective.com
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A friend of mine moved to the US from Mexico about 15 years ago. Every time I see her, she has just made some sort of amazing dish that reminds her of home, and she always brings me a taste.

When talking with her one day, she told me she loved tamales, but almost never got to eat them. This surprised me, with all the traditional Mexican cooking coming out of her kitchen.

Must-Make Perfect Tamale Pie Recipe - Easy to Make and Gluten Free! | ASpicyPerspective.com

Want to know why?

Tamale making is a ridiculously daunting process. She explained no one (at least in Mexico) makes a few tamales. It’s just not worth the time and effort.

If you are going to make tamales, you get several family members together and make dozens, even hundreds, of tamales to be frozen and eaten throughout the coming months.

She said her mother sends her tamales in the mail whenever her extended family has made a large batch, but that is only once or twice a year.

Making Perfect Tamale Pie Recipe - Easy to Make and Gluten Free! | ASpicyPerspective.com

How to Make Perfect Tamale Pie Recipe - Easy to Make and Gluten Free! | ASpicyPerspective.com


I’ve made tamales before, but thinking back, she’s right. It was such an ordeal, I haven’t made them in years.

But you know what I have made? This Perfect Tamale Pie Recipe.

How To: Perfect Tamale Pie Recipe - Easy to Make and Gluten Free! | ASpicyPerspective.com

What I lovingly call my Perfect Tamale Pie Recipe is not authentic in the least.

However it is quick to prep, easy to assemble, gluten free, and offers the essence of good tamales.

Our Perfect Tamale Pie Recipe - Easy to Make and Gluten Free! | ASpicyPerspective.com

You’ve got a spiced meaty filling.

You’ve got a masa (corn flour) coating, that bakes into a pillowy tamale-like top.

You’ve got less supplies involved, less cleanup, and much less cook time.

That means, you’ve got one heck of a family dinner without going to all the trouble of making real tamales.

A Perfect Tamale Pie Recipe - Easy to Make and Gluten Free! | ASpicyPerspective.com

To me, that is more than enough reason to skip the traditional method of tamale making, and make a tamale pie that mimics that flavor of tamales, in a pot-pie form.

Sneaky, right?

Must-Try Perfect Tamale Pie Recipe - Easy to Make and Gluten Free! | ASpicyPerspective.com

Plus, this Perfect Tamale Pie Recipe makes two pies, so you can enjoy one for dinner tonight and save one as a freezer meal, just like with real tamales. *wink*

My friend shook her head at me when I told her about my perfect tamale pie recipe. Yet once she tasted it, she changed her tune.

After all, time-consuming doesn’t always mean better.

Love this Perfect Tamale Pie Recipe - Easy to Make and Gluten Free! | ASpicyPerspective.com

Perfect Tamale Pie Recipe - Easy to Make and Gluten Free! | ASpicyPerspective.com
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4.72 from 14 votes
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Perfect Tamale Pie Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Perfect Tamale Pie Recipe - Rich zesty beef filling topped with fluffy corn flour (masa) top.
Servings: 12


For the Filling:

  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 sweet onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 15 ounces crushed tomatoes (1 can)
  • 4 ounces chopped green chiles (1 can)
  • 2 teaspoons chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

For the Tamale Top:


  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Spray two 9-inch pie pans (or one 9 X 13 inch baking dish) with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
  • Place a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the ground beef and break into small pieces with a wooden spoon. Brown the meat, then push it to the sides of the pan and add the chopped onion, bell pepper, and garlic. Cook until the onions have softened. Then mix in the frozen corn, crushed tomatoes, green chiles, chile powder, cumin, salt and cheese. Stir well and turn off the heat.
  • Meanwhile, mix the corn flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Add in the chicken broth and butter. Whisk until smooth. Then stir in the cheese.
  • Pour the meat filling into the prepared pans. Pour the corn batter evenly over the top and spread to the edges of the pans. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the corn batter comes out clean. Serve warm!


NOTE: If freezing for a later date, complete the recipe above as directed, but do not bake. Freeze uncovered for one hour to harden the top. Then wrap well and place back in the freezer.  When ready to enjoy, heat the oven to 400 degrees F. and bake for 60- 70 minutes. If the top starts to darken, lay a piece of foil loosely over the top.


Serving: 8ounces, Calories: 469kcal, Carbohydrates: 31g, Protein: 19g, Fat: 29g, Saturated Fat: 14g, Cholesterol: 93mg, Sodium: 824mg, Potassium: 531mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 910IU, Vitamin C: 21.2mg, Calcium: 204mg, Iron: 2.7mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Author: Sommer Collier

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25 comments on “Perfect Tamale Pie Recipe”

  1. Nummy, easy, people pleaser.
    I made this with chorizo and black beans instead of the hamburger. I separated it into 2 casserole dishes – made one, froze the other. Both times it was well received. It was easy to pull the frozen one out and bake. I did let it thaw overnight in the frig rather than putting it directly in the oven.
    I just love tamales and being able to make a masa topping like this on a casserole is certainly easier but just as tasty. I simply love corn anything.
    I didn’t put cheese in the filling, and only some in the corn topping. Sometimes I feel the cheese flavor gets lost and then It’s just extra calories. If I had queso fresco or other type of Mexican cheese, that would probably be great.
    I like the idea someone mentioned of putting corn in the tamale topping! Thanks for a great recipe.

  2. What a wonderful recipe!
    I made it as is and the flavor of the masa topping is soooo tamale! It didn’t need any extra moisture-
    It was the true consistency of the batter used in making tamales.
    It spread nicely.
    I can’t wait for my daughter to come home from work  and taste this casserole!
    Definitely saving this!
    Thank You!!!

  3. Love this!! I intended to make tamales this winter with some leftover smoked brisket I had in the freezer, but really wanted the flavor now. So glad I found this recipe (many tamale pie recipes call for a box of jiffy corn muffin mix. Not the right flavor as it’s too sweet). I did use the smoked brisket instead of ground beef. I also used spicier chiles because we like the heat and beef stock instead of chicken stock. Thanks for this!

  4. I had to double the chicken broth because the masa to broth ratio was the consistency of clay.

  5. Delicious!!! Made a 9×13 pan and my husband and son tried to eat it all themselves. This size pan needs more filling. The masa was too dry had to add water to thin it but was still too thick. My men didn’t seem to notice. I make tamales and yes this is easier. Thanks

  6. I really want to make this but I’m out of chicken stock and bouillon. Can I use water?

  7. Can I use a cornbread mix? Have that in my pantry, no cornmeal. Thanks 

  8. My batter wasn’t even close to being able to pour out. Too late now, we’ll see how it turns out. Reminder to self, use more chicken broth.

  9. Is there a way to make this in an instant pot? I am having a potluck at work and would like to bring it prepared and cook at work before lunch so it is warm and ready to eat. Thanks.

  10. Delicious! One of the few meals my family of 5 all liked! I hid finely ground frozen broccoli, cauliflower, and carrot mix to the meat  to hide some veggies and the kids had no idea! I’ll add less salt next time since we try to watch our sodium. My son asked that I add the corn to the tamale layer instead of the meat layer. Thank you for sharing!

  11. We made this tonight and both had seconds. Loved it!!!! I used homemade enchilada sauce (https://dinnerthendessert.com/best-homemade-enchilada-sauce-and-quick/) in place of the can of crushed tomatoes. We didn’t change anything else. I love that the crust of this recipe is made with masa, which is light and moist, and not cornbread. Cornmeal is coarser than corn flour. The masa crust was perfect. Just a really nice little recipe!!! Really fun for a couple or a family to make together, also, one making the masa topping while the other slices or sautees the filling.

  12. I love it that I can use my masa instead of having to get Jiffy corn bread mix. It’s in the oven now. I put foil over it to make sure the masa is cooked and not dried out for the first 20 minutes.
    I used my leftover shredded beef, mixed with some corn and salsa layered with leftover bean dip at the bottom and top with masa mixture. Oh, yikes! I forgot the baking powder…hmmm, now I’m worried. I sprinkled some cheese on top in the last 3-4 minutes of baking. It looks OK, smells great.
    Super quick dinner! Thank you for the recipe.

  13. yes. it takes much longer than 10 minutes. you forgot to give an oven temp. is it baked uncovered or covered?

  14. The flavor of this was very good… But imagine my surprise when the filling disappeared almost completely into the top..I think my measurements were too small or my pan too big for the amount of masa… Would definitely give it another shot tho

  15. i haven’t had a great tamale pie in forever! i’m going to need to make this!

  16. Looks like such a warm and comfy dinner for fall time!

  17. I am a very big fan of Mexican food so I can’t wait to try this! Keep the great recipes coming!

  18. I’ve looked into making my own tamales and it’s SUCH a daunting process — I can’t wait to try this instead!!

  19. Great way to satisfy a tamale craving!

  20. This looks so warm and comforting!