Perfect Tamale Pie Recipe
Our Perfect Tamale Pie Recipe
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.
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.
Easy Tamales in a Pie
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 again and again? This Perfect Tamale Pie Recipe.
What I lovingly call my tamale pot pie recipe is not authentic in the least. However, it is:
- Quick to prepare
- Easy to assemble
- And offers the essence of good tamales.
You’ve got spiced meaty filling.
You’ve got a masa (corn flour) coating, that bakes into a pillowy tamale-like top.
You’ve got fewer 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.
To me, that is more than enough reason to skip the traditional method of tamale making, and make a tamale casserole that mimics the flavor of tamales, in a pot-pie form.
Plus, this Perfect Tamale Pie Recipe can make 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, being time-consuming doesn’t always mean better.
Get the Full (Printable) Perfect Tamale Pie Recipe Below!
What You Need to Make Gluten-Free Tamale Pie
This easy tamale recipe packs lots of flavor, but is wonderfully simple and quick to make with many ingredients you probably keep in your regular rotation.
Here’s what you need for the meat mixture filling:
- Ground beef
- Sweet onion – peeled and chopped
- Red bell pepper – seeded and chopped
- Garlic cloves – minced
- Frozen corn, thaw and drain
- Canned crushed tomatoes
- Canned chopped green chiles
- Chili powder
- Shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Ingredients for the tamale cornbread topping:
- Cornflour – masa
- Baking powder
- Chicken broth
- Melted butter
- Shredded cheddar cheese
How to Make Perfect Tamale Pie
This crowd-pleaser of a meal is ready in less than an hour, from start to finish. You’ve probably made similar pot pie-like dinners such as this in one skillet, and you will certainly want to make an easy tamale recipe as one of your go-to favorites!
1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F, and spray one large cast iron skillet, or two 9″ pie pans with non-stick spray.
2. Brown ground beef in a large skillet over medium heat. Push to the side once crumbled and cooked through, and add chopped onion, bell pepper, and minced garlic. Cook for a few minutes until the onion has softened.
3. Add frozen corn, crushed tomatoes, green chiles, corn starch, seasonings, and shredded cheese. Stir well and turn off the heat.
4. Next, make the gluten-free cornbread batter by mixing the corn flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Add in the chicken broth and melted butter, and whisk until smooth. Finally, stir in the shredded cheese.
5. Spoon the meat filling evenly between the two prepared pie pans, or leave it in a cast iron skillet. Pour the corn topping batter over the pies, using a spatula to spread it to the edges of the pans.
6. Bake for 30-45 minutes until slightly brown on the top and an inserted toothpick comes out of the tamale pie topping clean.
Serve hot with any of your favorite sides and toppings, like green onions and sour cream.
Get The Full (Printable) Recipe Below this Easy Tamale Pie Recipe. Enjoy!
Frequently Asked Questions
How Long Do Leftovers Last?
You can keep these leftovers in the refrigerator either wrapped well with a layer of plastic wrap or in an airtight container for 3 to 4 day days. Leftovers do need to be stored in the fridge.
Can Tamale Pies Be Frozen?
Yes, this recipe is excellent for meal prepping! But NOTE: If you are making these tamale pot pies in advance to freeze, DO NOT bake beforehand. Pour the corn batter on top of the pies and place in the freezer uncovered for one hour to allow the topping to harden. Then, wrap well with plastic wrap and a layer of aluminum foil, and place back in the freezer for up to 3 months.
See the complete recipe below for reheating tips!
Could I Make This Recipe With Chicken or Turkey?
Absolutely! You can make the perfect tamale pies with different meant variations like ground turkey or ground chicken. Also, use precooked rotisserie chicken to cut back on cooking time for the first part of the recipe. Add it in before adding the corn topping.
Or, thoroughly sauté cut up bite-sized boneless and skinless chicken breast pieces before adding the other ingredients.
How Can I Make Vegan / Vegetarian Tamale Pot Pies?
This tamale-inspired recipe can easily be made vegetarian-friendly by swapping out your favorite legumes, such as cooked lentils or canned garbanzo beans, in place of the ground beef, and subbing vegetable broth.
To make this recipe vegan as well, use your preferred shredded cheese substitute and swap cooking oil in place of the melted butter to make the gluten free tamale pie topping.
Looking for More Easy Comfort Dinners?
- One-Pot Shrimp Black Bean Rice Skillet
- King Ranch Chicken Casserole
- Chicken Broccoli Quinoa Skillet
- Stuffed Fiesta Cornbread Casserole
- Skinny Chicken Fajita Soup Recipe
- Baked Spaghetti Pie Recipe
Check the printable recipe card below for the prep time, cook time, and nutrition information including calories, carbohydrates, protein, cholesterol, sodium, potassium, fiber, vitamin c, and calcium percentages.
Perfect Tamale Pie Recipe
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)
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons chile powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Spray two 9-inch pie pans, one 9 X 13 inch baking dish, or a 12-14 inch cast iron skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
- Place a large saute pan (or cast iron skillet) 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, cornstarch, 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. (If you cooked the filling in a cast-iron skillet, you can leave it in the pan.) Pour (or scoop) the corn batter evenly over the top and spread to the edges of the pans. Bake for 30-45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the corn batter comes out clean. Serve warm!