Tamale Pie is made with juicy ground beef on top of a cornbread crust, all drenched in a bold enchilada sauce. This casserole recipe is an easy spin on tamales making it perfect for a weeknight dinner.
This Tamale pie is bold and flavorful! Loaded with ground taco meat, and lots of melted cheese, this is a dish the entire family will love! Plus it’s easy to make ahead, instructions are below.
This classic casserole recipe is a family favorite! I have made so many versions of this dish, and I have a Green Chile Chicken Tamale Pie version on my site, if you want to see how you can change up the toppings. Basically we will make a cornbread crust that mimics the texture of the masa in tamales, and we can load it up with any topping of our choice! This particular recipe I’m sharing with you today has my favorite taco meat and a top layer of cheese. This also happens to be my family’s favorite version too!
How to make Tamale Pie:
- Prepare the cornbread crust. Mix together the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
- Add the wet ingredients. No need to premix the wet ingredients, this can all be done in one bowl. Add the egg, sour cream, milk and corn to the dry ingredients and mix.
- Pre-bake the corn bread crust.
- Cook the meat. Brown the ground beef and add all the seasonings.
- Poke and drizzle with enchilada sauce.
- Add toppings and bake again. This is where we will add the ground beef, cheese, and whatever other toppings you want to include with your tamale pie.
What to serve this with?
This easy casserole recipe is perfect for family dinner. Some sides that pair well would be Pinto Beans and Mexican Rice. Some great topping ideas would be some homemade easy salsa, or guacamole.
How to prepare this ahead of time:
This tamale pie can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator to be baked later, or it can be frozen and kept for 2-3 months.
- To prepare this meal ahead of time, follow the directions for making the cornbread crust and the topping ingredients. Pre-bake the crust, then add the toppings. Cover with foil and store in the refrigerator until you are ready to bake for dinner. Before baking, set the casserole on the counter to come to room temperature for about 10-15 minutes. Then bake in the oven at 400 for 30 minutes, or until the top is melted and the sauce is bubbling.
- If you’re wanting to freeze :follow the directions above for preparing the casserole ahead of time. Except store in the freezer. Be sure that it is in an airtight container. If covering with foil, let it freeze for about an hour, then place the pie dish in a sealed freezer bag. This can be stored for about 2-3 months. When ready to cook, remove from the freezer and place in the refrigerator the day before, to allow it to thaw, or you can place it on the counter to come to room temperature about 1 hour before cooking.
Ingredient Substitutions and Variations:
- Meat: instead of using ground beef you can substitute for another meat of choice. Some great options would be a ground chicken or turkey. Can also used shredded chicken or beef.
- Vegetables: want to add some extra vegetables to the mix? Cook some carrots, zucchini, or bell peppers with the meat. Corn and beans can also be added to the mixture if desired.
- Cheese: use your favorite cheese as a topping.
- Toppings: some great options would be sour cream, guacamole or avocado.
More Easy Family Dinner Recipes:
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 14.5 ounces creamed Corn
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 cup enchilada sauce
- 1 cup shredded cheese monterey jack or medium cheddar
- Preheat oven to 400℉. Grease a baking dish (square dish or round pie pan)
- Mix together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. These include cornmeal, all purpose flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir these with a fork to combine.
- Add the egg, sour cream, corn and milk to the dry ingredients and mix.
- Pour the cornbread mixture into the prepared baking dish.
- Bake the corn bread for about 25 minutes, it won't be done completely, but it will bake more once we layer everything on.
- While the cornbread bakes, prepare the ground beef. Cook over medium heat in a skillet, once the meat is cooked through, no longer pink, drain the grease, add the seasonings and stir to combine.
- Poke the cornbread with a fork all over and drizzle with enchilada sauce.
- Add the ground beef on top of the cornbread, then top with the shredded cheese.
- Bake again for another 15 minutes until the top is melted and bubbling. The sauce will be bubbling along the edges of the baking dish. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before serving.
- To prepare this meal ahead of time: follow the directions for making the cornbread crust and the topping ingredients. Pre-bake the crust, then add the toppings. Cover with foil and store in the refrigerator until you are ready to bake for dinner. Before baking, set the casserole on the counter to come to room temperature for about 10-15 minutes. Then bake in the oven at 400 for 30 minutes, or until the top is melted and the sauce is bubbling.
- If you’re wanting to freeze this tamale pie for a later date: follow the directions above for preparing the casserole ahead of time. Except store the tamale pie in the freezer. Be sure that it is in an airtight container. If covering with foil, let it freezer for about an hour, then place the pie dish in a sealed freezer bag. This can be stored for about 2-3 months. When ready to cook, remove from the freezer and place in the refrigerator the day before, to allow it to thaw, or you can place it on the counter to come to room temperature about 1 hour before cooking.
- If you are looking for a shortcut: you can replace the homemade cornbread dry ingredients with one box of Cornbread mix. Add the same wet ingredients to the mix and follow the rest of the recipe.
The recipe Tamale Pie first appeared on The Recipe Critic.
Recipe Updated 4/13/2020.
Haven’t tried tamale pie with the masa on the bottom before…it sounds delicious and should make the masa all the more tastier! Would you use your Tex-Mex chili gravy enchilada sauce for this tamale pie?
Ooops! I thought your recipe called for masa rather than a cornbread crust…lol! The question still remains as to the enchilada sauce, however. Thanks!
This was so delicious!!! I followed the recipe exactly and we all loved it!!
This was absolutely delicious! A keeper recipe. Would not change a thing. Yum o.
This has an excellent flavor! The only complaint for me is that it has way too much cornbread and I would prefer more of the meat mixture. So the next time I make this I’ll try to increase all the ingredients that make up the meat part of the recipe. Other than that, it is very good.
Made as directed, was excellent, I added the corn and black beans to the meat, make sure you use big enough casserole dish, 9×9 wouldn’t hold it all
I am so confused by the cornbread portion of this recipe. It is not at all “pourable”—it makes a very thick dough (and not a batter). Are there any wet ingredients missing?? I was surprised how dry the mixture was.
Hi Kate! I took your feedback, and re-worked this recipe tonite to give more moisture to the cornbread. Adding in the remainder of the can of creamed corn instead of using a portion of it, and added 1/4 cup of milk. This also changed the baking times needed. But all of that information is now included in the recipe card. Hopefully you’ll try this recipe again 🙂