Have you ever had a tamale pie?
Tamale Pie is one of those quintessential American pot-luck casserole dishes.
I'm guessing it was invented by someone who had a taste of a real tamale and tried to recreate the flavor in a cornbread casserole.
Why Tamale Pie Is a Family Favorite
Tamale pie is not remotely Mexican and only somewhat resembles the flavor of real tamales. But it does taste great, is budget friendly, and easily feeds a lot of people!
What Are the Ingredients in Tamale Pie?
I always loved tamale pie as a kid, fortunately it was often served in our school cafeteria. The tamale pie I remember was made with ground beef, with green chile, olives, whole corn, and topped with cornbread, though one could just as easily used pulled pork or a more traditional tamale stuffing for the casserole.
Where Does Tamale Pie Come From?
Tamale pie is thought to have originated in Texas sometime in the 1900s and became popular in high school cafeterias to feed to students. Variations may include beef, pork, chicken, chorizo, beans, and cheese with vegetables, cornbread, and/or creamed corn. It became an especially popular dish during times when wheat was in shortage, such as the World War II era.
Some versions (like our Tamale Pie with Chicken, Green Chiles, and Cheese) have a masa topping like an actual tamale and some, like this one, have a cornbread topping.
Substitutions and Swaps
- Eliminate the raisins if you're not a fan of them or don’t want the sweetness.
- Use a different type of chile instead of Anaheim, such as roasted poblanos or even jalapenos if you like things spicy.
- Make it vegetarian: swap the ground beef for beans and/or brown lentils.
- Use a combination of cheeses, such as Mexican-style cheese blend, instead of all cheddar.
- Use a different bell pepper (e.g., red, orange, or yellow) for the green if you prefer its flavor.
How to Store and Reheat This Dish
Refrigerate the tamale pie, covered in its baking dish, for several days. To reheat, cover the pie loosely with foil, and heat in a 350°F oven until it's warmed through — the exact timing will vary depending on how much pie you're reheating.
To freeze this dish, cool completely to room temperature, then freeze, covered, in its baking dish or in a smaller container, if necessary. Allow the frozen dish to thaw completely in the refrigerator overnight before reheating it.
More Delicious Tex-Mex Recipes to Make!
- Quesadilla Pie
- Tamale Pie With Chicken, Green Chiles, and Cheese
- Salsa Verde Chicken Bake
- Chile Relleno Casserole
- Tex-Mex Shepherd's Pie
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeds and stem removed, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons chili powder (more or less to taste)
2 teaspoons cumin (more or less to taste)
1 (14.5-ounce) can fire-roasted tomatoes
1 (4-ounce) can green Anaheim chiles, drained, chopped
1 (16-ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
1 (4-ounce) can sliced ripe olives
1/3 cup raisins
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese (about 4 ounces)
1/3 cup water
1 (16-ounce) package prepared cornbread mix, such as Jiffy or Bob's Red Mill
Water, egg, oil, or milk as needed for mixing the cornbread batter according to package directions
Preheat the oven:
Preheat oven to 375°F
Brown the beef, onions, and bell pepper:
Heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium high. Add the ground beef, onion, and bell pepper. Add salt, chile powder, and cumin. Cook, stirring infrequently, until the ground beef has browned on all sides.
Remove from heat. Drain excess fat if necessary (if you are using lean beef, there shouldn't be excess).
Make the filling:
Mix in fire-roasted tomatoes, Anaheim chiles, corn, olives, raisins, cheese, and water. Adjust seasoning. Add more chile powder and cumin if desired.
Pour the filling into the casserole:
Rub a little olive oil over the inside of a 9 x 13-inch casserole dish (or use a nonstick cooking spray). Spoon filling into the casserole dish.
Make the cornbread batter:
In a large bowl, prepare the cornbread batter according to the directions on the package. Pour the cornbread batter over the top of the filling in the casserole.
Bake at 375°F for 40 minutes, until the top is browned.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 6 to 8|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 24g||31%|
|Saturated Fat 8g||42%|
|Total Carbohydrate 52g||19%|
|Dietary Fiber 4g||14%|
|Total Sugars 9g|
|Vitamin C 26mg||131%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|