Tamale Pie

DinnerCasseroleComfort FoodTexMex

Tamale pie, classic American comfort food, made with ground beef, onion, bell pepper, tomatoes, Anaheim chiles, corn, olives, raisins, cheddar cheese, and cornbread.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

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.

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!

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.

Tamale Pie Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour
  • Yield: Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients

  • 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 chile powder (more or less to taste)
  • 2 teaspoons cumin (more or less to taste)
  • 1 (14 1/2 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-pound of prepared cornbread mix (such as Jiffy or Bob's Red Mill).
  • Whatever is needed according to cornbread mix instructions to make the cornbread batter (water, egg, oil, milk)

Method

1 Preheat oven to 375°F.

2 Brown the beef, onions, 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).

cook ground beef for tamale pie

3 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.

tamale pie filling

4 Pour filling into casserole dish: Rub a little olive oil over the insides of a 9x13-inch casserole dish (or use a nonstick cooking spray). Spoon filling into the casserole dish.

tamale pie filling in dish

5 Make cornbread batter, pour over filling: 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.

6 Bake: Bake at 375°F for 40 minutes, until the top is browned.

baked tamale pie

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Links:

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how to make tamale pie

Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

More from Elise

42 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Suzette

    Good recipe, although I skip the raisins. My filling ends up being whatever kind of rich chile I can make from what’s on hand, but it’s good to have a recipe to acknowledge in departure. I’ve had good luck making cooking the chili in a big, ovenproof pot, mixing up the cornbread batter (usually make it a little thin) and pouring it on top of the filling before putting it in the oven. Less cleanup and the result is crustier.

  2. Leeann

    Awesome a childhood favorite of mine too. Thanks!

  3. Linda O

    Great recipe! I soaked the raisins in apple juice in the fridge for about 15 minutes, they plumped nicely and added a nice sweetness to the pie.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  4. Cecilia Jackson

    Its was delish my family ate it all up in 1 day no leftovers. What an awesome dish to make.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  5. Beadknitter

    Made this last Friday. It was delicious and my husband loved it. I have to admit, though, I did make 2 changes. 1. I used regular canned diced tomatoes because our grocery store didn’t have the fire roasted ones.
    2. No raisins. Didn’t have any.

    xxxxxyyyyy

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