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

Tamale Pie is one of those quintessential American pot-luck casserole dishes. It was probably invented by someone who had a taste of a real tamale and tried to recreate the flavor in a cornbread casserole.

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 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.

Tamale Pie Recipe

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  • Yield: Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp 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).

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3 Stir in tomatoes, chiles, corn, olives, raisins, cheese, water: Mix in fire-roasted tomatoes, Anaheim chiles, corn, olives, raisins, cheese, and water. Adjust seasoning. Add more chile powder and cumin if desired.

4 Pour filling into casserole dish: Rub a little olive oil over the insides of a 9x12-inch casserole dish (or use a nonstick cooking spray). Spoon filling into the casserole dish.

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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.

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6 Bake: Bake for 40 minutes, until the top is browned.

 

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Links:

Vegetable Tamale Pies from A Couple Cooks

One Pot Cheesy Turkey Tamale Pie from Half Baked Harvest

35 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  • Lea

    I have made this many times. I do use rotel tomatoes and green chilies, I also use black beans. I add Mexican cheese in the cornbread mix. So so good

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Amber

    This is so yummy! Love an easy meal that the whole family will eat. I added a can of beans to stretch it further and threw in half of a roasted butternut squash (diced) that I had leftover in the fridge to sneak in more veggies. It worked! My one and three year old devoured it!

  • Lauren

    Delicious!! Feeds a lot too, perfect for a big family. Before serving added few fritos to the bottom of the bowl and hot sauce w/ sour cream on top.

    Loved the raisins, next time I’m adding more :)

  • Laurie

    Thank you, thank you for this terrific recipe. I have made it twice now, in as many weeks. The leftovers are great. I do leave out the raisins and bump up the spices just a bit.

  • Alana

    Mix the cheese with the meat? Did I read that correctly? I’ve never made it before and I’m thinking of trying it tonight. I just thought that its strange that the cheese would be mixed with the meat and not the cornbread. will put the cheese in both and see how it turns out.

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