Tamale Pie

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

A casserole dish with a tamale pie and a piece missing.
Annika Panikker

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.

A casserole dish with a tamale pie and a piece missing.
Annika Panikker

Tamale Pie

Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 60 mins
Total Time 70 mins
Servings 6 to 8 servings


  • 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)


  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).

    A dutch oven with the filling tamale pie recipe.
    Annika Panikker
  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.

    Mixing up the filling for a tamale pie recipe.
    Annika Panikker
    Mixing up the filling for a tamale pie recipe.
    Annika Panikker
  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.

    Spooning the filling for a tamale pie recipe in a casserole dish.
    Annika Panikker
  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.

    A glass bowl with cornmeal topping for a tamale pie.
    Annika Panikker
    Spooning the cornmeal topping over the filling to make a tamale pie recipe.
    Annika Panikker
  6. Bake:

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

    Overhead view of a baked tamale pie.
    Annika Panikker


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