Tamale pie has beef in a zesty sauce topped with a simple cornbread topping and baked until fluffy and golden.
What is Tamale Pie?
A tamale is a delicious favorite, with a masa (corn) dough wrapped around meat and steamed in corn leaves until tender. This dish is definitely not a traditional tamale but plays on the corn and meat flavors.
This quick dish starts on the stovetop and is then baked to perfection with cheese.
We love tamale pie because it’s easy to make, inexpensive, and ready to go in less than an hour!
Ingredients and Variations
PROTEIN This is a super basic recipe with ground beef and cheese. Sub any favorite cheese, and feel free to use ground turkey or chicken in place of beef.
VEGGIES This recipe has corn of course, but it also works perfectly with leftover veggies, too! Try adding shredded zucchini, frozen diced veggies, a can of diced tomatoes, jalapenos, or sliced black olives.
TOPPINGS Top with sour cream, salsa, or even guacamole!
How to Make Tamale Pie
Tamale Pie is short on prep time but big on taste!
- Brown Beef – Brown onion, beef, & garlic, drain fat (per recipe below).
- Make Sauce – Add taco seasoning & enchilada sauce. Place beef in a casserole dish.
- Mix Topping -Mix topping ingredients and spoon over beef mixture.
- Bake – Top with cheese and bake.
Tips for Success
A great tamale pie is hearty, flavorful, and filling!
- For best results, as the ground meat is cooking, use a spatula to separate it so it is finely ground.
- Adding egg to the cornbread topping mixture gives it structure and extra flavor.
- Once tamale pie is cooked, it can be refrigerated for up to 5 days. Reheat by placing it in a preheated oven, or microwaving a single portion. Adjust seasonings and serve it up again!
- Freeze tamale pie in an airtight container and label the outside with the date on it. It stays tasty for 2 to 3 months. Let the tamale pie thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
While the tamale pie is cooking, set out your favorite toppings including the sour cream, salsa, and guacamole!
More Ground Beef Casseroles
- Stuffed Peppers
- Beef Taco Pasta Skillet – ready in 30 minutes
- Beef and Macaroni Soup
- Unstuffed Peppers
- Easy Homemade Lasagna
- Shepherd’s Pie Recipe
Did your family love this Tamale Pie? Be sure to leave a rating and a comment below!
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1 onion chopped
- 1 bell pepper diced, green or red
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tablespoons taco seasoning
- ¼ cup water
- ¾ cup enchilada sauce
- 2 cups cheddar cheese shredded, divided
- 1 box corn muffin mix 8.5 oz
- ½ cup sour cream
- ½ cup corn kernels canned, fresh, or frozen
- ⅓ cup milk
- 1 egg
- fresh cilantro chopped, for garnish
- Preheat oven to 350ºF.
- Combine beef, onion, bell pepper, and garlic in a 10" ovenproof skillet. Cook until no pink remains. Drain any fat.
- Add taco seasoning and ¼ cup water. Simmer until water evaporates. Stir in enchilada sauce. Top with 1 ½ cups of cheese.
- Combine corn muffin mix, sour cream, corn, milk ,and egg. Spread over the beef mixture.
- Top with remaining cheese and bake 35-40 minutes.
- Garnish with cilantro and serve.
Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.
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Four adults in our family and everyone gave this dish a thumbs up. We have a family recipe for tamale pie, but it tends to be more on the order of a loose casserole, kind of stew like and I was not a fan. When my husband said he wanted to have tamale pie I decided to hunt for a recipe on Pinterest. This one hit the mark. The topping and the filling did not compete against each other but complimented each other instead. I will be making this again.
So happy to hear you loved this recipe too, Mary!
I’ve made similar recipes like this in the past but this one is, by far, the best. I made it just as the recipe called for except I didn’t use quite all of the mixed muffin batter, probably used about 5 tablespoons less on the topping.
In similar recipes the casserole has been nearly more muffin than meat mixture. I used what I didn’t top it with to make 2 separate muffins, cooked alongside. They were great split, buttered & broiled.
So happy you enjoyed it, Patricia!
Very very good and easy recipe! The only thing I did differently is doubled the taco seasoning and added a can of drained, rinsed kidney beans. Dollup of sour cream on top. Yum! Will definitely make again.
Sounds delicious, Amy! Thanks for sharing your alterations.
This was so good! I can’t have whole corn, but I knew my husband would be super disappointed if the corn wasn’t in his portion, so I adapted the recipe a bit. I left the corn out while mixing the cornbread. I used my cast iron skillet and got it hot in the oven. Then I added a bit of butter and poured in the cornbread batter. It sizzled and got a crusty bottom and edge. I spread some frozen corn kernels on my husband’s portion, then spread the meat over the top of the cornbread batter. Then I baked it in the oven for the specified time. My husband sprinkled cheese on his after we took it out of the oven and I ate mine without the cheese. It sucks to have dietary restrictions that don’t allow me to eat the foods I used to enjoy, so I love it when I find delicious recipes that are easily adaptable with my restrictions.
Made this for the first time and it was an absolute hit! So easy to make and delicious delicious delicious!! This is definitely going to be a go to for family gatherings Thanks for the great recipe!!!
Delicious! I added the corn to the meat instead of the topping. Family loved it. This recipe will stay in rotation.
This is the best Tamale Pie recipe I have come accross. I didn’t have a bell pepper and am not fond of bell peppers anyway, so I used a jalapeno instead. I took out the seeds and some of the veins and it turned out great! I love the sourcream in it. Would highly recommend this recipe. We loved it!
I put a cup of corn in meat filling.
Great addition Dorothy! Thanks for sharing.
The recipe doubles great! I would just add an extra 5 mins to baking time. I also added a can of green chilies to the topping and a can of pinto beans to the filing to stretch our meat and it was fabulous!
This is so amazingly delicious! I made one gluten/dairy free and vegan and one regular. My husband, who had the regular, said it is a triple D! This will definitely be in our rotation.
What size baking dish did you use? Is it a 9 x 11?
It is a 2 quart dish.
Recipe specifically says to cook in a 10 inch oven proof skillet.
To freeze do you bake first or not ?
To freeze the entire Tamale Pie ahead of baking. Freeze for about an hour, then wrap tightly. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator and bake as directed, or bake for about 60-70 minutes from frozen. You may want to tent the top loosely with foil if it starts to brown. Enjoy Meg!
I made you delicious recipe for dinner tonight, it was awesome! Thank you
You’re welcome Sandy, so glad to hear!
As a reminder, boxed cornbread mix contains sugar. Therefore, I have to make my own without sugar.
I found a corn bread mix that is Mexican style/flavor and it had no sugar in it…
Easy to make at yummy to eat. Thanks for sharing recipe!
Thanks, Gwen. Glad you enjoyed it.
What type or brand of enchilada sauce did you use?
I make homemade enchilada sauce most often. If not, I use La Victoria as it’s easily available at our local store.
What size cornbread box
I used an 8.5 oz box.
Do you prepare the box of cornbread mix as indicated on the box? And then add the sour cream and corn? And is the corn drained?
The corn should be drained. You’ll mix the dry mix with all topping ingredients.
My daughter needs to eat gluten free, and the only gluten free cornbread mix I can find is a honey cornbread. Do you think that would work ok, or would it be too sweet?
I think it would work in this recipe. Let us know how it goes!
Thanks! I have one more question. What size of cornbread mix are you using? Thanks again!
I used an 8.5 oz box.
I prefer the honey cornbread.
I don’t have an ovenproof skillet so what size baking dish should I bake this in? 2 quart?
A 2 qt dish should work perfectly.