Easy Tamale Pie

We were recently planning to have friends over for dinner when I asked my husband what he thought I should cook. He randomly said, “How about tamales?!” I was like “Whaaaa?”

First of all, I’ve never made tamales in my life, and I’m honestly not sure if I even like tamales all that much (I was looking for ideas from the plethora of options I have actually cooked before LOL).

Secondly, I have a hard-and-fast rule to never experiment with new recipes on dinner guests. I think it’s always best to make something you know will turn out well, and leave the possible recipe fails for your immediate family only! Anyone else with me on that?

So, after we made homemade pizza with our friends (haha), I thought it would be nice to fulfill my husband’s desire for tamales with an Easy Tamale Pie. Since I’m not a huge fan of regular tamales myself, and I didn’t feel like hunting down corn husks to make the traditional version, this easy mash-up of cornbread, chiles, and other goodies was the best of both worlds.

And bonus, he loved it! So this easy one-dish meal will definitely be making an appearance again at our house. Maybe even for dinner guests. :)

Easy Tamale Pie on 100 Days of Real Food
Easy Tamale Pie 2

Easy Tamale Pie

This easy one-dish meal features the flavors of tamales in the simplicity of a pie. It will definitely be making another appearance at our house! Try it!
4.8 from 9 votes
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 30 mins
Total Time: 40 mins
Print Recipe
Servings: 4 people


For the meat layer

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 onion diced
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 bell pepper cored, seeded and diced (any color)
  • 1/2 jalapeño or other hot pepper, minced
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 15-oz can diced tomatoes fire roasted variety is a good option for this
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels

For the tamale topping

  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 cup cornmeal finely ground
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup Monterey Jack cheese finely shredded

Suggested accompaniments

  • sour cream
  • avocado
  • cilantro


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • In a cast iron skillet (or other oven-proof large skillet) heat the olive oil over medium heat. Cook the onions while stirring until they begin to soften, 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Add the ground beef to the pan and cook while breaking it up with a spatula until almost brown all the way through, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the bell and hot peppers and cook until soft, another 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Sprinkle the seasonings onto the beef mixture and stir until well combined. Add the diced tomatoes and corn kernels and bring to a light boil then turn off the heat.
  • Meanwhile, in a small pot combine the milk, cornmeal, butter, and salt. Bring to a light boil while whisking constantly. As soon as the mixture begins to thicken, only takes a minute or two, scrape out of the pot and spread on top of the meat mixture into one even layer.
  • Top with shredded cheese and bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes. If preparing in advance may take longer to bake if putting it in the oven cold.
  • Garnish with sour cream, avocado and/or cilantro (if desired) and serve.


We recommend organic ingredients when feasible.
Nutrition Facts
Nutrition Facts
Easy Tamale Pie
Amount Per Serving
Calories 727 Calories from Fat 441
% Daily Value*
Fat 49g75%
Saturated Fat 22g138%
Cholesterol 137mg46%
Sodium 943mg41%
Potassium 680mg19%
Carbohydrates 37g12%
Fiber 5g21%
Sugar 7g8%
Protein 34g68%
Vitamin A 1925IU39%
Vitamin C 41.1mg50%
Calcium 344mg34%
Iron 3.9mg22%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Easy Tamale Pie on 100 Days of Real Food

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28 thoughts on “Easy Tamale Pie”

  1. 5 stars
    Pre-teen sons love this. “Like a Mexican pot pie”. We will be revisiting this on a regular basis. Would be really easy to increase the recipe for a lasagna pan to “feed the team” or just my boys as they consume vulumes of food as teenagers in a couple years.

  2. Sarah Schiller

    5 stars
    This was an easy dish that my 13 year old daughter made tonight. We used ground turkey instead of beef and then garnished the dish with sour cream, salsa and crushed blue corn chips. We’ll put this into our rotation (and I”ll teach my other 2 kids to make it too!)

  3. it sounds soo yummy and easy–my two fave things! i will definitely be making it this summer.

    btw, there is no word “tamale” in spanish. it’s tamal for singular, and tamales for plural. it’s a mistake made super often, but i just thought you should know. (I teach spanish:)).

      1. I am sort of new to the cast iron skillet usage. Is it okay to put something acidic, like the canned tomatoes, in the cast iron and bake in it? I remember reading something in the information that came with my skillet, that acidic foods may harm the skillet. This recipe sounds so good!

      2. Hi Laurie, it’s best to not cook acidic food in a brand new cast iron skillet. You want to make sure your skillet is well seasoned before doing so. – Nicole

  4. Julie guerrini

    5 stars
    This was a very easy recipe to follow and I’m happy to say that it turned out and was delicious! I’ll definitely add some sour cream and avocados next time.
    I’m looking forward to trying more of your recipes.

  5. Hello Lisa

    I like reading your blog, I think that is more interesting than others because you write anything that we need for cook your recipes so I´ll follow you.

  6. 4 stars
    I made this for dinner the other night, but had to make plenty of substitutions… I had no hamburger, but had shredded chicken. I had no corn, but had black beans. I had no cornmeal, but had masa harina. We also did not top with cheese.

    So, while I didn’t follow the recipe exactly, it still turned out delicious and satisfied my craving for tamales!

    The only note I have would be to use additional tamale topping (maybe another half recipe?)… but this could’ve been due to using masa or the size of the pan that I used.

  7. How spicy does the pie turn out with the recommended ingredients? My kids are little, so I usually opt for less spice than what recipes call for. Thanks!

    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      Hi. You can always lighten-up on the cayenne and/or omit the jalapeno pepper.

  8. Anne DeVaughn

    Trying to stay away from meat..do you think this would work well with black bean substituted for meat? One 150z can? Thanks.

  9. I’ve tried something like this before, but with the cornbread on the bottom. (Cooked it first, then added the meat and cheese and cooked again until the cheese melted). I’ll have to try it this way! My husband likes pork tamales, so I would use shredded pork.

  10. 5 stars
    It’s A Unicorn!

    I am a pretty good cook, but with two teenage boys and the husband it’s hard to find a meal that everyone agrees is great and takes little time- The boys in the family have name these meals “Unicorns” – At the last minute saw your post and already had a ground beef browned and in the fridge so it worked perfectly – Everyone agreed this is a “Unicorn” and asked me to add it to the rotation. – may add black beans next time in addition to the beef

  11. I like to double recipes and freeze one for later…how would you recommend doing that for this recipe? Thank you!

  12. I was looking last minute for a quick and simple dinner, saw this on IG, and it totally fit the bill! I used roasted peppers from a jar in place of the fresh, and they worked beautifully. Every single person in my large family likes this dish! We have had it twice in two weeks. It’s going in the rotation, for sure. It’s a keeper! Thanks for such a tasty dish.

  13. I’m so sorry the above comment was autocorrect, do you think Masa flour will work the same in this recipe ?

  14. 5 stars
    We made this the day it posted. Now, we actually make tamales at Christmas every year, but they can be bland, and they take forever! This was easy and super tasty. I will be making this on a regular basis. Thank you for posting recipes that consistently work beautifully.

  15. 5 stars
    Made this tonight for dinner. Definitely adding it to our rotation! Yum! Made it exactly as instructed except I drained the meat (we used 80/20) and the topping mixture thickened up a lot but didn’t come to a boil. So I just poured it over the top and went with it. Topped it with the cilantro, sour cream, and avocado. It was so good! Thanks for this great recipe!

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