Chicken Tamale Pie

Chicken Tamale Pie

 The Spruce / Anita Schecter

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 25 mins
Total: 45 mins
Servings: 8 servings

Tamales are a Mexican dish made of starchy, corn-based dough that is cooked by steaming inside a corn husk. The filling includes meats, vegetables or even cheese and they are a great portable food.

The tamale pie, however, is a decidedly American variation on the idea. It's typically a casserole-style dish consisting of seasoned ground beef, salsa, sauce, cheese, and a cornbread crust. Common shortcuts for this easy dish include ready-made cornbread mix.

As tasty as a beef tamale pie is, shredded chicken is equally delicious in this dish. Nutritious beans add flavor and make it even heartier. And, of course, don't skimp on the cheese. You can use a cornbread mix but this homemade recipe is super-simple and delicious.


  • For the Chicken Filling:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion (peeled and diced)
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • 1 1/2 cups prepared salsa or enchilada sauce
  • 1 can (approximately 15 oz.) red or black beans (rinsed and drained)
  • 1 teaspoon taco seasoning
  • For the Cornbread Topping:
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter (at room temperature)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup corn kernels (canned, fresh, or frozen)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Steps to Make It

Chicken Tamale Pie
The Spruce / Anita Schecter
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F.

  2. Add the olive oil and diced onion to a large (12") skillet or cast iron pan. Cook on medium heat, stirring often, for a few minutes until the onions are translucent.

  3. Stir in the shredded chicken (store-bought rotisserie chicken works fine in this recipe) along with your favorite salsa or enchilada sauce. Stir in the red or black beans and the taco seasoning. Remove from the heat.

  4. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and softened butter. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cornmeal, salt, and baking powder.

    Alternately stir half of the milk and half of the dry mixture into the egg mixture until fully incorporated. Fold in the corn kernels, shredded cheddar cheese, and chopped cilantro.

  5. Pour the batter over the chicken mixture in the skillet and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the top of the cornbread is lightly golden brown. Serve with sour cream and sliced avocados.

Recipe Tips

  • Boxed corn muffin/corn bread mix will work fine in this recipe. Follow package directions and add the corn kernels, shredded cheddar cheese and cilantro.
  • If you do not like cilantro, parsley will work just as well in this recipe (or simply omit).
  • Pre-packaged shredded cheese contains cornstarch to keep the cheese from clumping. It will work fine in this recipe but shredding your own cheese on a box grater will taste better.