Chicken Tamale Pie

Chicken Tamale Pie

The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 40 mins
Total: 60 mins
Servings: 8 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
562 Calories
28g Fat
53g Carbs
27g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 562
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 28g 35%
Saturated Fat 13g 67%
Cholesterol 132mg 44%
Sodium 1067mg 46%
Total Carbohydrate 53g 19%
Dietary Fiber 8g 28%
Total Sugars 7g
Protein 27g
Vitamin C 2mg 12%
Calcium 390mg 30%
Iron 4mg 22%
Potassium 596mg 13%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

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.

"This was delicious and made an excellent meal. My family loved the cornbread topping. I used a jar of salsa for the filling, and it was delicious. It made a satisfying meal. Definitely a keeper." —Diana Rattray

Chicken Tamale Pie Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


For the Chicken Filling:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 medium onion, diced

  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken

  • 1 1/2 cups prepared tomato salsa or enchilada sauce

  • 15 ounces red or black beans, rinsed and drained

  • 1 teaspoon taco seasoning

For the Cornbread Topping:

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1 tablespoon sugar

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

  • 1 cup milk

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 1/4 cups cornmeal

  • 1 teaspoon kosher 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

  • Sliced avocado, for serving, optional

  • Sour cream, for serving, optional

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Chicken Tamale Pie ingredients

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  2. Preheat oven to 400 F. Add olive oil and diced onion to a large skillet or cast iron pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, for a few minutes until onions are translucent.

    onions cooking in a skillet

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  3. Stir in shredded chicken along with favorite salsa or enchilada sauce.

    shredded chicken with salsa in a pan

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  4. Stir in red or black beans and taco seasoning. Remove from heat.

    black beans and taco seasoning added to the shredded chicken mixture in the pan

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  5. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, and softened butter.

    whisk together eggs, sugar, and softened butter in a bowl

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  6. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cornmeal, salt, and baking powder.

    sift together the flour, cornmeal, salt, and baking powder in a bowl

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  7. Alternately stir half of the milk and half of the dry mixture into egg mixture until fully incorporated.

    egg mixture and dry mixture combined in a bowl

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  8. Fold in corn, cheese, and chopped cilantro.

    Fold in corn, cheese, and chopped cilantro into the batter in the bowl

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  9. Spoon batter over chicken mixture in skillet and bake for 25 to 35 minutes or until the top of the cornbread is lightly golden brown.

    tamale mixture on top of the chicken mixture in a pan

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  10. Serve with sour cream and sliced avocados, if desired.

    Chicken Tamale Pie in a pan

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck


  • 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.

Recipe Variations

  • Add spiciness to the tamale pie filling with a minced chipotle or jalapeño pepper or add a dash of cayenne or crushed red pepper flakes.
  • Swap the black beans for kidney beans or pinto beans.
  • Sneak a carrot into the filling. Shred the carrot finely and sauté it along with the onion.
  • Swap out part or all of the cheddar cheese with a Mexican blend of cheeses or pepper jack.
  • Make the tamale pie with shredded leftover turkey instead of chicken.
  • Feel free to double the amount of shredded chicken for a heartier tamale pie. Just add more salsa/enchilada sauce and taco seasoning.

How to Store and Reheat

  • Refrigerate chicken tamale pie in an airtight container within 2 hours of baking and eat within 4 days.
  • To reheat, cover the pan and bake in a preheated 325 F oven for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until hot. The USDA recommends a minimum safe temperature of 165 F for leftovers.