Tamale Pie With Cheese Cornmeal Topping

Tamale pie

The Spruce

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 40 mins
Total: 60 mins
Servings: 6 to 8 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
541 Calories
32g Fat
26g Carbs
38g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 to 8
Amount per serving
Calories 541
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 32g 41%
Saturated Fat 13g 66%
Cholesterol 171mg 57%
Sodium 1501mg 65%
Total Carbohydrate 26g 10%
Dietary Fiber 4g 15%
Protein 38g
Calcium 320mg 25%
*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.)

This spicy tamale pie is a classic combination of seasoned ground beef, tomatoes, and corn with a cheesy cornmeal topping. The casserole is seasoned with onion, bell pepper, garlic, chili powder, and ripe olives.

Not only is this an easy preparation, but it's also super easy on the budget.

The casserole is big enough for six hearty servings. Add a tossed side salad, refried beans or beans for a satisfying dinner or serve it with easy Mexican rice.


  • 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion (chopped)
  • 1 to 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1/2 cup green bell pepper (chopped)
  • 2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 (11 to 15-ounce) can whole kernel corn (drained)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sliced ripe olives
  • Topping:
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 eggs (lightly beaten)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Preheat the oven to 375 F.

  3. Grease a 2 1/2-quart or 9-by-13-by-2-inch baking dish.

    Greased casserole dish.
     The Spruce
  4. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the ground beef and cook, stirring, until the beef is no longer pink.

    Ground meat for tamales.
     The Spruce
  5. Add the chopped onion, garlic, and bell pepper; cook for 2 minutes, or until just tender.

    Cooking tamale filling.
     The Spruce
  6. Pour off excess fat.

    Drained grease.
     The Spruce
  7. Stir the tomatoes, corn, and seasonings into the ground beef mixture and simmer for about 5 minutes longer.

    Tamale Filling
     The Spruce
  8. Mix 1/2 cup cornmeal with 1 cup water. Stir into the ground beef mixture in the skillet. Cover and cook over low heat for about 10 minutes.

    Adding cornmeal to tamale mixture.
     The Spruce
  9. Add the sliced olives to the beef mixture and stir to blend thoroughly.

    Olives and beef tamale mixture.
    The Spruce 
  10. Pour the beef mixture into the prepared baking dish. Set aside while you make the topping.

    Tamale beef mixture.
     The Spruce
  11. In a medium saucepan, heat 1 1/2 cups milk with 1 teaspoon salt and the butter. When the milk is hot, but not boiling, gradually stir in the 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal. Continue cooking until thickened, stirring constantly.

    Heating cornbread mixture.
     The Spruce
  12. Remove from heat and stir, then add the cheese and beaten eggs. Stir to blend.

    Cheesy cornmeal mixture.
     The Spruce
  13. Pour the topping around the edge of casserole.

    Cornmeal topping on tamale casserole.
     The Spruce
  14. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes.

    Tamale pie with cheesy polenta crust.
     The Spruce
  15. Serve and enjoy!


  • Use Mexican or fiesta-style corn with peppers in place of the whole kernel corn.
  • Instead of plain diced tomatoes, use zesty chili-style, stewed tomatoes or fire-roasted.
  • Make your own homemade chili powder seasoning blend. Combine 1 teaspoon each of garlic powder and ground cumin and 1/2 teaspoon each of cayenne pepper, dried leaf oregano, and paprika.