Tamale Pie With Cornbread Crust

Tamale Pie With Ground Beef
Diana Rattray
Prep: 25 mins
Cook: 90 mins
Total: 115 mins
Servings: 6 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
492 Calories
22g Fat
46g Carbs
33g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 492
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 22g 28%
Saturated Fat 9g 45%
Cholesterol 91mg 30%
Sodium 1238mg 54%
Total Carbohydrate 46g 17%
Dietary Fiber 8g 30%
Total Sugars 14g
Protein 33g
Vitamin C 43mg 214%
Calcium 240mg 18%
Iron 6mg 32%
Potassium 1157mg 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.)

Unlike Mexican tamales, which are made with masa cornmeal flour, the tamale pie is a Southwestern dish made with a cornmeal mush crust and a tamale-like meat filling. The dish purportedly originated in Texas, and according to John Mariani in "The Dictionary of American Food and Drink," the first mention of the dish in print dates back to 1911.

This version is made with ground beef, but other chopped or ground meat may be used. Tomatoes, ripe olives, and corn are some of the typical vegetables. Add black beans or turn up the heat with some hot chile peppers if you'd like. Serve this great-tasting cornbread-crusted tamale pie with a fresh tossed salad, along with sour cream or guacamole for garnish.


For the Filling:

  • 1 pound lean ground beef

  • 1 cup chopped onion

  • 1 large green bell pepper, chopped

  • 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce

  • 1 (28-ounce) can tomatoes, cut up

  • 1 (16-ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained

  • 1 (4-ounce) can sliced ripe olives

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 tablespoon sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 2 teaspoons chili powder

  • 1 dash freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

For the Crust:

  • 3/4 cup yellow cornmeal

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 2 cups cold water

  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

  • 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese, optional

Steps to Make It

Make the Filling

  1. In a large skillet, brown ground beef with onions and green pepper. Drain well in a colander placed over a bowl to collect the fat. Discard the fat and return the beef, onions and green peppers to the skillet.

  2. Add tomato sauce, undrained tomatoes, drained corn, olives, garlic, sugar, salt, chili powder, and black pepper.

  3. Mix well and heat to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes or until thickened.

  4. Add cheese and stir until cheese is melted. Remove from heat and set filling aside.

Make the Crust

  1. In a saucepan, combine cornmeal, salt, water, and chili powder. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thick.

  2. Stir in butter or margarine.

Assemble the Dish

  1. Heat oven to 375 F.

  2. Spread half of the cornmeal mixture into a baking dish, measuring about 12 x 8 inches.

  3. Spoon the ground filling over bottom crust and then spoon remaining cornmeal mixture over filling.

  4. Bake for 45 minutes.

  5. If desired, sprinkle 1/2 cup cheese over the crust about 5 minutes before casserole is done.

  6. Serve the casserole with sour cream, guacamole, salsa or other garnishes.


  • This is always a hit and it is a great one-dish meal to serve when you have guests. It's also an excellent dish to take along to a potluck supper.

Recipe Variations

  • Use a Mexican cheese blend rather than straight cheddar.
  • Add about 1/2 pound of fresh Mexican chorizo to the ground beef for a spicier dish. 
  • Add a finely minced jalapeño pepper along with the green bell peppers.
  • A can of drained and rinsed black beans may be added with the corn.

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