This Easy Tamale Pie Recipe is a classic dish that is essentially beef chili with a buttery, homemade cornbread casserole topping. This old school dish is definitely a family favorite.
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FOR THE FULL LIST OF INGREDIENTS AND COMPREHENSIVE INSTRUCTIONS, PLEASE SEE THE RECIPE CARD AT THE END OF THIS POST. BEFORE YOU SCROLL, THERE’S IMPORTANT INFORMATION IN THIS BLOG POST.
Growing up, my mom made this dish using a recipe from an old Betty Crocker cookbook. I loved that it included a cornbread topping and was topped with the best I have ever tasted!
Where Did Tamale Pie Originate?
Tamale pie was invented sometime in the early 1900s in the United States, and circa the mid 1910s the dish was included in the curriculums of some home economics classes in U.S. high schools. The dish may have originated in the U.S. state of Texas. You can read more about the origin here.
For the cornbread you will need:
For the filling you will need:
- Ground beef or whatever meat you choose for the recipe
- Chili Powder
- Ground Oregano
- Diced Tomatoes and Chilis
How to Make Tamale Pie
- Make your cornbread batter. Combine the dry ingredients (except for the cheese) in a bowl and then at the wet ingredients. Stir.
- Fold in the cheese, stir, and set aside.
- Heat a cast iron skillet on medium-high heat with olive oil. When hot add onions and peppers. Saute.
- Add the ground beef and seasonings. Break down the ground beef and cook until it’s no longer pink.
- Add the diced tomatoes and corn. Spread the mixture evenly throughout the pan.
- Top with the cornbread batter.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes.
Self-Rising Cornmeal Mix
Self-rising cornmeal is used in this recipe because it is already mixed with self-rising all-purpose flour (which produces AMAZING cornbread). I recommend you purchase your own, it’s available here on Amazon.
You can make your own by combining 2 cups of cornmeal, 6 tablespoons of all-purpose flour, 3 teaspoons of baking powder, and 1 teaspoon of salt. You can read more about How to Make Self Rising Cornmeal here.
The difference between authentic tamales and tamale pie is that tamales use masa harina while tamale pie usually uses a sweet cornbread topping. The Americanized version of tamale pie is baked in the oven while traditional tamales are wrapped in corn husks and steamed.
Can You Use Jiffy Cornbread
Yes, you can use whatever cornbread you want.
What to Serve and Pair With the Dish
How Many Carbs?
If you make the recipe using traditional cornbread, it has 24 net carbs.
If you make the low carb version, it will have 9-10 net carbs including the corn.
Can You Freeze the Pie?
Yes, you can freeze the pie, but don’t bake the cornbread. The cornbread will get soggy if you freeze it. Freeze the dish with the wet batter on top. Bake it from frozen for double the bake time in the recipe, 60-70 minutes.
Easy Tamale Pie Recipe
Standard Cornbread Ingredients
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter 1 stick melted
- 2 cups self-rising cornmeal mix
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup sweetener or sugar Omit if you don’t like sweetened cornbread. Use more or less to taste.
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
- 1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Low-Carb Gluten-Free Cornbread Ingredients
- 1 1/2 cups almond flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 cup sweetener or sugar Omit if you don't like sweetened cornbread. Use more or less to taste.
- 4 eggs
- 4 tablespoons melted butter measured solid
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1/2 cup chopped green pepper
- 1/2 cup chopped red pepper
- 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon red cayenne pepper optional for spicy
- 1 cup frozen corn
- 15 oz diced tomatoes and green chilies Do not drain.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Standard Cornbread Instructions
- Add the cornmeal, salt, and sweetener to a mixing bowl. Stir to combine.
- Next add in the eggs, butter, and buttermilk. Stir to combine.
- Be sure not to over mix the batter. Over-mixing will lead to large cracks in the crust and a lot of crumble. Only mix well enough to combine the ingredients.
- Fold in the cheddar cheese and stir.
Low-Carb Gluten-Free Cornbread Instructions
- Combine the almond flour, sweetener, and baking powder in a large mixing bowl.
- Combine the melted butter and eggs in a smaller separate bowl. Beat the eggs and mix well.
- Add the butter and egg mixture to the dry ingredients and stir.
- Fold in the cheddar cheese and stir.
- When hot, add the onions, red peppers, and green peppers. Cook for 3-4 minutes until soft and the onions are fragrant.
- Add the ground beef and all of the seasonings. Break down the ground beef with a meat chopper. Cook for 4-5 minutes until the beef is fully cooked. Drain any excess fat from the beef if necessary.
- Add in the diced tomatoes and chilies and frozen corn. Stir and cook for 2-3 minutes until combined. Ensure the filling is equally spread throughout the pan.
- Remove the pan from heat and spread the cornbread topping on top. Use a silicone spoon to spread the cornbread evenly throughout.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes. Test if the cornbread is finished by inserting a toothpick, ensure it returns clean.
- You can make your own self-rising cornbread by combining 2 cups of cornmeal, 6 tablespoons of all-purpose flour, 3 teaspoons of baking powder, and 1 teaspoon of salt.
- You can use Jiffy cornbread mix or whatever you wish.
- If you want a really cheesy cornbread topping, feel free to add more cheese.
- The use of sugar or sweetener is OPTIONAL in this recipe. Using 1/2 cup will produce cornbread with a hint of sweetness. If you like really sweet cornbread, consider adding a cup of sugar or sweetener.
- You can substitute/make your own buttermilk if you wish by combining milk and vinegar (or lemon). Get instructions on How to Make a Buttermilk Substitute here.