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Easy Tamale Pie Recipe

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.

tamale pie recipe in a cast iron skillet

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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!

I make this recipe using my Homemade Southern Cornbread and/or Keto Low-Carb Cornbread recipes. Both work very well for this dish.

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:

butter, cornmeal, eggs, sweetener, buttermilk, and shredded cheese in separate bowls for homemade cornbread

For the filling you will need:

  • Ground beef or whatever meat you choose for the recipe
  • Onions
  • Peppers
  • Chili Powder
  • Cumin
  • Ground Oregano
  • Corn
  • Diced Tomatoes and Chilis
diced tomatoes, red pepper, green peppers, chopped onions, and corn in separate bowls
ground beef and chili seasoning in separate glass bowls

How to Make Tamale Pie

  1. Make your cornbread batter. Combine the dry ingredients (except for the cheese) in a bowl and then at the wet ingredients. Stir.
  2. Fold in the cheese, stir, and set aside.
  3. Heat a cast iron skillet on medium-high heat with olive oil. When hot add onions and peppers.  Saute.
  4. Add the ground beef and seasonings. Break down the ground beef and cook until it’s no longer pink.
  5. Add the diced tomatoes and corn. Spread the mixture evenly throughout the pan.
  6. Top with the cornbread batter.
  7. Bake for 30-40 minutes.
dry and wet batter for cornbread
cornbread batter with shredded cheese in a glass bowl

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.

onions, red pepper, and green peppers sauteed in a cast iron skillet with ground beef
ground beef, corn, and diced tomatoes in a cast iron skillet
cornbread batter on top of tamale pie in a cast iron skillet

Masa Ingredient

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.

tamale pie recipe in a cast iron skillet

What to Serve and Pair With the Dish

Instant Pot Collard Greens
Instant Pot Cabbage
Air Fryer Green Beans
Air Fryer Brussels Sprouts
Fried Cabbage

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.

slice of tamale pie and tamale pie in a cast iron skillet

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.

tamale pie recipe in a cast iron skillet
Print Pin
5 from 4 votes

Easy Tamale Pie Recipe

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.
Save this recipe here.
Course dinner, lunch
Cuisine American
Keyword cornbread tamale pie, tamale pie, tamale pie recipe
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 8
Calories 450kcal


Standard Cornbread Ingredients

Low-Carb Gluten-Free Cornbread Ingredients



  • 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.


  • Heat a cast iron skillet (a 10inch or 12 inch will work) on medium-high heat with the olive oil. You can use any pan coupled with a 9×13 baking dish to bake the pie if you wish.
  • 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.
Recipe Tools Used in this RecipeAs an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Nutrition (displayed with net carbs)

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 450kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 23g
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Recipe Rating

Christiane DeSalvo

Tuesday 29th of September 2020

We made the low-carb version tonight and it was an absolute hit. Easy to put together, common ingredients that you traditionally have on hand and a great meal overall. Easy to choose substitutions if you like as well!

Big thank you to Miss Brandi for creating this & different versions of for all kinds of eaters!


Thursday 1st of October 2020

I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it!


Sunday 28th of June 2020

Made the low carb version for dinner tonight and it was a hit! Plus, a great way to use a few leftover cobs of corn. :)


Monday 29th of June 2020

Yay! I'm glad it was a hit!


Tuesday 16th of June 2020

The cornbread topping on this is so good!! This recipe has already become a quick family favorite and will definitely start making a regular appearance on our family dinner menu.


Thursday 18th of June 2020

Yay! So good to hear!


Wednesday 10th of June 2020

This was so good! The whole family loved it and the kids wolfed it down. We’ll be making this again. Many times ? Thank you for sharing your talent with us Brandi


Thursday 11th of June 2020

You're welcome! Glad you enjoyed it!


Sunday 12th of April 2020

Yes! This recipe is the! Si so tasty, and perfect the next day for lunch!


Sunday 12th of April 2020

I'm so glad you enjoyed it! Yay.