Tamale Pie

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Tamale Pie is a juicy ground beef on top of a cornbread crust, all drenched in a bold enchilada sauce. This casserole recipe is an easy spin on tamales making it perfect for a weeknight dinner. 

This Tamale pie is bold and flavorful! Loaded with ground taco meat, and lots of melted cheese, this is a dish the entire family will love! Plus it’s easy to make ahead, instructions are below. Serve this alongside some Chilled Cucumber Tomato Salad, or some Southwest Quinoa Bean Salad, and finish the meal with a slice of classic Tres Leches Cake!

Tamale Pie in a pan.

Tamale Pie

Hey y’all! Serene back from House of Yumm. This classic casserole recipe is a family favorite! I have made so many versions of this dish, and I have a Green Chile Chicken Tamale Pie version on my site, if you want to see how you can change up the toppings. Basically we will make a cornbread crust that mimics the texture of the masa in tamales, and we can load it up with any topping of our choice! This particular recipe I’m sharing with you today has my favorite taco meat and a top layer of cheese. This also happens to be my family’s favorite version too!

How to make Tamale Pie:

  • Prepare the cornbread crust. Mix together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. These include cornmeal, all purpose flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir these with a fork to combine. 
  • Add the wet ingredients. No need to premix the wet ingredients, this can all be done in one bowl. Add the egg, sour cream and corn to the dry ingredients and mix. 
  • Pre-bake the corn bread crust. This will bake the cornbread partially. 
  • Poke and drizzle with enchilada sauce. 
  • Add toppings and bake again. This is where we will add the ground beef, cheese, and whatever other toppings you want to include with your tamale pie. 

What is Tamale Pie?

Tamale pie is basically a casserole, or pan version, of a classic tamale. It’s perfect for serving larger numbers, either a large family or to take to a potluck or gathering. The cornbread crust is poked and drenched with enchilada sauce, then topped with ground beef, or other topping of your choice. As this bakes it gives the cornbread crust a moist, tender texture that is similar to the masa that surrounds tamales. 

What goes with tamale pie?

This easy casserole recipe is perfect for family dinner. Some sides that pair well would be Pinto Beans and Mexican Rice. Some great topping ideas would be some homemade easy salsa, or guacamole. 

Tamale Pie in a dish.

Can I prep this tamale pie recipe ahead of time?

This tamale pie can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator to be baked later, or it can be frozen and kept for 2-3 months. 

  • To prepare this meal ahead of time, follow the directions for making the cornbread crust and the topping ingredients. Pre-bake the crust, then add the toppings. Cover with foil and store in the refrigerator until you are ready to bake for dinner. Before baking, set the casserole on the counter to come to room temperature for about 10-15 minutes. Then bake in the oven at 400 for 30 minutes, or until the top is melted and the sauce is bubbling. 
  • If you’re wanting to freeze this tamale pie for a later date, follow the directions above for preparing the casserole ahead of time. Except store the tamale pie in the freezer. Be sure that it is in an airtight container. If covering with foil, let it freezer for about an hour, then place the pie dish in a sealed freezer bag. This can be stored for about 2-3 months. When ready to cook, remove from the freezer and place in the refrigerator the day before, to allow it to thaw, or you can place it on the counter to come to room temperature about 1 hour before cooking. 

Scooping out a spoonful of Tamale Pie.

Tamale Pie

4 from 6 votes
Tamale Pie. Juicy ground beef on top of a cornbread crust, all drenched in a bold enchilada sauce. This casserole recipe is an easy spin on tamales making it perfect for a weeknight dinner.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Author Serene Herrera
Servings: 6


  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • ½ cup all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ½ cup corn (whole kernel or creamed corn)
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 cup enchilada sauce
  • 1 cup shredded cheese monterey jack or medium cheddar


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a baking dish (square dish or round pie pan)
  • Mix together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. These include cornmeal, all purpose flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir these with a fork to combine.
  • Add the egg, sour cream and corn to the dry ingredients and mix.
  • Pour the cornbread mixture into the prepared baking dish. 
  • Bake the corn bread for about 15 minutes, it won't be done completely, but it will bake more once we layer everything on. 
  • While the cornbread bakes, prepare the ground beef. Cook over medium heat in a skillet, once the meat is cooked through, no longer pink, drain the grease, add the seasonings and stir to combine. 
  • Poke the cornbread with a fork all over and drizzle with enchilada sauce.
  • Add the ground beef on top of the cornbread, then top with the shredded cheese.  
  • Bake again for another 30 minutes until the top is melted and bubbling. The sauce will be bubbling along the edges of the baking dish. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before serving. 


If you are looking for a shortcut, you can replace the homemade cornbread dry ingredients with one box of Cornbread mix. Add the same wet ingredients to the mix and follow the rest of the recipe. 


Serves: 6

All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods and portion sizes per household.

Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword tamale pie
Tried this recipe?Mention @alyssa_therecipecritic or tag #therecipecritic

Serene Herrera

Home cook, photographer, mother and lover of food. I love taking simple ingredients and creating delicious meals or sweet treats that the entire family will love, all with a hint of Texas charm.

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  1. 4 stars
    Ok, the meat was very tasty but the cornbread mixture was way too dry! Maybe creamed corn would help. I kept thinking something was omitted. I think that it needed milk. I didn’t worry too much as the Enchilada sauce went over the top and I thought that it was put some moisture in it. Nope. Anyway, I will work on the crust and will keep the recipe.

  2. 5 stars
    Delicious! Only changes I made was leaving out the cinnamon and used homemade enchilada sauce. I know from experience, I don’t care for cinnamon In savory dishes

  3. 5 stars
    I added milk to the cornbread and subbed Greek yogurt because that’s what I had. I also addEd black beans and canned tomatoes to ground turkey for the meat. So yummy! A family favorite now for sure!

  4. 5 stars
    I made the recipe exactly as it is written and it was perfect! Already made it again. Will be a regular on the weeknight rotation.

  5. howdy – what an interesting twist:
    here in CA, tamale pie is usu. chili topped with cornbread, which leads to the gripe of dry cornbread top with soggy cornbread beneath (soaked up the chili juices). I need to add a big handful of grated cheese to make the top moist. Personally, I always smoosh the crust into the chili juices, so this version is my dream come true.
    Re: to the other commenters – At 1st glance, it does seem like very little liquid to 1 1/2 cups dry ingredients, but with the “filling” on top, maybe that doesn’t matter.
    When the supermarkets restock (corona virus panic shopping), this is the 1st new recipe I’m going to make before it gets too hot — Bakersfield already had 80 degree weather this week. 8o
    thanks for sharing & keep well. jenna

  6. So after reading the comments, i changed things up a little bit! I used jiffy cornbread mix and did 3/4 cup each of the creamed style corn and sour cream. I baked it at 375 for 12 minutes. I then added everything else but I did this the day ahead so when it was time to bake, I left it out on the counter for about an hour then finished baking it at 375 again for 20 minutes slightly covered (spray your foil with oil!) and then uncovered another 5-10 minutes. Came out perfect and the cornbread was nice and moist.

  7. Yeah, 30 minutes was way too long – I wasn’t paying attention, and the cheese is all burnt now. 🙁

    I also had to press the cornmeal into the pan, but the resulting cornbread was still tasty.

  8. 2 stars
    I also had problems with the crust. I ended up adding 1/4 cup milk to the batter, but the crust still seemed dry to me. I baked mine at 350 degrees. The flavor of the pie is nice, but I cannot recommend this recipe. Sorry.

  9. 3 stars
    We liked the taste (but added more cheese and served with taco sauce, shredded lettuce and chopped tomatoes) but the cornbread mixture seemed to lack moisture and had to be pressed into the pie plate. Also at 400 degrees in my oven it was done in the 15 minutes. I only baked it 16 more after adding the enchilada sauce and meat and cheese so the cheese would completely melt. Is there anything missing from the ingredient list or did I miss handle it somehow?
    TIA for your help.

    Thanks for posting such a yummy article…. I mean really it looks so yummy
    I am a food lover and I am going to try this out.

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