Tamale Pie

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Craving comfort? This tamale pie is filled with seasoned meat, veggies, beans, and corn, then topped with a tender cornbread for a family-favorite casserole!

If there’s one thing my family loves it’s a bowl of chili. But frankly, sometimes we’ve got to mix things up a little, and that’s where this tamale pie comes in.

A serving of cornbread-topped beef and bean casserole on a white plate with a spoon, with the rest of the casserole visible in the background.

It’s been one of our favorites for years, ever since the kids were little. Filled with all of the same flavors that they love from chili, this tamale pie really hits the spot!

I top it with a homemade cornbread, which turns into a fluffy top crust that pairs wonderfully with the spiced filling underneath. If you love the flavors you get in a crunchy Frito pie, you’ll definitely enjoy tamale pie too.

This is one dish that we make again and again and I know your family is gonna love it too!

Ingredients for tamale pie

Full list of ingredients with quantities is located in the recipe card.

Various raw cooking ingredients neatly labeled on a kitchen countertop, ready for meal preparation.

You’ll need:

Ground beef – You’ll need 24 ounces (1 1/2 pounds) of beef for this recipe, but if you only have 1 pound on hand, no problem! This recipe will still work, it will just have slightly less filling.

Onion – I prefer to use yellow or white onion in recipes like these. You can use red (purple) onion for a sharper flavor. Do not use sweet onion.

Bell pepper – I prefer red bell peppers, but green bell pepper can be swapped in as well! Use your favorite color.

Jalapeño – Jalapeños can vary in size and spice level. Remove the seeds for less spice, or keep them in for more. You can also swap in canned diced green chiles for ease.

Garlic – I used 2 garlic cloves here, which is approximately 2 teaspoons chopped garlic.

Tomatoes – Crushed tomatoes are perfect for this dish because it adds both texture and saucy flavor. Make sure to use unflavored crushed tomatoes.

Corn – Fresh, frozen, or canned corn will work here. If using canned corn make sure to drain it completely. 

Black beans – Drain and rinse the black beans well.

Spices – I use ground ancho chile powder, cumin, and ground coriander, along with salt and pepper. You can use your favorite chili blend or taco seasoning if you prefer. Salt is also added to the cornbread.

Cornmeal – Yellow or white cornmeal will work in this recipe. Don’t use grits or polenta, which are more coarse.

Flour – I use all-purpose flour.

Sugar – I don’t like super sweet cornbread, so just a little bit is added here to balance the flavors.

Baking powder and baking soda – To help the cornbread get nice and fluffy.

Eggs – Standard large eggs

Buttermilk – You can swap in regular milk for the buttermilk if you prefer, but I love the additional flavor the buttermilk provides!

Sour cream – To help make the cornbread more tender. You can also have extra ready for serving!

Shredded cheddar cheese – I recommend shredding the cheese yourself. The cheese will melt better, and a block of cheese is more economical in the long run!

A serving of cornbread-topped casserole on a plate, with the baking dish alongside.

How to make this recipe

First, preheat your oven to 400°F. If you’re going to use a 9×13-inch casserole dish, lightly coat it with nonstick spray and set aside. I prefer to use an oven-safe skillet. That way I can do all the cooking baking in one pan! You’ll need a 12 inch skillet — cast-iron works great for this recipe.

Heat the skillet over medium high and add the ground beef. Cook for about eight minutes, breaking up the beef as it cooks, until it’s in small pieces and no pink remains.

Add the diced onions, bell pepper, and jalapeño, and sauté for another five minutes.

Now, add the garlic and the spices and stir to mix. Cook the mixture for about 1 minute, until the spices start getting toasty and fragrant. 

Add corn, black beans, and crushed tomatoes and stir to mix well. Simmer that briefly just to get all the flavors to meld.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in about half of the shredded cheese.

Now we need to make the cornbread topping. In a bowl stir together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda until evenly mixed.

Add the eggs, buttermilk, and sour cream and stir until thoroughly mixed and no dry bits remain. Stir in the rest of the cheese.

Now take your skillet and smooth out the filling so you have an even layer. Use a spoon or spatula dollop on the cornbread batter. Carefully spread the batter to the edges of the pan.

Spreading cornbread batter over a meat and vegetable mixture in a cast-iron skillet.

Place the pan in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes. The cornbread should be golden brown in color, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry.

Cool the tamale pie for about 10 minutes before serving. This will help settle the juices and make it easier to serve.

Serve it as is or add sour cream, chop cilantro, or even some salsa!

A freshly baked cornbread in a cast-iron skillet with a kitchen towel on the side.

Recipe suggestions

If you like you can make this recipe with ground bison, chicken, or turkey instead of ground beef. You could also use a vegetarian replacement like Impossible crumbles. If swapping in another meat, note that you might need some oil in the pan to brown it due to a lower fat content.

The only meat that I don’t recommend here would be a ground Italian sausage as it already has a lot of seasoning mixed in that would compete with the flavors we’re adding to the tamale pie.

If you want the dish spicier, you can add more jalapeño, or swap in Serrano peppers or diced chipotle in adobo. I like to serve it with hot sauce on the side so those who like it hot can adjust to their liking, while keeping the overall dish friendly to mild palates. 

This recipe uses crushed tomatoes but you could also use petite diced tomatoes, making sure to add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of tomato sauce as well.

In place of the black beans you can also use red beans, kidney beans, or even a seasoned can of chili beans.

To change up the cheeses I like to use pepper jack for a little added spice. You can also double the amount of cheese or omit the cheese if you like.

Storage and reheating

Like many casseroles this tamale pie reheats very well. Let your leftovers cool to room temperature, then store covered or in an airtight container for up to three days.

To reheat you can warm the entire pan, covered with foil, in the oven at 350°F. This will take about 20 minutes or so, and is best for when you need to reheat for multiple servings.

For individual servings, scoop out the amount you need place on a plate. When I reheat tamale pie, I usually flip it over onto the plate so the cornbread is on the bottom. Reheat in the microwave, covered by a paper towel to prevent splatters, for 90 seconds to 2 minutes or until heated through.

A slice of cornbread casserole with a beef and vegetable filling on a white plate.


Frozen corn is great in this recipe. You don’t even need to thaw it before using, as it will thaw during the cooking process. I like to use Trader Joe’s fire roasted corn if I have some on hand.

Yes, if you have corn muffin mix on hand and want to save some time, you can use this in place of the homemade cornbread topping. If you’re swapping it in, follow the directions and ingredient additions on the package for mixing the batter together. Note that topping might not bake up as thick as my homemade version.

Most casseroles do freeze well after baking. Make sure that it is cooled completely before you transfer to the freezer.

If you plan to freeze it, I recommend baking in a disposable pan so that you don’t have to worry about your pan being in the freezer!

You can also make just the filling ahead of time and freeze into containers. Whenever the craving hits, just thaw out your filling, whip up the topping, assemble, and bake! 

You can easily double the filling or portion it into smaller bags to make smaller tamale pies.

This family-favorite tamale pie casserole is a guaranteed hit!

Love this recipe? Please leave a 5-star review below!
It means so much when you enjoy my recipes, so let me know how it goes and leave a comment if you have any questions.

A serving of cornbread-topped beef and bean casserole on a white plate with a spoon, with the rest of the casserole visible in the background.

Tamale Pie

Filled with favorite chili ingredients and topped with tender cornbread, this tamale pie is a family favorite!
Author : Megan Myers
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Recipe Review
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 8
Calories 580 kcal


For the Filling

  • 24 ounces ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 to 2 jalapeños, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ground chile powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 15 ounces canned black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 15 ounces crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup corn kernels
  • 4 ounces shredded cheddar cheese, divided use

For the cornbread

  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream


  • Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  • Heat a 12-inch oven-safe skillet (cast iron preferably) over medium-high. Add the ground beef and cook 8 minutes, breaking it up into small pieces. When no pink remains, add the onion, bell pepper, and jalapeño. Cook another 5 minutes.
  • Add the garlic, chile powder, cumin, coriander, and salt. Stir well to coat the meat and veggies with the spices, cooking for about 1 minute, until fragrant.
  • Stir in the beans, corn, and tomatoes, mixing well. Cook just another few minutes to meld flavors. Remove from heat and stir in half of the shredded cheese.
  • To make the cornbread, in a bowl whisk together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the buttermilk, eggs, and sour cream, stirring until evenly incorporated and no dry bits remain.
  • Smooth out the top of the filling in the pan (or transfer to casserole if needed), then dollop on the cornbread batter. Spread to the edges of the pan.
  • Bake for 20 minutes, until cornbread is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  • Let cool 10 minutes before serving.


  • If baking in a 9×13-inch casserole, lightly coat with nonstick spray before adding filling and cornbread batter.


Calories: 580 kcalCarbohydrates: 51 gProtein: 30 gFat: 29 gSaturated Fat: 12 gCholesterol: 133 mgSodium: 1156 mgPotassium: 935 mgFiber: 9 gSugar: 10 gIron: 6 mg

Nutrition information is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate based on online calculators. Any nutritional information found on Stetted should be used as a general guideline only.

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About Megan

I focus on fresh ingredients and easy methods, with spins that keep meals interesting. Dinnertime shouldn’t be stressful or complicated, and I’m here to help you enjoy the time spent in the kitchen. Read more…

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