Tamale Pie

Published January 22, 2013. Updated January 3, 2019

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tamale pie

If you are a tamale lover and a chili lover then this is a recipe you won’t want to miss out on. I myself completely love the both of them, so when I discovered they could be combined into one I was thrilled. The traditional tamale pie contains corn meal or a cornbread mix but a traditional tamale dough is made from masa or masa harina (which is a type of corn flour that is often treated with lime juice and has a finer grind than cornmeal). I love the flavor and texture of a tamale dough once it has been cooked. I still dream about the batch of tamales that the sweet mexican women made for me when I was traveling in Mexico several years ago.

The typical tamale pie usually either consists of ground beef or beans (such as black and pinto). I decided to combine the both of them because when I had it before will all meat, it actually seemed like too much meat, kind of like a chili without beans. One more difference that is not so typical is that I baked the tamale dough on bottom, so it’s more of a crust than a topping like most.

This tamale pie is full of exciting Southwestern flavors and it’s truly delicious. One great thing about this meal is it’s convenience. It is just that, a meal all in one and it contains ingredients that I nearly always have on hand. It may look like a lot of ingredients but a lot of it is spices that you likely have in your cupboard. This family friendly meal is a breeze to put together and may just become a new favorite. If your a fan, don’t forget to top it with hot sauce. I can’t go without the stuff. Enjoy!

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5 from 2 votes

Tamale Pie

A Mexican inspired casserole layered with tamale masa, beef, beans, corn, and enchilada style sauce and cheese. Total comfort food!
Servings: 8
Prep20 minutes
Cook30 minutes
Ready in: 50 minutes


Tamale Crust


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat olive oil in a deep 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Once oil is hot, crumble beef into oil and cook, stirring occasionally and breaking up beef while stirring, until beef has browned and cooked through. Drain fat from beef, reserving 1 Tbsp of fat in saucepan and transfer drained beef to a bowl, set aside.
  • Return saucepan with fat to heat, add in onion and saute until tender and lightly golden, about 4 minutes, adding in minced garlic during the last 1 minute of sauteing.
  • Reduce heat to medium, stir in tomato puree, cooked ground beef, pinto beans, corn, green chilies, chili powder, paprika, cumin, coriander and season mixture with salt and pepper to taste. Allow mixture to simmer while preparing tamale crust.
  • In a mixing bowl, whisk together masa harina, baking powder and salt. Using your fingertips, blend butter into masa harina until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  • Using a spoon, stir in hot water. Divide masa harina mixture among eight 12 - 14 oz ramekins and smooth into an even layer in ramekins (about 1/3 cup in each).
  • Divide ground beef mixture over tamale layer (about a heaping 1/2 cup in each) then sprinkle cheese over tops. Set filled ramekins on a rimmed cookie sheet.
  • Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Serve garnished with chopped green onions or cilantro and a dollop of sour cream.
Nutrition Facts
Tamale Pie
Amount Per Serving
Calories 562 Calories from Fat 261
% Daily Value*
Fat 29g45%
Saturated Fat 14g88%
Cholesterol 98mg33%
Sodium 582mg25%
Potassium 1207mg34%
Carbohydrates 51g17%
Fiber 8g33%
Sugar 9g10%
Protein 29g58%
Vitamin A 1894IU38%
Vitamin C 17mg21%
Calcium 249mg25%
Iron 8mg44%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition values are estimates only. See full disclaimer here.

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  • Tanya Campbell

    Looking forward to trying your recipe!

    Just FYI, corn flour is treated with limewater, not lime juice. I see on various websites people have confusion about this:

    Masa harina is a very soft flour made from finely ground hominy or dried corn kernels that have been cooked and soaked in limewater (a diluted solution of calcium hydroxide — not to be confused with water flavored with lime juice).

    • Cristi

      Making this tonight. However, I have tried dozens of recipes from this website and all have been absolutely delicious!

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      I haven’t tried so I can’t say for sure, but I imagine it would freeze okay.

  • Don

    Masa is not treated with lime juice, it’s treated with slaked lime (as in lime, the mineral). This is what gives masa, and tortillas and tamales their distinctive flavour and fragrance – and greatly increased nutritional value. The process involves drying corn then soaking it in water with lime dissolved in it then grinding it into a paste (masa). If you dry the paste then grind it into a flour, you have masa harina (masa flour). The process is called nixtamalization, which is where the word tamale is derived from.

    • Kevin Roberts

      Thanks Don, I have recently started small scale private “chef-ing” and I like to drop a little food trivia on my clients to get them involved and interested in what they’re already enjoying. Like “linguine” meaning little tongues, etc. NixTAMALIzation…cool! Learn something new every time I turn around, seems…

  • Colleen

    Do you have to use individual ramekins or can you just do one big casserole-style 9×13 pan (or another size pan, not sure what would be appropriate)?

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      Colleen ~ that’s funny you ask because my mom just texted me and asked the same question =). I think a 13×9 inch pan would work great. I hope you enjoy it as my as my family does!

  • Allie {Urban Feast}

    Looks delicious! Might try them with turkey mince to make it a bit healthier, hope they’re still good.

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      I think that would also be delicious, and yes healthier =). Hope you enjoy!

  • Alexandra

    Like you, I LOVE tamales and chili, so when I saw this recipe I had to see what it was all about! With that combination of meat, beans, spices, and cheese, PLUS the tamale crust, I feel like I would be in heaven eating this. :)