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A square photo of tamale pie on a brown plate topped with sour cream.

Tamale Pie

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Sweet cornbread tops a cheesy, spiced ground beef mixture in this comforting and filling tamale pie recipe.
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Mexican
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 30 mins
Servings 8 servings
Calories 547
Author Michelle


For the Filling:

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion finely chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper finely chopped
  • 2 jalapeño peppers seeded and minced
  • pounds ground beef
  • cups corn kernels fresh or frozen
  • 14.5 ounces canned diced tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 4 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ cup sliced black olives optional*
  • 4 ounces Monterey Jack cheese shredded (about 1 cup shredded)

For the Cornbread Topping:

  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • cups buttermilk
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Making the Filling: In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm the oil until hot. Add the onion, green pepper and jalapeños, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  • Reduce the heat to medium and add the ground beef to the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally to break up the meat, until browned, 5 to 10 minutes. Once the meat is browned, add the onion mixture back to the pan. Stir in the corn, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, chili powder, cumin and salt. Stir well to ensure that the spices and the tomato paste are evenly distributed. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand while preparing the cornbread topping.
  • Make the Cornbread Topping: In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, and melted butter. Add the buttermilk mixture to the dry ingredients and use a rubber spatula to gently mix it together, taking care not to overmix the cornbread batter.
  • Assemble & Bake the Pie: Stir the olives (if using) and shredded cheese into the beef mixture and pour it into a 9x13-inch baking dish, smoothing the top. Pour the cornbread batter over the filling, using a spatula to spread it into an even layer. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow the pie to rest for 15 minutes before serving.


  • Storing: Keep your baked tamale pie in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  • Freezing baked tamale pie: If you baked the dish all the way through, allow to cool completely before storing and freezing in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and reheat in the oven.
  • Freezing unbaked pie: Follow the recipe through the assembly and instead of baking freeze uncovered for about an hour to allow the cornbread topping to freeze. Then wrap in plastic wrap and top with foil. Store in the freezer for up to 3 months.  When you are ready to bake, thaw overnight in the refrigerator and follow baking instructions.
Nutritional values are based on one serving


Calories: 547kcal | Carbohydrates: 51g | Protein: 30g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 131mg | Sodium: 1381mg | Potassium: 936mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 1375IU | Vitamin C: 23.7mg | Calcium: 269mg | Iron: 6mg