Easy Tamale Pie

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Your family will fall in love with this simple dinner recipe. Easy beef tamale pie is a Mexican-inspired casserole recipe with ground beef, beans, and veggies with a cheesy cornbread baked on top. 

Cinco de Mayo is right around the corner and today we’re sharing an old fashioned classic…an easy tamale pie with ground beef. You already know how much we love pairing beef with Mexican spices and flavors…everything from  meatloaf and soup, to a delicious steak dinner.

Easy Tamale Pie with cornbread topping

Thank you to the Ohio Beef Council for sponsoring this post. As always, all opinions are my own.

My kids don’t always like casserole recipes, but  when that recipe is a Mexican-inspired casserole? They are all in. I love how with this recipe I can sneak in lots of veggies and beans. The kids don’t mind one bit and even ask for the leftovers in their school lunches.

Can’t beat that, right?

What is tamale pie?

So what is tamale pie anyway? It’s an easy casserole based off the flavors of tamales. Tamales are a traditional Mexican food. You take a corn husk and spread some cornmeal dough on it. Then you fill it with meat, beans, veggies, corn, cheese…the possibilities are endless.

Lastly you wrap it up and steam it. They are popular with street vendors since you can use the corn husk as a plate.

So where does tamale pie fit into this? We Americans love our casseroles, so Tamale Pie takes those traditional tamale flavors and turns it into a casserole with the cornbread baked on top.

Tamale Pie is a traditional comfort food that is especially popular in the Southwestern United States.

Ground Beef Casserole

This casserole is packed with 2 pounds of ground beef. Just a 3 ounce serving of beef at your Cinco de Mayo Fiesta serves up 25 grams of protein and 10 essential nutrients. Beef is also a great source of iron. You’d have to eat 8 ounces of chicken or ground turkey to get the same amount of iron that 3 ounces of beef has.

In this casserole we used lean ground beef. New research shows that adding lean ground beef to your diet can lower cholesterol and reduce heart disease risk.

How to Make Tamale Pie with Cornbread

There are three simple steps to preparing easy tamale pie with cornbread topping:

  1. Prepare the filling. This includes browning the beef along with the peppers and onions. Drain off any excess grease. Then you’ll add in the remaining ingredients: diced tomatoes, black beans, corn and seasonings. Place the filling in a 9×13 baking pan. I also love making this in a cast iron skillet. So delicious.
  2. Make the cornbread. Mix up the cornbread mixes and add freshly shredded cheddar and monterey jack cheeses. Dollop this cornbread mix on top of the beef filling and spread it to within ½ an inch of the sides of the pan.
  3. Bake the casserole. You’ll want to plan about 40 minutes to bake this casserole.

Cornbread with Cheese

We took a shortcut with this recipe in order to keep it quick and easy and used boxed cornbread muffin mixes. To give it a pop of flavor, we mixed in cheddar and monterey jack cheeses. Cheesy cornbread is always a good idea!

If you don’t want to use box mix cornbread, make your favorite cornbread recipe. Whatever recipe you use needs to be enough cornbread to fill a 9×13 baking pan.

How to Bake Tamale Pie

This pie bakes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 40 minutes. The top should be golden brown and the cornbread should be fully cooked. It can be tricky to know when the casserole is done because of the cornbread on top, but the middle of the cornbread should feel firm and not jiggly.

uncooked tamale pie

Substitutions and Variations

One of the reasons we love this recipe is that it is so versatile! Here are a few options:

  • Add a diced jalapeno to the beef & bell pepper mixture for extra spice.
  • If you have leftover roast beef, you could use this in place of ground beef. Saute the vegetables until they are softened, then stir in the shredded roast beef. Delicious!!
  • Instead of 2 cans of diced tomatoes, use 20 ounces of salsa. This will give the bottom filling more of a tomato-sauce base. Get creative with the flavor salsa you use. You can even use enchilada sauce for a smoother filling.
  • Bake the pies in individual foil pie plates for kid-size servings that they will love! Be sure to adjust the baking time. They’ll take much less time to bake in the small pie plates.
  • Instead of taco seasoning, try chili powder.

Can you freeze tamale pie?

Yes! You can completely put this casserole together and freeze for a later date. Here’s how you do it.

  • Make the casserole but don’t bake it.
  • Freeze it uncovered for about 1 hour. This will firm up the cornbread topping so it doesn’t stick to the wrapping.
  • Wrap the casserole with plastic wrap twice, then wrap again with foil.
  • Remove the casserole from the freezer about an hour before you want to bake it to thaw.(Or you can let it defrost slightly in the refrigerator overnight.)
  • Bake the casserole, uncovered, for about 60-70 minutes. The filling should be bubbly and the cornbread should be baked through. If the top starts to get too brown, cover very loosely with foil and finish baking.
Easy Tamale Pie in bowl with spoon

What goes with tamale pie?

Easy tamale pie is really a one-dish meal complete with beef, veggies and cornbread. If you’re serving this for your family or guests and want a few more dishes, try tortilla chips and salsa, a garden salad and a fruit salad. Easy as pie.

spoon going into beef tamale pie with cornbread on top
spoon going into beef tamale pie with cornbread on top

Easy Tamale Pie

4.93 from 13 votes
Your family will fall in love with this simple dinner recipe! Easy beef tamale pie is a Mexican-inspired casserole recipe with ground beef, beans, and veggies with a cheesy cornbread baked on top. 
Servings 10
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes

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For the filling:

  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 2 cups diced poblano peppers (3 peppers)
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes and jalapenos (10 ounces each) (Rotel brand)
  • 15 oucnes black beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 tablespoon taco seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 15.25 ounces whole kernel corn (drained)
  • 1 cup shredded monterey jack cheese
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

For the cornbread:

  • 2 8.5 ounce boxes dry corn muffin mix
  • 2 large eggs
  • cup 2% milk
  • 1 cup shredded monterey jack cheese
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese



Make the filling:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Spray a 9×13 baking pan with nonstick cooking spray or grease with butter.
  • Place the ground beef in a skillet over medium high heat.
  • Add the peppers and onion. Stir and crumble to brown the meat.
  • Drain off any fat.
  • Add the garlic, tomatoes, black beans, taco seasoning and salt. Mix well and heat through.
  • Spread the corn in the bottom of the prepared pan.
  • Spread the beef mixture overtop the corn.
  • Sprinkle 1 cup each of cheddar and monterey jack cheeses overtop the beef.

Make the cornbread:

  • In a large bowl, combine the dry muffin mix, eggs and milk. Mix well.
  • Fold in the other cup each of cheddar and monterey jack cheeses.
  • Dollop the cornbread mix on top of the casserole.
  • Spread the cornbread batter over the top, keeping within ½” of the edge of the glass pan.
  • Bake the casserole for 40 minutes.
  • Serve with fresh cilantro, sour cream and pico de gallo if desired.
  • Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator.



Refer to the article above for more tips and tricks.
The calories shown are based on the recipe serving 10, with 1 serving being 1/10 of the casserole. Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the calories shown are just an estimate. **We are not dietitians and recommend you seek a nutritionist for exact nutritional information. The information in the nutrition box are calculated through a program and there is room for error. If you need an accurate count, I recommend running the ingredients through your favorite nutrition calculator.**


Calories: 533kcal | Carbohydrates: 33g | Protein: 35g | Fat: 29g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 141mg | Sodium: 956mg | Potassium: 630mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 724IU | Vitamin C: 31mg | Calcium: 405mg | Iron: 4mg
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Calories 533
Keyword cornbread casserole, easy casserole recipe, ground beef casserole

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About JulieJulie Clark

About Julie Clark

I'm Julie Clark, CEO and recipe developer of Tastes of Lizzy T. With my B.A. in Education and over 30 years of cooking and baking, I want to teach YOU the best of our family recipes.

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3 years ago

5 stars
This was sooo good ! Thanks for the recipe!