The Best Tamale Pie

The Best Tamale Pie

Sometimes all we need is good ole comfort food like Tamale Pie. I often made tamale pie for my girls when they were little. It was a sure method for getting everyone to the table. 

I loved hearing my girls squeals of happiness when they came into the kitchen and I announced we were having tamale pie for dinner.  My tamale pie is filled with tender ground beef, savory aromatics, fresh corn, black beans and loads of flavorful spices. Then it’s topped with a corn and cheddar laced cornbread that is slightly sweet. I serve it with sour cream, sliced avocados and a tossed green salad for good measure.

So, I have to admit, I kind of liked tamale pie night myself. It’s such a great way to use ground beef and the cornbread topping makes it feel a bit playful. Back in the day when I was making this dish often, it was a delicious way to serve a gluten-free meal for my gluten sensitive daughter. I also had a freezer full of grass-fed ground beef and needed inventive ways to prepare it.

The Best Tamale Pie

Today, my girls still love this Tamale Pie. They continue to crack me up as they are mostly grown up now and yet, still little kids at heart. They both love ground beef recipes, especially when it’s Tamale Pie.

I made this last week and both my daughters were completely delighted. Then the oldest daughter decided to take home the leftovers – for her lunch the next day. Much to the disappointment of my youngest daughter who I found rummaging through the refrigerator looking for it. 🙂 I guess I’ll be making another batch next week.

This is an easy recipe to pull together and pop in the oven. It just screams happiness and everything that makes dinner delicious. 

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love!



The Best Tamale Pie

Rate this recipe

11 ratings

Author: Karista Bennett

Serving Size: 4-6


    For the cornbread topping
  • 1 1/2 cups Masa Harina (Masa Harina is much like a corn flour and not like corn meal. If you are using corn meal see the note below)
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups water (begin with 1 cup water and then add more water as needed)
  • 1 cup shredded cheese
  • 1/2 cup corn (either fresh or frozen)
    For the filling
  • 1 tablespoon ghee, extra virgin olive oil or flavorless coconut oil
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
  • 1 10.75 ounce can of tomato puree
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 cup of corn, fresh or frozen
  • 1 handful of fresh cilantro, lightly chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Squeeze of lime juice


    Prepare the cornbread topping
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375F.
  2. Whisk together the masa marina, melted butter, sugar, salt, baking powder and water. When the consistency feels good, like a cornbread batter, fold in the cheddar cheese and the corn. Set aside.
    Prepare the filling
  1. Heat a skillet over medium heat and add a little oil to the pan. When the oil is hot add the onions and saute just until wilted. Then stir in the ground beef. When the ground beef is almost cooked through, add the garlic, cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika, coriander and red pepper flakes. Cook for one minute longer and then take the skillet off the heat.
  2. Gently stir in the tomato puree, the corn, black beans and fresh cilantro. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Pour the filling into an 8×8 square baking dish or an 8×10 rectangular baking pan. You can use a large baking pan but you may need to use 1 1/2lbs of ground beef if using a larger pan. You will have plenty of cornbread topping for the larger pan.
  4. Once you’ve add the filling to the bottom of the baking pan, spread the cornbread filling over the top. Place it in the pre-heated oven and bake for about 25-30 minutes or until the cornbread is done and the sides are bubbly.
  5. When the tamale pie is done, take it out of the oven and let it sit for at least 10-15 minutes before serving. Serve with sliced avocado, sour cream, extra cheese, diced tomatoes, salsa and anything else you think would be delicious.


If using Masa Harina, begin with 1 1/2 cups masa to 1 cup water. Once all the ingredients for the tamale cornbread mixture are combined, add additional water to create a muffin like batter. Not too thin or it won’t firm up.
If you cannot find Masa Harina and you use finely ground corn meal, begin with 1 1/2 cups corn meal and 3/4-1 cup water. Add additional water as needed to achieve a muffin like batter.

Recipe Management Powered by Zip Recipes Plugin

Leave a Comment