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Easy Tamale Pie Recipe

This Easy Tamale Pie Recipe comes together quickly for any busy weeknight. Golden delicious cornbread is baked right on top of a satisfying layer of beef chili. It’s a family favorite!

Easy Tamale Pie (Skillet or Cast Iron)
This skillet Tamale Pie is comforting and delicious. Use your favorite store-bought cornbread mix for a quick meal.

Video: Watch Us Make This Recipe

Cornbread Chili Casserole

What’s tamale pie, you may ask? It’s nothing short of a weeknight dinner lifesaver. It’s a cornbread chili casserole, made extra easy with our one-skillet cooking. method.

The virtues of this recipe are plentiful:

  • Fast: It’s easy and quick, taking less than an hour from start to finish.
  • One Pan: No need to cook and transfer anything into a casserole dish; everything is done in the same large pan, cast iron, or skillet.
  • Few Ingredients: There are only 10 basic ingredients needed.
  • All in One: It’s protein, carbs, and veggies all taken care of in just one dish.

Key Ingredients

  • Aromatics: plenty of onion and garlic bring out the fragrant flavors.
  • Chili Powder: use less or more, depending on taste.
  • Beef: use 90% lean ground beef for best results.
  • Black Beans: be sure to fully rinse and drain the can of beans.
  • Diced Tomatoes: use your favorite style of canned diced tomatoes, though recommend low sodium or no sodium if you’re watching salt intake.
  • Cheese: use shredded cheddar, Monterey Jack, or Mexican blend cheese.
  • Cornbread: your favorite cornbread mix, plus any required ingredients listed on the package. You can also use our favorite Sweet Honey Cornbread recipe as well.

Step-By-Step Instructions

  1. Aromatics: In a 12 inch ovenproof skillet over medium heat, warm up the oil until hot. Add onion, chili powder, and 1/2 tsp salt and cook just until onion is soft. Stir in garlic and cook 30 more seconds.
  2. Cook: Stir in ground beef, drained beans, and drained tomatoes. Cook and break up the meat with a spatula until fully browned, about 5 min. Off heat, stir in cheese. Season with kosher salt to taste. Add more chili powder if desired. Smooth beef mixture into an even layer in the skillet.
  1. Prepare Cornbread: According to package instructions, mix the cornbread batter. Spread cornbread batter evenly on top of the beef mixture in skillet.
  2. Bake: Bake until edges are golden brown, approx. 15 minutes. Check center of cornbread for doneness. If needed, cover loosely with foil and bake another 5 minutes or until center is cooked through. Let rest at room temperature 10 minutes before serving. Garnish as desired.

For complete list of ingredients and instructions, see recipe card below.

Pro Tips

  • Smooth beef mixture in an even layer before adding the cornbread mixture, as you’ll want an evenly thick layer of cornbread on top.
  • Keeping with the easy and quick dinner theme, feel free to use your favorite cornbread mix, as long as the package is about 15 oz.
  • If you don’t mind making your own cornbread batter from scratch, this one is truly unbeatable.
  • Prior to adding the cornbread layer is a good time to season with kosher salt and add more chili powder if you prefer more kick.
Easy Tamale Pie (Skillet or Cast Iron)
Tender, fluffy cornbread rests on top of a layer of satisfying beef chili. Add any garnishes your family loves.

What to Serve with Tamale Pie

Salads

Dips

Garnishes

Common Questions and ANswers

What kind of cornbread mix should I use for the topping?

You can use your favorite brand of dry cornbread mix, and prepare it according to the package instructions; rather than bake it by itself, you’ll bake it on top of the beef chili mixture. Your box or package of dry cornbread mix should be about 15 oz.

Can I use another kind of ground meat?

Yes, you can sub the ground beef with lean ground turkey, chicken, or pork. You can even make it meatless by adding an extra variety of beans or using plant based ground meat.

Does tamale pie reheat well?

This dish does reheat very well. Be sure to store leftovers in an airtight container to retain moisture. For best results, reheat in an oven-safe container, covered, for about 10 minutes at 350F.

What other dishes can I serve with tamale pie?

Friends and family love this Mexican Street Corn Salad (Esquites) for a side of crunch and healthy goodness. Top your tamale pie with our favorite fixings: 5-Minute Real Guacamole and Restaurant Style Salsa for your tortilla chips!

Did you make this?

Please give us a rating and comment below. We love hearing from you!

Easy Tamale Pie (Skillet or Cast Iron)

Easy Tamale Pie

4.79 from 28 ratings
This recipe is quick and easy for weeknights, making smart use of your favorite cornbread mix. It’s simply delicious for all your busy weeknights. 
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 6
Author: Amy Dong

Ingredients  

  • 2 TB oil
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 2-3 TB chili powder
  • kosher salt
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lb ground beef, 90% lean
  • 15 oz black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 14.5 oz diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar or Mexican blend cheese
  • 15 oz cornbread mix, plus any required ingredients listed on the package
  • Optional garnishes: Fresh Tomato Salsa, sour cream, sliced green onion, chopped cilantro, shredded cheese

Instructions

  • Preheat: Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and heat oven to 450F*
  • Aromatics: In a 12 inch ovenproof skillet over medium heat, warm up the oil until hot. Add onion, chili powder, and 1/2 tsp salt and cook just until onion is soft. Stir in garlic and cook 30 more seconds.
  • Cook: Stir in ground beef, drained beans, and drained tomatoes. Cook and break up the meat with a spatula until fully browned, about 5 min. Off heat, stir in cheese. Season with kosher salt to taste. Add more chili powder if desired. Smooth beef mixture into an even layer in the skillet.
  • Prepare Cornbread: According to package instructions, mix the cornbread batter. Spread cornbread batter evenly on top of the beef mixture in skillet.
  • Bake: Bake until edges are golden brown, approx. 15 minutes. Check center of cornbread for doneness. If needed, cover loosely with foil and bake another 5 minutes or until center is cooked through. Let rest at room temperature 10 minutes before serving. Garnish as desired.

Notes

  • If you don’t have an oven-proof 12-inch skillet, you can layer casserole into an oven-safe baking dish instead.
  • Bake time may need to be adjusted, depending on thickness/brand of your cornbread in chosen baking dish. Brands of boxed cornbread mixes vary, so adjust bake time as needed for center to bake through.
  • If you enjoyed this recipe, please come back and give it a rating. We ❤️ hearing from you. 

Nutrition (per serving)

Serving: 1g | Calories: 611kcal | Carbohydrates: 100g | Protein: 41g | Fat: 28g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 13g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 67mg | Sodium: 697mg | Potassium: 1603mg | Fiber: 18g | Sugar: 19g | Vitamin A: 1110IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 314mg | Iron: 8mg
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: Mexican American
Method: Oven, Skillet, Stovetop

More to cook and eat

4.79 from 28 votes (16 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating




26 comments

    • Jenny
    • 5 stars

    What a wonderful recipe! This tamale pie looks delicious. I have all the ingredients in my pantry right now. Thank you for your post; I will make it tonight for dinner, can’t wait!

      • chewoutloud

      So excited for you to taste this!

    • Marie
    • 5 stars

    This is such an easy, scrumptious dish! My family loved it loaded with toppings: I slipped in diced bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, and even baby spinach for extra veggie points.

      • chewoutloud

      Yes, more veggies are always good! 🙂

    • Kathryn
    • 5 stars

    This tamale pie is even better than tamales! I love the filling and topping- so easy to make too! Will be making this again next week, thank you!

    • Faye Wilson

    Cool pie before serving not cook before serving.

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