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Tamale Pie Ground Beef Casserole Recipe

Tamale Pie is winter time comfort food at it’s best. This warming cornmeal pie is filled with a hearty beef filling with peppers and Mexican spices.

Tamale Pie Recipe
Tamale pie

Looking for other meaty family hamburger casseroles?

Try our Shepherds Pie or cheesy hamburger pie.  Mexican Cornbread is a yummy side dish to Tamale Pie.

Old School Tamale Pie:

This Tamale Pie recipe is an old favorite recipe from my childhood revamped a bit. It’s a great ground beef recipe. This is an easy version of the old classic Pronto Tamale Pie.

Tamale Pie Recipe

This pie has no bottom crust. The crust is spread on top of the pie only. This makes this recipe easier to make and we enjoyed the crust better this way.

The cornmeal crust in the bottom of the pan is how I had it as a kid. But we always left the crust in the pie plate. This way it gets eaten 🙂

You make the cornmeal and ground beef filling separately. Then put the crust on the top rather than the bottom of the pie.

Tamale Pie Recipe
Tamale Pie made upside down. No bottom crust.

Notes on Tamale Pie Recipe:

I used Bob’s Red Mill organic medium grind Cornmeal. This gives a LOT more texture than the fine ground cornmeal flour I’ve used before. I

Rustic Tamale Ie Recipe
Making the cornmeal crust. It’s nice and thick and full of flavor.

Use fine ground cornmeal for a finer texture in your crust. This recipe the more rustic version.

Use pasilla peppers or any heat pepper you prefer. We like the level two heat peppers. They are full of flavor but the heat is not too high.

Rustic Tamale Pie Recipe
A rich, meaty filling full of healthy ingredients

Tamale Pie Casserole Instructions:

  • Start with the hamburger. Brown it on medium low, in a large cast iron skillet, if you have one, so you can pop it in the oven later and save yourself a dish. Otherwise you will need a 13 x 9 casserole dish or 10 inch deep dish pie plate, oiled and standing by to dump the filling into.
  • Now begin your cornmeal in a four quart sauce pan. Cook until done, add in the olives and peppers about halfway through the cooking.
  • While the cornmeal is cooking, finish the filling. Add in the peppers, onions, garlic and olives and brown the meat until done. Add the tomatoes and cornmeal mush in together at the last 10 minutes of cooking the filling.
  • Once the cornmeal is cooked set it aside and finish the filling.
  • After the filling is done (thickened and bubbly). This is when you dump the filling into your oiled casserole or pie plate, if your skillet isn’t oven proof!
  • Sprinkle the top with 1 Cup shredded cheese and spread the cornmeal mush over the top and spread it evenly over the pie top. sprinkle remaining cheese and peppers over the top as garnish.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
Tamale Pie Recipe

Your Printable Recipe Card:

Tamale Pie Recipe
Yield: 8 servings

Tamale Pie Recipe

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

Tamale Pie is winter time comfort food at it’s best. This warming cornmeal pie is filled with a hearty beefy filling.  And topped with a flavorful cornmeal crust your family will love.


  • 1 Cup cornmeal
  • 3 Cups Water
  • 2 tsp. Chili Powder
  • 2 Tsp. salt
  • 1 lb. hamburger
  • 2 Tablespoons Chili Powder
  • 2 tsp. Chipotle powder
  • 1 large red pepper-chopped fine-divided
  • 1 can pitted olives-chopped-divided (I use the extra large pearls 170 g size can. DW WT. 6 oz.)
  • 1 onion-chopped
  • 1 clove garlic chopped fine and smashed
  • 2 cups fresh tomatoes-chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees:

Cornmeal crust:

  1. In a 4 quart saucepan set on low, add the water, chili powder, 1 tsp. salt and stir in the cornmeal. Bring heat up to medium and stir until thick. Cook on lowest setting until done, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat.
  2. Add 1/2 can chopped olives and 1/2 Cup chopped red pepper and mix well. Set aside covered.
  3. Meanwhile finish the filling as described below:

Beef Filling:

  1. In 12 inch cast iron skillet brown Hamburger on medium low heat.
  2. When hamburger is about half browned, add chili powder,chipotle powder, onion, garlic, remaining olives, salt and all but one Tablespoon fresh chopped peppers and continue to cook until done.
  3. Add the tomatoes and I cup cooked cornmeal mush to the filling and stir it in. Cook 10 minutes.
  4. When the hamburger filling is cooked, transfer to your oiled 13 x 9 casserole, 12 inch ovenproof skillet or 10 inch deep dish pie plate as necessary.
  5. Sprinkle the top with cheese and spread the cornmeal evenly over the top.
  6. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 Cup cheese on the cornmeal and garnish with chopped pepper as desired.
  7. Bake 30 minutes.

Nutrition Information



Serving Size


Amount Per Serving Calories 302Total Fat 15gSaturated Fat 7gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 6gCholesterol 52mgSodium 1010mgCarbohydrates 28gFiber 3gSugar 3gProtein 16g

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Tamale Pie
Tamale Pie Recipe


Wednesday 1st of June 2016



Wednesday 1st of June 2016

Hi Carol, You're in luck! Another reader, Sam, substituted Polenta for cornmeal! Here is the link to Sam's comment explaining the details.. Good luck! Please come back and tell us how this turns out for you!


Thursday 7th of April 2016

There was no "Reply" button underneath your reply from yesterday (I guess the page only indents so far :)), so I'm starting a new comment. Thanks for the info about the olives. Also, from the picture of the dish, I assume black olives instead of green? Anyway, I have a large can of black olives whose dry weight is 6 oz., just like you described.

OK, I hope to try this, and if so, I'll let you know how it turns out. :)


Thursday 7th of April 2016

Yep Sam, We are using black olives in this dish. I think another type would disappoint you. We'd love to know how it turns out for you. Sorry about the short comment thread. I will work on figuring it out. Thanks!


Friday 25th of March 2016

Why is chili powder mentioned twice in this recipe, but used only once? :)


Friday 25th of March 2016

Hi Sam, Thank you for catching that for me! I have included the chili pepper for the crust instructions. Good eye Sam. Please let me know how you like this recipe! Thanks so much for taking the time to write with your helpful comment. All the best!

Amber | Caleigh's Kitchen

Tuesday 8th of December 2015

Oh My goodness Diane! I haven't had Tamale Pie in such a long time and this sounds divine!!! Thanks for Linking up with us at #TryABiteTuesday! Come join in again this week, the link up is open!


Tuesday 8th of December 2015

Thank you Amber. I'll stop over!

Sherri @ Watch Learn Eat

Thursday 26th of November 2015

This tamale pie looks amazing! My husband loves cooking in his cast iron pan so I'm sure he will enjoy making this! The flavors sound sooo delicious!


Thursday 26th of November 2015

I hope you enjoy it Sherri!

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