Easy Cheesy Tamale Pie

Homecooked tamale flavor for your busiest weeknights.

I love tamales and their combination of crumbly, sweet masa and savory meat filling but since they are kind of a project to undertake at home, I don’t make them often. But that’s where the tamale pie comes in! This easy cheesy version gives you the same soft corn base and hearty meat filling in a bake that takes just thirty minutes in the oven (and is a little saucier and cheesier experience to boot). It’s an easy and comforting dinner that the whole family is always happy about.

A nice feature here is that the corn base bakes while you work on the rest of the components, so while it does have a few steps, it’s very efficient. The base is a bit reminiscent of cornbread – a quick mixture of cornmeal, flour, corn kernels, sour cream, and a few other baking essentials. When it comes out of the oven, you poke holes in it with a fork before drizzling enchilada sauce all over, that way it is sure to seep down into the crumb.

While the ‘cornbread’ layer is in the oven, you work on browning some ground beef with chili powder, salt, cumin, oregano, onion powder, and garlic powder. However, if you’re not the type of person to keep a bunch of dried spices on hand, you could just swap in some taco seasoning for all of those and end up with nearly the same result.

The ground beef mixture goes over the enchilada sauce, and the whole thing gets topped with some Monterey Jack before it heads back into the oven just long enough to get hot and bubbly.

The sauce mingles with meat and the cornmeal layer so every bite is zesty and flavorful and, of course, that layer of ooey-gooey cheese doesn’t hurt matters. Tamale Pie doesn’t cancel out tamales – no way! – but it does let you get homecooked tamale flavor on a busy weeknight, which is very good news.

Easy Cheesy Tamale Pie

Serves 6; 10 minutes prep, 30 minutes cook time

Ingredients
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup corn kernels
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 cup enchilada sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups Monterey Jack cheese, grated
  • Cilantro, chopped, for serving
Preparation
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F and grease a 9-inch pie dish with butter or nonstick spray. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt. Add egg, sour cream, corn, and milk and stir to combine.
  3. Pour mixture into pie dish and bake for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the beef:
  4. In a skillet over medium heat, season beef with chili powder, salt, cumin, oregano, onion powder, and garlic powder and cook until no longer pink.
  5. Poke cornbread layer all over with a fork and drizzle with enchilada sauce.
  6. Top with ground beef and shredded cheese and return to oven. Bake until sauce is bubbly and top is golden brown, 10-15 minutes more.
  7. Let cool five minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from House of Yumm.