Tamale Casserole

Tamale Casserole

Are you looking for an easy-to-make casserole that reheats well? This layered tamale casserole filled with ground beef, cheese, and canned tomatoes is easy to make and tastes great.

beef tamale casserole in a baking dish and a serving on a plate.

Tamale Pie Casserole

Maybe you’ve been put off from making tamales because they seem too complicated. Or you love tamales but just don’t have the time to create them. This tamale-inspired casserole is a quick and easy answer.

We’re talking comfort food to the max here: layers of cornbread and spiced ground beef baked to perfection!

What Is a Tamale?

A tamale is a Mexican dish of seasoned meat wrapped in cornmeal dough and then baked or steamed in corn husks. You then throw away the corn husks or use them as all-natural plates from which to eat the delicious tamales. Pretty cool!

Now this tamale pie casserole recipe is not in the least authentic. Rather, consider this tamale cornbread casserole inspired by the idea of Mexican tamales.

If you want to try your hand at making tamales, try this homemade tamale recipe.

Why You Should Try This Tamale Casserole Recipe

First of all, you can be assured that this tamale pie casserole is tried and true – we’ve been making it at my house for thirty-plus years!

Second, this easy tamale casserole is perfect for your busy work week. – it will make your dinner time more relaxing. This ground beef tamale casserole recipe gives you a quick family weeknight dinner with all the flavors of classic tamales without any of the fuss!

Third, this tamale casserole is mild enough for your kids to enjoy and spicy enough to keep the adults interested.

Beef Tamale Casserole – Ingredients You Will Need

Nothing fancy about the ingredients. Here’s your shopping list:

  • Ground beef
  • Canned tomatoes
  • Cornmeal
  • Shortening
  • Evaporated milk
  • Onion
  • Chili powder
  • Salt and pepper
  • Monterey Jack Cheese or Cheddar Cheese (optional)

Ideally, use an 80/20 blend of ground beef. You want a little bit of fat for flavor but not so much that it makes the tamale casserole greasy.

tamale casserole ingredients on a tray.

How to Make This Layered Tamale Casserole Recipe

This is such an easy tamale pie casserole recipe. Here’s basically what you do:

  1. Combine the cornmeal, salt, and water, and gradually add the milk.
cornmeal mixture in a skillet.
  1. Boil, stirring, until thick.
  2. Cook the meat and onion in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon to break up the meat while it is cooking.
browned ground beef and onions in a skillet.
  1. Add the tomatoes, salt, pepper, and chili powder.
browned ground beef, onions, and tomatoes in a skillet.
  1. Layer the casserole in a baking dish sprayed with cooking spray, with the half of cornbread mixture first.
cornmeal mixture in the bottom of a glass baking dish.
  1. Then the meat mixture and the remaining cornmeal mixture.
tamale casserole before baking.
  1. Sprinkle over some cheese (optional), and bake.
beef tamale casserole in a glass baking dish.

Tamale Cornbread Casserole – Recipe Variations

It’s easy to tweak or add things to this easy tamale casserole recipe, so don’t be afraid to play around with it. Here are some ideas:

Chicken Tamale Casserole: Substitute ground chicken for the beef. You can also use the recipe to make a ground turkey casserole, pork casserole, or sausage casserole.

Spicy Mexican Casserole: Instead of chili powder, spice up your casserole with a can of tomatoes and green chiles, or use a Mexican-style cornbread mix. Another idea is to add some chopped jalapeños to the cornbread mix. Cumin and garlic also complement the meat.

Mexican Casserole With Beans: Stir in some beans of your choice – pinto, refried beans, or black beans.

Tamale Casserole With Corn: Add about ½ cup of cream-style corn to the cornmeal mixture. Reduce the milk by ¼ cup.

Cheesy Tamale Casserole: Mix cheese into the meat layer.

Toppings: After baking, top with your favorites – choose among chopped onion, avocado, tomato, sliced black olives, cilantro, and sour cream.

beef tamale casserole and a fork on a plate.

How to Serve This Tamale Casserole Recipe

Tamale pie casserole is a filling meal all by itself, so you don’t need much to accompany it. Here are some suggestions:

  • Round out your meal with a big green salad.
  • Mexican slaw or creamed corn on the side is an excellent complement to this dish.
  • Provide some tortilla chips for scooping up any loose meat.

Topping Ideas:

How to Store Leftover Tamale Pie Casserole

Fridge: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. Reheat in the microwave with 30-second increments until hot all the way through. 

Freezer: An entire unbaked Mexican casserole is perfect for freezing (up to 3 months) and saving for later. Just make sure it’s tightly sealed. When needed, thaw out overnight in the fridge and bake at 375°F for approximately 35 minutes or until light brown on top.

Note: If you cook a casserole from frozen, it will take longer to cook. Be careful if you have made your casserole in a glass container. Glass casserole dishes are likely to shatter if placed in a hot oven directly from the freezer. 

beef tamale casserole serving on a plate.

Favorite Mexican Recipes

Check out more of my easy casserole recipes and the best Mexican recipes on CopyKat!

This tamale casserole recipe is courtesy of Virginia McDowell, Jefferson City. Mo. 1955.

beef tamale casserole in a baking dish and a serving on a plate.

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Tamale Casserole

This tamale casserole with ground beef is a great weeknight meal. 
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword Casserole Recipes, Ground Beef
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 10
Calories 220kcal

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon shortening
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 cup canned tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon chili powder

Instructions

  • Put in a saucepan cornmeal, salt, and water. Add gradually Pet milk. Boil and stir until mixture thickens. Cover and let cool. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a shallow 9 X 13-inch baking pan. 
  • Brown meat and onion cook until almost done. Drain off excess fat, and add tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste and chili powder. Stir and cook until done. Spread 1/2 cornmeal in dish then add meat mixture. Top with remaining cornmeal. Bake until the top is light brown for about 35 minutes.

Nutrition

Calories: 220kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 43mg | Sodium: 323mg | Potassium: 305mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 160IU | Vitamin C: 2.1mg | Calcium: 112mg | Iron: 1.4mg

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