The other day I was in a rush and I stopped by the local supermarket to pick up something fast.  A little dish called tamale pie caught my eye.  Basically it was a chili topped with cornbread topping.  It was delicious, so I decided to make one of my own.  I made a quick chili full of ingredients and topped it with a delicious corn bread.

Tamale Pie

The cornbread soaks up a lot of the juices so don’t worry if it looks a little runny before you put it in the oven.

Tamale Pie

  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 15oz can black beans, drained
  • 1 15oz can sweet corn, drained
  • 1 14.5oz can diced tomatoes, liquid and all
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 3 jalapenos, diced
  • 2 tbs chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt

Corn Bread Topping

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups yellow corn meal
  • 1 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt

Easy Chili

In a large pot over medium/high heat add the olive oil, garlic, onions, bell pepper and jalapenos.  Sweat the vegetables until they are softened.  Add the ground beef and cook till the meat is no longer pink, roughly 10 minutes.

Add the chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper to the mix.  Mix thoroughly and continue cooking for another minute.


Stir in the beans, corn and tomatoes.  Bring to a boil, cover and reduce to low.  Let the chili simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Black Bean Chili

Corn Bread Topping

Mix the eggs, milk, oil and sugar.  Mix the ingredients thoroughly and then add the remaining dry ingredients.  Stir to combine, but try not to over mix the batter.  Lumps are not a bad thing in cornbread.

The Batter

The Tamale Pie

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Grease a 13×9 casserole dish.  Pour the chili into the dish and level it out.

Spread out the Chili

Don’t worry if it looks too liquid as the cornbread topping with absorb a lot of the liquid.  You need to have a lot of liquid or the end product will be too dry.

Gently pour the corn bread batter over the chili.  Try to pour the batter evenly over the entire dish.  Spreading the batter after the fact is rather difficult so even distribution is key.

Spread out the batter

Place the casserole dish into the oven and cook for 40-50 minutes.  Cook until a toothpick can be inserted into the center of the cornbread topping and come out clean.  Remember to only put the toothpick into the topping about 1/2 inch.  If you go too far it will hit the chili and come out sticky.

Fully Cooked - Look at those layers

Serve with sour cream, cheese and a little salsa.

Tamale Pie - Closeup

This was an awesome meal.  It is very reminiscent of a tamale.  Plus it only takes a little over an hour, start to finish.

Rex is an avid griller, barbecuer and bacon enthusiast. He is the Pitmaster for the Rex BBQ competition team. Rex was also featured on the TV show American Grilled. If you have any questions or wish to have Rex decode your favorite dish, click on the ASK REX link in the menu above.


  1. Rex, this is just wild looking. It sounds perfect to suit my tastes and I bet it is a hunger satisfying meal. I have a sweet tamale corn cake appetizer that I am working on but this looks far easier.

    • Chris, This tamale pie was one of most satisfying meals that I have had in the last month. I love the flavor of tamales and this hit the spot.

  2. this is so scrumptious ive eaten this recipe since i can remember my mom usta make it for dinner as a family its GREATmelts in your mouth

  3. Loved this! Simplified by using Jiffy cornbread mix and a package of taco seasoning. Also mine got done in 35 minutes. Thanks for your recipe!

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