Easy! Tamale Pie Casserole

Unlike other Tamale pies that start with a cornbread crust, this one starts with the same masa harina typical of traditional tamales only without all the rolling! It’s a great quick-fix whenever you’re craving tamales but don’t have time to hand roll them.

A dish of Pork Tamale pie made with masa harina

This recipe duplicates a wonderful tamale flavor without all the work. I was so excited to be able to replicate my favorite tamale flavors into an EASY casserole that requires less than half the work of preparing them individually.

If you’ve ever stood and hand rolled and corn husk-wrapped homemade tamales then you will understand what a sweet, sweet victory this tamale casserole really is!

What is Tamale Pie?

Most tamale pie recipes are very Americanized and are made from a chili flavored hamburger mixture that often includes corn, olives, & sometimes beans nestled underneath a cheesy cornbread topping. All of this is good and very flavorful but do not have that authentic tamale flavor.

The most striking difference between authentic tamales and tamale pie is that tamales use masa harina while tamale pie usually uses a sweet cornbread topping. Lastly, the Americanized version of tamale pie is baked in the oven while traditional tamales are wrapped in corn husks and steamed.

What ingredients are in Tamale Pie?

For the Tamale Topping and Base:

  • Masa HarinaMasa harina is the traditional fine corn flour used to make tortillas, tamales, and other Mexican dishes.
  • Chicken broth – may substitute water or drippings from cooking the shredded pork.
  • Baking powder – a levening agent for the Masa Harina
  • Salt – I use fine Kosher salt but table salt may be used at a 1:1 ratio.
  • Canola oil – Used instead of lard to create the tamale dough.

For the Filling:

  • Shredded Pork Shoulder, shredded – Shredded chicken or beef may also be used.
  • Salsa VerdeAlso called Green Salsa is made with green tomatillos, onion, garlic, chile peppers and seasoned with cumin, cilantro and salt. There really isn’t a substitute for this sauce! If you must, try a red salsa.
  • Onions – Spanish white onions, diced small. This ingredient is optional and may be omitted without substitution or alteration to the rest of the recipe.
  • Fiesta CornCorn mixed with red & green peppers. Sold both canned or frozen. This ingredient is optional and may be omitted without substitution or alteration to the rest of the recipe.
  • Stuffed Green Olives – If you do not care for olives, feel free to omit them without substitution. This ingredient is optional and may be omitted without substitution or alteration to the rest of the recipe.

Optional Garnishes:

  • Chopped Cilantro – Coriander, also known as cilantro is an herb. All parts of the plant are edible, but the fresh leaves and the dried seeds are the parts most traditionally used in cooking.
  • Pico de GalloA fresh salsa with chopped tomatoes, onions, jalapenos, salt, and lime.
  • Sour Cream – Crème fresh may also be used but ommitted if you don’t care for it.
  • Additional Salsa Verde – See above.
  • Enchillada SauceA smoky tomato-based sauce full of authentic Mexican flavor that comes from a combination of dried spices.
  • White Cheese Sauce – A white cheese sauce that’s as tasty as it sounds!
  • Cojita Cheese – a crumbly Mexican cheese.

How Do I Prepare Tamale Pie?

  • Prepare the filling. Combine 1 to 1-1/2 lbs. of shredded meat with 1 cup of Salsa Verde. If your are using diced onions, fiesta corn, and sliced olives, add them here.
    • Note: Shredded rotisserie chicken makes this recipe super easy for any weeknight meal.
  • Prepare Dough. Combine masa, warm chicken broth, baking powder, salt, and oil in a large bowl, Mix together until dough has the consistency of a soft paste. Cover & let rest for at least 15 minutes at room temperature so the dough can thoroughly absorb the liquid ingredients.
  • Preheat the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and lightly oil a 9 x 9-inch (2-1/2 quart) casserole dish. This will not quite fit in an 8 x 8-inch (2-quart) dish. NOTE: If you do not have a 2-1/2 quart casserole, I would move up to a 13×9-inch (3-quart) dish to prevent spillage.
  • Form the Bottom Tamale Layer. Press half of the tamale dough into the casserole dish forming a thin bottom layer. With your fingers, a fork, or a small spatula, press the mixture evenly across the bottom of the pan and halfway up the sides, about 1/4- inch thick.
  • Add the Filling. Spoon the meat mixture prepared earlier evenly over the entire dough surface.
  • Prepare the top tamale layer. Spread the remaining tamale dough over the filling, trying to make the top portion about the same thickness as the bottom. Do this by spreading the dough out on a piece of plastic wrap and then inverting it over the tamale casserole and then peeling back the plastic wrap. If it tears a little bit, don’t worry!
  • Create the Steam Bath. Fill a large roasting pan with about 2 inches of hot water. Place the uncovered tamale casserole into the water bath. Cover both the tamale casserole and roaster pan with one layer of aluminum foil and place in oven. The water will steam the tamale and cook it all the way through.
  • Bake. Bake for 45 to 60-minutes or until the Masa layer is set. Let it cool slightly (10-minutes) before serving so it holds its form.
  • Serve. Serve warm with pico de gallo, salsa verde, sour cream, cheese sauce, enchilada sauce, crumbled cheese, chopped onions, or traditional salsa. There’s no wrong way to eat tamale!
A tray of pork Tamale pie made with masa harina topping.

Want To Try This Recipe?

Pin it to your FOOD AND BEVERAGE OR RECIPE board & SAVE it for later!
Find me on Pinterest – I am always pinning quick & easy new recipes!
©Kitchen Dreaming by KitchenDreaming.com

Pork Tamale Pie has the same flavor and ingredients as a steamed tamale without the hours of stuffing and rolling the corn husks.

Pork Tamale Pie

Ronda Eagle | Kitchen Dreaming
Unlike other Tamale pies that start with a corn bread crust, this one uses masa harina typical of traditional tamales. It is then steam-baked in the oven and topped with salsa, salsa verde, sour cream, or you favorite hot sauce.
4.95 from 17 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Resting Time 10 mins
Total Time 1 hr
Course Dinner
Cuisine Hispanic, Mexican
Servings 6 servings
Calories 431 kcal

Ingredients
  

For the Tamale Topping and Base:

  • 2 cups Masa Harina [See Note 1]
  • 2 cups Chicken broth [See Note 2]
  • 1 teaspoon Baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 cup Canola oil

For the Filling:

  • 1-1/2 lbs. Pork shoulder, lean, shredded [See Note 3]
  • 1 cup Salsa Verde [See Note 4]
  • 1 cup Fiesta Corn [See Note 5]
  • 1/4 cup Green olives, sliced [See Note 6]
  • 1/2 cup Onion, diced small [See Note 7]

Optional Garnishes:

  • Chopped Cilantro
  • Pico de Gallo (Fresh Salsa)
  • Sour Cream
  • Additional Salsa Verde
  • Enchilada sauce
  • White Cheese Sauce
  • Cojita Cheese

Instructions
 

  • Prepare the filling. Combine 1 to 1-1/2 lbs of shredded meat with 1 cup of Salsa Verde. If you are using diced onions, fiesta corn, and sliced olives, adds them here.
    Note: Shredded rotisserie chicken makes this recipe super easy for any weeknight meal.
  • Prepare Dough. Combine masa, warm chicken broth, baking powder, salt, and oil in a large bowl, Mix together until the dough has the consistency of a soft paste. Cover & let rest for at least 15 minutes at room temperature so the dough can thoroughly absorb the liquid ingredients
  • Preheat the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and lightly oil a 9 x 9-inch (2-1/2 quart) casserole dish. This will not quite fit in an 8 x 8-inch (2-quart) dish. NOTE: If you do not have a 2-1/2 quart casserole, move up to a 13x9-inch (3-quart) dish to prevent spillage.
  • Form the Bottom Tamale Layer. Press half of the tamale dough into the casserole dish forming a thin bottom layer. With your fingers, a fork, or a small spatula, press the mixture evenly across the bottom of the pan and halfway up the sides, about 1/4- inch thick.
  • Add the Filling. Spoon the meat mixture prepared earlier evenly over the entire dough surface.
  • Prepare the top tamale layer. Spread the remaining tamale dough over the filling, trying to make the top portion about the same thickness as the bottom. Do this by spreading the dough out on a piece of plastic wrap and then inverting it over the tamale casserole and then peeling back the plastic wrap. If it tears a little bit, don't worry! It will come together during baking.
  • Create the Steam Bath. Fill a large roasting pan with about 2 inches of hot water. Place the uncovered tamale casserole into the water bath. Cover both the tamale casserole and roaster pan with one layer of aluminum foil and place in oven. The water will steam the tamale and cook it all the way through.
  • Bake. Bake for 45 to 60-minutes or until the Masa layer is set. Let it cool slightly (10-minutes) before serving so it holds its form.
  • Serve. Serve warm with pico de gallo, salsa verde, sour cream, cheese sauce, enchilada sauce, crumbled cheese, chopped onions, or a traditional red salsa. There's no wrong way to eat a tamale!
  • Store. Store any leftover tamale pie covered in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.
  • Freeze. Alternatively, tamale pie may also be frozen in smaller portions and reheated in the microwave. This makes a quick and easy weekday lunch.
    Warm at 50% power until heated through.

Notes

  1. Masa Harina is the traditional fine corn flour used to make tortillas, tamales, and other Mexican dishes.
  2. Chicken broth - may substitute water or drippings from cooking the shredded pork.
  3. Pork Shoulder, shredded - Shredded chicken or beef may also be used.
  4. Salsa Verde - Also called Green Salsa is made with green tomatillos, onion, garlic, Chile peppers and seasoned with cumin, cilantro and salt. There really isn't a substitute for this sauce! If you absolutely must, try a red salsa.
  5. Fiesta Corn - Corn mixed with red & green peppers. Sold both canned and frozen. This ingredient is optional and may be omitted without substitution or alteration to the rest of the recipe.
  6. Stuffed Green Olives - If you do not care for olives, feel free to omit them without substitution. This ingredient is optional and may be omitted without substitution or alteration to the rest of the recipe.
  7. Onions - Spanish white onions, diced small. This ingredient is optional and may be omitted without substitution or alteration to the rest of the recipe.

Nutrition

Serving: 1slice (1/6th of casserole)Calories: 431kcalCarbohydrates: 41gProtein: 12gFat: 24gSaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 22mgSodium: 1040mgPotassium: 586mgFiber: 3gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 640IUVitamin C: 10.7mgCalcium: 97mgIron: 3.6mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

42 thoughts on “Easy! Tamale Pie Casserole”

  1. Made this tonight with some pulled rotisserie chicken I needed to use up. I doubled it and made it in a 4qt rectangular casserole dish. Cooked it as directed but I’m not sure the center of the masa set completely. It’s resting/cooling now – will report back after we try it!

    Reply
  2. This recipe is a keeper! Just made this with some adjustments. For the dough, because I used water, I added some onion powder, garlic powder, and seasoning salt to create some stock like flavors. The dough seemed very wet so I added a little more Masa after it rested. For the filling, I used a large can (20 something oz) of green chiles and cheese. I checked it after 50 minutes but it seemed a bit undercooked so I turned up the heat to 400 and left it in for another 20 minutes. Family is already looking forward to the next time. Next time I plan to use ramekins and let people individualize their fillings as I’ve had requests for a black bean and corn one as well as a pork one. Last time I made tamales, I made mincemeat filled ones and I think this will make a nice twist on mincemeat pie at Thanksgiving. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  3. Thanks for this recipe – it was just what I wanted! I was craving the flavor and aroma of masa harina with dinner. My filling was a bit different – bulk sausage, beans, and a bit of cheese – but it’s a great recipe for any filling, which makes this a real keeper, and perfect for our shelter-in-place time. I look forward to making it many more times! Thanks again.

    Reply
  4. This recipe was tasty. I made a few tweaks to fit my family. I cooked some chicken breast in broth before using the broth in the dough and shredding the chicken for the meal. I like to add more vegetables and added about 4 cups zucchini and spinach to the filling (I used a 9 x 13 pan). The flavors were good and it was still pretty healthy overall.

    Reply
  5. This looks wonderful! Do you think it could be made ahead and frozen? If so, would you freeze before or after baking? Thanks so much for sharing.

    Reply
  6. Wow! This is a great recipe!

    We made a couple tweaks: Instead of pork, we made pulled chicken breast in a crock pot with the salsa the day before. When we assembled the casserole, we added a layer of shredded zucchini (shredded the night before, tossed with a sprinkle of salt and refrigerated overnight in a strainer over a bowl to release excess moisture) under the chicken.

    Thank you for posting this delicious recipe! It’s so inexpensive to make, too!!

    Reply
  7. I had left a over Cuban pork from the Christmas Eve party. Added green chilies, onion, garlic, cumin ,pepper, oregano and diced tomatoes to the pork meat. The Masa I added sauteed onions , garlic and cumin.Easy peasy and it came out great.

    Reply
  8. I wonder if you have ever tried making this in a slow cooker? Seems like that would be easier, would you have ideas on how to convert this to a slow cooker friendly recipe? I can veganize this easily; replace meat with beans or vegan chorizo and veggies, vegan cheeze, swap in veg stock and vegan butter or just oil. I made super yummy vegan tamales filled with refried black beans, roasted jalapenos, mild green chiles, vegan cheddar & enchilada sauce, BUT I’d love to turn that into a quicker, easier version like you have here! And, I echo the feedback of others: masa layers/topping farrrrrrrr superior to boring cornbread. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Hi Leah,
      I have never tried this in the slow cooker. It seems like it could work though. If I was going to tray and convert this I’d try a 4 or 6-qt. slow cooker, layer it in and then cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or until heated through.
      I’m worried about excess moisture but I think it will be okay.

      Reply
  9. I keep wanting to add cheese on top of this recipe but don’t see it mentioned anywhere. Must not be a legitimate tamale with cheese cooked on top! Is it best to wait until it is cooked (I’m mid-recipe right now) and then just throw on some sprinkled cheese? Or add to filling? Or not at all? So far, I’m enjoying the recipe and excited to taste it soon. If for some reason you see this in real time, I’d love to hear your feedback on the usage of cheese in the recipe.

    Reply
    • Hi Elizabeth,
      I’ve never eaten it with cheese but you can eat it any wAy you like. If I were to add cheese over the top, I’d go about 15-20 minutes before it’s finished so the cheese has time to get hot and bubbly but not burn.

      Let me know how you liked it with cheese!!
      Thank you for taking the time to ask. I hope you enjoy.

      Reply
  10. Hi – the recipe sounds good but I’m confused. Where do the chopped onions go? Where do the green olives go? Maybe I’m just not an experienced cook, but I don’t improvise well when I’m trying to follow a recipe, and I don’t want to just guess. Thanks!

    Reply
  11. This was AMAZING! Wow. Just wow. My entire family gobbled it up. It was easy and tasted just like a pork tamale and I was so happy it was less labor intensive. Absolute winner with this recipe. Thank you!

    Reply
  12. Being pregnant with twins and perhaps a bit lazy (as if the pregnancy is the real reason hahaha), I am so glad I came across this. I’ve tried the cornmeal type as well I was left unsatsfied. I am gonna prepare this in hopes of feeding these cravings I’m having for tamales, (Which could very well be due to the pregnancy, smiles). Although I am gonna try it with cheese on the inside which I became accustomed to in San Antonio Texas where my favorite tamales are. Unfortunately here in N.C. I hope this works! I will post back and let ya know. I’m just tickled pink over the concept. I don’t know if ive been this excited since “chocolate crack pie” lol.

    Reply
    • Oh my gosh, congrats on the little one. I’m all smiles for you. I do hope you enjoy this recipe – if not, let me know how we can improve it! I’m happy to hear your suggestions being a tamale fan yourself. I bet my daughter and I would love the cheese tamales, too. We tried some sweet corn ones recently and those were also a favorite.

      Reply
  13. I will immediately grab your rss feed as I can not find your e-mail subscription link or newsletter service. Do you’ve any? Kindly let me know in order that I could subscribe. Thanks.

    Reply
  14. This sounds great! I’m going to try it this weekend. I have no desire to stuff 100 tamales when I can get it done in a casserole. :)

    Reply

Leave a Comment

Recipe Rating




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.