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Healthy Tamale Pie Mexican Casserole

This Tamale Pie Mexican Casserole is packed with ground meat, beans, vegetables, and tamale flavors. Baked with a simple cornmeal topping, and sprinkled with cheese, it’s an easy dinner any night of the week.

Closeup view of Tamale Pie in an oval casserole dish

And a recipe I’ve been making for years.

The New American Diet Cookbook

Newly married, now years ago, and wanting to cook healthy meals for my husband, I began making recipes from “The New American Diet” cookbook. This book was developed from 25 years of research on heart health and in conjunction with the American Heart Association.

The healthy and delicious yet easy recipes were perfect for a newly married, and very busy wife. With an equally busy new husband.

Over the years, I still reach for this healthy cookbook and make some of our favorites in the pages of this now dog-eared cookbook with notes on ingredients I’ve tweaked.

This Tamale Pie recipe is inspired by a recipe in that cookbook, with slight additions and substractions I’ve made over the years.

Top view of baked Tamale Pie with toppings

Tamale Pie Ingredients

While exact measurements are in the recipe card at the bottom of this post, here’s a list of what you need to make this Mexican casserole:

  • 1 lb ground meat
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Bell Pepper
  • Corn: frozen or canned
  • Canned Beans
  • Tomato sauce
  • Salsa
  • Chili powder and ground cumin

Cornmeal Topping

  • Yellow cornmeal
  • Salt
  • Shredded Cheese
  • Plus toppings for serving like: avocado, cherry tomatoes, parsley, sour cream, green onions

Ingredients Notes

There are several adaptations you can also make to customize the flavors of this simple and easy Tamale Pie.

Ground Meat:

The original recipe called for lean ground beef, which is always delicious. But both ground turkey and ground chicken are wonderful too. I’ve used ground turkey here, so choose your favorite or what you have on hand.

Corn:

Both canned and frozen corn works equally well.

Beans:

Think chili when you’re deciding which beans to use. Often, I’m using the canned beans that are easiest to reach in the pantry. Great choices include pinto beans, kidney beans, black beans, or a combination.

Salsa:

Use good quality salsa that has the heat level you prefer. I like it mild, but I do add a larger pinch of red pepper flakes for the family.

What to serve with Tamale Pie

One of the benefits of a casserole is that they often contain an entire meal in one dish. Exactly the case here. I like to add fresh greens always, but when serving a crowd, I’ll often add a rice side dish, like Easy Instant Pot Mexican Rice.

And then, when I’m not keeping with the healthy vibes of this recipe, Mexican Chocolate Cookies are exceptionally yummy afterward.

Steps 1 and 2 in Making Tamale Pie
Steps 3 and Baked Tamale Pie

How to Make Tamale Pie

This 9 x 13-inch casserole will bake in a 375-degree oven with a base of meat, beans, and vegetables, topped with cornmeal. While preheating the oven, begin to brown the meat.

Step 1: Brown the meat and onions

In a nonstick skillet, brown the ground meat with onions. Then stir in the garlic, vegetables, beans, sauce, salsa, and seasoning. Transfer to the baking dish.

Step 2: Make the cornmeal topping

In a saucepan combine cornmeal, water, and salt. Bring to a boil and cook until slightly thickened. Spoon the topping over the casserole.

Step 3: Bake the casserole

Bake for 45 minutes, sprinkle cheese over the top, and continue baking until melted.

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Closeup view of a serving of Tamale Pie in a white bowl
Closeup view of Tamale Pie in an oval casserole dish

Healthy Tamale Pie Mexican Casserole

Yield: 6 to 8 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

This Tamale Pie Mexican Casserole is packed with ground meat, beans, vegetables, and tamale flavors. Baked with a simple cornmeal topping, and sprinkled with cheese, it's an easy dinner any night of the week.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground meat (beef, turkey, chicken)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 can (16-ounce) corn, drained
  • 1 can (15-ounce) pinto, red, or kidney beans, drained
  • 1 can (15-ounce) tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes

Tamale Topping

  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 2 ½ cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese (cheddar, Mozzarella or Mexican blend)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. In a nonstick skillet, brown the ground meat with onions. Once browned, stir in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds more or until fragrant.
  2. Stir in the green peppers, corn, beans, tomato sauce, salsa, chili powder, and cumin and red pepper flakes. Transfer the filling into a 9 x 13-inch casserole dish; set aside.
  3. Make the Tamale Topping: In a saucepan combine the cornmeal, water, and salt. While stirring, bring the mixture to a boil. Continue cooking until it thickens slightly. Spoon the topping over the meat and bean mixture.
  4. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle grated cheese on top. Return to the oven and bake until the cheese is melted; about 15 minutes more.

Notes

Ground Meat:

Use your favorite. While lean ground beef is always a favorite, ground turkey or chicken is delicious too.

Topping Ideas:

I like to top with the casserole with fresh chopped avocado, halved cherry tomatoes, fresh parsley and green onions.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 305Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 58mgSodium: 655mgCarbohydrates: 24gFiber: 4gSugar: 4gProtein: 22g

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