Green Chile Tamale Pie

I love Tamales – in fact, I love them so much – that I selfishly took my team at work to learn how to make Tamales one afternoon as a morale event.  It was great fun – everyone pitched in and cooked, and afterwards we got to sit down and eat the
fruit of our labor.  The tamales were so incredibly fresh – along with the homemade salsa and guacamole that we made – they couldn’t have been better.  I swear I would make them at home all the time, except that I don’t have a tortilla press yet – so instead, I look for recipes that are just as good, just shaped differently.

I saw this recipe in Cooking Light – and I immediately cut it out to make.  I have a favorite tamale pie recipe, but this one was different – instead of using Polenta for the topping, you make the topping with Masa Harina – exactly what we used to make
the tamales.  I was so excited, although at the same time slightly disappointed that I didn’t come up with this idea myself!  This was even better than my old standby tamale pie – this really tasted like the tamales I made that day with my team.  My kids even shocked me and both LOVED the topping (even before I put sour cream on it!).  I couldn’t believe it – it was a success all the way around.  If you are a tamale fan, this is not to be missed – now I can’t promise your kids will like it – but at least there is hope…


  • 1 cup masa harina
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 ounces ground sirloin
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 poblano chile, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces tomatillos (about 8 small), chopped
  • 1 cup frozen baby lima beans
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) crumbled queso fresco or sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro


Preheat oven to 400°.

Combine the masa harina, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and ground red pepper, stirring well with a whisk. Add 1 cup boiling water to masa mixture, and stir until a soft dough forms. Cover until ready to use.

Heat a 9-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add beef to pan; cook 5 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble. Add onion, garlic, poblano chile, remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt, and black pepper to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until onion is tender, stirring frequently. Add tomatillos and lima beans to pan, and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

Add butter and baking powder to masa mixture, stirring until smooth. Dollop batter over filling, and spread into an even layer. Cover pan with foil; bake at 400° for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 10 minutes or until crust is lightly browned around edges. Remove from oven; let stand 3 minutes. Sprinkle with crumbled queso fresco or sour cream and cilantro.

Serves 4-6

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Green Chile Tamale Pie

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10 thoughts on “Green Chile Tamale Pie

  1. Hello D… I just wanted to see if you’d like a Babble badge for Readers’ Choice award to put on your blog as people have nominated it for Babble’s best food mom blogs of 2011. If you’re interested, please email me!


  2. I was wondering what the press is for? I make tamales all the time and have never used a press of any kind. Let me know, I might learn something. Melissa

    1. The press is to flatten the masa before putting in the filling – I guess you probably don’t need one?

      1. Right; a tortilla press is for… pressing tortillas. Tamales are typically made by spreading the masa on the covers (corn husks or banana leaves) by hand.

        The recipe looks good (except for the lima beans ;-), I’ll have to make it soon.

  3. How Yummy. We made a batch of these and the flavor from the Masa really makes it.
    We carry some great Flame Roasted Whole Poblanos as well as Flame roasted green and red Chiles.

    New Mexican Connection.

  4. So I made this yesterday and my husband and I really really loved it! Great flavor, really easy. Kinda discolored my cast-iron pan on the inside but oh well, it was worth it!

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