Tamale Pie


Every so often life gets a little out of control.  Ok, maybe a little more than every so often – but especially around the holidays.  This time of year we try to do everything – and it gets a little overwhelming.  I am trying to keep my head above the water – but it is not easy.  This recipe makes life just a little easier though when you are looking to feed a large group of people.  Most of the tamale pies or tamale casseroles that I see out there seem to have a cornbread crust – which is fine sometimes, but I like the more traditional corn flavor that is not sweet.  This is why I love this recipe – the topping is polenta – the texture and taste is perfect with the filling.  It is as close as a real tamale without all the work.  If you don’t eat beef, you can make this with ground turkey or ground chicken and it will taste just as good.


  • 1 cup polenta
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 lb. leanest ground beef
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1 chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 T chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) crushed tomatoes in thick puree
  • 2 cups corn kernels (fresh, frozen and thawed, or canned and drained)
  • 2 cups grated cheddar cheese


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Make the polenta topping:  In a saucepan over medium heat, mix the polenta with the chicken broth.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and cook, stirring, until thickened, about 5 minutes.

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook beef, onion, bell peppers, and garlic, breaking up the meat with a spoon, until meat is no longer pink and vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.   Stir in seasonings, tomatoes, and corn and simmer about 5 minutes.

In a 9×13 inch baking dish lightly coated with cooking spray or oil, place meat and vegetable mixture.  Spread polenta topping over the mixture and sprinkle with cheese.

Bake uncovered, until bubbly and cheese is melted, about 30 minutes.  Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

For a printer-friendly recipe, please click here: Tamale Pie

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