Tamale Pie Recipe

Tamale Pie Recipe

Tamale pie is a dish I’ve been making since sometime in the 90’s and it’s always been a hit. The corn part is made with pre-cooked polenta — the kind that comes in a tube shape at the grocery store. Yes, we’re taking something Italian and making it into a Mexican dish! So if you’ve always wanted to try pre-cooked polenta, here’s a great quick and easy recipe.

To go vegetarian, use a meat substitute such as Beyond Beef Beefy Crumbles or Kroger/King Soopers’ excellent store branded version. They are delicious in recipes calling for ground meat.

Serve tamale pie along with Caesar salad and you’ve got a great weeknight meal.

Tamale Pie Recipe

Tamale Pie

Paul Myrick
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Course Entree
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 8 servings


  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound ground beef ground turkey, or non-meat beefy crumbles
  • 1 ½ tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • One 16-oz. bottle tomato salsa your favorite at preferred heat level
  • One 15- to 16-oz. can refried beans vegetarian works fine
  • One 14 ½ oz. can low sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro optional
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • Two 1-pound rolls prepared polenta sliced into 1/3 inch thick rounds
  • 3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Heat oil in large heavy pot and sauté beef, turkey or crumbles medium-high heat until no longer pink, about 3 minutes.
  • Add chili powder and cumin; stir 1 minute.
  • Add salsa, beans and broth, stir.
  • Simmer uncovered and stir occasionally until mixture thickens, about 10 minutes.
  • Mix in ¼ cup cilantro (if using); taste mixture and season with salt and pepper if needed.
  • Oil a 13" x 9" deep baking dish.
  • Place half of sliced polenta in dish.
  • Top polenta layers with sauce and 1 ½ cups cheese, then remaining polenta, cheese and cilantro. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with foil; refrigerate.)
  • Bake freshly assembled pie, uncovered, until heated through and sauce bubbles, about 30 minutes, or bake refrigerated pie, covered, 20 minutes, then uncover and bake until heated through, about 35 minutes.


Does NOT freeze well. When frozen, the liquid in the polenta tends to separate and become gummy.


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