Easy Tamale Casserole

4.77 from 13 votes

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Tamale casserole is a delicious baked Tex Mex meal with seasoned ground beef, corn, and Jiffy cornbread topping. Make this recipe all in one pan for easier cleanup!

plated serving of tex mex tamale casserole


If you love tamales but hate the prep work involved, this casserole recipe will become a favorite. Actually, I think casserole recipes in general are the easiest meals for busy people to prepare.

Almost all of the breakfast bake and dinner casserole recipes I share here on Kevin is Cooking can be made ahead and frozen for later use.

fork on side of plated serving of jiffy cornbread casserole


If you’re in the mood for a casual weekend brunch, make some polenta cakes a day or two ahead. Then just heat and eat when you’re ready for them. For something a bit heartier, make a cheesy sausage baked eggs casserole

What I love about this tamale casserole is that it’s very flavorful, very filling, and there’s a nice contrast in textures. The baked cornbread topping gives it that “tamale” feel without needing to spend hours making authentic tamales.

Ingredient Notes for Tamale Casserole

  • Ground Beef

I suggest using an 80/20 blend of ground beef. You want a little bit of fat for flavor, but not so much that it makes the tamale casserole greasy.

Feel free to substitute ground lamb, pork, chicken, or even ground turkey. If you’d like something a bit lighter in calories, chicken tamale pie is perfect. It uses ground chicken and a has a salsa verde sauce.

  • Cornbread Topping

To keep things simple, feel free to use Jiffy cornbread mix, but for a more authentic flavor, I use homemade cornbread. The recipe is very simple and I think it makes a big difference in the flavor of the topping.

It you’ll be using Jiffy cornbread mix, combine the ingredients in a small bowl, then pour it over the meat mixture just before baking the tamale casserole.

  • Beans– I like to use red kidney beans, but black beans would be fantastic too.
  • Shredded cheese– What casserole isn’t made better with melted cheese? This ingredient isn’t a deal breaker; feel free to omit the cheese if you’d like to reduce the overall calories and fat in the meal.

Video: Making Beef Tamale Bake

This recipe is pretty straightforward and not at all difficult. To see it in action from start to finish, watch the video in the recipe card at the bottom of the post.

side view: serving of tamale casserole on brown plate

Serving Suggestions

Honestly, I think the tamale casserole is hearty and filling on its own. Something like a side of rajas con crema or Mexican salad with roasted tomato vinaigrette is all you should really need. Oh, and maybe some tortilla chips for scooping up any loose meat from your plate.

close up: tex mex dinner bake with ground beef, corn, kidney beans and cornbread topping

If you’d like to add some toppings, here are few suggestions:

Topping Ideas

plated serving of baked cornbread casserole

This recipe first appeared on Kevin Is Cooking on Aug. 24, 2015 and was last updated with new content on Sept. 2, 2021.

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plated serving of tex mex tamale casserole

Easy Tamale Casserole + Video

4.77 from 13 votes
Tamale casserole is a delicious baked Tex Mex meal with ground beef, corn, and Jiffy cornbread topping. Make this recipe all in one pan!
Servings: 6 servings
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Total: 40 minutes

Ingredients 

Cornbread Topping:

  • 8.5 oz Cornbread mix (See Note 1)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup milk

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 375° F.
  • Heat oil in large skillet. Add onion, bell pepper and salt. Saute 3 minutes and add garlic. Cook until onion is translucent.
  • Add ground beef and break up meat with spoon. Cook until meat is lightly browned. Drain excess oil if needed.
  • Stir in tomato sauce, corn, beans, chili powder, cumin, chipotle powder and black pepper. Stir to mix and simmer on low for 10 minutes or until thickened. Pour into a greased 9×9” baking dish, top with cheese. Set aside.
  • Mix the cornbread mix, egg an milk in a small bowl. Pour over meat mixture to cover and bake for 20 minutes. Top should be golden brown.

Video

Notes

  1. Feel free to use Jiffy, Trader Joe’s or your favorite cornbread mix for convenience, but my homemade cornbread recipe is fantastic.

Nutrition

Calories: 418kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 102mg | Sodium: 827mg | Potassium: 706mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 1640IU | Vitamin C: 31.3mg | Calcium: 198mg | Iron: 3.8mg

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

Course: Dinners
Cuisine: Tex Mex
Have You Made This Recipe? Let Me Know on InstagramTag @keviniscooking or tag me #keviniscooking!
titled image of tex mex ground beef casserole with cornbread topping

Kevin

Whether in the kitchen or on the grill, you’ll find me cooking American favorites with a love for BBQ, Mexican and Tex Mex. I’m passionate about making tasty food because life’s too short to be bland!

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73 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Made your Easy Tamale Casserole last night for dinner, it was fantastic. My husband went back for seconds and finished it off for lunch the next day. We both love tex mex food. I fix it often. Would you believe by using low fat tec mex recipes I lost 30 pounds? All I can say is what a way to loss weight. Sense I found your recipes I will be doing the more often. Thanks for sharing and keep those recipes coming

  2. 5 stars
    I made your Easy Tamale Casserole last night for dinner and it was fantastic. My husband went back for seconds after he said he didn’t think he would like it. What was left over that night we finished it the next night. And he said to put on the do again list. We both love Mexican food and I try to make something Mexican at least once or twice a week. I think I’ll be looking at your recipes more often.
    Thanks and keep the great recipes coming.

  3. Hey Kevin, when you say “tomato sauce ” is that aka tomato puree? Or does it have spices, vinegar etc in it?

    1. I use a small can of tomato sauce, I would specify tomato puree otherwise Sarah. Both can be used though. There are link on most ingredients for you to see as well. Hope this helps and thanks for following along!

  4. Hi Kevin,
    I just started following you and I cannot wait to start making some of your recipes. I would like to make your Tamale casserole for Sunday but we are having a crowd. Do you see any issue with me doubling it as well as your cornbread topping? Thank you in advance