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!
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.
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.
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.
If you’d like to add some toppings, here are few suggestions:
- Classic fire roasted salsa
- Roasted salsa verde (tomatillo salsa)
- Homemade pico de gallo
- Sour cream or Mexican crema
This recipe first appeared on Kevin Is Cooking on Aug. 24, 2015 and was last updated with new content on Sept. 2, 2021.
Easy Tamale Casserole + Video
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 medium yellow onion chopped
- 1 green bell pepper chopped small
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 lb ground beef (90/10)
- 8 oz tomato sauce
- 1 cup corn fresh cooked or thawed from frozen
- 8 oz kidney beans or black beans, drained
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese shredded
- 8.5 oz Cornbread mix (See Note 1)
- 1 egg
- 1/3 cup milk
- 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.
- Feel free to use Jiffy, Trader Joe’s or your favorite cornbread mix for convenience, but my homemade cornbread recipe is fantastic.
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.