Beef Kid Friendly

Skillet Tamale Pie

Skillet Tamale Pie

I have a chalkboard hanging in my kitchen that says “Menu”.  Most of the time it displays Suzie Q’s artistic expressions and maybe a quote or two.  I hung it in the kitchen with the intention of posting our weekly menu, but most of the time I don’t have the heart to erase the creative artwork. 

I think Suzie Q loves summer.

On the occasion my menu board is undecorated, I post my own artistry, what were having for dinner.  And if I’m on task, I’ll post the dinner menu for the next two or three days.  I always feel so efficient when I plan more than two days at a time. 

Tonight it’s Skillet Tamale Pie.  Tamale pie recipes have been around as long as I can remember.  It’s delicious comfort food with beefy filling and cornbread topping, usually with lots of cheese.  Mmmm.  

I found this new recipe in Mark Bittman’s book, Food Matters Cook Book.  Ok, I don’t usually get too serious on this blog because frankly, life is serious enough.  But… I strongly encourage watching these eye-opening food documentaries.  Food Matters, Food Inc and Food Fight.  Food does matter.  It’s what either keeps us strong and healthy, or sick and obese.  

Tamale Pie baked in a ramekin... adorable

Ok, so I could go on and on about buying local, buying organic and clearing all the pantry shelves of processed food, but I won’t.  Today anyway.  Today it’s all about Skillet Tamale Pie.  And my two gals love this Tamale Pie. (me too!).  Sometimes I just make the filling, let it cool and then serve it on top of a big bowl of crispy romaine with a little salsa and plain yogurt.

Although I changed a few things in this recipe, to suit the Bennett Crew’s taste buds, the original recipe is just as fabulous.  The goal of this recipe is super tasty, simple, fresh and lots of smiles.  I definitely saw lots of Bennett smiles.

Skillet Tamale Pie

Adapted from the Food Matters Cook Book by Mark Bittman

Serves 4


1 cup cornmeal (fine or medium grind, I like Bob’s Red Mill brand and I mix 1/2 corn masa with 1/2 medium grind)

½ – 1 cup hot water, or more as needed


2 tablespoons olive oil or Grapeseed oil, or more as needed

1 lb ground beef or pork or chicken or a mixture

Black pepper

1 onion, chopped

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon chili powder

1  15 ounce can diced tomatoes, drained

3 cups corn, fresh or frozen (I like Cascadian Organic)

½ teaspoon baking powder

¼ chopped fresh cilantro or green onions (or both) for garnish

Dollop of sour cream (optional)


Heat the oven to 400F.

Combine the cornmeal, hot water and a large pinch of salt; stir with a fork until smooth.  Let it sit while you prepare the filling.

Put the oil in a deep oven proof skillet.  If you are going to bake the tamale pie in a baking dish or individual single serving bowls, no need for the oven proof skillet, just use any large skillet. 

Heat the oil over medium high heat and then add the meat.  Sprinkle the meat with salt and pepper.

Brown the meat for 5-10 minutes and then lower the heat and add the garlic and onion.  Cook until the vegetables soften, adding more oil if needed.

Stir in the chili powder, tomatoes and corn and turn off the heat.

Stir the baking powder into the cornmeal mixture until it’s completely incorporated.  The mixture should be the consistency of thick pancake batter; if not add a little more water.

If using the oven proof skillet, spoon the batter into the skillet on top of the filling and spread it around a bit.  If using a small baking dish or individual bowls, pour the filling into the dish or dishes and then spoon the cornbread mixture over the top of the meat filling. 

Bake until the cornbread has cracked and turned golden and is cooked all the way through, about 20 to 25 minutes for a large skillet or baking dish, a little less time for individual bowls. 

Garnish with cilantro, green onion, pepper jack cheese and sour cream.

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  • Reply
    June 24, 2011 at 7:59 am

    Oh…..YUM. If it has the word tamale in it, I want to try it!

  • Reply
    June 24, 2011 at 8:17 am

    Hahaha! I know… we love anything “tamale” at the Bennett Camp. Not to mention anything just a little spicy. Enjoy!

  • Reply
    Recipe Chefs
    June 24, 2011 at 10:32 am

    This looks like a very tasty recipe. Thanks for sharing, I really enjoyed reading today’s post.

    I love sharing recipes also. I believe everyone can enjoy them. You can get our recipes on Twitter.

    Try This Pasta Dinner Recipe

    • Reply
      June 24, 2011 at 10:48 am

      Thanks Recipe Chefs!

  • Reply
    Karen Matthews
    March 24, 2014 at 5:03 pm

    Hey Karista, I’ve just made this tamale pie recipe and I had a problem with the corn being soupy. I used new Bob’s corn meal and new baking powder. The water was hot, but I didn’t check the temperature. I don’t know what I did wrong.

    I noticed that you reduced the amount of water from “1-1/2 cups” to “1/2 to 1 cup”. What amount do you usually use? And what does he mean by “hot” water?

    I’d love to try this again, but I’ll wait until I hear from you and/or others. Thank you!


    • Reply
      Karen Matthews
      March 24, 2014 at 5:05 pm

      Above, I mean the cornmeal/water mixture never got beyond soupy.

      • Reply
        March 25, 2014 at 4:33 pm

        Karen it’s been a while since I made this but as I recall I reduced liquid to 1/2 cup and add more if needed. Did you combine the Bob’s Cornmeal with the Masa? I do remember having to adjust the wet ingredients to my dry ingredients. Try adding 1/4 cup of wet ingredients to your dry ingredients at a time. You’ll want a batter like consistency. Please let me know if this helps. It’s truly a delish recipe and my kids loved it but I want it turn out perfectly for you. 🙂

        • Reply
          Karen Matthews
          March 25, 2014 at 6:29 pm

          Thank you for your reply! I made it with a cup of cornmeal (medium grind) and no masa. Do you use boiling water?

          I’ll definitely reduce the liquid to a 1/2 cup to start. Thanks for your advice!


          • bennett
            March 25, 2014 at 8:12 pm

            Yes I think I did use boiling water. Sorry! it’s been a while since I made this. I’ll make it again soon and maybe I can figure out the issue with the watery cornmeal. Hope this helps!

          • Karen Matthews
            March 26, 2014 at 5:46 pm

            Thank you! If I get better results, I’ll let you know.

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