Tamale Pie


One of the first recipes that made it onto my favorites list when I was a young bride was this recipe for tamale pie that I found in a cookbook I received as a wedding gift in the early ’60’s.  Back then the selection of cookbooks was decent, but nothing like what is available now, and most home cooks had the same five or six books on their kitchen shelves.  One of the most popular was The Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book, published in 1960. It’s all basic stuff and I have found very few recipes in it over that years that haven’t been good, if not first rate.  Mexican food wasn’t popular back then, at least in my mother’s kitchen, but I loved the mild spiciness of the ground beef mixture and the cheesy goodness of the cornmeal topper. My husband was a hunter and this recipe was a good way to use the ground venison that filled the freezer every fall.  I’m sure it would also be delicious with ground turkey if that’s your preference. If you are a fan of Tex-Mex cooking I’m sure you will like this very flavorful and easy to assemble dish.


5.0 from 6 reviews
Tamale Pie
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 cup green pepper, chopped
  • ¾ pound ground beef
  • 2 8-ounce cans (2 cups) seasoned tomato sauce
  • 1 12-ounce can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 cup chopped olives
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons chili powder
  • dash pepper
  • 1-1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • ¾ cup yellow cornmeal
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups cold water
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  1. Cook onion and green pepper in a little hot oil until tender. Add meat; brown lightly. Add next 8 ingredients. Simmer 20 to 25 minutes until thick. Add cheese; stir until melted. Pour into a greased 10x8 inch baking dish.
  2. Corn-Meal Topper: Stir corn meal and salt into cold water. Cook and stir until thick. Add butter, mix well. Spoon over hot meat mixture.
  3. Bake casserole in a 375 degree oven about 40 minutes until bubbly and the topper has lightly browned.
This is a very versatile recipe so you can spice it up with more chili powder or by adding roasted chilies to the meat mixture. Substitute black beans for the meat if you want a vegetarian version. I like to add some grated cheese to the corn-meal topper too. I also added one cup of sliced black olives. I like to serve this with a little tomato and avocado salad. It's just as good, if not better, then next day after the flavors have had a chance to blend.


A Beautiful Fall Day in Portland

On This Day One Year Ago….Beef Barley Soup

On This Day Two Years Ago….Spicy Pumpkin Black Bean Chili






  1. says

    I know about those days in the early 60s; my first cookbook was a little Betty Crocker pocket book with no pictures, but it got me through the early days.
    You sure have a lovely Tamali pie; something I have never tasted; sure tempting. Those trees are perfection; our leaves are all on the ground now.

  2. says

    First of all…..I love your fall photo!!! I had to laugh, because yes, there were few cookbooks available in the 60’s. I remember receiving one at my bridal shower named “I Hate to Cook” by Peg Bracken. :) And yes, BH&G was the most popular one. Thinking back, I actually think I have made this recipe….back in my early marriage day. It would be fun to try again. Thanks. Susan
    Susan recently posted..It is a SO GOOD recipe for Lemon Pound CakeMy Profile

  3. Kris says

    Hi Cathy,
    Your tamale pie looks so good! My family has been wanting me to make my version of that too. I wanted to let you know I added a couple of cans of clams to my potato cheese soup that I took to my Mom’s for Halloween on Sunday, and it was sooooo good! Thanks for the wonderful suggestion!!!
    : ) KRis

  4. Aimee says

    I think this is the tamale pie my mom used to make us when we were growing up–sure looks like it! I LOVED that recipe —
    Beautiful autumn photo–I love the beautiful colors on the different trees!

  5. says

    It’s cold in Minnesota today and your tamale pie looks so warm and comforting! I was also given a copy of the Better Homes and Garden when I first moved to this country and it is my go to cookbook for many of the local dishes. It really is one of the best and I have learn a lot from it.

    That’s a gorgeous picture with all those beautiful trees!
    Biren @ Roti n Rice recently posted..Nyonya Style Pumpkin and Shrimp CurryMy Profile

  6. says

    Hi Cathy!
    I grinned when I saw this one. When I was a girl, the cafeteria used to serve this and I LOVED it. I have wanted to make it for my husband who has never heard of it. Printing this one for sure. Your trees are gorgeous. We are having a stunning autumn up here in the Northern Rockies as well and I am trying to resign myself to the inevitable snow that will be starting in the next few weeks. It’s not that I don’t love the snow, it’s just that I love the warm weather better. 😉
    Vickie recently posted..Blogging BreakMy Profile

  7. Happier Than A Pig in Mud says

    That sure looks like a great dinner Cathy! And what an amazing pic of the colorful trees, just beautiful-Happy November:@)

  8. says

    That picture of the trees is amazing. We are just starting to turn colors here in NC, but I don’t think we will get that vibrant – beautiful!

    I love old cookbooks and I also love cookbooks that come from church groups…some of my all-time favorite recipes come from them! I have never had this tamale pie, but I will have to put this on the weekly rotation. It looks delicious and I love that cornbread topper. I have the BHG little paperback cookbook and it’s my go-to for many of my recipes – like pancakes and waffles.
    Becki’s Whole Life recently posted..Philly Cheesesteak PizzaMy Profile

  9. Lynn says

    First of all the colors in your photo are gorgeous! I have made a recipe similar to this and it was delicious. I remember back to when I was first married as well and joined a cookbook club! lol In a year I had more cookbooks than I knew what to do with but still have many of them and have used them over and over. Now I tend to look online instead and your blog is one place I stop for sure!

  10. says

    Cathy, my mother also had that cookbook, and I have kept it too. I haven’t had tamale pie in quite awhile, but I’m going to make it soon now. Yours looks like perfect comfort food!
    I’m back to blogging and can’t wait to see what great foods you post this season!

  11. says

    Cathy: What a gorgeous fall photo! I love these old recipes and am happy to have this one. I got the Betty Crocker cookbook as a wedding present. Some years later, I became too “sophisticated” to use it. Boy was I glad to start going through it again a few years ago. The recipes are simple and simply delicious!!

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