Slightly sweet, deliciously savory and so mouthwatering; every bite is comforting. Each spoonful of Southwestern Tamale Pie is loaded with ground beef, beans, cheese and veggies. Finished off with cornbread, this recipe makes for a super hearty and filling dish.
Family Favorite - Perfect Weeknight Dinner
Quick and easy, this casserole is a fun spin on delicious tamales making it the perfect meal for a busy weeknight. And heaven knows we can all use more simple weeknight meals like this one. In fact if you are in need of a few others you've got to check out our other favorite make ahead and freeze recipes like cheesy Funeral Potatoes, Honey Garlic Meatballs and Best Ever Bran Muffins. Trust us, you won't regret it.
Being make ahead and freezer friendly, makes this ideal for feeding big crowds. Do all the work ahead of time and pop it in the oven when you need it most.
I'll even let you in on a secret, when I'm in a real bind for time, or let's be honest -- when lazy Ash is calling the shots, I'll pull out our favorite leftover chili from the freezer, thaw it enough to put in a casserole dish and use it for the filling, making dinner that much easier!
In fact, if you've given our Sweet and Spicy Chili a go, you may notice the filling recipe looks awfully familiar. Because it is! With just a few tweaks our favorite chili makes for the perfect filling in Southwestern Tamale Pie.
A Recipe Match Made in Heaven
Packed with dynamic flavor and texture, chili and cornbread have always been a timeless combo. So it just makes sense to combine the two into one amazing dish. Combining the two makes for a simple casserole loaded with delicious Mexican flavors. And truly who wouldn’t love a dish bursting with tamale flavor that you don’t have to spend all day in the kitchen for?
Which makes this another reason I love this recipe so much. This recipe is perfect for those nights when you walk in the kitchen and think to yourself, “Crap. It’s already 5 o’clock, what I am making for dinner!?”
With most of the ingredients coming out of the pantry or being kitchen staples this meal comes together with little effort in just minutes. Plus, as a mom this is a great way to sneak in lots of veggies and beans without complaint from the peanut gallery.
How to Serve Southwestern Tamale Pie
As if we needed another reason to fall in love with this dish more ... we love that it is a one-dish meal. Protein, veggies, a little dairy and carbs all in one heavenly scoop. Having everything packed in to one casserole means you really don’t have to add any sides to take this to a well-rounded meal.
If really wanting something though you can try serving with tortilla chips, corn on the cob, a fresh green salad or just go REAL heavy on the toppings like we do. Have fun with it, let everyone customize with their favorites. Some of our favorites would be,
- diced tomatoes
- shredded lettuce
- sliced black olives
- pico de gallo
- chopped onions
- few jalapeño slices
- handful of shredded cheese
- pinch of cilantro
- dollop of sour cream
- smother with a creamy avocado salsa
Make Ahead - Freezer Friendly Recipe
Any casserole leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Reheat, add your favorite fresh toppings and enjoy again!
This is a great recipe to freeze for later. And there really are two ways to go with it, just comes down to your preference. I prefer to freeze it unbaked so the cornbread is nice and fluffy when we serve it.
Freeze once Baked:
If wanting to bake now for a quicker cook time later, you will want to prepare and bake as normal. Just be sure when you place everything in a dish to bake that it is something you can pop in the freezer when done. These aluminum dishes with lids are great to have on hand for something like this.
Once your dish is done baking allow it to cool 100% before wrapping and storing in the freezer. This dish should be good for up to 3 months. When ready to serve pull it out and allow to thaw in the fridge overnight and reheat in the oven till warmed through.
Make the recipe as directed. Instead of putting dish in oven place in the freezer uncovered for an hour to allow the filling and cornbread to soft freeze so they do not stick to the plastic wrap. Remove from freezer and wrap tightly in plastic wrap and then in foil. This can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months.
When ready to serve remove from freezer and allow to thaw overnight in fridge. The next day unwrap and follow the baking instructions as listed, serve and enjoy!
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1½ teaspoon salt
- ½ tablespoon chili powder
- ½ cup packed brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon cumin and/or cayenne pepper*
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 1 can pinto beans - drained
- 1 can kidney beans - drained and rinsed
- 1 can diced green chilies
- 1 can corn - drained
- 1 can condensed tomato soup
- ½ cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
- ½ cup sour cream
- 1 package cornbread mix
- ingredients listed on cornbread package (usually egg and milk, possibly water)
- In a pot add ground beef, oil, peppers and onion. Saute until meat is browned and veggies are tender. Drain off any excess liquids.
- Add pepper, salt, cumin, cayenne pepper, chili powder and brown sugar and stir together.
- Add tomatoes, beans, green chili, corn, tomato soup, cheese and sour cream to filling.
- Preheat oven to 375° and pour tamale filling into a greased 9x13 casserole dish.
- In a small bowl prepare the cornbread batter as directed on the package.
- Pour batter over the filling in the casserole dish. Spread to cover the top of filling.
- Place casserole dish in the oven and bake at 375° for 40 minutes or until cornbread is cooked through and golden brown on top.
- The original sweet and spicy chili recipe that this filling is inspired by calls for both cumin and cayenne pepper. Add both or choose to add just one depending on your desired spice level. We usually leave out the cayenne pepper if the kids will be eating it.
- You’ll know the dish is done when the cornbread on top is golden brown and no longer jiggly in the center. Will also be able to see the edges bubbling slightly.
- Any homemade or store bought cornbread batter will work. We usually have a box of Jiffy cornbread on hand so that's what we typically use.
- If you really want even more cornbread topping you could prepare two mixes to pour over top of casserole.
- This casserole freezes beautifully. For full instructions on preparing ahead and freezing check out all the details in the post above.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 382Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 46mgSodium: 839mgCarbohydrates: 45gFiber: 6gSugar: 18gProtein: 18g