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Texas Tamale Pie

In case you’re unfamiliar with Texas tamale pie, it’s a simple combo of some form of ground beef chili or meat pie filling topped with a cornbread crust. Every serving is like a bowl of flavorful chili with a generous slice of cornbread. What’s not to love about that?

Tex-Mex tamale pie is an awesome one pan meal, and my version uses higher protein ingredients to create a dish with 33 grams of protein and only 11 grams of fat per serving.

How to Make Texas Tamale Pie Filling

You’ll see a lot of different filling styles when it comes to tamale pie. Some have black or pinto beans, corn, and closely resemble something like my Tex-Mex quinoa and ground beef skillet. For this recipe, however, I wanted to keep it simple with a true Texas chili (no beans).

cooking ground beef for tamale pie

All you need to do is brown two pounds of extra lean ground beef in a large skillet before breaking apart and adding a diced onion and poblano pepper. Once the beef is cooked, add some freshly minced garlic, taco and chili seasoning, diced green chiles, and crushed tomatoes.

Let that simmer for a bit while you prep the cornbread topping.

tamale pie filling in a skillet with cheddar cheese

Before you add the cornbread to the tamale pie, stir in some shredded cheddar cheese and freshly sliced scallions (not pictured above). This thickens the chili and adds some freshness and that bright, punchy allium flavor we all know and love.

Side note: If you want a micronutrient boost, you could add some frozen chopped spinach like in my ground pork chili recipe.

Cornmeal Tamale Pie Topping

For the cornbread topping, you’ll mix yellow cornmeal and all purpose flour with a bit of baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, you’ll mix together fat free Greek yogurt, two eggs, diced green chiles, and shredded cheddar cheese.

combining wet and dry ingredients for cornbread

If you wanted to add even more corn flavor, you could substitute the Greek yogurt and milk for something like creamed corn. Check out my smoked southern style cornbread recipe for an example of this and ingredient ratios.

Mix the wet and dry together and add to the top of the tamale pie. I also like to add a freshly sliced jalapeño pepper on top of the cornbread topping, but it’s still great without it.

tamale pie cornmeal topping before baking with sliced jalapeño on top

The cornbread topping will rise in the oven. So if you think your skillet is looking a little too full, you may want to transfer the tamale pie filling to a larger baking dish before adding the topping.

I’m using an 11″ enameled cast iron skillet in this recipe, for comparison. For extra space, you might consider using a Dutch oven like I used for my Mexican chicken pot pie.

Texas tamale pie with sliced jalapeño baked in

The tamale pie will go in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the top is golden brown and the cornbread is cooked through. Let everything hang out at room temperature for about 10 minutes, if possible, before serving.

I hope you enjoy digging into this tamale pie! If you do, I always appreciate reviews in the recipe card below. And if you like this recipe and want to explore other high protein meat pies and skillets, be sure to check out my cheesy beef enchilada skilletone skillet turkey enchiladasketo cottage pie, and ground chicken shepherd’s pie recipes next.

Texas tamale pie with sliced jalapeño baked in

Texas Tamale Pie

Yield: 8 Servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

A simple one-pan beef chili topped with a Tex-Mex cornbread crust.


  • 2 pounds Ground Beef (96/4)
  • 1 medium Onion, diced
  • 1 Poblano Pepper, diced
  • 4 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 28 oz can Fire Roasted Crushed Tomatoes
  • 4 oz can Diced Green Chiles
  • 1 packet Taco Seasoning
  • 1 packet Chili Seasoning
  • 2 oz Shredded Cheddar
  • 3-4 Scallions, sliced

Cornbread Dry Ingredients

  • 1 cup (144g) Yellow Cornmeal
  • 1 cup (120g) All Purpose Flour
  • 2 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Baking Soda

Cornbread Wet Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup Fat Free Greek Yogurt
  • 2 large Eggs
  • 1/4 cup Skim Milk
  • 4 oz can Diced Green Chiles
  • 2 oz Shredded Cheddar


  1. Preheat oven to 425ºF and prepare the cornbread by mixing the dry and wet ingredients separately before mixing together. Set aside.
  2. Heat a large, oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat and add the ground beef. Brown both sides for 2-3 minutes before breaking apart and adding the onion and pepper. Fully cook the beef before adding the garlic and cooking for 30-60 seconds until fragrant.
  3. Add the crushed tomatoes, green chiles, and seasoning packets. Stir everything together and turn off the heat. Fold in the cheese and scallions.
  4. Add the cornbread mixture on top in dollops and spread to the edges of the skillet. (If the skillet is too small, transfer to a baking dish.) Optional: Top with sliced jalapeño.
  5. Bake for 16-20 minutes until the top of the cornbread is golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: about 12 oz
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 415Total Fat: 11gCarbohydrates: 44gProtein: 33g

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