Tamale Cake Recipe

Tamale Cake Recipe

Tamale Cake Recipe
Nutritional Information (per serving)

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Nutritional Information
Servings: 6 to 8
Amount per serving
% Daily Value*
Saturated fat 14g68%
134 mg45%
1065 mg46%
Fiber 8g30%
Total sugar 6g
Vitamin C 64 mg319%
Calcium 294 mg23%
Iron 4 mg23%
Potassium 837 mg18%
*The % Daily Value (DV) indicates how much a nutrient in a food portion contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories per day is used for general nutritional advice.

(Nutritional information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Tamale Pie is a comforting one-course meal made entirely in a single pan. A chili-like stuffing made from ground turkey (or substitute your favorite meat), beans, corn, tomatoes, and spices is topped with melted cheese and a fluffy, cornbread-like masa topping and baked. It's perfect for a chilly evening and requires minimal cleanup.

Tamales are a popular dish with countless variations in South and Latin America. It takes time and care to make, and a good tamal is worth it. The tamale pie is believed to have originated in Texas and first appeared in cookbooks around the turn of the 20th century. While the dish is inspired by the masa dough and flavorful fillings of tamales, it is a very different Southwestern dish that can be ready to eat in about an hour.

You can easily customize this dish to suit your tastes – swap the turkey for ground beef, shredded chicken, or more beans. Adjust the seasonings to your taste and use your favorite type of processed cheese. The stuffing casserole needs little accompaniment; Try a fresh green salad for a nice meal.

“The tamale pie is delicious, and the ground turkey, which can be bland, gets tons of flavor support from the tomatoes, beans, corn and spices. Definitely a successful family meal, all in one pot. It is a large cake and…”would be an excellent dish for a visit to extended family or a party.” -Diana Rattray

For the filling:

  • 2 teaspoon olive oil

  • 1 Pound Lean turkey

  • 1 large yellow oniondiced

  • 1 Medium paprikadiced

  • 2 large Garlic cloveschopped

  • 1 tablespoon Chili powder

  • 1 teaspoon Floor cumin

  • 1 teaspoon kosher saltor to taste

  • 1 (15 ounce can black beansrinsed and drained

  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoesdrained

  • 1 (8 ounces) may Tomato sauce

  • 1 (4 ounce) can diced green chiliesdrained

  • 1 Cup Frozen corn

  • 1 Cup grated cheddar cheese

For covering:

  • 2 cups Masa Harina cornmeal

  • 1 tablespoon Sugar

  • 2 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 2 cups low sodium chicken brothor more as needed

  • 1/2 Cup unsalted buttermelted

  • 1 large egg

  • 1/2 Cup grated cheddar cheese

  1. Gather the ingredients. Preheat the oven to 400F.

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  2. Heat the oil in a 12-inch deep skillet over medium-high heat (cast iron, stainless steel, or ovenproof nonstick). Once hot, add the ground turkey and onion. Sauté the turkey, breaking up the turkey, for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the turkey is mostly cooked through and the onion is translucent.

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  3. Add the peppers and garlic and sauté for another 2 to 3 minutes.

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  4. Add chili powder, cumin and salt and stir until well combined.

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  5. Add black beans, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, chilies and corn. Stir and cook until bubbly.

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  6. Taste for seasoning. Turn off the heat and set aside while you prepare the topping.

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  7. In a large mixing bowl, combine masa harina, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir to combine.

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  8. Add the chicken broth and beat with an electric mixer until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Alternatively, beat with a wooden spoon.

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  9. Add the melted butter and egg and mix for another 2 minutes until well combined. The mixture should resemble creamy mashed potatoes – if it's too stiff, add a splash or two more stock. Add 1/2 cup grated cheese and mix to combine.

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  10. Spread the cooked filling in an even layer across the pan. Top with 1 cup Cheddar cheese.

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  11. Place large dollops of the masa topping on top, then use a rubber spatula to gently spread it into an even layer that reaches almost to the edge.

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  12. Bake, uncovered, for about 30 to 45 minutes or until the filling is very bubbly, the topping is light golden brown, and a toothpick inserted into the center of the mixture comes out clean. Allow to cool for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck


  • You can also make the chili filling in advance. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to two days.
  • If you don't have a suitable pan, you can place the filling in a 9×13 inch baking/baking dish, top with cheese and masa, and bake.
  • If desired, you can serve this tamale pie with a few toppings such as sour cream or crema, sliced ​​green onions, and cilantro. Have hot sauce on hand for spice lovers.

Recipe variations

  • Swap the ground turkey for ground pork, chicken, or beef. Depending on how fatty your meat is, you may want to drain most of the fat after browning.
  • Make the casserole meatier by swapping the can of beans for another half pound of meat.
  • Shredded leftover roast chicken, turkey, pot roast, or pork shoulder also work well. Sauté the vegetables and then add the cooked meat along with the beans.
  • Or make a vegetarian version by using plant-based “meat” or substituting another can of beans.
  • You can also substitute sautéed mushrooms for the turkey. Dice a pound of portobello mushrooms and sauté with the onion.

Here's how to store and freeze it

  • Store remaining tamale cake in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to three days. Reheat in the microwave or in a 350 F oven.
  • You can also freeze tamale cake for later. Once prepared, place the filling in a greased baking dish and top with cheese and masa. Wrap tightly and freeze for up to three months. Thaw in the fridge overnight, then uncover and bake.

Is masa harina the same as corn flour?

Masa Harina, meaning “dough flour,” is used to make tamales and corn tortillas. The dried flint corn is soaked in a lime mixture such as calcium hydroxide, a process known as nixtamalization. Cornmeal does not go through this process; It is made from finely ground dried corn kernels.

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