Tamale pie with cornbread topping, all made in one skillet. It’s another ground beef skillet dinner for two, but with Tex-Mex flavors!

 

Tamale Pie with Cornbread Topping

Why the Recipe Works

My friend Chungah from the incredible recipe blog Damn Delicious wrote this amazing cookbook called ‘Damn Delicious Meal Prep: 115 Easy Recipes for Low-Calorie, High-Energy Living.’  It’s filled with tons of low-cal make-ahead meal ideas that serve 2-4 people, which is perfect for us.   I settled on making her tamale pie first because I had an intense craving for comforting cornbread. 

This incredible ground beef skillet meal makes 4 servings, which is perfect for dinner for two and lunch leftovers the next day! It gets even better as it sits, so you will be looking forward to lunch tomorrow! Plus, each serving is only a little over 400 calories since it’s packed with vegetables and lean protein!

One of the reasons I love Chungah’s recipe for tamale pie is because the topping is made with real cornmeal, instead of a store-bought mix. I always have plenty of cornmeal in my pantry, because we use it to keep homemade pizza from sticking to the pizza pan, and for cornmeal waffles and blueberry cobbler, of course!

meal-prep-for-two

Tamale Pie Ingredients

Chungah calls for ground turkey in her skillet tamale pie, but I used ground beef because I always have some in the freezer. Her tamale pie is full of fresh vegetables, including my favorite pepper: poblanos! The corn and tomatoes keep it super kid-friendly, too.  

  1. 2 teaspoons olive oil
  2. 1/2 pound lean ground beef (or turkey)
  3. 1 clove garlic, minced
  4. 1 small onion, finely diced
  5. 1 small poblano pepper, seeded and diced
  6. 2 teaspoons chili powder
  7. 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  8. 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  9. 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  10. 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  11. 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes with green chiles (I used Mild Ro-Tel tomatoes with green chiles)
  12. 1/2 cup frozen corn kernels
  13. 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

For the cornbread topping

  1. 1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
  2. 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  3. 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  4. 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  5. 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons low-fat buttermilk (you can substitute milk)
  6. 1 large egg yolk (egg white reserved for another use)
  7. 1 tablespoon melted butter
  8. 1/2 cup shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
  9. 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

tamale pie recipe with ground beef

How to Make Tamale Pie

  1. Prep – Preheat oven to 425 degrees. 
  2. Combine – In an 8-inch small oven-safe skillet (like cast iron) heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef (or turkey), and cook while breaking up with a spoon until the meat has started to brown on one side, about 3-5 minutes.  Next, add the garlic, onion, and poblano to the skillet, and cook for another 5 minutes, until the onions soften and the meat is done.  Stir in the spices, salt and pepper, and tomatoes (undrained). Bring mixture to a simmer, and then stir in the corn and cilantro.  Remove the skillet from the heat and set aside. 
  3. For the Topping – Combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. In a large measuring cup, whisk together the buttermilk, egg, and butter. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients, and stir, using a rubber spatula. Finally, add the shredded cheese and cilantro, and toss to combine.
  4. Bake – Pour the cornbread mixture evenly over the surface of the skillet mixture, and bake for 20-22 minutes, until puffed and golden brown. Let cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

One Pan Tamale Pie Recipe with Cornmeal

Make Ahead and Freeze Tips:

  • You can make this recipe ahead by cooking everything except the cornbread crust, and then freezing it.
  • Chungah recommends freezing it in individual ramekins for portioning out at a later date. I used a small 10-inch skillet to make this a dinner for two.
  • If you cook for two as I do, buttermilk freezes very well in ice cube trays! Shake it before pouring it into the trays. Once it melts, it might be a little separated, but just whisk it together.
  • Make your own buttermilk by combining 1/2 teaspoon of vinegar with 1/2 cup of milk and letting it rest for 5 minutes. Or, substitute regular milk!
  • Not into meat?  This Tamale Pie is so hearty that a can of kidney beans would stand in great for the ground meat! I would saute the onion and poblano with the spices on their own to soften before stirring in the kidney beans with the rest of the vegetables.

How to Store

  • Refrigerate – If you have any leftovers, store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.
  • Freeze – If you’re making this as a freezer meal, stop after you combine everything in the skillet and freeze this part; make the cornbread topping the day of serving.

skillet tamales

More Easy Skillet Meals

Chicken Cacciatore

Lemon Chicken Piccata 

Skillet Lasagna

 Cowboy Steak recipe 

Skillet Tamale Pie

Want more? Receive the best ideas directly to your inbox and connect on Youtube, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest!

I know you will love this skillet dinner and Chungah’s new cookbook!

ground beef meals

Yield: 4 servings

Tamale Pie

Tamale Pie with Cornbread Topping

One pan tamale pie with cornbread topping

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 22 minutes
Total Time 52 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 pound lean ground beef (or turkey)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 small poblano pepper, seeded and diced
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes with green chiles*
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

For the cornbread topping:

  • 1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons low-fat buttermilk
  • 1 large egg yolk (egg white reserved for another use)
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 1/2 cup shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425.
  2. In an 8-inch small oven-safe skillet (like cast iron), heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef (or turkey), and cook while breaking up with a spoon until the meat has started to brown on one side, about 3-5 minutes.
  3. Next, add the garlic, onion and poblano to the skillet, and cook for another 5 minutes, until the onions soften and the meat is done.
  4. Stir in the spices, salt and pepper, and tomatoes (undrained). Bring mixture to a simmer, and then stir in the corn and cilantro.
  5. Remove the skillet from the heat and set aside. If you're making this as a freezer meal, stop here and freeze this part; make the cornbread topping the day of serving.
  6. To make the cornbread topping, combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. In a large measuring cup, whisk together the buttermilk, egg and butter. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients, and stir, using a rubber spatula. Finally, add the shredded cheese and cilantro, and toss to combine.
  7. Pour the cornbread mixture evenly over the surface of the skillet mixture, and bake for 20-22 minutes, until puffed and golden brown. Let cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

Notes

*I use Mild Ro-Tel tomatoes with green chiles.

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

4

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 418Total Fat: 25gSaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 179mgSodium: 1119mgCarbohydrates: 21gFiber: 2gSugar: 3gProtein: 29g