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Tamale Pie

Tamales are a traditional Native American food consisting of steam-cooked cornmeal dough and filling, which typically includes meats, cheese and sliced chilies. This cornmeal topped meat pie has all of the flavor and nutrition of traditional chile-beef stuffed tamales, but with far less work.

Recipe by Canned Food Alliance
dinner, dairy free, nut free, sugar free, main-dish, cinco de mayo


  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 2 cans (8 ounces each) no-salt added tomato sauce
  • 1 can (11 ounces) corn kernels, drained
  • 1 can (2 1/2 ounces) sliced olives, drained
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons chili powder


  1. Heat oven to 375°F.
  2. Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking dish.
  3. Bring water to a boil in a large, heavy saucepan over high heat.
  4. Whisk in cornmeal in a slow, steady stream.
  5. Reduce heat to low and stir in 1/4 teaspoon salt.
  6. Cook about 5 minutes, stirring often with a long-handled wooden spoon, or until thickened.
  7. Remove from heat and cover. Set aside.
  8. Crumble the ground beef into a large, non-stick skillet and cook over medium high-heat, until the meat loses its raw look.
  9. Stir in onion and garlic.
  10. Cook until onion is tender and beef is no longer pink.
  11. Drain fat.
  12. Stir in tomato sauce, corn, olives, chili powder to taste and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt.
  13. Bring to a boil and spoon into the baking dish.
  14. Stir cornmeal mixture until smooth.
  15. Drop spoonfuls on top of the meat, and spread fairly evenly with a thin metal spatula.
  16. Bake, uncovered, until the filling is bubbly and the cornmeal topping is firm, 20 to 25 minutes.
  17. Let stand a few minutes before serving.