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Home » Cuisines » American » Green Chili Tamale Pie (Skillet Bake)

Green Chili Tamale Pie (Skillet Bake)

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Get ready to meet your new weeknight dinner hero: Green Chili Tamale Pie. This skillet casserole is pure comfort food, combining savory beef and black bean filling with chili verde sauce and a golden layer of cornbread. 

It’s hearty, it’s flavorful, and it brings a bit of Southwestern flair right into your kitchen. 

A green chili tamale pie in a skillet with sour cream and avocado slices on top.

This tamale pie is much quicker and easier to make than traditional tamales. Instead of using masa dough, this recipe uses cornbread mix to form the crust. This makes it a great fresh-and-fast option for busy weeknights.

Here is Why This Tamale Casserole Works

There’s something special about the joy and sense of accomplishment that comes from whipping up a meal from scratch. 

The cornbread topping is packed with flavor and literally takes just a minute longer to whip up than a box of Jiffy cornbread mix. But hey, if that boxed mix is what you have on hand, go ahead and use it. No judgment here.

  • One-Pan Wonder: Everything cooks in one skillet, making preparation and cleanup a breeze. 
  • Meal Prep: You can make the filling a day in advance and store it in the fridge. Throw the cornbread topping together and bake the day you serve it.
  • Crowd-Pleaser: This cast iron tamale pie combines classic flavors that everyone, from kids to adults, will absolutely love. Whether it’s a family get-together or a simple weeknight dinner, it’s a go-to recipe for a cozy dinner at home.

By the way, leftovers (if you have any!) store well, so you can have a quick lunch the next day or freeze for later. 

A serving of tamale pie on a plate with a skillet in the background.

Ingredients for Chile Verde Tamale Pie

Here is a list of the ingredients you will need for this recipe. Scroll down to the printable recipe card for all the details. 

  • Produce: Onion, garlic
  • Seasoning: chili powder, cumin, salt
  • Meat: ground beef
  • Pantry: black beans, green chilies, chili verde sauce or enchilada sauce
  • Fridge: Colby Jack cheese,

How to Make Tamale Pie with Cornbread Topping

Here is a brief overview to get an idea of what to expect with this tamale casserole recipe. Scroll down to the printable recipe card for all the details.

  1. Prepare the Filling: Sauté onions and spices, add ground beef and cook. Stir in black beans, green chilies, and sauce. Layer in a baking dish and top with cheese.
  2. Make Cornbread Topping: Mix dry and wet ingredients separately, then combine.
  3. Assemble and Bake: Spread the cornbread mixture over the meat layer and bake until golden.
Browning ground beef in a skillet.

Add the ground beef after you saute the onion and garlic.

Adding black beans, salsa, and cheese to the ground beef mixture.

Add the rest of the filling ingredients.

Making a cornbread topping in a mixing bowl.

Mix the cornbread mixture.

Adding cornbread batter to the top of tamale filling in a skillet.

Spread the cornbread over the top of the tamale filling.


Chicken Verde Tamale Pie

Replace the ground beef with 1 pound of ground chicken. You can even use leftover cooked shredded chicken. 

Vegetarian Delight

Skip the ground beef and bulk up the filling with extra black beans, chopped bell peppers, and zucchini. Add a plant-based meat if you like.

Spicy Kick

If you’re a fan of heat, try adding a finely diced jalapeño or serrano chile pepper to the onion and garlic sauté.

Tips for Success

  • Test for Doneness: Insert a toothpick into the cornbread layer. If it comes out clean, your tamale pie is done. If the cornbread is still gooey, give it another few minutes in the oven.
  • Use the right size skillet. This recipe makes enough to fit in a 10-inch cast iron skillet. If you don’t have a large enough skillet, you can transfer the filling to a casserole dish and then top it with the cornbread mixture. You may need to adjust the baking time if you use a casserole dish that holds more than 10 cups.
  • Let It Rest: It’s tempting to dive right in, but letting the casserole rest for about 10 minutes will let the filling to set up and make it easier to scoop. 
  • Even Mixing: When you mix the cornbread topping, mix just until the ingredients get incorporated. Overmixing can lead to a dense, tough cornbread. 
  • Check The Leavening Agents: Make sure your baking powder and baking soda are fresh. Stale or expired leavening agents will prevent the cornbread from rising and make it dense and dry. 
  • If you want a bit of crunch, sprinkle some crushed tortilla chips over the casserole before baking.
A cornbread topped tamale pie in a cast iron skillet.

Storage and Reheating

In the fridge: Cool the pie to room temperature, then wrap tightly in plastic wrap or foil. Store in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.

In the freezer: Let it cool down completely, then pop it in a freezer-safe container. Label it and freeze for 2-3 months.

To reheat: microwave individual slices or warm the whole pie in the oven at 350°F.

More Skillet Recipes 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use store-bought cornbread mix for the topping?

Yes, you can use a store-bought mix if you’re pressed for time.

Can I make this vegetarian? 

Absolutely! Swap out the ground beef for an additional can of black beans or try using a meat substitute.

Can this be made in advance?

Yes, you can make the filling ahead of time and store it in the fridge. About 30 minutes before it’s time to eat, add the cornbread topping and bake.

This versatile and flavorful Green Chili Tamale Pie is a full meal deal. Easy to make, adaptable to your preferences, and a surefire crowd-pleaser, it brings a taste of Southwest to your dinner table. Don’t forget the bonus: delicious leftovers for the next day. 

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A skillet with a green chili tamale pie with cornbread topping.

Green Chili Tamale Pie (One Skillet)

Taking inspiration from Mexican tamales but without all the hard work, this green chili tamale pie is packed with a flavorful beef filling and topped with a deliciously golden cornmeal crust. Bake the tamale pie in the same skillet that you use to cook the beef filling to make cleanup a breeze.
And don't forget the accompaniments! Serve this casserole with your favorite Mexican toppings like sour cream, guacamole, and salsa.
4.95 from 17 votes
Print Pin Save
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 484kcal
Author: Dahn Boquist



  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 medium onion finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder**
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 3 garlic cloves finely minced
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 15.5-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup Chili verde sauce or green enchilada sauce
  • 3 ounces Colby Jack cheese grated
  • 2 4 ounce cans of green chilies

Cornbread Topping

  • 1-¼ cups all purpose flour 175 grams
  • 1-¼ cups cornmeal 175 grams
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1-½ cups corn fresh, frozen, or canned
  • 1-¼ cups buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 tablespoons butter melted


Tamale Filling

  • Pre-heat the oven to 400°.
  • Heat the oil in a 12-inch oven-safe skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion and cook until soft. Stir in the garlic, chili powder, cumin, and salt; stir for about 1 minute until fragrant.
  • Add the ground beef and stir to break up the meat while it cooks. Drain off the fat then stir in the beans, chili verde sauce (or enchilada sauce), and half of the grated cheese (reserve 1 cup of cheese for the top of the cornbread).
  • Remove from the stove; season to taste with additional salt and pepper if desired. Place the green chilies in a layer over the top of the meat mixture. Set aside while you prepare the cornbread mixture.

For the cornbread topping

  • In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • Add the corn, buttermilk, eggs, and melted butter. Stir just until combined.
  • Drop the cornbread batter evenly over the filling, then spread it in an even layer. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the center of the cornbread is baked through.
  • Spread the remaining cheese on top of the baked cornbread and leave in the oven for 1 minute to melt the cheese.


  • Adjust the amount of chili powder to your liking. Keep in mind that different brands of chili powder vary in spiciness. Also, if your salsa already packs a spicy punch, you may want to cut back on the amount of chili powder.
  • If you are using canned corn, one can is equal to about 1-½ cups.


Serving: 1 | Calories: 484kcal | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 18g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 19g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 181mg | Sodium: 960mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 12g

Dahn Boquist

Dahn is a retired nurse, recipe creator, home cook, baker, and self-proclaimed foodie. She loves creating in the kitchen and cooking for family and friends. She lives in Washington State with her husband and dog. When she isn't cooking or baking, you can usually find her spending time with her grandchildren or exploring the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

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Recipe Rating

John@Kitchen Riffs

Wednesday 10th of June 2015

Love the idea of this! All the flavor of tamales, but easier to make. Terrific idea -- thanks!


Wednesday 10th of June 2015

Thanks John, it really is fast and easy

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