Chicken Tamale Pie Recipe: A Mexican Comfort Food Dinner!

Are you ready for a stick-to-your-ribs Mexican dinner? This Chicken Tamale Pie Recipe is IT! It’s gluten free, uses no lard, and is loaded with protein for a satisfying meal.

Are you ready for a stick-to-your-ribs Mexican dinner? This Chicken Tamale Pie Recipe is IT! It's gluten free, uses no lard, and is loaded with protein for a satisfying meal.

Hello! I’m so glad you stopped by because I want to tell you about this Chicken Tamale Pie! This hearty Mexican casserole with a homemade masa dough crust is stuffed with a seasoned chicken filling, then topped with shredded cheese (as most good things are).

In order to know how to make a tamale casserole, I needed to first know what goes into tamales. I looked at at least a dozen tamale recipes, and you know what? They all have lard. Lard. LARD! Every last recipe I checked called for at least a half pound of lard in the masa dough. I had no idea! I thought tamales were made with cornmeal held together with… Water? Magic? I really didn’t think about it, but I definitely didn’t think it was lard.

Are you ready for a stick-to-your-ribs Mexican dinner? This Chicken Tamale Pie Recipe is IT! It's gluten free, uses no lard, and is loaded with protein for a satisfying meal.
Are you ready for a stick-to-your-ribs Mexican dinner? This Chicken Tamale Pie Recipe is IT! It's gluten free, uses no lard, and is loaded with protein for a satisfying meal.
Are you ready for a stick-to-your-ribs Mexican dinner? This Chicken Tamale Pie Recipe is IT! It's gluten free, uses no lard, and is loaded with protein for a satisfying meal.

At first, I figured I should just scrap my tamale casserole idea. I didn’t want to use lard or a ton of added fat in general, but then I decided to see if I could make a somewhat healthier version. Don’t get me wrong, this recipe still calls for a half cup of vegetable oil, so you can’t call it healthy. It seems better than over a cup of lard though, and it still brings you all the delicious flavor of tamales right out of your very own oven.

If you want to make this tamale pie recipe even lighter and quicker, you could use boxed cornbread mix instead. It won’t have quite the same flavor since most cornbread mixes are on the sweet side, but I’m sure it will still be tasty!

Are you ready for a stick-to-your-ribs Mexican dinner? This Chicken Tamale Pie Recipe is IT! It's gluten free, uses no lard, and is loaded with protein for a satisfying meal.
Are you ready for a stick-to-your-ribs Mexican dinner? This Chicken Tamale Pie Recipe is IT! It's gluten free, uses no lard, and is loaded with protein for a satisfying meal.
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Are you ready for a stick-to-your-ribs Mexican dinner? This Chicken Tamale Pie Recipe is IT! It's gluten free, uses no lard, and is loaded with protein for a satisfying meal.

Chicken Tamale Pie

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You’ll love this hearty Mexican casserole loaded with protein for a satisfying dinner!

  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Yield: 6 1x

Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 2 cups instant masa flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1 yellow onion sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced or crushed
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 8 ounces tomato sauce
  • 15 ounces can seasoned black beans drained
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese
  • chopped cilantro optional
  • sour cream optional

Instructions

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together masa flour, salt, chili powder, and baking powder. Add vegetable oil and chicken broth, and mix on low until combined. Use mixer on medium speed to mix dough for approximately 10 minutes. This beats air into the dough to give it a lighter texture. If you do not have a mixer, stir it as long as you can by hand, and then let the dough rest for at least 10 minutes.
  2. While the dough mixes, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sliced onions, and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add garlic, and cook another minute or two.
  3. Sprinkle both sides of chicken thighs lightly with salt and chili powder. Cook them about two minutes per side with the onions. Then, pour the tomato sauce, beans, cumin, and hot sauce over the chicken. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook for about 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.
  4. While chicken simmers, preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a large pie pan or square baking dish with cooking spray. Press dough into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. (The dough will be spongy and easy to work with.)
  5. When chicken is done, shred meat with two forks, and stir back into the sauce. Use a slotted spoon to scoop the chicken filling into the prepared masa shell, leaving as much liquid behind in the skillet as possible.
  6. Spread cheese over the top of the chicken, and bake in preheated oven for 35 minutes. Allow pie to rest for 10-15 minutes before cutting and serving. Top with sour cream and cilantro if desired.

Notes

Passive time: 15 Minutes

  • Author: Andi
  • Prep Time: 30
  • Cook Time: 40

Want to know what else you can do with that instant masa? Make corn tortillas!

Make a stack of warm, fresh corn tortillas in only about 15 minutes!

 

Andi Gleeson, food blogger

Andi Gleeson

Andi Gleeson is a passionate blogger and mom based in San Francisco who focuses on easy and delicious dinner recipes.

27 comments

Fat guy
7 years ago

Lard is healthier than vegetable oil.

Chris
5 years ago

Fat Guy is right. Get yourself some good leaf lard from somebody at your farmers market and ditch the vegetable oil. It tastes better, is more easily digestible and doesn’t raise your cholesterol.

Fat guy
7 years ago

Lard is delicious

Denise
7 years ago

How much hot sauce???

Andi Gleeson
7 years ago

As much or as little as you like! I’d start with a teaspoon.

Joanne
7 years ago

In Canada we don’t have boxed cornbread mixes, at least not where we live and shop, could I just make up a batch of cornmeal muffins and use that for the crust? Thanks for your help. Love your recipes and tips.

Kelsie
7 years ago

How much hot sauce?

zabeth c
8 years ago

I came across this recipe when I was looking to use some of the ingredients I have in my kitchen. I regularly make tamales so I always have masa. I have been recently been making this as a taco pie with a flour pie crust a recipe I found in a magazine. The sasa makes it so much better. Your recipe was an improvement that I really enjoyed and so did my family. I however chose to use soy chorizo instead of tomato sauce. It gives it an added kick without the liquid of the sauce. I thought the sauce might make for too much liquid. I have also tried it with can chicken, it tasted just fine. I would highly recommend this recipe to anyone wanting that taste of tamales without all the work. Kudos.

Andi Gleeson
8 years ago

Thank you so much, Zabeth! That means so much to me that you liked my recipe if you are an accomplished tamale maker :)

Kathy
8 years ago

I really hate the fact that I cannot print the recipe. Saving it is awful I don’t know if the recipes are worth the effort or the hassle of using this site

Andi Gleeson
8 years ago

Hi, Kathy. You should be able to print the recipe. There must be a problem, and I’m happy to look into fixing it. I would appreciate if you could just ask nicely next time :) I’ll get back to you as soon as I have it straightened out.

Andi Gleeson
8 years ago

Hi again, Kathy. I fixed the issue with printing. You should be able to click the print icon on any of my recipes now and get to a printable version. Have a good week!

christopher wood
5 years ago

Have you heard of Pen and Paper?

Kristyn
8 years ago

This looks incredible! I’ll have to try this soon!

Andi Gleeson
8 years ago

Thank you, Kristyn!

Renee - Kudos Kitchen
8 years ago

I think there are a lot of people who do actually consider lard, magic. LOL
Your tamale pie looks so scrumptious. I’d be proud to put this on the family dinner table!

Andi Gleeson
8 years ago

Haha you are right! Maybe lard is magic. Thank you, Renee!

Heather | Heather Likes Food
8 years ago

I love this idea! Tacos are yummy!

Andi Gleeson
8 years ago

True dat. Thanks, Heather!

Michelle @ The Complete Savorist
8 years ago

Tamale pie, ingenious! This looks great.

Andi Gleeson
8 years ago

Thanks so much, Michelle!

Patricia @ Grab a Plate
8 years ago

Haha! “Held together with…magic?” That made me laugh pretty hard! This mealtime pie looks delicious! I love a one-dish meal with all sorts of goodies like this!

Andi Gleeson
8 years ago

Thanks so much, Patricia. Glad I could give you a laugh :)

Katerina @ Diethood
8 years ago

This looks awesommmme! Seriously mouth.watering. YUM!

Andi Gleeson
8 years ago

You are so sweet, Katerina. Thank you!!

Cathy Trochelman
8 years ago

This looks so delicious, Andi!!! We would love it! And thanks for eliminating the lard :) :) :)

Andi Gleeson
8 years ago

Haha, I do what I can. Thank you, Cathy!

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