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.
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!
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.
Passive time: 15 Minutes
- Prep Time: 30
- Cook Time: 40
Want to know what else you can do with that instant masa? Make corn tortillas!