Tamale Pie

This October, scare up something tasty at dinnertime.

Tamale Pie is a spicy combination of seasoned ground beef, tomatoes and corn with a cheesy grits topping. It’s a hearty, one-dish meal that will leave all the werewolves at your table howling happily.



By Jennifer Chandler |Excerpted from The Southern Pantry Cookbook by Jennifer Chandler |Photo by Justin Fox Burks | Food Styling by Jennifer Chandler


  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • ½ cup diced yellow onion (1 small onion)
  • ½ cup green bell pepper (1 small pepper)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced and divided
  • 1 can (4-ounce) chopped green chilies
  • 1 can (14-ounce) diced tomatoes, drained
  • 2 cups corn kernels, thawed if using frozen
  • 1 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp. cumin
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup quick cooking grits
  • 4 cups water
  • 3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese


  • Preheat the oven to 375˚.
  • In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, warm the oil until a few droplets of water sizzle when carefully sprinkled in the pot. Add the meat and cook, breaking up the beef with a wooden spoon, until the meat is browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer the cooked meat to a colander and drain off the excess fat.
  •  Drain all but about 1 tablespoon of fat from the pot. Add the onion and bell pepper, reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add 2 cloves minced garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 more minute. Stir in the green chilies, tomatoes, corn, chili powder, cumin and cayenne. Cook until warmed through, about 3 minutes. Return the meat to the pot and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon the mixture into a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Set aside.
  • In a large sauce pot over medium-high heat, bring the water and 1 tsp. salt to a boil. Whisk in the grits. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook, whisking occasionally, until the liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes. Stir in the cheese and remaining 2 cloves of minced garlic and stir until well combined and the cheese has melted. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  •  Spoon the grits over the top of the meat mixture in an even layer. Bake until golden brown, about 45 minutes. Serve warm.
  • Serves 6 to 8.

Cooking Tip: To make my prep time more efficient, I cook the grits at the same time I am cooking the meat filling.

 Tamale Pie Variations

  • In place of the ground beef, try making your tamale pie with one of the following:
  • 1 pound cooked pulled pork
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 pound cooked shredded chicken
  • 2 cans black beans