Chicken Tamale Pie – Cheesy Chicken Tamale Pie Recipe

Let me introduce you to our new favorite meal.

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When I told Eddie that I was making chicken tamale pie, he looked at me skeptically because he had no clue what it was. The minute the words “cornbread base” came out of my mouth, he was all SOLD! before I even could tell him what else was in the dish.

Really, this skillet here is made up of every single thing that he loves and mostly of what I love too. Going to eat it forever. Okay bye.

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Now, it’s not the prettiest dish when served. There is really no way to serve this warm without it appearing to be a slop-pile mess. But that doesn’t take away from the deliciousness.

Don’t judge it!

Also, can we please take a moment for the cheeeeeeeeeese.

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Oh my gosh.

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So here’s the thing. This tamale pie is a little on the high maintenance side. It doesn’t have to be. But this one has a homemade cornbread base AND a homemade enchilada sauce. Neither take a long time to make, but there will be multiple dishes adding up in the your sink, FYI. Most tamale pies I’ve seen in the past are made from a cheater’s version which seems completely acceptable to me if you are in a rush. Boxed cornbread, canned enchilada sauce, rotisserie chicken – and boom, you’re done.

If you’re dreading dinner and have to go to the store anyway, you can grab all of those things and throw this together as such. For me, I never have cornbread mix on hand but I do always have ground cornmeal. This homemade enchilada sauce has completely RUINED me because I can no longer use canned sauce (nor do I want to) and it really only takes 10 minutes. It is so freaking flavorful! The ingredient list looks long but it’s mostly made up of spices that go in the sauce – traditional “taco” ones that you most likely have in your pantry. If you’re missing something like smoked paprika or cayenne, leave it out! No biggie. I’d say the chili powder and cumin are the biggest game players so as long as you have those, you’re golden.

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And then for the chicken? Well, rotisserie can totally work. I had some leftover shredded chicken breasts from making a Thai chicken soup a few days before (OMG was it ever good… will tell you about it soon!) so I already had that.

The only other secrets I used? Canned green chiles and the roasted corn from Trader Joe’s. Since we can’t find ears of corn anymore, the roasted corn totally took its place and it was fabulous. Sometimes that corn can almost taste like an ashtray or something, but as long as you use just a bit, it’s amazing.

This combination is seriously straight out of my dreams.

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As for the rest? You can totally make it your own! Add black beans if you want and serve it with rice if you want something more, but really this is a complete meal right here in this skillet. It’s crazy filling and satisfying and total comfort food. After we ate dinner, I told Eddie that I can see this being a meal that I make once every two weeks until next Spring, because we loved it THAT much.

Bonus: it also reheats really well too. YESSSSSSSSSSSS.

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Annnnd now you totally know what’s for dinner tonight!

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Cheesy Chicken Tamale Pie


enchilada sauce

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 15 ounces tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

cornbread base

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup finely ground cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup cooked corn (I used the roasted corn from Trader Joe’s!)
  • 4 ounces freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese

chicken topping

  • 1 1/2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
  • 1/3 cup cooked corn
  • 1 (4-ounce) can diced green chiles
  • 6 ounces freshly grated white cheddar cheese
  • sliced green onions for topping
  • fresh cilantro for topping
  • lime wedges for spritzing


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

enchilada sauce

Heat a large saucepan over medium heat and add the olive oil. Whisk in the flour and cook until it is golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and whisk together, bringing the mixture to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 5 more minutes before using.

cornbread base

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, sugar and salt. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the melted butter, milk and egg. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry until just combined. Fold in the corn and the cheddar cheese.

Pour the cornbread into a 10-inch cast iron skillet. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until the cornbread is just set. Remove it and poke holds into the bread. Drizzle a 1/2 cup or so of the the enchilada sauce overtop of the cornbread.

chicken topping

In a bowl, stir together the chicken, green chiles and the corn. Stir in the remaining enchilada sauce (or at least a cup or so of it) and 2 ounces of the cheese. Spoon it on top of the cornbread base. Cover with any extra enchilada sauce and the remaining cheddar. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden and bubbly.

Remove from the over and cover with the green onions and cilantro.

All images and text ©.

Heart just skipped a beat.

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