Easy and delicious, this recipe will quickly become a family favorite! 

Tamales are one of those foods that many of us love to eat but have a hard time making from scratch. The perfect tamale requires a special touch, and it can be a frustrating experience for those first-timers or brave home cooks who decide to take it on.  It is also a time-consuming recipe, those experienced in tamale-making often save it for a special occasion, like the holidays.

Like many of you, this author loves a good tamale, but just does not always have the time or patience to make it the traditional way. So, we came up with this simpler way to throw together a great tamale inspired dish right at home. It is an easy dish to modify and has been delighting our family and friends for years. 

Easy Holiday Tamale Pie Casserole 

Serves 4-6
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 25-30 minutes or until brown and crispy on top 

Ingredients:

  • Cornmeal muffin mix (we use 2 boxes of Jiffy—this mix requires 1 egg per package)
  • 2 cups shredded cheese—your choice we use Cheddar or Pepper Jack 
  • 1-2 lbs. meat of your choice—ground beef, chicken,  ground turkey, shredded pork, roasted veggies, etc. 
  • 2 cups spicy red or green chile sauce (make your own or purchase your favorite premade)
  • 1.5 cups Fritos or other corn chips
  • Garlic, fresh or powder
  • Onion, fresh or powder 
  • Chipotle powder
  • Taco seasoning
  • Oil/Butter/or margarine
  • Sour cream
  • Chopped lettuce
  • Diced tomatoes 
  • Chopped jalapenos, fresh

Feel free to add beans, corn, olives, chopped jalapenos, peppers, tomatoes, etc. to your casserole if you want more veggies, we also add sliced avocado as a topper. We use an 11x13 glass casserole dish. You can bake this in a cast-iron skillet, too, if preferred.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 
  2. Brown meat, or roast vegetables for the filling, add olive oil or butter/margarine if you need to. You can season this with garlic, onion, taco seasoning, chipotle, salt, and pepper, etc. as you like. This about what you like, so add or remove whatever spices you prefer. Drain and set aside. 
  3. Mix the cornbread.
  4. Spread out meat/vegetables on the bottom of the casserole dish. 
  5. Spread half the chile sauce on the filling. 
  6. Layer with half of the cheese. Add corn chips on top of filling and cheese. Spread cornbread mixture on the top of the corn chips evenly. 
  7. Place in preheated oven for 20 minutes. 
  8. Remove after 20 minutes and sprinkle remaining cheese on the top. 
  9. Bake for another 5 to 10 minutes until the cheese is melted to your liking, and the muffins are done. Keep it in longer if you want a crispier top.  
  10. Top with chopped lettuce, tomatoes, jalapenos, extra chile sauce, and sour cream, and enjoy! 

This dish goes very well with a side salad or pinto beans! It's very easy to modify the recipe to make it suit your family's specific food tastes and needs. 

What is your favorite holiday casserole dish? Share with us in the comments.