Beef Tamale Casserole is a hearty dinner made with cornbread, ground beef, chili powder, tomato sauce, enchilada sauce, and shredded cheddar cheese. This layered Mexican baked dish is perfect for a weeknight dinner or to freeze and save for later.
What is Beef Tamale Casserole?
This beef casserole recipe makes the cornbread from scratch which means there are no added preservatives or additives like there would be from boxed cornbread mix. The ground beef, chili powder, tomato sauce, enchilada sauce, and cheddar cheese combine to make a delightfully Mexican-inspired dish. Your whole family will love this meal.
- 3⁄4 cup cornmeal: You can buy a bag of cornmeal next to the flour in the baking aisle of the grocery store.
- 2 tablespoon sugar: Granulated white sugar works best for making the cornbread.
- 1 tablespoon baking powder: Baking powder is used to make the cornbread rise.
- 1⁄2 teaspoon salt: Use kosher salt rather than table salt.
- 1 egg: Buy large AA eggs for this recipe.
- 1⁄2 cup buttermilk: You can buy a carton of buttermilk from the dairy section of the supermarket.
- 2 tablespoon butter, melted: Unsalted butter is best so you can control the amount of salt in the dish.
- 1 pound (500g) ground beef: Use 90% lean ground beef in this recipe.
- 1 tablespoon chili powder: Buy a bottle of chili powder in the spice aisle of the grocery store or online.
- 1 cup tomato sauce: You can buy canned tomato sauce or use tomato purée for this recipe.
- 1 cup enchilada sauce: The jarred sauce is found in the Latin section of the grocery store or you can buy it online.
- 1 1⁄2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded: Buy pre-shredded cheese or a block and shred it yourself for better flavor.
How to make beef tamale casserole:
Here’s a brief overview of how to make this dish. See the recipe card below for the specific recipe instructions.
1. Preheat the oven to 400F/200C.
2. To make the cornbread, whisk the egg with buttermilk, and melted butter.
3. Separately combine the cornmeal, baking powder, sugar, and salt.
4. Add dry ingredients into the liquids and stir to combine.
5. Spread the batter on the bottom of the cast iron pan and bake at 400F/200F for 20 minutes.
6. Meanwhile, make the filling by cooking the ground beef over medium heat for 10 minutes.
7. Season with salt and pepper. Add tomato sauce and enchilada sauce. Stir to
8. Reduce the oven temperature to 375F and poke small holes all over the cornbread base.
9. Spread the beef sauce on top.
10. Top with cheese and bake for 15 minutes.
Tips for success:
Here are a few tips for success and variations you can try to make this the best beef tamale casserole you've ever had.
- Make this casserole keto-friendly by leaving out the cornbread and topping it with another ingredient.
- Try using other types of cheeses like mozzarella, Havarti, gruyere, bleu, parmesan, or feta.
- Top with Frito lays, fried onion strings, chopped pecans, sliced almonds, or breadcrumbs
- Use Jiffy cornbread mix instead of making your own cornbread.
- Make your own buttermilk by combining one cup milk with one teaspoon lemon juice or white vinegar. Stir and let sit for at least five minutes to allow it to curdle.
What other types of meat can I substitute for beef?
If you want to try using a different type of meat rather than ground beef there are some great options.
Try shredded chicken, ground chicken, ground turkey, ground sausage, kielbasa, hot dogs, or shredded pork.
What can I serve with beef tamale casserole?
This is a delicious dish all on its own but you can serve side dishes that complement this meal.
Some delicious options are tortillas, green beans, steamed broccoli, sauteed asparagus, fruit salad, or crunchy green salad.
How can I make this dish in an instant pot?
The instant pot is a popular kitchen tool that is an all-in-one cooker. It can sauté, cook with pressure, and slow cook. Use the pressure cooker feature to make this casserole.
Sauté the ground beef, add the sauces, and seasonings, and seal on the cover. Cook for 10 minutes, carefully release the steam and remove the lid. Serve immediately.
You may also want to cook the cornbread on the side to serve with the casserole.
How to store:
Store any leftover casserole in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days. Reheat it in the microwave with 30-second increments until it’s hot all the way through.
To freeze the entire casserole, wrap it in aluminum foil and plastic wrap. Label it with what it is, how to cook, and the date. Labeling will help you remember later. Remember that if you cook it from frozen, it will take longer to cook in the oven without thawing first. Keep the foil on until the last 30 minutes of cooking so the top can brown.
Can I cook this dish with a crockpot?
If you want to use the oven for another dish, you can make beef tamale casserole in the slow cooker instead. Follow the instructions for sautéing the beef, add the ingredients to the bowl, cover, and cook on low for eight hours or on high for four hours. Bake the cornbread separately and serve it on the side.
How can I make beef tamale casserole spicy?
What’s beef casserole if it’s not spicy?? Add hot sauce, jalapenos, cayenne pepper, or red chili flakes to make it so.
Can I make this casserole vegetarian?
Yes, you can leave out the ground beef and make it meatless. Substitute black beans for extra protein.
- 3⁄4 cup cornmeal
- 2 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg
- 1⁄2 cup buttermilk
- 2 tablespoon butter, melted
- 1 pound (500g) ground beef
- 1 cup tomato salsa
- 1 cup enchilada sauce
- 1 1⁄2 cup cheese, shredded
- Preheat the oven to 400F/200C.
- To make the corn batter, whisk the egg with buttermilk, melted butter, salt, and sugar.
- Separately combine the cornmeal and baking powder. Add dry ingredients into the liquids and stir to combine.
- Spread the batter on the bottom of the cast iron pan and bake at 400F/200F for 20minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the filling by cooking the ground beef over medium heat for 10minutes.
- Season with salt and pepper. Add tomato salsa and enchilada sauce. Stir to combine.
- Poke small holes all over the corn base. Pour beef sauce on top of it and sprinkle everything with cheese.
- Bake at 375F/190C for 15 minutes.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 306Total Fat: 17gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 82mgSodium: 1370mgCarbohydrates: 25gFiber: 3gSugar: 10gProtein: 15g