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Jordan holding up tamale casserole and smiling, from Shelf Cooking

Tamale Casserole

Make this recipe and freeze half for later! This recipe is a family favorite and really knocks our socks off.
4.67 from 9 votes
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 20 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 8


  • 1 ½ cups water
  • 2 lbs lean ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 2 cups whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 Tbsp taco seasoning
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 15-oz. can kidney beans, drained
  • Sour cream, optional

Tamale Corn Meal Topping

  • 6 cups water
  • 4 tsp salt
  • 2 ⅔ cup yellow cornmeal
  • 8 Tbsp butter


  • Preheat oven to 375°F.
  • Brown ground beef in a medium pan over medium heat. Drain any excess grease.
  • Add the onions and peppers; cook until the onions are soft and translucent.
  • Add the tomato sauce, corn, salt, and taco seasoning. Add 1 ½ cups water and stir. Then turn the heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes.
  • Add in the cheese and stir until melted.
  • Add kidney beans.
  • Divide the mixture into two 9 X 13 baking dishes (you're going to freeze one for later).

Prepare the Topping

  • Place cold water, salt, and cornmeal in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.
  • Once the mixture has thickened, remove the pan from the stove and add butter. Mix.
  • Spread the mixture evenly on top of the casseroles. Bake, uncovered, for 40 minutes until golden and bubbly.
  • Serve immediately. Top with sour cream (optional).


How to Freeze/Thaw
Once your second dish has cooled, triple wrap with foil. Write "Tamale Casserole" on top with a permanent marker, along with the baking instructions. Stick in the freezer for an easy meal!
When you're ready to eat the frozen meal, stick it in the fridge the day before to give it plenty of time to thaw and bake like normal. You can also cook it from frozen, you'll just need to add some extra cook time. Cook covered for an hour, then uncover and cook an additional 10-15 minutes until golden brown and cooked all the way through.
Keyword family-favorite, use leftovers, versatile