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Cornbread tamale pie (recipe)

By The Health News Team | December 2, 2022
Cornbread tamale pie

One-dish casseroles are both easy to make and perfect for cool winter weather. This twist on classic tamales can be served as a holiday — or easy weekday — main dish.

The original recipe, featured in the infamous The Joy of Cooking cookbook, called for ground beef, which is high in saturated fat and is linked to some chronic health conditions. Dr. Cherie Chu, a board-certified pediatrician with Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group, replaced the beef with a lighter option — ground turkey — yet she encourages experimenting with other protein options.

“In our household, we gradually made the change from eating meat to cooking mostly plant-based meals,” she says. “This recipe grew with us. As we started our transition, we replaced beef with chicken or turkey. And eventually, moved to tofu and beans, or even plant-based meat alternatives.”

Cornbread Tamale Pie

Up the nutritional value by adding your favorite vegetables, such as peas, green beans or carrots, to the sauté step.

Cornbread tamale pie (recipe)

Prep time:
35 minutes
Total time:
1 hour
6 servings


  • 1 pound ground turkey (or a plant-based protein such as tofu, lentils, or other meat alternatives)

  • 1 medium onion, chopped

  • 1 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained

  • 1 cup canned corn or frozen corn, drained

  • 1 cup tomato sauce

  • 1 cup beef broth or chicken broth

  • 1⁄2 cup green bell pepper, diced

  • 1 tablespoon chili powder

  • 1⁄2 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1⁄4 teaspoon black pepper

  • 3⁄4 cup cornmeal

  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

  • 1 tablespoon sugar

  • 1 1⁄2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 egg

  • 1⁄3 cup milk

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil



Step 1: Cook the Hot Ingredients

Sauté the ground turkey and chopped onion over medium heat. When the onion is translucent and the meat is browned, add black beans, corn, tomato sauce, broth or water, diced bell pepper, chili powder, ground cumin, salt and pepper and simmer for 15 minutes.
Set aside and preheat the oven to 425°F.


Step 2: Make the Cornbread Mixture

In a medium bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, milk and vegetable oil. Pour the milk-mix ingredients over the cornmeal mix and whisk together until well-combined.


Step 3: Prepare and Bake the Casserole

Spread the meat mixture into a 3-quart casserole and cover with the cornbread topping. Don't worry if the cornbread falls into the meat mixture, it will rise while baking. Bake until cornbread is brown, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Nutrition facts per serving: Calories = 337; Fat = 14 gram; Protein = 20 grams

This recipe was adapted from

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