Gluten Free

Tamale Pie

at a glance
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 10 minutes
Servings 6 -8
1 from 1 vote

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This easy tamale pie is made with a traditional pork filling and masa topping. It is the perfect flavorful casserole alternative to spending hours making traditional tamales!

Tamales are a family holiday tradition for us, but usually a LOT of work. This incredibly delicious Tamale Pie is a breeze to whip up and is made with only the best ingredients! This is a great meal to prepare for when you’re ready for a break from other holiday fare.

Tamale Pie

Tamale Pie

Before we get to the Tamale Pie, I have to give you a baby update!

We got to see our baby girl (via sonogram) two days ago!! I was trying so hard not to giggle and cry in an effort to keep my belly (and the feed) still …but gosh, it was hard. I’ve known that she’s in there, of course, and we’ve gotten to see her twice before (at our 12-week and 20-week sonograms), but seeing her looking like such a BABY made me melt. Our doctor ordered the sonogram because she wanted to check on Cricket’s (nickname) weight and head size. We know that the weights are just a prediction and can vary quite a bit, but we were eager to get *some* kind of an idea. What we learned about baby girl Cricket…

  • She’s in the 70th % for total body weight!
  • She has LONG legs and a nice big belly.
  • She has the BIGGEST cheeks! I couldn’t get over those cheeks.
  • She has noticeably long eye lashes and a lot of hair on her head.
  • She’s head-down (for now and hopefully to stay).
  • She was a awake, wiggling around, and kept playing with her little toes.

Confession: I’m not a person who gushes over babies …but I think the switch has flipped. I can’t wait to kiss those cheeks and I can’t wait to see her eyes. Well, I can wait …I want her to stay safe in my belly for as long as she needs, but golly am I SO looking forward to the day that I get to meet the little squish.

While we were there, we were filling out some paperwork and we got to one spot on the form were we’d need to write her Social Security Number (once we have it). Between those cheeks and talking to the staff about when she’d get her social, it hit me like a ton of bricks …she’s her OWN PERSON. She’s got cheeks, eye lashes, legs for days, her own unique personality, and will have a social security number. HOW COOL IS THAT? I almost feel silly admitting that it took cheeks and a mention of a social security number for it to really hit home, but that’s what it took for my baby switch to flip.

I got home after that appointment, now REALLY *understanding* that a HUMAN BEING is on her way to our house, even more eager to get everything in order for her arrival. I made a few more “we need/need to do” lists and got to work. My husband has been incredibly helpful with the household honey-do’s and I’ve been honing my Amazon ordering skills. 😉

I’ll be sharing our complete registry soon and will publish another long-form 3rd Trimester Recap when we’re closer to her arrival, but I couldn’t wait to share about how we got to see those sweet, sweet cheeks.

Tamale Pie

Tamale Pie

Tamale Pie

OKAY, ready to talk Tamale Pie? We made this pie about two months ago and, I have to tell you, my husband has been RAVING about it ever since. I’ll walk up to him saying “oh man, this Tamale Pie was so good …Cassy, is the recipe on your blog?” The answer has been “not yet” for months …but no longer! I wanted to queue this special recipe for RIGHT NOW because tamales are such an important part of the Winter/Holiday season here in South Texas. It’s a coin-toss whether you’ll find my family dining on turkey or tamales at large gatherings this time of year.

If you’re new to the tamale world, I’ll fill you in! A tamale (usually made in BULK and with a lot of love) is traditionally made with a slather of masa (corn paste) on a corn husk. A spoonful of shredded meat (pork, chicken, beef) is placed along the center and the whole thing is rolled up. The tamales (a corn husk wrapped taco-size) are then all baked together until firm. They’re traditionally served with chili or salsa and are SO good. While individual tamales are a lot of work, this tamale pie IS SO EASY.

We start off by making the delicious meat (pork in this variety) in either the Instant Pot, slow cooker, or via our stovetop. We’ll then shred the meat, season it until it’s friggin’ PERFECT, and then spread it out on a seasoned skillet. Note that if you don’t have a cast iron skillet, you could also use a casserole dish!

The seasoned shredded meat is then topped with the masa! NOTE: This is NOT a Paleo recipe. Corn is a grain and not Paleo …but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying it on occasion. It’s naturally gluten-free and I seem to tolerate it well-enough.

The masa comes together with a good amount of melted butter (you can use ghee or any other fat) and some broth. If your masa is too dry (it’s pretty absorbent), keep adding broth until it reaches a spreadable consistency. Spread it out over the meat and bake until the whole thing is set!

I recommend serving with salsa and some sour cream (Paleo or otherwise).

I hope you enjoy this recipe from the bottom of my Garcia heart!

xo, Cassy Joy

Tamale Pie

By: Amber Goulden
1 from 1 vote
Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 2 hrs 10 mins
Servings: 6 -8


  • For the Pork:1 3 pound pork shoulder roast
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • For the Tamale Filling:7 ounces tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice about one small lime
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 4 teaspoons chili powder
  • 4 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • For the Masa Topping:2 cups masa
  • 1 stick butter melted
  • 1.5 cups chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt


To make the pork:

  • Combine the chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Cut the pork into 3-4 equal pieces and rub with the chili powder mixture. 
  • Instant Pot Method:Set Instant Pot to "sauté" mode and add the butter. Once the butter is melted, add the pork to the pot and sear 3-4 minutes on each side, working in batches, until each side has a nice brown color. When pork is seared on all sides, add it all back to the pot along with chicken broth, garlic, and bay leaves. 
  • Place the lid on the pot and ensure that the pressure valve is sealed. Press the "manual" button and set to cook for 90 minutes. 
  • Once the timer goes off, manually release the pressure valve slowly. Remove the pork to a large bowl, and once cooled, shred with two forks. 
  • Slow Cooker Method: If you have a stovetop-friendly slow cooker insert, melt the butter over high heat. Add the pork to the pot and sear 3-4 minutes on each side, working in batches so that you don't overcrowd, until each side has a nice brown color. When pork is seared on all sides, add it all back to the pot along with chicken broth, garlic, and bay leaves. 
  • Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook for 4 hours on high or 6 to 8 hours on low. 
  • Spoon the pork into a large bowl, and once cooled, shred with two forks. 
  • Stovetop Method: Melt the butter over high heat in a heavy bottomed pot. Add the pork to the pot and sear 3-4 minutes on each side, working in batches so that you don't overcrowd, until each side has a nice brown color. When pork is seared on all sides, add it all back to the pot along with chicken broth, garlic, and bay leaves. 
  • Place the lid on the pot and turn heat to medium/low. Simmer for 2+ hours, or until the meat easily shreds with a fork. 
  • Spoon the pork into a large bowl, and once cooled, shred with two forks. 

For the Tamale Pie:

  • Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • Note: if your cast iron skillet isn't well seasoned, rub it down before the next step with olive oil or butter.
  • Add the tomato paste, lime juice, salt, chili powder, oregano, and cumin to the shredded pork. Mix until fully combined. Layer the pork in the bottom of a cast iron skillet.
  • In a separate medium sized bowl, mix together the masa, melted butter, salt, baking powder, and broth 1/2 cup at a time. It should be the consistency of bread dough. Add additional broth to the batter if needed to achieve desired consistency.
  • Spread the prepared masa on top of the pork and bake for 30 minutes at 350F, or until the top is just slightly browned and no longer tacky. 

Recipe Notes

Meet the Author
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Cassy Joy Garcia

HOWDY! I’m Cassy Joy and I am just so happy you’re here. I’m the founder, Editor-in-Chief, and Nutrition Consultant here at Fed and Fit. What started as a food blog back in 2011 has evolved now into so much more.
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    Recipe Rating

  1. Claudia says

    Claudia —  12/14/2017 At 12:50

    Hi Cassy!! I can totally relate! I’m only 12 weeks pregnant but now that the baby is a fully formed tiny human it really sinks in!!!! I can’t wait to look through your registry picks. By the way, what brand of masa do you use for the recipe?
    Thank you for all you do!!!

    • Cassy says

      Cassy —  12/18/2017 At 15:18

      I order THIS masa!

  2. Cassie Kellison says

    Cassie Kellison —  12/14/2017 At 17:27

    I can’t wait to make this! I love tamales but they’re so time consuming I usually only make them once or twice a year. I can’t wait to give this a try!

    • Cassy says

      Cassy —  12/18/2017 At 15:19

      I hope you love it, Cassie!

  3. Cassie Kellison says

    Cassie Kellison —  12/18/2017 At 21:30

    So dang good! This was dinner tonight (11year old approves! He went back for seconds!)

    • Cassy says

      Cassy —  12/21/2017 At 21:21


  4. Albert Bevia says

    Albert Bevia —  12/19/2017 At 12:20

    Congrats on your healthy baby girl that is on the way 🙂 I haven´t eaten tamales in sooo many years! this brought back memories, I gotta say, that pork with the spices had my mouth drooling, this is a MUST try recipe

    • Cassy says

      Cassy —  12/21/2017 At 21:21

      I hope you love it!

  5. Taryn Garcia says

    Taryn Garcia —  12/24/2017 At 22:07

    Amazing! Subbed chicken breast for pork.

    • Cassy says

      Cassy —  12/29/2017 At 12:34


  6. Taryn Garcia says

    Taryn Garcia —  12/25/2017 At 12:16

    Amazing! Definitely satisfied my tamale craving.

    • Cassy says

      Cassy —  12/29/2017 At 12:33


  7. Andrea says

    Andrea —  01/13/2018 At 21:29

    I made this recipe exactly as it was written, and it is an absolute “KEEPER”! Thank you Cassy!!

    • Cassy says

      Cassy —  01/17/2018 At 12:27

      Awesome!! So glad you liked it, Andrea!

  8. Dani says

    Dani —  01/30/2018 At 11:34

    I’m making this in a casserole dish and plan to freeze it (for next week when I have my baby). Should I cook it fully? And how long/what temp should I reheat in oven? thanks!!

  9. Anna says

    Anna —  02/06/2018 At 22:20

    What size is your cast iron for this recipe. Plan on making it soon

  10. Jess says

    Jess —  04/30/2018 At 09:46

    What size cast iron are y’all using?

  11. Michelle says

    Michelle —  11/14/2018 At 20:03

    Fantastic! I made this tonight. Very authentic and delicious!

  12. Elizabeth says

    Elizabeth —  08/23/2020 At 09:24

    1 star
    I was so hoping this was going to be good. The masa mixed together perfectly, but it needed a separate sauce because after baking, it was dry as chalk. I am going to try to steam heat the leftovers to see if that is a better way of cooking it. Maybe cooking it in a water bath would have worked.

    • Sharon says

      Sharon —  12/26/2020 At 19:17

      Oh dear, Elizabeth, did you use masa, or Maseca flour? You need the fresh, moist masa.

  13. Alexa says

    Alexa —  01/16/2021 At 07:32

    The write up says tamales are sometimes made with beef. I have a couple beef roasts in my freezer that need a purpose… think they could be subbed in here or would beef tamales need a whole different seasoning profile? Ps. I make this recipe allllthe time and love it! It’s a go-to when I’m entertaining! Thank you for sharing it!

    • Brandi Schilhab says

      Brandi Schilhab —  01/18/2021 At 09:07

      Use the beef – that would work great here!!