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.

Top down view of tamale pie in a casserole dish on a grey surface. There is a scoop out of the casserole. It's topped with slices of avocado and jalapeno.

This recipe is…

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.

Slice of tamale pie on a stack of two light pink plates. There are a couple bottles of Topo Chico sparkling water in the background and a casserole dish. The slice of pie is topped with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of cilantro.

While we were there, we were filling out some paperwork and we got to one spot on the form where 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, eyelashes, 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.

Top down of tamale pie on a light pink plate. It is topped with slices of jalapeno, cilantro, and avocado cubes.

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.

Recipe Ingredients

For the Pork

  • 5-7 pounds of bone-in pork shoulder roast (3-4 pound boneless)
  • 1 tablespoon of chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon of ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon of dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 cup of chicken broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons of butter

For the Tamale Filling

  • 6 ounces of tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons of lime juice (about one small lime)
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons of chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons of cumin
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon of dried oregano

For the Masa Topping

  • 3 cups of masa
  • 1 1/2 sticks of melted butter
  • 3 cups of chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of sea salt

How to Make Tamale Pie

Chunks of pork shoulder on a cutting board seasoned with seasoning.
Shredded pork shoulder in a large glass bowl.
Shredded beef in a casserole dish.
Pork shoulder that has been seared in an instant pot.
Shredded pork with seasoning in a large glass bowl.
Bowl of masa.
Pork shoulder with bay leaves and broth in an instant pot.
Seasoned shredded pork in a large glass bowl.
Masa covered casserole in a casserole dish.
  1. Season, cook, and shred the pork – cut the pork shoulder roast into 3-4 equal-sized pieces, season it with the chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper, and cook it using either the Instant Pot, slow cooker, or stovetop (full directions in the recipe card below!). Once the meat is finished, finely shred it using two forks or the paddle attachment of your stand mixer.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  3. Make the filling – mix together the shredded pork with tomato paste, lime juice, chili powder, oregano, and cumin. Then, layer the pork into the bottom of a 9×13 casserole dish.
  4. Make the masa topping – mix together the masa, melted butter, salt, baking powder, and broth (1/2 of a cup at a time). The topping should be the consistency of bread dough. Add additional broth to the batter, if needed, to achieve desired consistency.
  5. Layer the masa topping on top of the pork and bake – spread the prepared masa on top of the pork, cover with foil, and bake for 30 minutes at 350°F. Remove the foil and continue to bake for an additional 10 minutes.
  6. Serve and enjoy!
Slice of tamale pie on a stack of two light pink plates. There are a couple bottles of Topo Chico sparkling water in the background and a casserole dish. The slice of pie is topped with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of cilantro.

Tamale Pie

4.34 — Votes 18 votes
By Cassy Joy Garcia
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 2 hours 10 minutes
Total: 2 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
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. 

Ingredients  

For the Pork

  • 5-7 pounds bone-in pork shoulder roast (3-4 pounds boneless)
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons butter

For the Tamale Filling

  • 6 ounces tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice about one small lime
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 8 teaspoons chili powder
  • 8 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 4 teaspoons dried oregano

For the Masa Topping

  • 3 cups masa
  • sticks butter melted
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • teaspoons baking powder
  • teaspoons sea salt

Instructions 

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.
  • 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 9×13 casserole dish.
  • 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, cover with foil, and bake for 30 minutes at 350°F.
  • Remove the foil and continue to bake for an additional 10 minutes.
  • Serve and enjoy!

Recipe Notes

 

Nutrition

Calories: 641kcal | Carbohydrates: 42g | Protein: 41g | Fat: 35g | Saturated Fat: 17g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 12g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 171mg | Sodium: 2048mg | Potassium: 1086mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 2002IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 211mg | Iron: 9mg

Additional Info

Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Mexican
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 641
Keyword: tamale pie

Like this recipe?

Leave a comment


About the Author

Amber Goulden


More Like This

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




36 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    So yummy! Hubs said, “How can we have this every day?” Even the picky teenager complimented it! I added a layer of pinto beans under the pork. Big hit!!!

    1. That is so great, Jamie! We are so glad this recipe was a hit for your family. Thank you so much for taking the time to share with us and for sharing your super thoughtful addition of pinto beans. YUM! -Team FF

    1. Hi Carrie! I know that seems like a lot, but it’s what we used! We did go back and specify that it was a bone-in pork shoulder, so some of the weight comes from the bone itself, and we also trimmed away the fat cap. It’s definitely a hearty and fulfilling casserole! -Team FF

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

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

  4. 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!!

    1. 5 stars
      Made this on Christmas Day… it was a huge hit!! We had some skeptics but everyone ended up raving over this. Thank you for our new Christmas tradition recipe!

    2. We are so touched to hear that, Chelsea! We are honored to be a part of your new Christmas tradition! Thank you so much for taking the time to share with us. -Team FF

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

  6. 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

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

  8. 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!

  9. 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!!!