Gluten Free Tamale Pie

Gluten Free Tamale Pie

Gluten Free Tamale Pie

Let’s talk dinner, again. First off, I can’t tell you how happy I was to learn that I’m not alone in refusing to answer the “what’s for dinner?” question (not surprisingly, you’re all way more creative than I am in deflecting that question, but good news I’m not above stealing your ideas and using them on my children for my own amusement). I can’t stop my children from smelling what I’m cooking, though, and apparently they have no filter so they’ll guess, and then I’ll glare at them, and then they’ll try to read my glare to determine if they’ve guessed right. Well, for a few weeks now I’ve been in search of the very, very best gluten free tamale pie combination. That means that we’ve eaten a lot of tamale pies for dinner lately, but I refused to give any of them a name until I presented this.exact.dish the other night—and proclaimed it Tamale Pie. This is the tamale pie we’ve been waiting for: a thick, rich beef-and-beans tomato filling topped with the perfect cornbread topping(not-too-heavy, not-too-light) that soaks up just enough of the filling to marry all the flavors.

Gluten Free Tamale Pie

Don’t be put off by the length of the ingredient list for the filling, okay? Almost a third of the whole list is made up of basic (but spectacular) spices, like ground Chipotle chili powder, which take mere seconds to add to the dish. And feel free to play around with the spices (a little more heat? a little less cumin?) to taste, as long as you don’t leave out the salt or the whole dish will just fall … flat.  And be sure to read all the way to the end of the recipe directions for the notes on how to halve the recipe, or how to make it ahead.

Gluten Free Tamale Pie

All 3 of my children, with their maddeningly different palates and preferences, proclaim this dish “dinner success.” And who doesn’t like a dinnertime standing ovation (okay fine that never happens but maybe one day…)?

Like this recipe?

Prep time: Cook time: Yield: 6 servings


1 pound lean ground beef

1 tablespoon (14 g) extra virgin olive oil

1 small yellow onion, peeled and diced

2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

2 tablespoons (28 g) unsalted butter

3 tablespoons (27 g) basic xanthan gum-free gluten free flour blend (18 grams superfine white rice flour + 6 grams potato starch + 3 grams tapioca starch/flour)

1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes

1 teaspoon ground Chipotle chili powder (or ground Mexican chili powder)

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup tomato paste

1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed

8 ounces frozen corn kernels

Cornbread Topping
1 1/2 cups (198 g) coarsely ground gluten free yellow cornmeal

1 1/2 cups (210 g) all purpose gluten free flour (I used Better Batter)

3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 tablespoon baking powder

6 tablespoons (84 g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 tablespoon (21 g) honey

3 eggs (180 g, weighed out of shell) at room temperature, beaten

2 1/4 cups (18 fluid ounces) buttermilk, at room temperature (can replace with plain yogurt, or even nondairy unsweetened almond milk)

8 ounces frozen corn kernels


  • Preheat your oven to 375°F. Grease a 9-inch x 12-inch baking dish, and set it aside.

  • First, make the filling. In a medium-size, heavy-bottom saucepan, cook the ground beef over medium-high heat until no pink spots remain, breaking it up into small pieces. Discard any grease rendered from the beef, and transfer the cooked beef to a separate, heat-safe bowl. In the same saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat and add the diced onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent (about 5 minutes). Add the minced garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until the garlic is fragrant (another 2 minutes). Transfer the cooked onions and garlic to the bowl of cooked ground beef, and set aside. To the same skillet, add the butter and melt over medium heat. Add the gum-free flour blend, and mix to combine. The mixture will clump, and then become smooth. Cook, stirring frequently, until melted and just beginning to become fragrant (about 2 minutes). Add the diced tomatoes and their juice, the chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper and tomato paste, and mix to combine. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture begins to thicken (about 2 minutes). Add the black beans and corn kernels, and mix to combine. Return the cooked ground beef, onions and garlic to the saucepan, and mix to combine. Remove the saucepan from the heat, transfer the entire mixture to the prepared baking dish and smooth into an even layer. Set aside.

  • Make the cornbread topping. In a large bowl, place the cornmeal, flour, xanthan gum, salt, baking soda and baking powder, and whisk to combine well. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients, add the butter, honey, eggs and buttermilk, and mix until just combined. The mixture will be thick but light. Add the frozen corn kernels and mix until combined. Scrape the cornbread mixture onto the top of the filling in the prepared baking dish and spread into an even layer.

  • Bake and serve. Place in the center of the preheated oven and bake until the cornbread is firm to the touch and golden brown all over (about 20 minutes). Remove from the oven and allow to cool briefly before slicing into squares and serving.

  • NOTES:

    1. Recipe too big? It can be halved easily. To halve the 3 eggs in the cornbread topping, beat 2 eggs and measure out 90 grams of the mixture.
    2. Want to make it ahead? Make the filling ahead of time, transfer it to the baking dish, then cover and refrigerate. 25 minutes before you are ready to eat, remove the baking dish from the refrigerator, mix up the topping, then top, bake and serve. The entire dish can be made ahead of time as well, then cooled completely, wrapped tightly and frozen. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator and refresh in a 300°F oven until warmed through (about 10 minutes) before serving.



P.S. Do you have all of the Gluten Free on a Shoestring cookbooks? Thank you so much for all your support–I couldn’t do this without you!

Comments are closed.

  • Kirsten
    October 14, 2014 at 1:13 PM

    Hi there, new to cornbread making activites, but this looks like an excellent way to smuggle more beans and veggies into my offspring…one quick question, could I use medium ground cornmeal? Thanks so much for all the work you do on your recipes, blog and books….its not an exaggeration to say that you have helped us massively in our transition to a GF lifestyle. K

  • Anneke
    October 9, 2014 at 9:45 PM

    Made this tonight, big hit with the teens! It is also a great recipe for getting kids to help in the kitchen, since it is in several parts. There were four of us cooking at once!

  • Jeanette
    October 8, 2014 at 9:39 PM

    Made this for dinner, tasted great, the meat mixture was probably room temperature as the corn had been frozen, but it took at least 45 minutes to cook, and it was a half recipe.

    • October 9, 2014 at 7:51 AM

      Jeanette, I would check the accuracy of your oven temperature. Most ovens are off by quite a lot, which is why I always recommend using an oven thermometer. At 375°F, 45 minutes for half a recipe would burn the cornbread topping.

      • Jeanette
        October 9, 2014 at 11:34 AM

        Will do that as I have the other half of the meat mixture in the freezer for another day. The top was quite dark, but the batter near the meat was runny.

  • Donia Robinson
    October 8, 2014 at 10:50 AM

    Them asking what’s for dinner and then eating dinner is like being given a job performance review every single day of the year. Sometimes more than that! The asking part is (potentially) being disappointed in what you’re going to do, and the eating part is (potentially) being disappointed in what you’ve done. Nevermind that it’s actually a lot of work to get a meal on the table.

    This recipe looks gorgeous, in a casserole-y kind of way. ;) My husband would definitely add sour cream. I allow adding, but not picking out. But that’s a topic for a whole post of its own! ;)

    • October 8, 2014 at 12:06 PM

      So true, Donia. Like a performance review, and nobody likes those (as necessary as they may be from time to time). Try writing a blog! ;)

      • Donia Robinson
        October 8, 2014 at 12:12 PM

        Ah, good point! I don’t have thick enough skin to write a blog. I second guess everything I write in just the comments! :P

  • AG
    October 8, 2014 at 10:25 AM

    My most annoying question when I’m cooking dinner is “when’s dinner gonna be ready?” “It’ll be ready when it’s ready and I tell you it’s ready, that’s when” is usually my response (or some other variation). And when I do get the “what’s for dinner?” question, I just say “food.” “What kind?” they ask; “the kind you eat” I reply. :) Or sometimes I’ll point at the board we have on the fridge that lists the dinner menu for the week! Off my soapbox now… this looks great! This will probably make it on the dinner menu in the next couple of weeks. :)

    • October 8, 2014 at 12:06 PM

      I can’t believe you post the week’s dinners on a menu for all to see, AG! That would open me up to just the sorts of “opinions” I don’t really want to hear. You’re a brave soul!

      • AG
        October 14, 2014 at 8:39 AM

        Haha, the only reason I post it is so I don’t get bugged with the “what’s for dinner?” questions. They eat what I cook, whether they like it or not. Hubby never complains and if daughter doesn’t like what’s on the menu, she’s learned to keep her opinions to herself. ;)

  • Jennifer S.
    October 8, 2014 at 10:20 AM

    This looks really yummy. thanks for posting. would you get mad if I asked what’s for dinner?? :) lol.
    I made the chocolate chip cookie cake for my daughter’s kid party this past weekend and it was a HUGE HIT. One girl told me I needed to open up my own shop, it was so good. I wanted to let you know so you got all the credit!!

    • October 8, 2014 at 12:05 PM

      I wouldn’t get mad if you asked, Jennifer, but I probably wouldn’t answer if my kids were in earshot! ;)
      You deserve the credit for the cookie cake. You’re the one who made it!

  • Lauri Zotz
    October 8, 2014 at 10:15 AM

    This sounds amazing. It’s giving me ideas for those of us who can’t do nightshades, this would adapt well to a beef and veggie w/gravy filled cornbread topped shepards pie. Thanks for the morning inspiration :)

  • Mare Masterson
    October 8, 2014 at 10:09 AM

    I just love you and all you do! Happy happy joy joy!

  • Lucy
    October 8, 2014 at 10:01 AM

    Nicole this would be a winner for my family as well!
    Standing ovations not here, but my hubby always says “Thanks for dinner” never anything else…

    • October 8, 2014 at 12:04 PM

      My kids always do say thanks for dinner, I’ll give them that, Lucy. But it’s more a reflex than anything else!

      • Lucy
        October 9, 2014 at 10:24 AM

        Same here…LOL :)

Back to Top

Where should I send your free guide?

By entering your email, you're agreeing to our Privacy Policy. We respect your email privacy, and will never share your information.