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California Tamale Pie

When I serve California Tamale Pie, I know I’ll see smiles on the faces of everyone at the table. With this recipe, you’ll enjoy the taste and texture of classic tamales, without the time and hassle. —Patricia Nieh, Portola Valley, California
  • Total Time
    Prep: 15 min. Cook: 6 hours
  • Makes
    5 servings


  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 3/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 jar (16 ounces) chunky salsa
  • 1 can (15-1/4 ounces) whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup sliced ripe olives
  • 1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • Optional toppings: Sour cream and fresh jalapeno pepper slices


  • In a 3-qt. slow cooker, combine broth and cornmeal. Let stand for 5 minutes. In a large skillet, cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Stir in chili powder and cumin. Transfer to slow cooker. Stir in the salsa, corn, beans and olives. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or until heated through.
  • Sprinkle with cheese. Cover and cook 5-10 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. If desired, top with sour cream and jalapeno slices.
Nutrition Facts
1-1/3 cups: 455 calories, 16g fat (6g saturated fat), 66mg cholesterol, 1112mg sodium, 45g carbohydrate (7g sugars, 7g fiber), 27g protein.

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  • carolyn
    Nov 3, 2019

    Have made this with changes to my mother's recipe adding chopped green chiles, cilantro, onions and diced strained diced tomatoes and only half the jar of salsa. I make this in a Dutch oven which is then easily transferred too oven for 1hr. Must be stirred every 15min to keep from sticking. This is just the way my mother made it.

    Aug 14, 2016

    Easy and delicious! Much better than the recipes that call for Jiffy cornbread mix, which I found to be to bready (not really a word, but you know what I mean). I like the cornmeal mixed with the broth much better, as it is more consistent of a tamale. Do not mix the cornmeal mixture in the bottom of the slow cooker with the rest of the ingredients, just leave it as a paste at the bottom and top with the rest of the ingredients. I did not change the recipe except to add some garlic and onion powder to the beef.The salsa is important, find one that you like. I used Tostitas restaurant style which is not chunky or sweet, which I prefer.(Rotel with green chilis would work well also). It turned out great! Everyone in our family loved it, and it is super cheap to make! This is a keeper, thanks for sharing!

  • BethenyW
    Jun 15, 2014

    Can't wait to try this!! My grandma used to make this, minus the beans and salsa, but using rotel tomatoes instead. She used a lot of corn, and olives in it. Probably made a double batch of what this is, as there were about 25-30 of us in the family, and everyone absolutely loved tamale pie!!!! Thanks for recipe, I've been looking for it for years!! My grandmother passed about 25 years ago, my momma, about 20 years ago, my aunt, 20 years ago.. They were the only ones who knew how to make this. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!!!!