Easy Tamale Pie

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Easy Tamale Pie on a fork


The making of Easy Tamale Pie

This recipe was developed by my sister Joann, a former professional cook, now kitchen putterer.  Our family has always been big fans of repurposing left-overs, not ones to eat the exact same thing over and over.  So while looking into her refrigerator one day, she saw she had some left-over slow cooked pork roast, so she decided to make this Easy Tamale Pie.  Using instant polenta to make the tamale like crust, she then topped it with tamale like filling ingredients, added some cheese, popped it into the oven and 20-minutes later had this easy, filling dinner.

This recipe is really adaptable.  While Joann used shredded pork, I used left-over poached chicken breast.  Any shredded meat will work, or if you are not into meat, omit it.  She also used only black beans, but I think a mixture of black beans and corn would be delicious as well.  For the salsa, you can use a jarred salsa, canned salsa, or even a refrigerated salsa/pico de Gallo.


This recipe is really adaptable.


The cheese part of the program is also up to you.  I used a mixture of cheddar and jack cheeses with a bit of cotija mixed in, because I love its saltiness, but you could use all of one, or all of another.  I do not recommend using a non-fat cheese, because it just won’t have the oozy melty goodness that you want for the topping.

Want more flavor?  Add some sliced olives.  Sliced jalapeños.  Sliced green onion.  Just like pizza, the topping is only limited by your imagination.

So imagine away!


Easy Tamale Pie on a fork

Joann’s Easy Tamale Pie


  • 1/2 of a box of instant polenta, prepared according to package directions
  • 1 cup or more, left-over pork, chopped or pulled (or chicken, or any shredded meat)
  • 8 ounces salsa
  • 1 (15 1/2 ounce) can black beans, drained
  • 1 cup grated cheddar, jack or combination, cheese (or as desired)


Step 1

Spread the cooked polenta into a pie plate covering the bottom and sides. Mix together the pork, beans and salsa and spread over the polenta. Cover with grated cheese. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 20 - 30 minutes, or until hot and the cheese is lightly browned and bubbly. Allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.

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Recipe Comments

  1. posted by Brian on January 31, 2014

    one of the best parts of this dish is the contrast in textures…the delicate crunch in the Polenta, the cheesy crisp crunch, the gooey cheese melt and the delicate black olive–great dish
    pair with beer or a solid merlot

    • posted by LindySez on January 31, 2014

      I’ll go with the merlot!

  2. posted by Rosemary on April 22, 2016

    I made your easy tamale pie last night and it was absolutely delicious. I will make this recipe many times in the future. Also,
    I didn’t use the instant polenta (where have you found it) but rather made up my regular polenta recipe.

    • posted by LindySez on April 23, 2016

      I used instant for a quick dinner, but regular long-cooked polenta is always better IMHO. Glad you enjoyed the recipe. Cheers!

    • posted by Kathie on November 13, 2016

      For Rosemary: I found ready-made polenta at Trader Joe’s. I haven’t used it in this recipe yet but it has worked out well in other instances. It comes in a tube/Italian salami shaped roll and whatever amount I’ve used I’ve just sliced off the roll.

      • posted by LindySez on November 14, 2016

        Hi Kathie, I think that the tube of pre-made polenta would work if you cut it thinly and overlapped, or let it come to room temp and try to spread it. Good suggestion. If you try it, let me know how it turns out. Cheers!


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Nutritional Info

This information is per serving.
  • Calories
  • Protein
  • Carbohydrate
  • Dietary Fiber
  • Cholesterol
  • Sodium
  • Fat
    16g (8g Sat, 5g Mono, 1g Poly)
  • Nutritional Information is provided as a guideline and may not be 100% accurate

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