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Great Grandmother's Tamale Pie

Updated on August 3, 2012
5 stars from 1 rating of Tamale Pie

My great grandmother recently passed at a good age of 102. Though there are many memories that I have of her, some of the best are from the kitchen. This Tamale Pie recipe is something she said she made all of her life, so who knows how old this recipe is - but we do know it is delicious.

I will put it down how it is made, but also make suggestions on anything I would do to add to it a little as she never used many spices other then salt, pepper, and chilli powder.

A Close Vegetarian Version
A Close Vegetarian Version | Source

A Small Difference

Interestingly enough when I was trying to look around at other tamale pie recipes the picture looked completely different than what I was used to. My great grandmother only used the corn bread mixture on the bottom of the dish.

The image here is also a vegetarian version which looks similar to the one in the recipe.

Cook Time

  • Prep time: 5 min
  • Cook time: 20 min
  • Ready in: 25 min
  • Yields: 6 good sized bowls of tamale pie.


  • 1 Pound Ground Beef
  • 1/2 Cup Onion, Sliced
  • 1 Cup Corn
  • 1 Cup Olives, Whole
  • 2 Cups Tomato Sauce
  • 1+ Cups Cheese
  • 1 Cup Corn Meal
  • 1+ Tbsp Chilli Powder, To Taste


  1. First, read your corn meal box. This will tell you what it takes to prepare it. I usually follow the box and make enough to cover the bottom of a baking pan in a half inch or so of mixture. The end baking time is the amount of time and temperature it states on the box, usually at about 400 for 15-20 minutes.
  2. In a skillet start browning your meat. When it is half way done, add in the onions. Add chilli powder to taste. Before anything starts to burn, empty the tomato sauce into the skillet.
  3. Mix in the Olives and Corn before pouring the mixture into the baking pan over the corn meal mixture. Put as much cheese as you like on top of the pie and bake for the time the box stated. Try to watch so the cheese doesn't burn, if it looks like it is going to, you can cover it with foil (but it should not).


Onions: Since I do not like onions, I usually cut them really small so their impact is diminished.
Garlic: I love garlic, so I add a bit of garlic either minced or powdered.
Chili Powder: I try different kinds of chili from time to time, sometimes going for a smokey flavor.
Olives: I actually like the olives being whole, it makes their impact that much more. However, I know some people don't like them so I slice them up if it is for others.

Adding Ingredients:
There are many things you can add, a lot of people like to add beans, some add peppers and other spices. It is a diverse recipe that you can modify as much as you want.


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    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 5 years ago from sunny Florida

      This is a dish my family will enjoy. They are huge fans of foods like this. Thank you to your Grandmama for this dish. And thank you for sharing. My family will be in for a treat this week.

    • Danieljohnston profile image

      Daniel Johnston 5 years ago from Portland, Oregon

      I look forward to hearing about it.

    • Johan Smulders profile image

      Johan Smulders 5 years ago from East London, South Africa

      Sounds great,I,m going to try it. Must keep good traditions going. Will let you know how it goes here in South Africa.