turkey tamale pie

turkey tamale pie

This turkey tamale pie the perfect weeknight one pot meal. The filling is lean and delicious while the cornmeal crust is cheesy and delightful!

I hate food waste. Home cooks buy specialty ingredients to explore new culinary frontiers but we’re often left with unused portions of food spoiling in the fridge. A half carton of buttermilk and skimpy stalks of celery and carrots inspired me to develop this turkey tamale pie. As mentioned in my lemony turkey meatballs with cauliflower rice post, I always keep frozen ground turkey on hand. One desperate weeknight I gathered up my defrosted meat and unused produce from the refrigerator intending to create something delicious. A partial canister of cornmeal caught my eye and sparked a craving for “Mexican-ish” cuisine for dinner.

turkey tamale pie

Armed with my fridge haul and an arsenal of spices I cooked everything together into this wonderful one pot meal. Kenny and I enjoyed leftovers for several days and we claimed this recipe a winner in our home.

This dish is high in protein and can accommodate vegetable variety. Throw in a diced bell pepper or some sliced mushrooms if you might have on hand. Top the finished casserole with your garnish of choice and you have a delicious weeknight [one pot!] meal.

Other one pot meals we love:

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turkey tamale pie

turkey tamale pie

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  • Author: Sepideh Esmaili Campos


Turkey tamale pie made with lean meat, vegetables, and a corn topping for a delicious one pot dinner. 


  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil 
  • 5 strips bacon, cut into small pieces 
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced 
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • Kosher salt 
  • 2 pounds ground turkey
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 4 Tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 4 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce 
  • 1 28-ounce can plum tomatoes, such as San Marzano 

Corn topping 

  • 1 Cup all purpose flour
  • 1 Cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1  teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon Kosher salt 
  • 1 Cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs, beaten 
  • ¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese 

Optional garnish ideas:

  • Shredded cheese
  • Avocado slices
  • Guacamole
  • Sour cream 
  • Sliced green onions
  • Chopped fresh parsley 


  1. Heat the olive oil in a 12” dutch oven or ovenproof saucepan. 
  2. Add the bacon and cook over medium heat until the bacon is browned, 5-6 minutes. 
  3. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked bacon to a paper towel-lined plate but keep the bacon fat in the pan. 
  4. Add the onion, celery, and carrots to the now empty pan along with ½ teaspoon kosher salt. 
  5. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent and the vegetables are beginning to soften, 5 minutes. 
  6. Add the ground turkey and cook while you break the meat up into small pieces using a wooden spoon. 
  7. Increase the heat to medium high and cook until the turkey is no longer pink and the liquid has evaporated. 
  8. Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, oregano, and Worcestershire sauce. Cook until fragrant, 3 minutes. 
  9. Add the plum tomatoes and 1 teaspoon salt to the pot. Break up the tomatoes using a wooden spoon. 
  10. Bring the mixture to a simmer, reduce the heat to low, and let the meat mixture simmer until thickened. 
  11. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. 
  12. While the meat is simmering, prepare the corn topping. 
  13. Whisk the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large mixing bowl. Set aside. 
  14. Check the turkey mixture at this point, continue to simmer if the mixture has not thickened yet. 
  15. Taste the turkey and adjust salt as necessary. 
  16. Once the turkey mixture has thickened and the oven is preheated, finish making the batter. 
  17. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add the buttermilk and eggs in the center of the well. 
  18. Mix with a rubber spatula until the mixture is just combined. 
  19. Spread the corn batter evenly over the top of the turkey. Scatter the cheese over the top of the corn batter. 
  20. Bake the tamale pie in the oven until the corn mixture is baked and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 20-30 minutes. 
  21. Scoop the topping and filling into shallow bowls, top with optional garnishes and enjoy!
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