When the kitchen is too hot for cooking, adapting recipes for the grill is a life-saver. Such is the case with this delicious tamale pie, which can be prepared completely on your backyard grill.

It all starts with fresh summer vegetables like zucchini, peppers, tomatoes and fresh sweet corn which are cooked with fresh chorizo and black beans in a cast iron skillet and topped with a cornmeal crust.

While some recipes for tamale pie call for ¬cornbread as a topping, we opted to keep things more traditional by using a mixture of masa harina (the flour used for tortillas and tamales), butter and chicken broth to create a rich topping that cooks quickly and lends an authentic flavor to this great hot weather dish.

Savory Tamale Pie

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes

Yield: 1 pie

Savory Tamale Pie


    For tamale topping:
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup masa harina (instant corn flour)
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup chicken broth
  • For filling:
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground ancho chile pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, drained
  • 1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 2 canned chipotle chiles, minced
  • 2 cups shredded, cooked chicken
  • 1 cup fresh or defrosted frozen sweet corn
  • 1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves


  1. Beat butter with hand mixer or paddle attachment of electric mixer until fluffy, about 1 minute. Add in masa harina, chili powder, cumin, baking powder and salt. Beat until all ingredients are well incorporated and there are no lumps. Slowly add in chicken broth a little at a time until mixture resembles consistency of frosting. Beat for another 6 minutes and set aside for 15 minutes to let ingredients moisten and rise.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare grill for indirect grilling.
  3. Place 10 inch cast iron skillet over direct heat on grill.
  4. Add butter to pan. When butter is melted, add onion and sauté until tender. Add peppers, zucchini garlic, along with the cumin, ancho chile powder and salt. Sauté until peppers and zucchini are crisp tender. If using charcoal grill, you may have to move pan to and from direct heat, as needed, to maintain reasonable temperature for sautéing.
  5. Now add beans, tomatoes, chipotle chiles, chicken and corn, stirring carefully since pan will become quite full. Bring mixture to simmer, stirring gently until heated through and slightly thickened. Stir in cilantro and sprinkle with cheese.
  6. Dollop tamale mixture over filling, carefully spreading with spatula or thin knife to cover. Switch cast iron pan to side of grill with indirect heat.
  7. Cover grill and allow tamale pie to “bake” for 20-30 minutes, or until pie is heated through and tamale topping is browned. Let stand for 10-15 minutes before serving.

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