Turkey Tamale Pie

When I think of hearty, warming winter dishes, this one is definitely on the top of my list. There is something about that hearty turkey chili layer topped with a thick layer of cornbread that just says comfort to me. I’m totally not into making a bunch of side dishes on a weeknight, so the fact this is a one pan meal that the whole family enjoys is also a total win!

I take a shortcut by using a boxed gluten free cornbread mix on top of my turkey chili, but you could most definitely make your favorite recipe for cornbread and top it off with that. Just make sure your recipe makes an 8×8 pan and not a 9×13 pan or you will end up with a lot more cornbread on top than you bargained for and probably a mess.

This meal is also quite flexible and can be suited to your tastes. Only have ground beef and no turkey? Go for it. Don’t like beans? Leave ’em out. Think you’d be happier with some corn in there? Throw in half a can or a handful of frozen kernels. Can’t do dairy? Leave the cheese off of the top or use a favorite dairy alternative!

This dish can also be made in any 10-12-inch oven safe skillet or an 8×8 baking pan if you don’t have a cast iron, but I do heartily recommend a cast iron skillet for best (and prettiest) results. Here’s my favorite >>> Lodge Chef Collection 12 Inch Cast Iron Skillet. Seasoned and Ready.

Turkey Tamale Pie


  • 1 lb lean ground turkey or beef (93% or higher) *see notes if not using lean
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 -14 oz can black beans (or pinto/kidney/red), drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup canned (drained) or frozen corn kernals (optional)
  • 1 – 14 oz can petite diced tomatoes, partially drained (meaning just get the bulk of the liquid out but it doesn’t have to be excessive)
  • 1 Cup of enchilada sauce. My favorite is frontera >>> Frontera Foods Red Chile Enchilada Sauce – Enchilada Sauce – Case of 6 – 8 oz.
  • 1 Box gluten free cornbread mix, prepared according to package directions >>> I like this one because it’s easily made dairy free King Arthur Gluten Free Cornbread + Muffin Mix, 14 ounces (Pack of 3)
  • Regular or Vegan shredded cheddar or Monterey jack cheese for topping.


  1. Preheat the oven according to the temperature listed on the cornbread packaging or recipe.
  2. Prepare cornbread mix according to package directions and leave batter in the bowl. Do not bake.
  3. Brown the 1 lb ground turkey or beef* in a cast iron or 10-12 inch oven-safe skillet** (see notes)
  4. Add 1 diced medium yellow onion and 2 minced cloves garlic to the pan and sauté over medium heat 30 seconds.
  5. Add 1 cup enchilada sauce, 14 oz can petite diced tomatoes, 14 oz can black beans, and 1/2 cup corn kernals (optional), combine thoroughly and sauté over medium heat 1 minute.
  6. Top meat mixture with large dollops of cornbread batter and gently spread evenly over the top. Don’t spread all the way to the edges and make sure the middle is not thicker than the rest of the pan.
  7. Carefully sit your cast iron skillet on top of a rimmed baking sheet (this is to avoid any accidental spill overs) and place in the oven.
  8. Bake for the amount of time indicated for the cornbread recipe. Start with the shortest time and check it every couple of minutes from there. It should be nicely browned on top and a toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean or with a few crumbs.
  9. Top with cheese and/or sour cream/avocado/salsa


*If using non-lean ground beef or turkey: Make sure to drain the grease off after browning and before adding onion and garlic.

**If you do not own a 10-12 in cast iron or oven-safe skillet, this can also be done in an 8×8 pan. Place meat mixture into pan after completing step 5 and then proceed as the recipe directs.

If you make this or any of my other recipes, don’t forget to snap a pic and tag me @lizlaughlovefood on Instagram!

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