Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Chicken Tamale Casserole

A lot of people make new year's resolutions about their physical health (losing weight, quitting smoking, running a marathon, etc.). I'm concerned about my physical health, too, but last year I was very successful in sticking with my resolutions because they were about my state of mind. I resolved to be more organized, less stressed by everyday problems and to ask for help when I needed it. And guess what? It worked!

Meal planning is a major part of organization and health. I don't cook perfectly healthy meals every day, but I know that I'm probably better off (both physically and financially) eating homemade meals instead of fast food and restaurant food. One of the biggest challenges to meal planning is building up a decent pantry and recipe collection, especially for weeknights. I want meals that aren't too stressful to cook after work, but that taste good enough to make me commit to preparing them.

I found this chicken tamale pie casserole on Pinterest from Cooking Light. I was intrigued by the fact that it looked pretty simple and claimed to approximate the flavors of one of my favorite Mexican dishes.

Well, this casserole was great! It only took about 15 minutes of hands-on time to prepare and the result was as good as the tamales I've ordered in local Mexican restaurants, but much easier to prepare. The sweet corn cake layer is soft and slightly spicy and the chicken topping has just enough cheese to taste, but not enough to make the dish uncomfortably heavy. It smells great, it tastes great and the leftovers were delicious for lunch on the following day.

Try this recipe as as an alternative to taco night or a pan of enchiladas. It has a nice flavor payoff for some pretty common ingredients.

Chicken Tamale Casserole
adapted from Cooking Light
serves 4-5

1 (8.5 ounce) box corn muffin mix
1 (12 ounce) can creamed corn
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1 (4 ounce) can diced green chiles (check the Latino section of your grocery store)
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1 (10 ounce) can red enchilada sauce
2 cups cooked, shredded chicken tossed in 1 tablespoon taco or southwestern seasoning
1 cup shredded cheese (I used a pre-shredded Mexican blend)
cilantro and diced red onion, for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine first six ingredients (through milk) in a bowl. Stir until just blended. Spray a 13-9 inch baking dish with non-stick spray and pour mixture into the dish.

Bake for 15 minutes or until set and barely light brown.

Remove cornbread mixture from oven, poke holes all over with a fork. Pour enchilada sauce over the top. Top with shredded chicken and cheese.

Return to oven and bake for an additional 15 minutes, or until bubbly and heated through.

Remove from oven and top with cilantro and red onion, if desired.

Serve hot. The leftovers are great, too.


  1. This seriously looks and sounds amazing! I definitely need to add more easy dishes to my weeknight rotation. My tired and completely uninspired by the same ol' stuff I make.

  2. I've never had chucked tamale casserole, never even thought about it. Thanks!

  3. I am always looking for a different way to eat chicken since we have it so much. This sounds delicious and I think I have everything in my pantry already!

  4. I am going to have to make this for my husband

  5. Oh wow, this is a definite winner :) my husband will adore it!

  6. This chicken tamale casserole looks delicious. Great family meal

  7. Wonder if this will work in the slow cooker?

    1. I'm not sure. Please let us know if you try. This is pretty quick (45 minutes or so) and the oven browns it nicely. If you put the ingredients in the slow cookier raw they'd probably congeal and not make nice layers with a bubbly melted cheese topping.


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