Tamale Casserole

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We love this tamale casserole recipe because it is versatile and a great way to enjoy the flavors of Mexican food without the calories and fat. It is topped with moist cornbread and loaded with chicken, beans, chili, and all the flavors you love in tamale recipes. Your family will not even realize it’s a cleaned up, healthier version of a favorite! This healthy casserole recipe is not only great for a run-of-the-mill weeknight dinner, it is also perfect when you are entertaining or when you  need to bring a dish to someone’s home.

Traditional tamale meals take hours prepare, but not this one. In less than an hour, you’ll have a hearty meal on the table, and you won’t even need a steamer!

Try serving up our Tamale Casserole with one of our nutritious Side Dishes and a Skinny Mini Dessert.

Tamale Casserole

Tamale Casserole

Yields: 6 | Serving size: 1/6 of recipe | Calories: 257 | Total Fat: 5 gm | Saturated Fats: 2 gm | Trans Fats: 0 gm | Cholesterol: 4 mg | Sodium: 436 mg | Carbohydrates: 40 gm | Dietary fiber: 9 gm | Sugars: 4 gm | Protein: 12 gm | SmartPoints (Freestyle): 7 |


  • 1 pound lean ground chicken, turkey will also work
  • 1 (16 ounce) jar Chipotle Salsa, no sugar added (I used "World Table" brand Roasted Tomato Chipotle Roja Salsa, medium)
  • 1 (4.5 ounce) can diced green chilis
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn (optional)
  • 1/3 cup freshly chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • Kosher or sea salt to taste
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, reduced fat (block cheese is best for shredding, as it doesn't contain all the added waxes of commercially shredded cheese)
  • Cornbread Topping:
  • 1 cup cornmeal (I used Hodgson Mill brand)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1 egg, slightly whipped
  • 3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup reduced fat cheddar cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a large skillet, add ground chicken and cook over medium heat, while breaking up chicken into small pieces. Cook until chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Drain excess fat and add chicken to a 13" x 9" casserole dish. Add the remaining ingredients to the casserole dish (except cornbread topping), stir well. Make sure the mixture is evenly distributed.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine cornmeal, baking powder, soda and salt. Add egg and buttermilk, stir just until combined. Spread batter evenly over the mixture, sprinkle with 1/4 cup cheese and bake until cornbread is golden and casserole is heated through, approximately 25-30 minutes.
  4. NOTE: "World Table" Roasted Tomato Chipotle Roja Salsa can be purchased at Walmart Superstore.

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20 Comments on "Tamale Casserole"

  1. Connie  August 26, 2012

    My recipe doesnt classify as skinny but dang, its good! Whole kernal corn is a nice addition for both flavor & color. I use boxed Jiffy Mix w/sugar added for a consistent, easy, fool proof topping too. Love it!

  2. April  September 11, 2012

    So i really liked this quite a bit. I couldn't find chipotle in my walmart so i substituted salsa. Mine did however turn out really watery, maybe this was the kind of salsa i used but that was a little disappointing but it really didn't ruin the flavor at all.

    • Skinny Ms.  September 12, 2012

      April, The type of salsa needs to be really thick.

  3. Amanda  September 21, 2012

    Is this recipe spicy?? I was just wonder if my 5 year old could eat it.

    • Skinny Ms.  September 21, 2012

      Amanda, It is a bit spicy, your 5 year old might not care for it.

  4. marie  October 5, 2012

    Could I use 2% with a little lemon juice in place of the buttermilk?

  5. Skinny Ms.  October 5, 2012

    Marie, Yep…that should work.

  6. Courtney  January 23, 2013

    This was excellent! I didn't know quite what to expect but we loved the smoky chipotle flavor from the salsa and chili powder and the cornbread was a nice complement. I used lean ground beef (92%) Thanks for the healthy and delicious recipe!

  7. dawn  March 6, 2013

    have it in the oven now… cant wait smells yummy and so easy to make thanks for the great recipe..

  8. Kelly zarda  March 22, 2013

    Made this tonight. Did substitute with a very lean ground beef. So delicious!!!

  9. stacy  July 18, 2013

    Could this be done in the crock pot?

    • Skinny Ms.  July 19, 2013

      Stacy, I could but you would need to use an oven safe insert in order to brown the cornbread topping before serving.

    • SkinnyMs  March 4, 2014

      If you try it, let us know how it goes!

  10. Amber  April 9, 2014

    How could I make this into a freezer meal?

    • SkinnyMs  April 9, 2014

      Amber, You can cook this fully, Let it cool to room temperature, cover with wrap and store in an airtight container. You can also slice it up after it is cooled into serving sizes, wrap each in saran wrap and store in airtight freezer bags. This should be good in the freezer for up to 2 months. Reheat at 350 in the oven from frozen for about 30 minutes, or microwave.

    • Wendy  January 25, 2017

      Can I buy the salsa in Walmart stores in Canada?

      • Gale Compton  January 26, 2017

        Wendy, I’m not sure if Walmart has this salsa in Canada but a similar one should be available. 🙂

  11. Lisa  April 26, 2015

    Just made this for dinner tonight….OMG It's AMAZING! I put the cheese into the cornbread batter by mistake, leaving me nothing for the top….didn't matter a bit, in fact, I think I will always make it this way. Thanks for the great recipe!!

  12. kim meyer  October 4, 2018

    My favorite WW friendly recipe! My family has this once a week and I could probably eat it more! Thank you for this delicious and easy to make recipe

    • Gale Compton  October 6, 2018

      Kim, You are so welcome! So happy your family enjoyed. 🙂


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