tamale pie with bbq pulled pork

A few weeks B.C. (Before Charlie), my dear sister-in-law stocked our freezer. She handed over a tote bag full of homemade frozen meals as her baby gift to us. Among the foil-wrapped containers there was one labeled “Tamale Pie.” Curious, I stashed it in the freezer and waited for the busy day on which we would need to use it.

Weeks later, exhausted from being up with a baby all night and chasing a toddler around all day, I popped it in the oven for dinner. The smells of Mexican spices and sweet corn began wafting from the oven. Eating it was even better—spicy ground beef, peppers and onions were all topped off with a layer of light, crunchy cornbread. If this was tamale pie, I thought, I wanted more of it.

I set out to make a sort of “ultimate” version with pulled pork slathered in a spicy barbecue sauce. Barbecue and cornbread were made for each other. I’m a fan of Stubb’s, but homemade or another brand work just as well (and if you make your own barbecue sauce, send me a bottle? Please?).

Marinate a pork shoulder roast in the barbecue sauce, then cook in the Crock Pot. Shred the meat.

Next, you’ll need fire-roasted tomatoes, cornbread mix, peppers (orange, yellow, and poblano), a sweet onion, chili powder, cumin, and kosher salt. Oh, and one handsy toddler lurking in the background.

Uh oh.

And she’s got it.

Saute the onion and poblano pepper in a bit of oil until tender.

Add the bell peppers and spices, saute a bit more…

…and finish with the tomatoes. Check the spices and make sure everything is to your liking.

Assemble the cornbread (my favorite $0.53 box of Jiffy corn muffin mix requires milk and eggs, but yours may be different).

To the cornbread batter, add corn (frozen or canned is fine) and sharp cheddar cheese (or your favorite variety—pepperjack would be great as well).

Stir together the pork with the pepper/onion mixture and spread into the bottom of two 9″ pie plates or one 9×13″ rectangular baking pan.

Top with the cornbread mixture…

…and bake until golden.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream. A frosty margarita on the side is also mandatory.

This has become one of my new, go-to comfort meals. There is something soothing about these classic flavors, and since the recipe makes a large batch you can enjoy this meal for several dinners or stash half in your freezer for a hectic day. Kisses to my sis-in-law Becky for introducing me to this crazy wonderful dish (and for stocking our freezer!). Make this for yourself or for some lucky parents-to-be soon.


Tamale Pie with BBQ Pulled Pork Click here for printable version

If you’re using another brand of cornbread mix, omit the eggs and milk and follow the directions on the package. Makes 1 rectangular 9×13″ pie or 2 round 9″ pies.

Inactive Prep Time: 12-24 hours for marinating pork, 7-8 hours for cooking pork.

Active Prep Time: 25 minutes.

Bake Time: 25-30 minutes.

  • 3 lb pork shoulder roast
  • 1 c barbecue sauce, divided
  • 1 sweet onion
  • 1 poblano pepper
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • 1 orange bell pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 14.5 oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 2 boxes Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 c milk
  • 2 c shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 c corn kernels (frozen or canned is fine)
  • sour cream for serving

1. Rinse pork roast and pat dry. Place in a large Ziploc bag and cover with 1/2c of the barbecue sauce. Refrigerate 12-24 hours.

2. Transfer pork roast with marinade into bowl of slow cooker. Cover and cook on low 7-8 hours. Remove pork, shred, and stir in remaining 1/2 c barbecue sauce. Set aside.

3. Dice sweet onion. Seed and dice poblano pepper and bell peppers.

4. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and poblano pepper and saute 3-4 minutes, until onion begins to become translucent. Add bell peppers, salt, chili powder and cumin. Saute 5 minutes more. Add fire roasted tomatoes and continue to saute 5 minutes more or until most of the liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat and stir in shredded pork. Check seasoning.

5. Preheat oven to 400F. Combine corn muffin mix, eggs, milk, cheese and corn in a large bowl and mix to combine. Grease one 9×13″ baking dish or two 9″ pie plates. Spread the pork mixture into the bottom of the pan and spread the cornbread mixture evenly on top*. Bake for 25-30 minutes (may take slightly longer in large rectangular pan) until cornbread is cooked through and slightly golden on top. Serve topped with sour cream.

*NOTE: Can be covered and frozen unbaked. Bake from frozen at 400F for 45 min-1 hr or until cornbread is done.



  1. *Hugs* Jen. So glad you liked the tamale pie. But yours is going to put mine to shame! Great combination of ingredients and so easy to make! Can’t wait to try it!


  2. YUM! And I conveniently have a piece of pork sitting in my fridge that I hadn’t quite decided what to do with yet…..guess I know now!!

  3. It appears that this recipe doesn’t have the easy-to-print version? Or am I missing a button in there somewhere? I just don’t want to print the entire post, as I don’t want to waste paper on the images!

    • The printable section plugin I used to use no longer works 🙁 I’m trying to find a replacement. In the meantime, just copy the text & paste into a word doc to print. Promise I’ll get it up and running again soon!

      *UPDATE*: There’s now a PDF file linked at the top of the recipe. Click and print!

  4. This recipe looks and sounds amazing! Tamales are an important tradition in my family and I’m a huge fan. I never thought to make it into a pie too. Thanks so much for sharing, your site is beyond incredible. Love it. =]

    • rainyd01 says:

      Thanks so much! I don’t know how closely this recipe resembles traditional tamales, but it’s darn good 🙂

  5. So I bought a nice BBQ rib sauce for my pork, but then I found *gasp* a peri-peri marinade! Oh the decisions!! I decided to live a little and used the peri-peri and oh.my.goodness. It was sooo good. Pork just flaked apart with the forks, the sauce had a hint of spice but not too much, and we ate it on tortillas with shredded lettuce, sour cream, and a reduction of the cooking sauce. The only problem? It was only just big enough (which means there’s no leftovers) :'( Thanks for the inspiration Jenny, I’ll be doing this one again real soon…..might try the bbq sauce seeing I bought it too 😉

    • rainyd01 says:

      Alright, Mel. I had to google peri-peri because I had never heard of it before…and it looks AWESOME. Must. Try. Now.

  6. Mackenzie says:

    This was great inspiration for dinner yesterday I made some kind of sheppard’s pie… Daniel is telling me I should call it Gardener’s pie… It is essentially your idea, but with mashed potatoes baked on top and lots of vegetables inside… (I had never tried it before)… We had potatoes and had recently made cornbread muffins, so we opted for potatoes. It was great… I will have to try your original recipe sometime soon 🙂

    I will have to be neighborly and come and meet Charlie soon:)

  7. florapie says:

    This would probably be a great use for leftover Cuban Pork too, which has gone into heavy rotation in our house 🙂

  8. YUM! Thanks for sharing! This will end up on our table at some point! COngrats on your new addition too!

  9. Oh, my husband is going to flip over this recipe. I am new to your space but I am checking it all out and loving it. I absolutely love the little hands in the background of your ingredients photos. That just says it all- what this job is all about.

  10. Sara Miller says:

    Jenny! I just have to tell you how much my husband loves your website! He can generally follow any of your recipes on his own (he loves the photos!) which is saying a lot as he will generally not try to cook on his own at all. Tonight we are making this together! Thank you for your awesome recipes (oh and maybe I’ve posted this compliment before-but there can’t be too many compliments can there?)

    Sara and Tom

    • rainyd01 says:

      Thank you Sara! I appreciate the very kind compliments 🙂 I’m so glad the recipes are easy to follow and you enjoy cooking them together! Now will you get my husband in the kitchen? Please?

  11. Allison Morton says:

    I just made 8 of these for a freezer swap. We’ve been obsessed with it since your mom made it for us for a fill the freezer baby shower. YUM!! I’ll be using more of your recipes…and of course giving due credit! XO

    • Thanks, Allie! It’s one of my favorites…and perfect for stashing in the freezer. Glad you enjoyed it! And 8 of them?? You’re amazing 🙂

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