Carnitas Tamale Pie

Carnitas Tamale Pie

Hi there.

Carnitas.  Remember that one?

Still have your face buried in that one?

Have some leftovers of that one?

Me too. Cause as much as I love carnitas, I did not eat 5 pounds of shredded Mexican pork in 2 days.  There were too many other distracting things around.


So those carnitas? Turns out they make a great topping for one of my favorite recipes ever: Tamale Pie.

My original version had chicken. Now apparently I’m a grown up who makes carnitas, so I made this version of tamale pie with carnitas. From the crockpot. That’s totally grown up.

Enchilada Sauce for Carnitas Tamale Pie

Can I tell you something?

We love this.

Family Favorite Carnitas Tamale Pie |

I love putting leftovers to good use.

Bjork loves when I actually make real meals that involve more than cereal, milk, and mangoes.

Oh, the things you thought you knew about us.

Carnitas Tamale Pie

But for me, I just love whole thing together – the melted cheese, enchilada sauce, spicy carnitas, and a sweet, mushy tamale-like crust. I like that it can be cut into squares or just scooped into a bowl. I like that it can should be sprinkled with cilantro. I like the melted white cheese. What if I told you I liked putting guacamole on this?

I just don’t stand a chance against Tex-Mex gluttony right now.

Tasty Carnitas Tamale Pie |

PS. I used my regular slow cooker for this recipe which is a Crock-Pot that I’ve had for the last five years. SO MUCH FOOD has come out of that thing over the life of this blog which is pretty impressive for a $28 kitchen appliance.

4.8 from 23 reviews
Carnitas Tamale Pie
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 9-12
  • ⅔ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup yellow corn meal
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 can diced green chiles
  • ⅓ cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 can cream corn
  • 2-3 cups leftover carnitas
  • 1 cup enchilada sauce
  • 1 cup shredded white cheese (Jack, White Cheddar, Pepperjack, etc.)
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Whisk the cornmeal, flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar. Stir in the oil until the mixture makes soft crumbs. Whisk in the milk and egg. Add the cream corn and green chiles and stir until just combined. Bake in a 9-inch square pan (or larger, depending on how thick you want it) for 25 minutes or until set. Since it's a tamale-like base, it won't be completely dry like a cornbread. It's supposed to be just a little mushy.
  2. Poke holes in the crust with a fork. Pour the enchilada sauce over the crust. Squeeze or drain excess moisture out of the carnitas and arrange on top of the crust. Sprinkle with cheese.
  3. Reduce oven temperature to 350. Cover with foil, return to oven, and bake for 20 minutes. When everything is heated through, remove foil and let bake for another 5-10 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.
  4. Top with chopped cilantro, allow to cool for 5 minutes, and cut into slices or scoop into bowls.

So you’re going to have an awesome weekend?

Sweet. Me too.

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  1. That looks amazing. We’ve been having a rainy week and comfort food is the best cure- seeing this makes me crave it even though it’s only 8am here, haha!!

    Will definitely have to try it out soon. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Oh WOW! Being a huge fan of Mexican food this has got my attention!

  3. Håkan from Sweden says:

    Looks really yummy. Maybe something I try to cook over the weekend. :)

  4. I’ve never seen a tamale pie look so darn delicious {and with carnitas!!}… I’m bookmarking this to make real soon, like real-REAL soon!

  5. Whoa, this looks like super comfort food! I have one of Rick Bayless’ carnitas marinades onmy counter right now, this would be the best possible use for it!!!

  6. I want this.. NOW..

  7. So, I was reading

  8. So, I was reading a woman’s magazine the other day, with a huge spread of food photos, and all I could think was, “Lindsay’s pictures are WAY better than this!”

  9. I love two-for-one meals!

  10. This is one delicious looking tamale pie! I think I just got inspiration for dinner this weekend!

  11. This looks insanely good!!!

  12. Yes, yes, yes. I love chicken tamale casserole and I think I’d love this carnitas version even more.

  13. This looks amazing! I make a polenta tamale pie that my husband loves but I either make it with shredded chicken or ground turkey. I will have to try this recipe soon!

  14. This rocks! I’m not typically the one who does the cooking, but this recipe has me wanting to hijack the kitchen!

  15. Wow, this is definitely my type of comfort food!

  16. ooooooooo……yummy goodness…..I can’t wait to make this. I love Mexican recipes. LOVE..Love carnitas!

  17. Do you think there is there anyway to substitute out the wheat flour and make this a gluten free dish? This looks so yummy and such a great twist on the typical enchilada/mexican type casserole!

    • Definitely! I am not very familiar with GF baking but I know that there are many types of flour that can be GF. Could you replace the whole wheat flour with an acceptable GF flour? The good thing is that it doesn’t have to set perfectly… it’s supposed to be a tiny bit mushy like a tamale, so I think it would be pretty forgiving with another type of flour.

    • I tend to swap out oat flour for AP in baking, plus 1/4 teaspoon xantham gum to help it bind. It does add a sweeter, oaty flavor though, but I bet it would go quite nicely with the corn masa!

  18. cornmeal is available locally? 😮 what do they call it? is it where they keep the flour in the supermarket?

  19. I just made these last night. They are CRAZY GOOD!

  20. Hi Lindsay, I really love how easy this recipe is! Thank you for sharing! I hope your busy life makes more room for more fabulous recipes! How do you like living in the Philippines? Teaching in an orphanage, is it English you’re teaching? God’s blessings on you and your Family! babs <3

  21. This looks fantastic, enjoyed reading it as well, good job – looking forward to trying it!
    Thanks! :)

  22. My friend Lydia has been telling me about your blog for months–“I made this from Pinch of Yum…and this…and this.” But I finally sat down and started reading some of your posts and recipes this weekend. This Chicken Tamale Pie was the first recipe fo yours I’ve made and it was FABULOUS. I love the idea of deconstructing a tamale and making it “inside out” if you will. But, I had to laugh when Lydia’s boyfriend said, “this needs something…like peppers…or onions.” And I stopped him right there. The dish is a *tamale,* not enchiladas, or a tacos, or burritos. A Tamale. He suddenly understood. Or, I think he did, because I’m not really sure if he actually eats tamales, but he cleaned his plate nonetheless.

    Thanks so much for sharing this recipe!

  23. This looks great! Any recommendations on what to replace the 1 can cream of corn with? I try to not use this ingredient as much as I possibly can and I really want to make this meal for dinner tonight. Thanks!

    • You probably want to use some sort of thickening agent like flour or cornstarch with milk or cream to get the same consistency. The creamed corn is really important for the texture of the tamale base. Here’s an example that looks pretty easy:

  24. Jennifer says:

    Is it possible to make the tamale base without eggs? My daughter is allergic! :(

    • Sure! You could add a little flax or something else that might help the corn part hold together a little better. Here’s a link on making flax eggs:

  25. Kelly S. says:

    Just made this tonight and it was delicious!! Even my husband, who does not groove on tamales loved it! Thank you for sharing!

  26. Martina Johnson says:

    I’ve made this a few times already and finally have to let you know how awesome it is!!!Our whole family loves this recipe!
    Thanks so much for sharing!

  27. I’m making it right now and hoping for the best.
    I prefer when recipes indicate what size can as creamed corn comes in at least a couple of different sizes. Lets just hope I guessed right.

    Sounds good though

  28. Christina Zycinski says:

    Are you sure it’s 1 TABLESPOON of Baking Powder – seems like an awful lot. I only used 1 TEASPOON (by accident) and seems to have turned out just fine. Thank you for the clarification!

    • Yep – it’s one tablespoon. But if you only used a teaspoon that would be fine (as you know), because the crust bakes more into a corn cake than really a solid bread anyways. :)

  29. I made this last night. I’m making it again this Saturday for guests. It is delicious.

  30. Mrs. Mexican says:

    I’m making this right now. I’m very excited because your carnitas are YUM! Even my hubby, that grew up in Mexico, looooves them. One thing, is it’s a tad bit easier of the ingredients are listed in the same exact order mentioned in the recipe….since some of us aren’t expert cookers =)

  31. Is this a meal you can cool and ten freeze? I know with tamales they need a steaming effect to reheat. I want to make the carnitas and then make this dish aswell and freeze the left over of both. But will it be totally gross reheated!?

    • Yes, I have done that before! I bake the crust and the meat and the sauce, and then just cool it, put the cheese on, and then freeze it. I think it tastes good reheated because it’s supposed to be steamy and kind of mushy like that.

  32. How large of a can of creamed corn? Just one of those little ones?

  33. Worked like a dream! Looks just like the photos and tastes like perfect fall weather food. So impressed with myself right now, I can harly stand it.

  34. Made this tonight and they were awesome.e! My four year told me that she was “impressed”!

  35. Thank you, I made this and it was delicious! I added a layer of beans before adding the meat and I added diced jalapeños because I was out of green chiles. Yummy! I will so make this again!

  36. Kamari's says:

    I cooked it and it is easy and delicious!

  37. Brittney says:

    I followed the directions EXACTLY and my crust was so watery! Turned out horribly! What could I have done wrong?

    • Hm, it’s hard to say! Was there a lot of excess oil on the meat? Could have been too much liquid from that? Maybe drain the meat on paper towels next time, and/or try baking longer? The crust should be soft, like a soft cornbread, but not watery.

  38. These are in the oven now and I can’t wait to try them! They look and smell so GOOD! Thanks!!

  39. What is the crockpot recipe for the meat to then make this recipe of Carnitas tamale pie?

  40. i dont have cream corn can i use diced tomatoes? and i have masa cot corn meal will that be a problem?

    • The cream corn is pretty important for the base of the corn meal crust. I don’t think tomatoes would do it. Could you just find and follow a regular corn bread recipe to use as the crust?

  41. I am planning to make this for 200 or so people. Is it possible to start with a cornbread mix for the crust?

  42. I’m making this right now!!!

  43. Elizabeth says:

    I’m making this right now. Delicious! Thanks for the recipe!

  44. Can I double this and put it in a 13×9 pan?

  45. So so so so good!!!! The only thing I did differently was made my own cream of corn with fresh corn on the cob I made. But other than that I followed the recipe perfectly. Thank you for a great recipe!

  46. Hi there! I have some shredded cooked pork shoulder. I would like to make this recipe but would like to know how to season the meat? I only seasoned with salt and pepper when I cooked it. Thank you!

  47. My 9 year old daughter was helping me make this for dinner one night and she ended up pouring the enchilada sauce into the cornmeal. Se we just mixed everything together and baked it up. It was so good we loved it. Thank you for sharing.

  48. This was devoured by (most) of my family, but one picky little thought the base was too mushy. Boo! It was incredibly flavorful and delicious, nonetheless. If I wanted a touch firmer base, could I just up the flour and corn meal ratios a bit? Or do you think if I replaced with a standard cornbread recipe it would work well? Thanks in advance!

  49. Made this for a special dinner and so glad I did. Absolutely delicious and loved by my guests. Wouldn’t change a thing and will certainly make again. Thanks for posting!

  50. I love this dish so much! It is fantastic in so many ways: it’s a great use of leftover pork in general, the flavor combos are lovely and it only takes a few minutes to whip up. My husband, who is very picky, sat there and picked at the pan until he had eaten at least 1/3 of it on his own so I guess he liked it a lot. I love it! The kids love it! I am so glad you shared. Hopefully, other people will make it too. It is as delicious as it looks.

  51. Ashley Davis says:


    I made the carnitas Monday… DELISH**
    J/w if I could prepare the tamale crust a day in advance to save me time tmw evening. I wanted to mix and bake the crust tonight so I could feed the fam at a decent hour tmw night…..

  52. Thank you for the recipes!!! I am going to make Carnitas on Sunday and then the tamale pie next.

  53. I made this tonight with ingredients I had on hand. Since I made substitutions, I can’t say FOR CERTAIN that this exact recipe is killer, but I feel pretty dang convinced of it, despite my minor changes! Seriously, this meal was delish!

    I used up leftover taco meat for the meat topping, substituted frozen corn (adding a very small amount of milk to make up for the moisture lost), and used green enchilada sauce, just because it’s all I had on hand. It was SO yummy! My kids and husband LOVED it. I wanted a dish to use up my leftover taco meat so that it didn’t feel like we were just eating more tacos all over again. This recipe delivered. I can’t wait to try it again with the ingredients as listed!!! :)

  54. Made this last night with carnitas meat from the local Mexican grocery store. Delicious! I was nervous about using the 14oz can of creamed corn but it was perfect. I also mixed half can of enchilada sauce with the meat and only used half can directly over the base. Will definitely be making this again! Could also use shredded chicken or beef.

  55. Terri Mickelson says:

    The carnitas were so good my husband asked where the left overs were the next day. ( I had already froze it to use for the tamale pie.) Poor man! Made the tamale pie today. My son just got braces so I cut off the end of the base for his dinner because it literally melts in your mouth. So good alone. The rest of us ate the tamale pie and it was delicious! Thank you and I can’t wait to try more of your delicious recipes.

  56. So many recipes I try from the big recipe sites miss the mark, despite high ratings. I guess we’re both low-brow and food snobs at the same time! But this recipe was a homerun, seriously. Thank you!

  57. Oh Yum Yum, can’t wait to try! Do you have a favorite recipe for enchilada sauce, or do you just grab a can? Thanks!

  58. My carnitas tamale pie came out horrible. It did not even taste like tamales at all. I ended up throwing the whole thing away because none of the family liked it. Maybe if you use real red chili instead of enchilada sauce, it might taste better. This is definitely not something I would recommend, unless you don’t know what real Mexican food is suppose to taste like, then I guess it really doesn’t matter.

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