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An easy way to have the flavors of tamales on a weeknight, this Chicken Tamale Casserole is super easy and packed with flavor.

Chicken Tamale Casserole on Taste and Tell
Photos and Recipe Updated February 2014

Originally posted November 24, 2008 – If you are looking for a new recipe to spice up Mexican night, you need to give this casserole a whirl. Super easy and family friendly, this is a great weeknight meal!

I grew up in New Mexico, so I have a natural love of Mexican food. In fact, when I first moved to Utah, I was appalled to see that they sold “extra mild” salsa in the grocery stores. So when I see a Mexican inspired recipe, I always want to jump right in and try it.

I made a tamale pie on my blog back in the beginning. Sadly, it’s probably one of my worst pictures on my blog, but one of the posts that gets visited most regularly. I hate it when that happens!! (And it’s funny that now that I go back and read that post, I mentioned the same thing about the extra mild salsa!!) This recipe isn’t really a true tamale pie, mostly a quick way to get those same flavors you would get from a tamale pie or from tamales.

I really liked this – but the only downfall for me was that it was quite sweet. I’m guessing it was the corn muffin mix that I chose. It’s funny, because I like my cornbread sweet, but I guess I don’t like my tamale casserole sweet!! But really, even the sweetness wouldn’t stop me from making this again, especially since it’s a quick, easy way to get that Mexican food fix!

Chicken Tamale Casserole recipe

Chicken Tamale Casserole
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
An easy way to have the flavors of tamales on a weeknight, this Chicken Tamale Casserole is super easy and packed with flavor.
Serves: 8 servings
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
  • ⅓ cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground chili powder
  • 1 (14¾ ounce) can cream style corn
  • 1 (8.5 ounce) box corn muffin mix
  • 1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chilies
  • 1 (10 ounce) can red enchilada sauce
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast
  • ½ cup sour cream (optional)
  • cilantro (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 400°. Spray a 13x9-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Combine ¼ cup cheese and milk, eggs, cumin, chili powder, corn, corn muffin mix and green chiles in a large bowl, stirring just until moist. Pour mixture into the prepared dish.
  3. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until set. Pierce entire surface liberally with a fork; pour enchilada sauce over top. Top with chicken; sprinkle with remaining ¾ cup cheese. Continue to bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until cheese melts. Remove from oven; let stand 5 minutes. Cut into 8 pieces; top each serving with 1 tablespoon sour cream and cilantro, if desired.

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49 Responses to Chicken Tamale Casserole

  1. kat says:

    Extra mild salsa?! We don’t even have that in Minnesota

  2. readhead says:

    What kind of corn bread mix did you use? If I were to make this I would use my stand by corn bread mix, Jiffy. However if that is what you used and it turned out too sweet then I might have to look for alternatives.

  3. Cara says:

    This sounds yummy! The creamed corn probably made it on the sweet side too, but I bet it tastes good that way!

  4. Deborah says:

    redhead – I guess I should have mentioned that! I used Jiffy, but I’m going to agree with Cara, too, and say that the creamed corn probably made it a little sweet as well.

    • B says:

      So if you were to make this again now, would you not go with creamed corn–Since it may have added the sweetness? I’d love to try this out but I don’t want it to be too sweet. Thanks! 🙂 Looks amazing

      • Deborah says:

        I actually made it again with the creamed corn, and while it does have some sweetness to it, it grew on me. 🙂 You do notice the sweetness, though, so if you don’t want that sweetness, I would substitute the creamed corn. I haven’t tried it with a substitution, but I’m guessing it would work with an equal amount of regular corn.

  5. Maria says:

    Will have to try this one. We love Mexican food at our house!

  6. Melanie says:

    This looks delicious and pretty easy. That’s my kind of meal!

  7. MeetaK says:

    lol! extra mild salsa! this looks delectable Deborah!

  8. Marthe says:

    I left you an award on my blogsite. . come on over and pick it up when you can!

  9. Cookie baker Lynn says:

    Quick easy Mexican food? That sounds like a must have for my recipe file.

  10. Abby says:

    Actually – I really like that picture! The colors are great. (And I’ve never heard of extra-mild salsa!) (I do know Jiffy, however, and it’s cake! Ha. J/K. We don’t eat much sweet cornbread!)

    This looks like a dish Brad would love.

  11. noble pig says:

    It sounds delicious. I didn’t even know there was extra-mild salsa? Isn’t that just tomato sauce?

  12. Grace says:

    i’m pretty much a fan of any type of mexican food too. i don’t know if noble pig was being sarcastic in her comment above, but it made me laugh out loud. 🙂

  13. Mary says:

    um, extra mild salsa is kinda of silly. Even for us totally midwestern kind of people.
    And this casserole looks really tasty!

  14. maybelle's mom says:

    Alright, this looks delicious. But, I think you will need to produce pictures of extra mild salsa–no such thing I’ve seen in Ohio.

    As for the corn mix, could I use masa?

  15. Mary says:

    I’ve put this on my “must try” list. Have a wonderful holiday.

  16. eatme_delicious says:

    What a gorgeous photo Deborah!

  17. Patsyk says:

    I’ve seen the extra mild salsa here in NJ… although not in quite awhile!

    I love the sound of that casserole… wonder if I could get my boys to eat it if it does have a bit of sweetness to it. I would think the cornbread mix and creamed corn are the culprits when it comes to the sweetness.

  18. Debbie says:

    Love Mexican food and this sounds delicious.

  19. Mrs. L says:

    If I used extra mild salsa I’d probably be throwing in some jalapenos to compensate! Recipe sounds great, and I’d probably just use Jiffy cornbread too.

  20. farida says:

    Sounds like a delicious Mexican dish. Yum!

  21. Rosie says:

    This really sounds good Debs. I love Mexican food.

    Rosie x

  22. Cathy - wheresmydamnanswer says:

    What a great combination of wonderful flavors. This is comfort food at its finest – Looking forward to making this one!!

  23. Caroline says:

    Love tamales, this looks so much easier to prepare. Not just mild but extra mild?!? Too funny!

  24. kellypea says:

    Sounds yummy! I’m thinking it was the cream corn that added the sweetness more than the cornbread mix. No matter, since I’d liberally shake my hot sauce bottle over it. I’m with you on the heat! Hope you’re feeling fine — been thinking about you and wondering about baby!

  25. Marisa says:

    That cracks me up about the extra mild salsa. How sad that they probably make that for me….I have such a whimpy mouth. although I guess I can now say that I can do the mild okay–I’m not quite whimpy enough for the “extra mild”. Maybe it’s a Utah thing because here in the Midwest I can rarely even find the mild version but usually only medium. I guess that’s another reason why I need to move back home to Utah :-). Okay…so it’s like 1 a.m. here and I realize that this is the longest rambling comment ever. Sorry :-)?!?

  26. Maryann says:

    I love casseroles at this busy time of year! This one is a keeper 🙂

  27. RecipeGirl says:

    Sounds terrific to me. I’m a Mexican food fanatic. When I was pregnant, all I ate was Mexican food. I had mad cravings for enchiladas!

    Your package is on its way! Happy Thanksgiving!

  28. Sophie says:

    🙂 I’m the same way when it comes to cornbread. I like it sweet but I don’t like it sweet in anything else, like stuffing. I’ve encountered a similar ‘problem’ after moving to the East Coast from TX, it seems like folks just don’t eat Mexican food around here :)!!

  29. Kevin says:

    Lots of great flavours here. It sounds really tasty!

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  30. white on rice couple says:

    What a beautiful state New Mexico is! So lucky are you to be able to grow up there!
    And thank you for the amazing casserole recipe! This is definitely something I can eat all day long!

  31. Kim says:

    This is my kind of dish for sure! Thanks for the light version.

  32. Nikki says:

    My family enjoyed this recipe tonight. My husband said that he really liked the sweet taste 🙂 I messed up and bought sweet whole kernel corn instead of creamed corn. So I used that and added a little sour cream. It still turned out good. Thanks for the recipe.

  33. ashley says:

    we made this too after seeing it in your blog, it was pretty good but the sweet was strange. I had moments where I liked the sweetness but overall, I think it was too sweet too. We used jiffy as well. it was so easy to make though!

  34. Camille says:

    Hi there!!! New to your blog and I just LOVE IT!!!!! Made this for dinner the other night and my hubby and kids all loved it!!! My daughter wanted the leftovers for breakfast the next morning?!?! LOL!!!! I let her have them for lunch!!! Great recipe!!!

  35. J says:

    This dish is good, but doesn't produce the true taste of a tamale. It was too sweet, not spicy enouth and needed that traditonal masa taste that makes a tamale a tamale. Has anyone experimented with revising this recipe to accommodate these things?Would love to hear revised recipes!

  36. Sarah says:

    Thanks for a great recipe. I make this often. My husband loves it!

    Sarah ~ http://www.stickyphrases.com

  37. Charlotte says:

    I hear you about the extra mild salsa! I’m down here in El Paso. I don’t think I could bring myself to ever purchase it.

  38. Chels R. says:

    Looks fabulous! And probably right up my alley since I can’t handle any kind of heat, lol!

  39. Nicole de B. says:

    My husband is a novice in the kitchen (he had to look up a recipe for how to boil eggs. SRSLY). He wants to learn how to cook so that he can make dinner on his days off so I don’t have to. He requested that I find some simple recipes for him. I gave this to him for his first attempt at making dinner on his own. IT turned out fantastic, despite the fact he dumped the enchilada sauce into the mix, instead of on top. IT still worked! And it tasted great. HE wanted me to write and let you know he appreciates the recipe and it’s a keeper! Thanks for a great recipe and for helping my husband gain a little bit of confidence in the kitchen!!

  40. Helloooooo. This would leave me happy and speechless at the table. How perfect and filling!

  41. IndianaAnna says:

    I made this dish this evening for dinner and my family loved it. I used a Hodgson Mills whole grain corn muffin mix rather than the Jiffy mix other people seemed to have used. (It is only 7.5 ounces, but that didn’t seem to matter) The result was not at all too sweet and was very delicious. I made Joy the Baker’s charred Mexican zucchini for the vegetable side dish and it made for an awesome meal!

  42. Ada Howe says:

    I have made this dish so many times… My whole family LOVES IT! and my 4 year old gets seconds everytime, which says ALOT! I’ve also made this for big get-togethers and people always ask for the recipe! Thank YOU for such a quick and easy recipe that is also DELISH! I was wondering if you’ve ever frozen this? either before baking or after? I was hoping to make it a freezer meal for my family when i’m out of town but wasn’t sure if it’d work. Let me know if you (or anyone else) have any tips!

    • Deborah says:

      I’m so glad it’s such a hit with your family!! I haven’t tried freezing it, so I’m not sure how it would work. I must add it to my list to try freezing. If you try, please let me know how it goes!

  43. Christina says:

    I made something really similar to this tonight (based on your recipe) but I didn’t measure and made homemade guajillo chile sauce to stand in for the canned ench sauce. I also had roasted hatch peppers in the chicken (I made it two days ago for tacos and was specifically looking for a recipe to use it in. It was SO good. My hub was a biiig fan. Thanks for the inspiration!

  44. asfre fgorgh says:

    Made this tonight and the only things I changed were: green enchilada sauce because that’s what I prefer, and no canned chilis because they would have been too spicy for my 5&6 year olds. This tasted nothing at all like actual tamales, but I didn’t really expect it too. It was OK in taste, not fantastic. My husband and I liked it well enough, my 6 year old LOVED it and my 5 year old cried and threw it up – I did not expect my 5 year old to like this whatsoever, and was surprised that my 6 year old liked it. I will probably make this again but also make a sandwich for my 5 year old. It was really easy to make, tasted fine, and a great way to use left over chicken. I packed up and froze the left overs (half the tray) for a night of ‘screw you I’m not making dinner’ – probably happening in a week or 2. Overall a good recipe for people to try, and I’m glad I tried it even though I was skeptical.

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