Weeknight Cooking

The Mexican Chicken Casserole You Should Make Tonight

December 22, 2014

For those nights when you get home hungry, stressed, and impatient, Hangry is here to help. Each Monday, Kendra Vaculin will share quick, exciting meals to rescue anyone who might be anxiously eyeing a box of minute rice.

Today: A hearty, one-pot dinner that's basically Mexican shepherd's pie.

Tamale Pie

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Because a hearty, scoopable meal is the stuff of December dreams,

Because a one-pot chicken chili with a baked polenta-y topping does all of the heavy lifting for you,

Because my dad could not stop calling it "mexi-quiche,"

Today we make tamale pie.

Chicken Tamale Pie

Serves 6

For the chili:

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound skinless chicken breast, cubed
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon chili powder, divided
1 teaspoon cumin
1 cup chopped onion
2 cans beans, drained and rinsed (I used one black, one Great Northern)
1 can sweet corn, drained and rinsed
One 4-ounce can hot green chiles 
One 12-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice 
1/4 cup chicken stock (optional)

For the topping:

2 cups water
3/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by James Ransom

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Lynn Cowart
    Lynn Cowart
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    Paulina Casale
  • Bridget Gassner
    Bridget Gassner
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    edwin cohen
  • Cathy Nielsen-Kolding
    Cathy Nielsen-Kolding
A fan of female driven comedies, a good beat, your hair today, and making foods for friends.


Lynn C. January 13, 2016
Sorry to disagree with some of the comments, but this was just nasty. Should have known from the number of canned ingredients it would be bad, but I tried it anyway. Two bites and we disposed of it! Had very little "Mexican" flavor. Also, the recipe left a lot to be desired -- instructions to add 1/2 tsp of chili powder when you cook the chicken, but never said when to add the other 1/2! No sizes on the canned elements. :(
Paulina C. September 22, 2015
I like a lot the recipe but is not at all a Mexican recipe they don't use this kind of elements
Bridget G. May 4, 2015
made it tonight; delicious. Didn't need to add the chicken broth. Used leftover roast chicken, about 2 cups leftover beans from freezer and what was left in the frozen corn pkg. Topped with avocados, sour cream and shredded cheese. Lots of leftovers.
edwin C. May 4, 2015
Looks like many happy family meals from my youth, Sunset Magazine would always use Cambell's Tomato soup for that special flavor we all loved in those days.
Cathy N. March 2, 2015
How do I print the recipe??
softenbrownsugar April 13, 2015
Cathy, if you click on the recipe name which is a link, then there is an option on the top left of the food image (to the right of the heart and save icons) to click to print.
judy January 2, 2015
Add some mexican spice like cumin and chills to the mix for the crust. A squirt or two of lime juice will brig ten the whole meal up!
MessyCookJo December 29, 2014
Kendra, can you please add sizes for the cans of beans and corn?
Christine M. December 22, 2014
This looks delicious. I'll definitely be making this for dinner one night.