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Easy Tamale Casserole

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Create an Easy Tamale Casserole using Beef, Chicken, or Pork Tamales smothered in a scrumptious easy homemade enchilada sauce, cheese, fresh chopped cilantro and green onion.  Topped off with a hearty sprinkle of Cotija cheese!

What do you do when you have a few bags of homemade tamales lurking around the freezer and your granddaughters 1st birthday party is a “Fiesta” theme? You make this delicious Tamale Casserole using frozen Tamales either store bought or homemade.

Tamale Casserole

Our little “Rae” of sunshine turned one this month! (I swear I blinked and this happened! Also…you had to know I was going to post a cute picture of her right?!!! It’s in the Grandma by-laws.)

Grand daughters birthday photo

(Photo Credit:Katie Warby)

Back to our regular scheduled program…

I was asked to bring the salsa and to make the taquitos.  I’m a typical Mom. I felt like I needed to do more.  I thought about what I had on hand and came up with this delicious new casserole! I’m so excited to share this dish with y’all!

How to Make Homemade Enchilada Sauce

This casserole starts by whipping up a quick batch of this wonderful enchilada sauce! You are going to be shocked how easy this sauce is to make. I always thought it was a big major process until my friend Gail showed me the light! I give her all the credit for this delicious sauce!

Making Enchilada Sauce

In a large skillet mix together 4 Tablespoons of vegetable oil, 4 Tablespoons of flour, and 3 Tablespoons of your favorite chili powder. (Everyone has a favorite right? Lol)

Continue whisking over medium heat until slightly thick. I love the beautiful deep rich color of this sauce!

Combine chili powder, oil, and flour

Add four cups of beef broth. You can use chicken broth… I just happen to love the depth of flavor from the beef broth. Use what ya have on hand. Either will be wonderful.

add beef broth to sauce

Add the spices and stir until well combined. The oregano likes to be stubborn and do the back stroke on top of the sauce….don’t you worry about that. As the sauce thickens…they’ll sink like the Titanic!(Que the theme music! If you look close you can see Leonardo hanging on to a leaf for dear life!)

Adding spices

Add one 6 oz. can of tomato paste. Whisk away my friends. 

Tomato paste added to sauce

Continue stirring over low heat until sauce thickens. Allow to simmer for 15 – 20 minutes to allow spices to incorporate and give depth to the sauce. 

Set sauce aside. 

Enchilada Sauce

Next up…the Tamales!

If you don’t have bags of homemade tamales lurking in your freezer…that’s okay! You can use Tamales from the grocery store. If you’re lucky…you may even have a local lady that makes homemade tamales. It’s completely up to you what type of tamales you use. 

Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Remove the Corn Husk! This is really important…unless you have teeth like a T. Rex!

Lay the tamales across the pan, filling the pan. Don’t worry about how pretty it looks. It’s gonna get covered up…so what we can’t see we don’t worry about. (That’s why MuMu’s and Tunic tops were created! Can I get an “Amen”!… I suddenly want a Dole Whip and to hang out at the Tiki Shack at Disneyland!)

Fresh Tamales

Time to smother these Tamales!

Cover them liberally with that amazing enchilada sauce.  One of the great things about this recipe…the Corn Masa soaks up all that luscious enchilada sauce like my winter dry hands do when lotion skims their surface!

Now if you don’t want to go to the trouble of making this incredible enchilada sauce…I won’t hold it against you. You can use canned sauce. 

Tamales covered in enchilada sauce

Let’s keep smothering this dish! Load it up with grated cheese!

Cheese on top of casserole

Sprinkle with freshly chopped cilantro and green onions! 

sprinkle of cilantro and greenonion

Preheat oven to 350°. 

Place casserole in oven on center of middle rack. Bake for 35–40 minutes or until cheese melts and the sauce is bubbling!

You can skip this next step…but I HIGHLY recommend it. Crumble up 1/4 cup of Cotija cheese and sprinkle all over the top of the casserole.

What is Cotija Cheese?

Cotija Cheese is Named after the town of Cotija, Michoacán where it originated, Cotija cheese has a strong, salty flavor and is mostly used as a topping or mixed into sauces.

I absolutely love the flavor of this cheese. It adds an extra punch of flavor to this dish!

Cooked Casserole with Cotija Cheese

When you serve this dish…don’t worry about keeping the Tamales intact! That’s why I made a casserole…it serves easily by the spoonful!

Tamale Casserole

I almost made myself sick on this casserole. (Almost…but I’m no quitter!)

Look at all the ingredients melding together on that fork! That my friends…is South of the Border happiness! Ya wanna know what else? This dish just gets better the next day! Sigh! (I’m hangry now!)

Tamale Casserole

Such a quick simple dish. If you love tamales you’ll love this recipe. Remember you can use substitutions for the tamales. Beef, Chicken, or Pork. Store bought or homemade. You can use canned enchilada sauce or my homemade recipe. 

Customize this to fit into your schedule and likes! If you love tamales…you’ll love this recipe!

Questions You May Have About this Dish…

  • Can I freeze this dish? YES! You can freeze this dish. Cover with foil and store in the freezer for up to one month.
  • Can I cook this dish in my slow cooker? YES! This dish is slow cooker friends. Cook on low for 4 hours.
  • Does this casserole re-heat well? Yes it does! (I may have tried it several times!)
  • Where do I find Cotija Cheese? It is usually located in the wall deli of your local market or with the specialty cheeses. 

I should warn you…once you start eating this delicious meal…you’re gonna need that MuMu! 

Dish of Tamale Casserole

If you enjoyed this Tamale Casserole you may also enjoy these Family Favorite Mexican Recipes

Follow me on Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram to find all my latest recipes. I’d love to have you join the party!

Happy Nesting!

Photo of Norine and her signature.
Yield: 8 servings

Easy Tamale Casserole

Tamale Casserole

Pre-made beef, chicken, or pork tamales in a rich savory homemade enchilada sauce topped with melted cheese, fresh chopped cilantro and green onions, and a hearty sprinkle of cotija cheese.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes


Enchilada Sauce

  • 4 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
  • 4 Tablespoons All-Purpose Flour
  • 3 Tablespoons Chili Powder
  • 4 Cups Beef Broth
  • 6 oz. tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, Optional
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt


  • 1 dozen beef, chicken, or pork Tamales, husks removed.
  • 2 cups Enchilada sauce
  • 2 cups grated cheddar jack cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/4 cup Cotija Cheese


  1. In a large skillet over medium heat add oil, flour, and chili powder. Mix until well blended. Stir over heat until thick.
  2. Add 4 cups beef broth, continue stirring until incorporated. Add spices and 6 oz. can of tomato paste. Whisk together until smooth and sauce thickens. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. Preheat oven to 350°
  4. Grease a 9 x 13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Line tamales in baking dish. Cover with enchilada sauce, top with cheese, cilantro, and green onion.
  5. Bake for 35-40 minutes until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbling. Remove from oven and sprinkle with Cotija cheese.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

1 cup

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 706Total Fat: 48gSaturated Fat: 18gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 24gCholesterol: 160mgSodium: 1698mgCarbohydrates: 19gFiber: 4gSugar: 7gProtein: 50g

Norine’s Nest in no way provides any warranty, express or implied, towards the content of recipes in this website. It is the reader’s responsibility to determine the value and quality of any recipe or instructions provided for food preparation and to determine the nutritional value, if any, and safety of the preparation instructions.

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Monday 18th of December 2023

Sounds like a scumptious recipe. Can I use Alvarado oil instead of vegetable oil and can I put it all together the then bake the next day?


Monday 18th of December 2023

@[email protected], Thank you for your reply and you and your family have a merry Christmas and a happy new year as well! God bless!

[email protected]

Monday 18th of December 2023

Hi Darlene, I would think it would be fine to use Avocado oil and yes you can put it together the day before hand and then bake it the next day. Hope this helps. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Norine

Gail Marie

Sunday 30th of April 2023

Yeah!!!! Sooo happy you like the Sauce and thank you sweet friend for the shout out!! Your dish looks and sounds amazing!!

Coach Laura

Tuesday 10th of January 2023

I know this is an old recipe but I hope that you see it.

I had seen the recipe but hadn’t had a chance to try it. But my husband was in the hospital on Christmas and because of all the snow, we were worried about the lack of food delivery. But! I didn’t want to cook nor go shopping. Luckily I had both chicken and chili cheese frozen tamales in the freezer plus enchilada sauce (canned), cheese, green onions and fresh cilantro on hand. I added roasted frozen corn and canned pinto, kidney and black beans plus green chilis on top and covered it in cheese.

Before leaving for the hospital in the morning, I put it together in the instant pot. Took 10 minutes. I put the pot on slow cooker function for 4 hours. The instant pot switched to keep warm.

My son brought the instant pot to the hospital when he came. We had a fantastic dinner with Trader Joe’s Mexican rice and tortilla chips and guacamole on the side. It was a fabulous meal.

My husband ended up dying on New Year’s Eve but the dinner at least made Christmas a bit better.

Coach Laura

Tuesday 4th of April 2023

@[email protected], thank you for the prayers. I came to get this recipe again and saw your message. I’m using up things in the freezer before I move. I’m starting the instant pot slow cooker function and dinner will be ready when I get home. Thanks again.

[email protected]

Thursday 12th of January 2023

Hi Laura... I want you to know I've seen this beautiful message! I wish I had the words to adequately express how truly grateful I am to you for taking the time to share this with me, especially in the midst of your grief. I'm SO sorry to hear about your husbands passing. My deepest heartfelt sympathy to you and your family. You are in my thoughts and prayers. Truly! I love the additions you made to this recipe and I love that you made it in your Instant Pot. What I love the most, and will always cherish, is that I was invited to be a small part of your last Christmas together. I feel honored that my simple recipe, with your wonderful "tweaks", made your Christmas not only delicious...but a little bit better, in the midst of what surely was a heartbreaking time. From now on this will forever be my favorite recipe and I will always think of you and your family every time I make and share it. May it always bring a warm memory to your heart when you think of it and help ease your pain. Thank you again for stopping by and sharing. Again my deepest sympathy to you and your family. Much Love, Norine


Monday 20th of December 2021

The picture says to use 6oz of tomato paste but the recipe call for 6oz of tomato sauce. Which should I use? Thanks.

[email protected]

Thursday 23rd of December 2021

Hi Cindy! Sorry I've been up to my eyeballs in Christmas stuff. It is tomato paste! I'm so sorry for that error. I have fixed it. I hope you enjoyed the casserole and it turned out okay! Sorry again for the mistake. Happy Holidays! Norine

Emily Shipman

Tuesday 20th of July 2021

Thanks for a great recipe! I've made other enchilada sauce recipes before but I think I like this one the best- it turned out great. I only had 10 tamales- 5 chicken and 5 green chile/cheese- but otherwise I followed the recipe exactly and it turned out wonderfully and was done right around the 40 minute mark. I served this with some avocado chunks and even more of the enchilada sauce. I think next time I will use meatier tamales and/or add in some beans or meat to the mix. Definitely a bit more sauce because it's so good. Thanks again- delicious!

[email protected]

Tuesday 20th of July 2021

Hi Emily! My mouth is watering! Your dinner sounds wonderful. Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing! I loved it! Norine

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