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Ground Beef Skillet Tamales Recipe

These ground beef skillet tamales are so simple and have so much flavor. It takes classic flavors and translates them into a fun new form. Some links in this article are affiliate links that may earn me a commission if you purchase through them.

When you aren’t inspired but have ground beef you need to use, this is a fantastic recipe to enjoy. I could eat tamales for almost every meal of the day, and I know I’m not alone.

Regular tamales take way too much time to make on a weeknight (as amazing as my chicken tamales recipe is), but faking them in a skillet? Totally what I did with my unstuffed cabbage rolls and totally what I just did to make ground beef skillet tamales.

The best part about what I made is that it all came from ingredients I had on hand. Pantry cooking is my favorite.

Bonus? Since this recipe is both gluten free and dairy free, I’m adding it to my list of recipes I can make when we have friends over with dietary restrictions.

So many of my friends don’t want to impose on me because they’re gluten free. I keep explaining that there are plenty of naturally gluten free meals I can make that are easy and tasty. And this one proves it!

Skillet tamales disappear quickly

I loved that this was easy and came together fairly quickly.

Granted, this isn’t the prettiest dish I’ve ever made, but I think that often comfort food isn’t beautiful on the plate. It’s beautiful in your heart and in your tummy.

This recipe is delicious and could so easily be adapted for your personal tastes – and spice preferences – including what you happen to have on hand at the time. But right now there’s less than a quarter of our skillet left.

And the wee ones are already negotiating over who gets to take how much for lunch at school tomorrow. So who cares that it isn’t beautiful?

Dinner doesn't have to be pretty to be delicious

Alternatively, you could put this in those cute mini cast iron skillets and bake them in there. It would be prettier and cook faster!

Can I make this with something other than ground beef?

You absolutely can. While I made this with ground beef, you could easily make it with shredded roasted or rotisserie chicken, as well.

If you use already cooked chicken, you may need to increase the amount of broth you use in the meat mixture then to keep it from drying out, so keep an eye on it.

You could also make this with a variety of vegetables, such as mushrooms, bell peppers, tomatoes, more corn, etc. You can do it with tofu, as well, though make sure to use a firm tofu so it holds its texture.

If your meat is already cooked, simply add it to the cast iron skillet and gently heat it with the spices and stock while you prep the remaining vegetables. Once prepped, add the tomatoes and adobo, and follow the instructions from there.

How to Make Ground Beef Skillet Tamales

Make the filling.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

In a cast iron skillet, brown your beef, break it into small pieces as it cooks. Season the beef with the taco seasoning and cumin.

Side note: I found the coolest tool that makes breaking up ground beef so simple and easy. I bought it for my husband, and it’s one of his favorite gifts, especially since he can use it for other gently chopping/breaking up needs like avocadoes and hard boiled eggs for egg salad.

While this is cooking, heat 1 cup of the chicken broth in a pot until it is steaming and set aside.

As your meat browns, chop your tomatoes. Prep your cilantro by chopping it and your green onion by slicing it (the green and white parts) at the same time.

Once your meat has browned, drain it as needed. Add 1/2 cups of chicken broth (the part you didn’t heat), tomatoes, and adobo sauce and stir. Reduce your heat to low, and prepare your masa dough.

Make the masa topping.

In a bowl, mix together the masa flour, salt, and baking powder. Pour in your hot broth and mix.

Add the lard and adobo sauce, then beat until fluffy. Your masa should hold together when squeeze but still be fairly wet. Add more chicken broth if needed and stir again.

Turn the heat off your meat filling and add the cilantro, green onion, and corn. Stir to combine, then add the masa.

Scoop the masa onto your skillet in dollops. Using your clean fingers, carefully spread it out across the top and squeeze the gaps together carefully. It does not need to be perfect.

Cover with tin foil so the mixture steams and bake for twenty minutes at 350 degrees. After 20 minutes, remove the foil and continue baking uncovered for another 10 minutes, until the masa is cooked through.

Remove the skillet from the oven, and let it cool for a few minutes before serving so that it sets up. Serve with avocado or sour cream, as desired.

So what’s your favorite “it takes forever to cook” recipe that you’ve adapted for weeknight use?

Skillet tamales disappear quickly

Ground Beef Skillet Tamales

Yield: Serves 4-6
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

An easy weeknight dinner that tastes like you put way more effort into it. This gluten free recipe takes delicious tamales that require a lot of time and effort and simplifies them into a fun and fast recipe.

Ingredients

For the filling

  • 1 1/2 lb ground beef
  • 1 t cumin
  • 2 t taco seasoning (or seasoned salt, in a pinch)
  • 1/4 c adobo sauce
  • 3 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 c cilantro, chopped
  • 1 green onion, sliced
  • 1-2 c frozen corn
  • 1/2 c chicken broth

For the masa

  • 1 c chicken broth, heated to steaming
  • 1 1/4 c masa flour
  • 1/3 c lard
  • 1-2 T adobo sauce
  • 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1 avocado or sour cream, as desired

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a cast iron skillet, brown your beef, using a spoon to break it into small pieces as it cooks. Season the beef with the taco seasoning and cumin. While this is cooking, heat 1 cup of the chicken broth in a pot until it is steaming and set aside.
  3. As your meat browns, chop your tomatoes. Prep your cilantro by chopping it and your green onion by slicing it (the green and white parts) at the same time.
  4. Once your meat has browned, drain it as needed. Add 1/2 cup of chicken broth (the part you didn't heat), tomatoes, and adobo sauce and stir. Reduce your heat to low, and prepare your masa dough.
  5. In a bowl, mix together the masa flour, salt, and baking powder. Pour in your hot broth and mix. Add the lard and adobo sauce, then beat until fluffy. Your masa should hold together when squeeze but still be fairly wet. Add more chicken broth if needed and stir again.
  6. Turn the heat off your meat filling and add the cilantro, green onion, and corn. Stir to combine, then add the masa. Scoop the masa onto your skillet in dollops. Using your fingers, carefully spread it out across the top and squeeze the gaps together carefully. It does not need to be perfect.
  7. Cover with tin foil so the mixture steams and bake for twenty minutes at 350 degrees. After 20 minutes, remove the foil and continue baking uncovered for another 10 minutes, until the masa is cooked through.
  8. Remove and let cool for a few minutes before serving so that it sets up. Serve with avocado or sour cream, as desired.

Notes

While I made this with ground beef, you could easily make it with shredded roasted or rotisserie chicken, as well. You may need to increase the amount of broth you use in the meat mixture then to keep it from drying out, but it would be yummy!

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 645Total Fat: 39gSaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 22gCholesterol: 114mgSodium: 623mgCarbohydrates: 40gFiber: 7gSugar: 5gProtein: 37g

This site uses an outside source to provide nutrition. If you need exact details, please calculate yourself.

Did you make this recipe?

Please rate the recipe above and save it on Pinterest so you can find it to make again and again. Leave me a comment to let me know what you think about it, too!

Easy weeknight ground beef tamale skillet recipe - gluten free, too!

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  1. JUDITH L JAMISON says:

    I know lard is ideal, but can I use an oil? If so, vegetable, corn, olive or any?

    • Michelle says:

      If you do not wish to use lard, the best substitute is unsalted butter. Use a third cup plus two teaspoons of butter. If you need to use an oil v butter, a third of a cup of coconut oil works. I would not recommend an oil.

  2. […] and some Maseca® Corn Flour because I was once again out after all the fun tamales and takes on tamales I’ve been […]

  3. […] the work turns out a huge batch of tamales I can freeze and enjoy later). I’ve also made a skillet tamale version that cuts down my time, but this time around, I wanted to be easy, breezy done – so I made my […]

  4. […] basketball game less than an hour later. The smiles on their faces when they heard we were having skillet tamales and smelled the yumminess as they walked in the door starving after their sports was worth every […]

  5. Lisa says:

    Looks wonderful I am using the filling for corn tortilla wraps without adobo sauce. Adobo sauce is not gluten free it has wheat flour. Did you fined it gluten free?
    Thank you

    • Michelle says:

      The La Morena chipotles in adobo sauce do not have wheat flour – or at least it isn’t listed in the ingredients. It is chipotle peppers, water, tomatoes, vinegar, soybean oil, salt, garlic, onions, and (the dreaded) spices. BUT it’s definitely worth contacting them to confirm that it truly is gluten free. Crossing my fingers for you!

  6. Tammy @ creativekkids says:

    I’ve never made tamales before. Thanks for the recipe! I’m finally getting around to pinning the last couple of posts from the Tasty Tuesdays party a couple of weeks ago! Sorry I am so late!

  7. Sunny says:

    Yum! I totally need to try this, my grandma made a tamale pie that I always loved. This one sound delicious and I will sooo try it soon!

    • Michelle says:

      Thanks, Sunny! We really enjoyed it. Two nights in a row, in fact. I love that it’s quick and easy and still has the majority of the tamale flavor. Mmmmm tamales.

  8. This does look like comfort food. One of my favorite meals as a kid was tamale pie and I haven’t thought of it in years. Your recipe is on my radar to make this week.

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