Chile Verde Chicken Tamale Casserole

This chile verde chicken tamale casserole is a quick and easy spin on traditional tamales. It’s loaded with flavor and every bit as delicious as the real deal!

Chile Verde Chicken Tamale Casserole | lifemadesimplebakes.com

Back when I worked at Sur La Table we taught a tamale class and it always sold out. We made three versions: chicken, pork and chocolate. They are all crazy good! While I’d love to be able to make them again, I know that’s not going to happen for at least a few more years. If you’ve made them, you know it’s quite a time consuming process. This casserole was my “quick” fix. Easy enough to make on a weeknight with all the flavors of the real thing!

Chile Verde Chicken Tamale Casserole | lifemadesimplebakes.com

There are a few versions of tamale casserole out there which include a box of cornbread and some kind of chili over top. This casserole does not involve either of those components. Instead, it has a tamale dough base with a simple pulled chicken and cheese filling. I like to simplify things even more by grabbing a rotisserie chicken – it’s a lot more practical for this busy mom.

Chile Verde Chicken Tamale Casserole | lifemadesimplebakes.com

For the filling you’ll add the pulled chicken, chicken broth, chile verde sauce, cilantro and garlic powder to a large skillet. Let is simmer while you prepare the tamale dough.

You’ll need a food processor (preferred) or a blender to prepare the dough. You’ll also need 3 cups of masa harina.

Chile Verde Chicken Tamale Casserole | lifemadesimplebakes.com

What is masa harina?

  • Masa harina is the traditional flour used to make tortillas, tamales, and other Mexican dishes. The flour is made from dried masa, a dough from specially treated corn.

It is not the same thing as cornmeal, so don’t substitute it and think you’ll get the same flavor, texture or consistency. You can find masa harina at most well-stocked grocery stores somewhere on the ‘ethnic’ food aisle.

Chile Verde Chicken Tamale Casserole | lifemadesimplebakes.com

Simply add the ingredients and pulse or process until the dough forms a thick, coarse meal. Then add the chicken broth until it becomes creamy. We’re looking for a peanut butter consistency.

The dough should be soft enough to spread half of it into a nice even layer in the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish. Layer the cheese and filling, then top with the remaining dough, sauce and cheese.

Chile Verde Chicken Tamale Casserole | lifemadesimplebakes.com

After 30 minutes of it baking with foil over top (this will help create moisture and steam, much like traditional tamales need), remove the foil and allow the casserole to continue baking for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with some extra cilantro and serve it up!

Chile Verde Chicken Tamale Casserole | lifemadesimplebakes.com

This dish has quickly become a family favorite. It was one I came up with on a whim (before the no dairy thing) and I’m so happy with how it turned out! Moist tamale dough with a cheesy seasoned filling. What’s not to love?

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Chile Verde Chicken Tamale Casserole | lifemadesimplebakes.com

Chile Verde Chicken Tamale Casserole Recipe

This chile verde chicken tamale casserole is a quick and easy spin on traditional tamales. It's loaded with flavor and every bit as delicious as the real deal!
4.78 from 36 votes
Pin Rate
Course: Main Dishes
Cuisine: Mexican
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 50 mins
Total Time: 1 hr
Servings: 6 -8 servings
Author: Natalie
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Ingredients

For the chicken:
  • 1 rotisserie chicken - pulled (about 4 cups)
  • 1 c. low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 c. chile verde enchilada sauce
  • 1/4 c. chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
For the tamale dough:
  • 3 c. masa harina*
  • 2 tsp. coarse kosher sea salt
  • 3 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 12 tbsp. unsalted butter - cold and cut into 12 pieces
  • 3 c. frozen corn - thawed, divided
  • 2-4 tbsp. roasted poblanos - depending on how spicy you want it
  • 2 1/4 c. low-sodium chicken broth- more if needed
Other:
  • 3 c. grated monterey jack cheese - divided
  • 1 c. chile verde enchilada sauce
  • 2 tbsp. cilantro for garnish

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease or spray a 9x13-inch baking dish, set aside.
  • In a large skillet set over medium-low heat, add the chicken, broth, sauce, cilantro, and garlic powder. Heat while preparing the remaining ingredients, stirring occasionally.
  • In the bowl of a food processor, combine the masa, salt, sugar, baking powder, pepper, butter, 2 cups corn, and poblanos. Process or pulse until a coarse meal forms. Add chicken broth and process or pulse until them mixture reaches a thick peanut butter consistency. More broth (or water) may be required. Fold in remaining 1 cup of corn.
  • Press half of the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Sprinkle with 3/4 cup cheese, then add the chicken filling. Sprinkle with another 3/4 cup cheese. Press the remaining tamale dough over top.
  • Cover with 1 cup of chile verde sauce and remaining 1 1/2 cups cheese. Place a piece of foil over top and place in the oven to bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Top with cilantro, if desired.

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Comments:

      1. I personally haven’t tried freezing it. I would maybe cook it, then freeze & warm up later. Only because I’m not sure how the dough would hold up.

  1. Hi Natalie! I stumbled across your recipe today on Pinterest and I just can’t wait to try it. I also love tamales but the process can be a bit daunting to say the least… so I was really jazzed to find your offering. I’ll be making it soon for my crew and I’ll let you know how I do! Thanks again, Marla

  2. Hi there,
    Plan to make this next week.
    Can I prep it all the way thru in the morning and put it in the fridge to bake later in the day?
    Can’t wait to give it a try!

  3. I added onions, poblano, and corn to the chicken for me it was too much masa and the masa could’ve been more fluffy. I would only make the bottom layer half the masa next time. Maybe needs more fat to be fluffy. Great intro recipe I think ill make the filling and stick it in tacos next time. 

  4. This looks so good but I am challenged in the dough department…. for just about anything mixing flour, fat and liquid no matter what. Anyway, I was wondering if I could take a shortcut and use corn tortilla chips or plain corn tortillas instead of the masa mixture?
    Thanks for a truly yummy recipe. Love the idea of rotisserie chicken.

  5. This recipe is a keeper! I see it even as made into mini pies to freeze perhaps? I must have a small food processor as I barely got everything mixed without the corn. I dumped the dough in a bowl and folded in about a cup of corn kernels and that was it for the corn.
    Cheese, I cut down to 2 cups because that’s what I had.
    Everything else I kept the same. Really, really delicious. Definitely a recipe to revisit- especially on a cold Oklahoma evening! Thank you!

  6. Hi there –
    This looks great! What beabd of chili verde enchilada sauce did you use? Having trouble locating any in my grocery store.

    Thanks!

    1. I usually stock up on Hatch when I can find it. It’s by far my favorite store-bought enchilada sauce.

  7. I am wondering if my chicken mix was too wet or if my masa was too wet? The bottom layer of masa wasn’t cooked through. I could see how it should look from the edges and top of the casserole. But it was still mushy. Should I have baked it longer?

    Excellent flavor!

    1. I wish I knew for sure. It definitely isn’t mushy. You may have needed to bake a little longer. Did you add too much liquid to the dough? That would be my only guess, but it’s hard to know.

      1. I was wondering if I added too much liquid. I suspect that was part of the problem. I’ll make it drier next time and bake it a little longer. Thank you.

    2. I baked mine for a full 50 minutes before uncovering it. I, too, tested the edge masa, and if it was too soft, I kept baking it. I finally considered it done when it felt a little bit like how soft cake feel, kind of springy. I think it varies based on the type of baker you are using. Mine was baked in a LeCrueset lasagna pan, which is really heavy, so knew from experience that it would take longer than it would in a Pyrex pan.  I hope that helps! 

  8. 5 stars
    I made this tonight and we absolutely LOVED it! I made it a meatless meal by making the center part a thick layer of whole green chiles and cheese, but otherwise followed it to a tee. Best new thing I’ve made in ages, and will be in regular rotation, both with meat and without. (We only eat meat for dinner three days/week but will certainly do it again that way.) Thank you for a great, great recipe.

    1. You are very welcome! I am so glad you tried it & liked it! It’s a great meatless meal, too! Thank you!

  9. 5 stars
    Me and my friends loved it! I make tamales, so a simpler process was exciting to try! I made a salsa verde that was heavy on the lime but it was a yummy mistake. The changes I will make next time, reduce the salt to 1 tsp for the masa and to maybe reduce it to 2/3. The bottom layer seemed too thick. But I also didn’t measure it exactly. So it may not have been exactly 1/2. This is a keeper!

  10. 5 stars
    Made this delicious dish for lunch today. Nice and rich and very tasty. Made just as directed; although next time I’ll need a dish a little higher on the sides. All in all, my 9 x 13 dish did keep everything contained. Served with some guacamole and chips. Will definitely make this dish again.

  11. 5 stars
    2 questions: Aren’t tamales (masa) usually made with lard? Also, do the corn husks on tamales impart a certain flavor? – if so, could I put a layer of soaked husks on bottom and top of this casserole?
    I’m thinking of steaming this casserole rather than baking. I have an InstantPot Gem, which has a rack for steaming. I’m thinking this way would be more like tamales. ???
    Thanks

    1. They might be..this is just how we make this specific recipe. I don’t make a lot of tamales on their own. The husks don’t give off a bold flavor or anything, so you for sure could add them on the top & bottom. I haven’t tried steaming them, but that could be a great option!

  12. 5 stars
    I love this recipe! It is fantastic and I just made it for the second time today. We have two kids with gluten allergies so I am always looking at new GF dinner ideas.  My only change is the prep time- 10 minutes is way too short. It’s taken about 45 minutes each time. Totally worth it, but you need to plan ahead!

  13. Anyone ever make this recipes using a red enchilada sauce, instead of the Chile verde sauce? Wondering how it would taste?

    1. I have not tried this recipe using a red enchilada sauce but I’m interested to find out. Let me know if you try it. I would love to hear how it goes!

  14. 5 stars
    Excellent recipe. I would not change a thing. It was a huge hit with everyone. So much faster and easier then making tamales. This will become a staple!!

    1. Yes, it’s a great alternative to making tamales. Glad to hear you all enjoyed the recipe!

  15. Delicious. Just like tamales! I took that Sur La Table Tamale course but the tubs of lard turned me off. I don’t cook with lard.

    I made 2/3 the tamale dough and used 6 boneless skinless chicken thighs. Made a roasted tomatillo and pablano enchilada sauce in my food processor. I emptied the sauce into a bowl and just did the tamale dough in the unwashed food processor bowl that had remnants of the sauce. I put everything in a 9×9 baking pan.

    Definitely would do this again.

  16. 5 stars
    I love this recipe. I break it down over a few days because I make my own chile verde enchilada sauce and I poach and debone a whole chicken. I once took a class on making tamales but when they brought the tubs of lard out, lost my interest in tamales. Which is why I love this recipe!

    I used Ancho chile powder in place of the roasted poblanos in the tamale because I forgot to set aside some of my roasted poblanos the day before.. The anchor worked fine. Anchor are dried poblanos.

    Thank you for this recipe. I have made it several times and masa harina is now a staple in my pantry.