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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
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
- 3 c. grated monterey jack cheese - divided
- 1 c. chile verde enchilada sauce
- 2 tbsp. cilantro for garnish
- 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.