Healthy Tamale Casserole

DSCN2069In our house, we make Mexican food at least 3 nights a week… I would probably have it more – but it’s already a bit excessive, don’t you think? 🙂

One of the things I love about Mexican food is that you can make it really healthy and its still so flavorful, filling and of course – delicious.

This healthy tamale casserole is very easy to make and is a great way to mix up your weekly meals.

(All that’s missing from this is a big scoop of fresh guacamole!)


Oh, and I don’t know about you, but I love leftovers… And this recipe is great for that! You can heat it up the next day and put it in a corn tortilla, make enchiladas or even make a taco salad out of it.

Leftovers are great for when you are trying to eat well because you don’t need to worry about planning out lunches for the next few days. It makes it especially easier when you have a meal like this that leaves you with many leftover options.



1 container polenta (you’ll want to buy the one in the tube)
1 tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper

1 lb. lean ground beef (you can also use ground chicken or turkey)
1 cup sweet onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, chopped and seeded (I used half the seeds since we like it spicy)
1 packet taco seasoning
1/2 cup  no-salt-added canned corn, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup no-salt-added black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup Rotel diced tomatoes with green chiles
1 cup shredded mexican cheese
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

cooking spray


  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. To cook the polenta, first cut 1/2 inch rounds (it should make about 12).
  3. Place them on a plate and season with salt and pepper.
  4. In a large skillet heat 1 tsp. of oil on medium-high heat.
  5. Once the pan is hot, place 4 polenta rounds in the pan, sear them for about 3-4 minutes on each side. Repeat this process 2 more times (adding 1 tsp. of oil each time).


    Note – I pan fried 7 here with all the olive oil, but it soaked up all the olive oil… Which is why I recommend in the directions to pan fry 4 at a time with 1 tsp of olive oil (repeating that process 2 more times till they’re all pan fried).

  6. Once all polenta rounds are seared, spray a 13×9 pan with cooking spray and then line the pan with the polenta, making a crust. Set aside.DSCN2053
  7. Using the same large skillet, reduce heat to medium and spray with cooking spray.
  8. Add onion and jalapenos and cook for about 5 minutes.
  9. Add the beef to the pan, breaking it all up so it cooks evenly.
  10. Once the meat is all cooked, add in your taco seasoning packet and follow those directions (usually it’s to add water and cook down).
  11. After the taco seasoning is all incorporated and liquid is cooked down, add your corn, black beans, and Rotel diced tomatoes. Stir until fully incorporated.
  12. Pour meat mixture evenly over the polenta, then top with cheese and cover with foil.
  13. Bake for 15 minutes. Take off foil and place back in the oven for another 10 minutes. When all done, top with fresh cilantro.
  14. Serve and enjoy.

    healthy tamale casserole

    In case you’re wondering – YES, that is Taco Bell’s Mild sauce. I didn’t know this, but they sell it in a bottle at most major grocery stores 🙂

Nutritional Information:

Servings: 6
Serving Size: 1/6 of the pan

Calories: 279
Fat: 12 g
Carbohydrates: 18 g
Sodium: 488 mg
Fiber: 3 g
Sugar: 3 g
Protein: 22 gDSCN2088


EMILY NESS is a full-time food and lifestyle author who’s passionate about developing simple yet mouth-watering recipes that anyone can make. Since founding her website in 2013, she’s went on to share her passion for cooking healthy and tasty recipes with the thousands of people around the world.
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Emily Ness - Cruise

Sharing a passion for food and fitness to live a healthy lifestyle - with the occasional hint of chocolate.