Chicken Tamale Pies

When we need an easy meal we treat ourselves to an organic roasted chicken. These little pies are one of our favorite ways to use leftover cooked chicken. They are a quick variation of my cousin Pattie Poglajen’s Red Beef Tamales. I’ll share that recipe before Christmas for those who want to get together with a group and continue Pattie’s tradition of making a huge batch of holiday tamales.

The time I listed for preparation here reflects a first-time-to-make estimate. Once you have the steps down they are quick and easy but so impressive – we all find ourselves going into what we call Recreational Eating mode (eating past the point of full because something is just so good) with these.

Chicken Tamale Pies

Yield: 15 muffin-size pies  Feeds 4 to 6  – We add re-fried beans and a green salad to the menu.

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F. Bake about 20 minutes.

Prep time 40 minutes  Cook time 20 minutes

Equipment: muffin pans, electric mixer, heavy skillet

Coconut Oil Crust for 15 pies:

2 cups Masa Harina corn flour (Mexican food section of most grocery stores)

1 tsp. salt

Combine dry ingredients – set aside.

1/3 cup coconut oil

1 ½ cups chicken broth

2 ½ Tbsp. coconut oil, melted

In a mixing bowl, beat the 1/3 cup of coconut oil until fluffy – about 1 minute. Add the masa/salt mixture and the broth a little at a time to the coconut oil, beating the additions in as you add them. Gradually add the melted oil. The batter should be halfway between thick cake batter and thin bread dough.

tamale pie dough scoops in pan

Coat the insides of the muffin tin cups with oil. Measure out approximately ¼ cup scoops of the batter and place them one at a time in each of 15 muffin cups. Press the scoops to form little crusts in the cups – they will be a little less than 1/8 inch thick on the bottoms and sides. Set aside.

Chicken filling:

In a medium to large heavy skillet on medium heat:

2 Tbsp. neutral oil such as grape seed or avocado oil


1 medium onion, finely chopped or grated on a box grater

Sauté until transparent and just beginning to brown.


2 to 3 Tbsp. tomato paste

Sauté 1 minute or so to caramelize the tomato paste.


2 to 3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (again, in the Mexican food section)

1 large clove garlic, minced

1/2 tsp. salt 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. black pepper

1 to 2 Tbsp. chili powder

1/2 tsp. ground cumin

1/4 tsp. cocoa powder

1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon

Cook another minute, allowing the spices, peppers, and garlic to develop their flavors.

Add and mix well:

2 to 2 ½ cups cooked chicken, finely chopped


1/2 to 1 cup salsa/picante sauce to make a moist but not too liquid filling.

Place a 2 Tbsp. scoop of the chicken mixture in each dough lined muffin cup. Push a black olive in the middle of each pie.

tamale pies ready to bake

Cover with a sprinkling of cheddar cheese. Bake at 375 degrees F for about 20 minutes. When done, remove from the muffin tins and serve hot. These re-heat beautifully at 325 degrees F – about 15 minutes.

tamale pies baked in pan

The black pepper, chipotle peppers, and chili powder amounts vary. If you like spicier food, use the larger (or a little more) measurements.

You can freeze leftover adobo peppers and tomato paste on a plastic wrap covered cookie sheet in 1 Tbsp. plops; once frozen, transfer to freezer bags. Store them in the freezer for up to 3 months and use as needed. No more waste!

Serve with additional salsa and sour cream on top.

1 thought on “Chicken Tamale Pies

  1. Nice recipe

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