"We are not measured by the trials we meet -- only by those we overcome."
- - Spencer W. Kimball
September 04, 2015
Skillet Taco Pie
by Melanie Gunnell

Now if that doesn’t look like a plate full of love, I don’t know what does.

Taco pie. And not your everyday taco pie, either. This updated taco pie recipe gets a fabulous start from a (simple) homemade crust made by mixing water, salt and masa harina (the flour used for tamales and corn tortillas — it is widely available in most grocery stores).

The crust bakes in a cast-iron skillet, or a pie plate if you don’t have one, and forms a tender, delicious base for the rest of the delectable ingredients. I daresay the crust was my favorite part because the flavor reminded me of the fresh tamales we would eat as young kids when we lived in Texas (we had a friend at church who made tamales from scratch every week and sold them to us by the bucketful).

Topped with a refried bean mixture bumped up a notch with some simple spices and then topped again by seasoned ground beef or turkey, the pie is made even more luxurious with an avocado/cream cheese/garlic blend that nearly knocks it right out of the park. Layered with traditional taco toppings and you have yourself a serious meal. Seriously.

To say this went over well with my family is a huge understatement. A lot of goodness is going on here and we all agreed this is a fantastic way to take taco night to the next level.

Skillet Taco Pie
Yield: Makes 8 servings

Note: Masa harina is a corn flour used to make tortillas and tamales. It is widely available in the Mexican foods-aisle of most grocery stores.


For the crust:

  • 2 1/2 cups water

  • 1 1/2 cups masa harina (see note above)

  • 1 teaspoon salt

For the fillings:

  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin

  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

  • 1/4 teaspoon coriander

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil

  • 1 cup refried black or pinto beans

  • 1/4 cup finely diced onion

  • 1 pound ground beef, chuck or turkey

  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin

  • 2 teaspoons chili powder

  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the toppings:

  • 1 avocado, pitted and peeled

  • 2 ounces (1/4 cup) cream cheese

  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

  • 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice (from about 1 lime)

  • 1 clove garlic, chopped


  • Shredded cheddar

  • Shredded lettuce

  • Corn chips

  • Sour cream


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

  2. For the crust, in a medium saucepan set over medium heat, combine the water, masa harina and salt. Cook, whisking constantly, until very thick, about 5-6 minutes. It should be the consistency of very soft sugar cookie dough. Carefully press the dough into an oiled 8- or 9-inch cast iron skillet or a similar-sized pie plate. Lightly grease or water your hands if needed so the dough doesn't stick while pressing. Bake the crust until firm, about 30 minutes.

  3. While the crust is baking, in a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil and add the garlic powder, cumin, oregano and coriander. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the refried beans and cook until heated through, about 1 minute. Spread this mixture over the cooked crust. Wipe out the skillet with a paper towel and set it over medium heat. Sauté the ground beef (or turkey) with the chopped onion and 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, until the meat is cooked through, about 5-6 minutes. Drain the grease from the skillet. Add the cumin and chili powder and stir to combine. Spread this mixture over the refried beans and transfer the skillet/pie plate again to warm through, 5-10 minutes.

  4. Meanwhile, puree the avocado, cream cheese, cilantro, lime juice and garlic in a food processor blender until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

  5. Remove the pie from the oven. Spread the avocado mixture over the top of the ground beef and garnish the pie with shredded cheese, lettuce, corn chips, sour cream or any other taco toppings you like. Serve the pie warm or at room temperature (if serving at room temperature, don't top with the avocado mixture or toppings until ready to serve).

Recipe Source: adapted from Cuisine at Home February, 2012

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About Melanie Gunnell

Melanie Gunnell is a food-loving, chocolate-obsessed mom who has a desperate need to share her favorite tried-and-true recipes with the world. In a past life she graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in public health, but for the past ten years, stay-at-home motherhood has been her job along with blogging-from-home for the past five.

She resides in the brilliantly cold tundra of Northern Minnesota with her husband and their brood of five children: four boys and one tiny, bossy girl. Dark chocolate (particularly the act of shoving chocolate chips in her mouth whilst hiding in the pantry) is her coping skill of choice for both the never-ending winters and the never-ending wrestling matches in her front room.


Calling(s): Primary pianist, CTR 6/7 Primary teacher, Activity Day leader

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