• April 14, 2014
Chicken Tamale Bowls

These Chicken Tamale Bowls were something that I had to try. Why? Because the one thing my husband requests me to make more than anything else is tamales. Real tamales.

I have never made them and they sound really complicated and I just have never had a desire to make them. Then I saw this recipe, and I knew I had to try it. And I’m so, so, so, very glad I did.

I changed the amount of spice significantly, to make it not so spicy. But it still had quite a kick. I would be afraid to try with the original amounts! But the best part of this is how the spicy chicken and peppers is cooled down both by the cheesy polenta and the avocado on top. In my mind, it is just the perfect combination.

So, if you don’t have all the equipment or the time to make real tamales, check these out! Your taste buds will thank you for it!

Chicken Tamale Bowls


  • 1 1/2 pounds chicken breast or thighs
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 can red enchilada sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 red pepper, sliced
  • 1 orange pepper, sliced
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 recipe Cheesy Polenta
  • mashed avocado, for topping


  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Add onion and peppers; stir fry for 3-5 minutes, just until they begin to soften. Remove from skillet to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.
  3. Add the rest of the oil to the skillet and then add chicken. Brown on both sides, about 3-4 minutes each side.
  4. Once the chicken is browned on all sides, add the enchilada sauce, chili powder, smoked paprika, cumin, salt, pepper, cayenne, garlic and onion powder and bring all to a boil.
  5. Reduce heat and simmer the chicken in the sauce for 10-15 minutes or until it is cooked through and it shreds easily.
  6. When the chicken is done, remove for the heat and shred the chicken. Add the peppers back in as well as the drained and rinsed black beans. Stir and heat until everything is heated through.
  7. Serve over a big helping of the cheesy polenta and then top with avocado, cheese, chopped cilantro or even crushed tortilla chips. Enjoy!
Cheesy Polenta


  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 cups milk
  • 1 cup polenta (corn grits) I used Bob's Red Mill
  • 4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1-4 tablespoons butter, to your taste


  1. Pour broth and milk into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.
  2. Lower heat to medium and slowly whisk in the polenta.
  3. Cook, stirring frequently, until the polenta is soft and thick, about 15-20 minutes. Keep warm.
  4. Just before serving, add the cheddar cheese and butter and season with salt and pepper. Stir until the cheese is melted, adding milk or butter if it is too thick.

Recipe adapted from Half Baked Harvest

14 Comments on “Chicken Tamale Bowls

  1. Stacy Dexter

    Hey cousin, This is becoming a regular dish at our house. I love the extra seasonings in the sauce. Thanks for the recipe. Your blog looks great. Feel free to come visit sometime.


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