· · · ·

Slow Cooker Beef Tamale Bowls

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy

These Slow Cooker Cooker Beef Tamale Bowls are everything you love about tamales, without all the work. Basically, the perfect dinner for the busy but hungry (i.e. Me!)

These Beef Tamale Bowls are everything you love about tamales without all the work. The slow cooker does it for you! (Gluten free)

I think it was Lindsay from Pinch of Yum who recently said that “bowls” are the casserole of millennials. I think it’s totally true. While you don’t see a lot of new casserole dishes emerging, you do see plenty of dinner-in-a-bowl recipes floating around these days.

It’s for good reason–they’re convenient, delicious, comforting, all-in-one meals (just like casseroles). They have the added benefits of fresh/whole ingredients (rather than cream-of-something soup), and they’re so easy to customize, which is great when you’re feeding a crowd or a family.

There are few things I love as much as dinner in a bowl. These Beef Tamale Bowls are amazing!

I love bowl dinners. We have them very (very!) regularly, since we’re still working on getting our kids to try new foods. When they can build their dinners themselves, they’re much more likely to try something new.

I’m also a huge fan of tamales. We can get such amazing ones locally here in the desert, and I really would love to master making them myself. But today is not that day. So, instead, I mixed together a quick red sauce and added some beef to my slow cooker. A few hours later, all I have to do is cook some polenta to stand in for the masa (which takes less than 10 minutes) and add a few fresh toppings (Read: All The Guacamole!) and call it a day.

The sauce is certainly not as authentic as anything made from dried chiles, but it’s flavorful and it has 3 ingredients, so… #winning. Chipotle Chili Powder might not be something you keep in your kitchen, but it’s one of my favorite spices for adding a little smoky spice to a dish. A little goes a LONG way, so start small and add as you go.

Slow Cooker Beef Tamale Bowls are such a yummy weeknight dinner. The slow cooker does the work for you and the sauce only has 3 ingredients!


If you don’t have chipotle chili powder, you can mince up 1/2 a chipotle pepper packed in adobo sauce and use it instead.

Too spicy? If you accidentally made your sauce hotter than you meant to (I’ve been there), my firsts suggestion is to pile your bowl high with guacamole, lettuce, and tomatoes to take the edge off. But, if you want to take the sauce down a spicy notch, just add a little brown sugar (or honey) or your sauce to temper the heat.

The BEST slow cooker. I can’t say enough good things about my slow cooker. If you’re in the market, this is my all-time favorite one. It’s programmable and has a lid clip so you’ll never have any sloshes or spills if you’re transporting chili to a cook-off or dinner to a potluck.

Tamales without all the work? Yes please! Slow Cooker Tamale Bowls.

A few other favorite “meal in a bowl” recipes…

clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon

Slow Cooker Beef Tamale Bowls

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

No reviews

  • Author: One Lovely Life
  • Yield: 68 servings 1x


Everything you love about tamales without all the work!



For the Beef:

  • 22 1/2 lbs beef roast
  • 1 (15oz) can tomato sauce
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/41/2 tsp chipotle chili powder
  • !For the Polenta:
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 cup polenta
  • 34 Tbsp butter or olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste

To serve:

  • lettuce
  • diced tomatoes
  • guacamole
  • (you could also go with cheese or sour cream)


For the beef:

  1. In a large skillet or Dutch oven, heat a drizzle of oil over medium-high heat. Add beef and cook to brown 5-7 minutes on each side. Transfer to the crock of your slow cooker.
  2. Add 1/2 cup water to the skillet/Dutch oven that you browned the beef in and stir to scrape up any browned bits. Stir in your tomato sauce, chili powder, and chipotle chili powder. Taste and add additional chipotle pepper as desired.
  3. Pour sauce over beef and cook on HIGH for 3-4 hours or LOW for 6-8 hours, or until beef shreds easily with a fork. Shred beef and stir to coat with the sauce.

For the polenta:

  1. Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Stir in polenta and a pinch of salt. Turn down the heat to low and stir constantly for about 3-4 minutes. Cover the pan and let rest another 5 minutes. (Polenta will soften and absorb more liquid during this time). Stir in butter/oil and additional salt and pepper, to taste.

To serve:

  1. Build a bowl! Build a base of polenta, then scoop warm beef on top and top with your favorite toppings!
These Beef Tamale Bowls are everything you love about tamales without all the work. The slow cooker does it for you! (Gluten free)

Similar Posts


  1. This recipe is intriguing. We love spicy food, so we’ll be trying it soon. I also appreciate the tip on how to tone down the heat in a dish!

  2. Hi, I’m not very good at knowing cuts of meat – does it matter what specific type of beef roast you use here? I just discovered your site this week, and I made the slow cooker butter chicken last night. It was so easy to put together, and it was delicious! I’m always on the lookout for healthy, gluten- and dairy-free recipes that will appeal to my kids. I will be making more of your recipes for sure! Thank you!

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed the Butter Chicken! This one is pretty flexible as far as the cut of beef. Chuck roast is often a great price at my stores and the marbling of fat helps it get really, really tender. I’ve also tried it with other beef roasts with good results, so use what you can find/what’s a good price. It should work out great!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe rating 5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star