vegetable tamale pie

Do you want evidence that this recipe is good? How about the fact that I’ve been eating it for lunch AND dinner for the past three days straight, and I still wanted a piece for breakfast this morning. Seriously.

There are a million and two ways to make tamale pie, some being more like actual tamales than others. This one is not so much like a real tamale, but it’s amazing all the same. I decided to go with a cornbread crust instead of polenta because A) I’m in love with corn bread and B) I wanted something that could soak up yumminess from the bottom of the pan. It definitely worked.

I originally intended to make this a beef tamale pie, but I bullied myself into doing a vegetarian mix because I felt like I needed more beans and vegetables in my life. If you did want to do beef (or chicken or pork), simply switch it out for the sweet potatoes, beans, and peppers… or add them all in there together! It’s very flexible.

P.S. I know the ingredients list looks long, but it’s really quite simple to make. Promise!

Vegetable Tamale Pie

Vegetable Tamale Pie in skillet

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4.72 from 14 votes

Vegetable Tamale Pie

This vegetable tamale pie is super hearty and delicious with a jalapeno cornbread topping.
Total Cost: $8.05 recipe / $1.00 serving
Author: Beth - Budget Bytes
Prep Time: 30 mins
Cook Time: 25 mins
Total Time: 55 mins
Servings: 8


  • 2 Tbsp olive oil ($0.32)
  • 1 yellow onion ($0.48)
  • 2 cloves garlic ( $0.16)
  • 1 sweet potato ($0.69)
  • 1 15oz. black beans ($0.56)
  • 1/2 bunch green onions ($0.25)
  • 1 poblano pepper ($0.84)
  • 1 jalapeño ($0.12)
  • 1 10z. can red enchilada sauce ($1.53)
  • 1/2 Tbsp chili powder ($0.07)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin ($0.03)
  • 1/2 tsp salt ($0.02)


  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal ($0.24)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour ($0.15)
  • 1/4 cup sugar ($0.04)
  • 4 tsp baking powder ($0.12)
  • 1/2 tsp salt ($0.02)
  • 1 cup milk ($0.62)
  • 1 large egg ($0.25)
  • 1/4 cup cooking oil ($0.21)
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar, optional ($1.00)
  • 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro (optional) ($0.43)


  • Chop the onion and mince the garlic. Cook in a large skillet with olive oil over medium heat. While onion and garlic are cooking, peel and dice the sweet potato. Add the diced sweet potato to the skillet and continue cooking.
  • Remove the seeds from the poblano and jalapeno peppers, dice both, and add to the skillet. Also add the black beans (drained and rinsed), enchilada sauce, and sliced green onions. Stir and heat through. Taste the mixture and add the chili powder, cumin, and salt. Adjust to your liking.
  • Preheat the oven to 425ºF. To make the cornbread topping, combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl (flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt, and baking powder). Stir until evenly combined. Next, add the wet ingredients (milk, egg, oil, shredded cheese, and roughly chopped cilantro leaves). Stir these ingredients into the dry ingredients just until everything has become wet and the mixture looks even. Slightly beating the egg before adding it helps make this easier.
  • To build the tamale pie, pour the vegetable mixture into a deep pie dish, cast iron skillet, or 8×8 inch casserole dish. Next, pour the cornbread mixture over top and smooth it out evenly. Bake the pie in the preheated 425 degree oven for about 25 minutes or until the top of the cornbread is golden brown.
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Serving: 1 ServingCalories: 461.09 kcalCarbohydrates: 59.8 gProtein: 14.2 gFat: 19.23 gSodium: 1049.08 mgFiber: 8.71 g
Nutritional values are estimates only. See our full nutrition disclaimer here.

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Plate with a slice of Vegetable Tamale Pie

Step By Step Photos

onions and garlic in olive oil in skillet
Start by cooking those onions and garlic in olive oil.

dice sweet potato added to skillet with garlic and onion
While those are cooking, peel and dice your sweet potato. Add it to the skillet.

whole poblano pepper ready to chop up
For those who are unfamiliar with poblano peppers, this is what they look like. Large, dark green, and a kind of like a deflated balloon. They have a very unique flavor. If they’re not available in your area, you can substitute with other vegetables or beans to make up for the volume.

all veggies added to skillet with other ingredients
Remove the seeds from the poblano and chop it up. Do the same with the jalapeno. Add both to the skillet, along with sliced green onions and black beans (drained and rinsed). I used black beans that I had cooked from dry, which is why they’re so inexpensive on the ingredient list. Freezing them after cooking makes them just as convenient as canned beans!

close up of a can of enchilada sauce
Next add the enchilada sauce and then heat everything through.

seasoning added to skillet of other ingredients
The enchilada sauce didn’t quite provide enough flavor for me, so I also added a little chili powder, cumin, and salt.

dry ingredients for cornbread topping in mixing bowl
Next it’s time to make the cornbread topping. In a large bowl combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Stir until they’re well combined. Oh, also begin preheating your oven at this point – 425 degrees.

wet ingredients added to dry ingredients in mixing bowl
Then add the wet ingredients (milk, oil, egg, cheddar, roughly chopped cilantro). I like to slightly beat the egg before adding it because it helps it incorporate easier. The cheese and cilantro are completely optional.

combined wet and dry ingredients mixed up
When stirring the wet ingredients into the dry, only stir just until all of the mixture has moistened and everything looks even (about ten stirs). You want to try to avoid over stirring.

veggie mixture poured into bottom of skillet
Next, pour the vegetable mixture into the bottom of your baking dish. I used my cast iron skillet because I knew it would make for some nice pictures, but you can also use a deep pie dish or an 8×8 inch casserole dish. My skillet is about 10 inches across.

corn bread topping poured over top of veggies in skillet
Pour the cornbread topping over the vegetables and smooth it out. Make sure the oven has finished preheating, and then bake for about 25 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Begin checking it at 18-20 minutes because every oven is a little different.

Top view of baked tamale pie
And then it looks, smells, and tastes absolutely delicious! I cut mine into 8 pieces and had 8 very satisfying meals.

Top view of Vegetable Tamale Pie in skillet

Slice of Vegetable Tamale Pie on plate