This post was sponsored by USA Pulses & Pulse Canada.  All opinions expressed here are mine alone.

There’s nothing more comforting than the Tamale Pie!  This is a hearty vegetarian recipe with a sweet potato cornbread topping, and it’s prepped in just 15 minutes!

tamale pie on a plate with sour cream and jalapeño on top

Last week I was tiptoeing around fall a little bit with some great comfort food, but now that it’s officially fall I’m pulling out all the stops.  I’ve been incorporating apples, pears, autumn squash, and even more sweet potatoes than usual into my recipes.

I grew up eating a dish like this Three Bean Tamale Pie with Sweet Potato Cornbread Topping.  My mom normally made it using ground beef and topped it with her homemade cornbread, and it was always a favorite of mine.

If you’ve never had tamale pie, it’s basically a chili filling with cornbread baked right over the top.  It doesn’t get much better than this meal for me!

serving of vegetarian tamale pie on a white plate

This version of tamale pie is considerably different than the one I grew up on because I chose to make it vegetarian.  I feel that this version is even heartier because it’s packed with (3) types of pulses –> black beans, kidney beans, and pinto beans.

Pulses are the delicious, protein-packed, sustainable foods known as dry peas, chickpeas, lentils, and beans, and I incorporate them into my meals several times a week.

There are so many benefits to using pulses.  Not only are they nutritious, but they’re extremely versatile.  They’re great in dips, salads, soups, pasta, and so much more!

See this hummus, salad, and pasta for more inspiration.

overhead shot of tamale pie on a white plate with sour cream

This tamale pie topping is extremely easy to make and family friendly.  There’s only about 15 minutes of hands on prep, and you can make the filling completely ahead of time and even freeze it until you’re ready to make your tamale pie.

The filling is completely customizable too.  You can sub the vegetables I’ve used and make it spicier by adding chipotle or more jalapeno.

Once the filling is made, it takes all of 5 minutes to make your cornbread topping.   Spread it over the top of the filling in an even layer and bake it for 20-25 minutes.

vegetarian tamale pie process collage

Many cornbread recipes are on the dry side, but this recipe is so tender thanks to the sweet potato!

Not only is this cornbread topping tender, but it has a mild sweetness from the sweet potato and a beautiful orange hue that makes it perfect for fall.

I garnished my tamale pie with plain Greek yogurt, jalapeno, and cilantro and thought it was perfect.  How you top yours is completely up to you!

This Three Bean Tamale Pie with Sweet Potato Cornbread Topping is the ultimate fall comfort food and is a great way to add more nutritious pulses in your diet!

vegetarian tamale pie on a white plate with sour cream and jalapeño

More vegetarian Mexican recipes you’ll love:

Vegetarian tamale pie on plate with sour cream and jalapeno

Three Bean Tamale Pie with Sweet Potato Cornbread Topping

There's nothing more comforting than the Tamale Pie!  This hearty vegetarian recipe is topped with a sweet potato cornbread topping for a memorable dinner!

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For the filling:

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 red onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 red bell pepper cored and chopped
  • 1 jalapeno seeded and chopped
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen corn
  • 15 ounces ow sodium tomato sauce
  • 15 ounces fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 15 ounces black beans rinsed and drained
  • 15 ounces kidney beans rinsed and drained
  • 15 ounces pinto beans rinsed and drained

For the cornbread topping:

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup low fat buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup sweet potato puree*
  • 1/3 oil
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup

Additional garnishes (optional):

  • Greek yogurt or sour cream cilantro, and jalapeno


Prepare the filling:

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Grease a 9×13″ baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
  • Heat the olive oil in large saute pan over medium heat.  Add the onion and saute 5 minutes until softened.
  • Add the garlic, spices and salt and saute for 1 minute longer.
  • Add the bell pepper, jalapeno, and corn, and saute for 2 minutes.  Stir in the tomato sauce, diced tomato, and beans and bring to a boil.  Turn down the heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes while you prepare the topping.

Prepare the cornbread topping:

  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • In a medium bowl, beat the egg lightly. Add the buttermilk, oil, puree and maple syrup and whisk until combined. Pour into the dry ingredients and stir together until just incorporated.
  • Pour the filling into the prepared pan and spread evenly.  Top with the cornbread topping and spread in an even layer.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the cornbread is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Let cool for 10 minutes and serve with additional garnishes if desired.  Enjoy!


  • The filling may be made entirely in advance and even frozen.
  • I’ve made this recipe using both fresh mashed sweet potato and canned sweet potato puree, and found the texture to be much more tender with the canned puree.
  • The sweet potato puree may be substituted for pumpkin or butternut squash.
  • Customize this meal with your favorite vegetables or make it spicier by adding more jalapeño or chipotle.


Serving: 1g, Calories: 408kcal, Carbohydrates: 74g, Protein: 15g, Fat: 4g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 25mg, Sodium: 953mg, Fiber: 12g, Sugar: 15g

Nutrition is estimated using a food database and is only intended to be used as a guideline for informational purposes.

Did you try this recipe?Be sure to tag @flavorthemoments with the hashtag #flavorthemoments on Instagram so I can see what you made!

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