Three Bean Tamale Pie with Sweet Potato Cornbread Topping
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!
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!
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.
If you’re looking to eat healthier, just add pulses! Sign up for the Half-Cup Habit and see how easy it can be to add 1/2 cup serving of pulses to your diet 3x per week.
This Three Bean Tamale Pie with Sweet Potato Cornbread 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.
Many cornbread recipes are on the dry side, but this recipe is so tender thanks to the sweet potato!
A few years ago I made Butternut Squash Cornbread Muffins and discovered what a difference a little puree makes when added to cornbread. These muffins are our favorite, and I knew sweet potato would be equally delicious.
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!
More vegetarian Mexican recipes you’ll love:
Three Bean Tamale Pie with Sweet Potato Cornbread Topping
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.
Nutrition is estimated using a food database and is only intended to be used as a guideline for informational purposes.
24 Comments on “Three Bean Tamale Pie with Sweet Potato Cornbread Topping”
I’ve never had tamale pie but considering how much I love cornbread, it’s definitely time to try it! This sounds delicious–I love that there’s sweet potato IN the topping!
Thanks Kelsie! The sweet potato made the cornbread SO tender!
You are reminding me that it’s been way too long since I’ve had tamales! Your pie looks so good, Marcie! I’m in love with that cornbread topping. What a great way to serve it!
Thanks so much Gayle! 🙂
that looks so good Marcie! my husband loves tamale, maybe I should make this for him 🙂
Thanks Manali and this is a lot easier to make than regular tamales. 🙂
Something about this tamale pie reminds me of childhood, even though I’ve never had a tamale pie before.. I think it’s because A.) It’s look like such awesome comfort food, and B.) My mom used to make an awesome cornbread growing up. Unfortunately my husband doesn’t like cornbread (I know, what?!) so I’ll have to try this when he’s not home, or when I’m cooking for loved ones. It looks delicious!
Your mom’s cornbread must’ve been amazing and I’m sorry to hear that you don’t get to make it often! I hope you’ll get a chance to make this soon — thanks Nicole!
This is my kind of meal! I’m obsessed with all things chili and cornbread. Combining them in one dish is a genius idea. It’s almost like a Mexican version of shepherd’s pie. I love it so much. Bring on the beans!! 😉
You’re right — it is like a Mexican shepherd’s pie! Thanks Sarah! 🙂
One of my favorite ways to eat cornbread is with beans. Though I have never made it this way. It looks amazing!
Thank you Balvinder and I hope you get to try it!
This sounds perfect for a chilly fall evening! I know this would be a hit at our house!
Thanks Jessica! I’m just wishing it would cool off here I so I can enjoy more food like this! 🙂
I can honestly say I don’t think I’ve ever had tamale pie but I’m glad you’ve shown me its glory! I love cornbread! This looks great Marcie.
Thanks Katherine and I hope you get to try it! 🙂
Woot! Bring on the cozy comfort food!! It’s been warm here this week but supposedly this weekend it’s cooling down and is going to be glorious!! haha I need to make myself this pie! So right up my alley!
Woot indeed! I’m so excited for the cool down this weekend so I can enjoy my comfort food more. 🙂 Thanks Ashley!
Chili and cornbread has always been a big favorite of mine, and this tamale pie version is kiiiiiilling me! It is ALL THINGS perfection! Seriously, I want to shower it with grated cheddar and eat it for every meal ever. 😀
Aww thank you!! The only thing I didn’t try it with was cheddar and that will probably happen next time! 🙂
This is my kind of meal! It looks so hearty and amazing, Marcie! Love that it’s vegetarian and packed with all the goodies!
Thanks Kelly! 🙂
I haven’t had tamales in a very long time! This pie looks fantastic! Love the idea! Can’t wait to try it!
Thank you Mira!