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Vegetarian Tamale Pie

5 from 39 votes

This filling and delicious vegetarian tamale pie recipe is the ultimate healthy comfort food casserole. Even carnivores will love it!

Mexican Tamale Pie

Vegetarian tamale pie is much easier to make than you might think.

I first served the recipe to my non vegetarian parents when they came to visit a few months ago, and it was such a success that they’ve now made it three more times on their own!

Thick and hearty chili gets covered in a creamy cornmeal crust and baked in the oven, for a family friendly, meatless weeknight dinner.

You can throw the meal together quickly and freeze leftovers for a rainy day.

Be sure to also try these Cauliflower Recipes

Vegetarian Tamale Pie Recipe

What is tamale pie?

Popular in the southwestern United States, the dish gets its name thanks to its similar flavor profile to that of traditional Mexican tamales.

It’s often made with beef, but this one calls for bean chili as the base to keep it vegetarian. The chili is layered into a baking pan and then topped with a layer of cornbread.

When I was growing up in Texas, friends and neighbors would often bring tamale pie to parties or potlucks, because it’s easy to transport and great for feeding a crowd.

(Plus, chili and cornbread go well with watching football, and if there’s one thing Texans love more than anything else in the world, it’s football!)

For dessert, make a batch of Vegan Brownies

Plant Based Vegan Dinner Recipe
Meatless Homemade Tamale Pie Ingredients

How to make the recipe

Start by adding all ingredients except the topping to a pot and cooking for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Whisk the topping ingredients in a separate pot, stirring often to prevent sticking.

Transfer the tamale pie filling to a baking dish, smooth the cornmeal topping over the filling, and bake on the center rack at 380 F for 30 minutes. Let cool, and it thickens as it cools.

If desired, top with sliced avocado or serve with Avocado Salad.

The recipe makes about six to eight servings, and leftovers can be covered and stored in the refrigerator for up to four days. Or they can also be frozen for a month or two.

Vegan Girl Chocolate Covered Katie Recipe

After searching for a (not-super-expensive) red casserole pan for months, I finally found one that I love…

It says Merry Christmas on the bottom, but who needs to know??

Above, watch the vegetarian tamale pie recipe video

Easy Vegetarian Tamale Pie Casserole Recipe

The tamale pie was adapted from this Vegetarian Chili Recipe.

Pin it now to save for laterPin Recipe

Vegetarian Tamale Pie

This hearty vegetarian tamale pie recipe is a healthy meatless meal that even carnivores enjoy.
Total Time 50 minutes
Yield 6 – 8 servings
5 from 39 votes


  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 2 bell peppers of any color, diced
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 can beans of choice, or 1 1/2 cups cooked
  • 3/4 cup corn (I used frozen roasted corn)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (15 oz)
  • 1 can tomato sauce (15 oz)
  • optional 1 can mild green chilis (4 oz)
  • optional 1 cup shredded cheese (such as fyh vegan)
  • 2 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • Topping: 3/4 cup fine cornmeal (regular or whole grain), 2 cups water or milk of choice, 3/4 tsp salt, and optional 2 tbsp butter or oil


  • Add everything except the topping ingredients to a pot. Cook uncovered on medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a greased 10-inch baking dish (an 8-inch dish will work). Whisk topping ingredients over low-medium heat until thick, stirring often. Smooth over the base. Preheat oven to 380 F. (Especially if using an 8-inch pan, I like to place the dish over a baking sheet to catch a small amount that might spill over while cooking.) Bake on the center rack for 30 minutes, then let cool. It will thicken as it cools down. Leftovers can be covered and refrigerated or frozen.
    View Nutrition Facts


Readers also really love these Buffalo Cauliflower Wings.

Have you made this recipe?

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Published on November 29, 2020

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  1. Christina says

    That looks like a great recipe, and I have most of the ingredients to make it! Do you use the no-salt-added tomato sauce or the regular kind?

    • CCK Media Team says

      Hi sorry we have never tried it. If you’ve used it in similar recipes successfully then definitely give it a try and let us know how it goes!

  2. Pat Thomas says

    just made the vegetarian tamale pie- YUM. it was easy to prepare with ingredients we had on hand. i used frozen cherry tomatoes and peppers (from the garden). it tasted so good and made our dinner very special after a busy day. i didn’t see how to rate this, but i’d give it 5 stars in total gratitude! thank you, katie, for making it fun to be in the kitchen and to have so many vegan options!

  3. Jessica says

    Hi Katie just wanted to say thank you so much for still promoting vegetarian and vegan options on your blog. I’ve been reading for a while and understandably you’ve made many recipes adaptable for the wider audience, but it’s meaningful to me that you continue to publish things for your vegetarian/vegan readers too. Your recipes have been some of the best vegan recipes I’ve found and they’re easy to make with accessible ingredients.

  4. Anya says

    Made this last night to mixed reviews. A few notes:

    1) I sauteed the onions before adding anything else to the pot because I don’t like raw onions.
    2) I didn’t use all of the optional add ins and there’s no way it would have come close to fitting in an 8×8 pan. I used 9×13 and that was just large enough.
    3) Because I used a larger pan, I doubled the amount of topping. In the future, I would skip the topping and just make cornbread on the side. The topping “sunk” into the filling and wasn’t pleasant to eat.

    On the flipside, the filling was good and this made a tremendous amount of food (yay for leftovers).

  5. Sarah says

    This was excellent! Thank you! We doubled it, and it made a TON. More than I would have expected. However, we didn’t mind since we got to eat it for lunches all week. Thank you for such delicious savory meal options!

    My only request is to be able to add the picture when printing off the recipe. That function doesn’t work for us.

    Please keep the savory dishes coming!

  6. Carol Bradstreet says

    I started making this regularly. It’s really tasty, and easy to make. I put all the ingredients in my slow cooker, and cook for a couple of hours on low. I don’t bother pre-cooking the topping. Comes out perfect every time.

  7. Diane says

    This has become a family favorite. Both my husband and daughter shy away from vegetables but LOVE this! I’m always looking for healthier recipes that my husband will eat and love your recipes. Hou have totally made me look at cooking in a different way with recipes like your black bean brownies, creamy avocado alfredo, and vegetarian lettuce wraps. I follow weight watchers and appreciate that you include points. Thank you!

  8. Susan says

    Pretty easy to make, clean eating and my family gobbled it up. I used double the amount of corn meal with all other ingredients for the topping the same. Plus, I added 2 T raw sugar to give its subtle sweetness, which also complimented the hearty comfort taste of the veggies underneath. Going into our permanent recipe book. Credit given to the adorable Katie, of course. (You’re brilliant.)

  9. Chris says

    This is easy and delicious! So happy I found this recipe as I’m trying to incorporate more easy and healthy vegetarian recipes into my meal planning and this one is a crowd pleaser even for my picky eaters.

  10. Steve Jones says

    I don’t know what (if anything) I did wrong, but I followed the recipe and (as someone else reported) the cornmeal topping came out like a very thin soup and when I poured it over the base, it went straight into the base instead of on top of it, which didn’t result in a very pleasant texture to eat. Two cups of milk or water seems like a lot with only ¾ cup of cornmeal. Are you sure that’s not a misprint? In any case, this was the first time a CCK recipe did not come out well for me. Can anyone suggest what might have gone wrong? Thank you.

    • CCK Media Team says

      Hi Steve, this luckily sounds like an easy fix! It just sounds like you needed to cook the cornmeal part longer, as it should be thick before pouring it onto the base. If you cook it long enough, it will get thick! 🙂

  11. andreas says

    Have you ever tried putting the cornmeal dough on the bottom of the pan, cooking for 20 minutes, then adding the filling and cooking for another 15-20 minutes?

  12. Karen Ann Combs says

    I would like to make this tonight, but I only have Pamela’s cornbread and muffin mix to use for the topping instead of plain cornmeal. Will that work? Do I follow the topping directions for the rest of the ingredients or leave some out?

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