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Vegan Tamale Pie

This vegan tamale pie is an easy recipe where anything goes. A mix of beans, lentils and vegetables make up the hearty base that’s topped with a sweet vegan cornbread crust. This adaptable recipe is a great way to use up any random leftover veggies hanging out in the back of your fridge!

Vegan tamale pie on a plate served with avocado slices and fresh cilantro.

After you’ve made this vegan tamale pie for the first time, it’s sure to become part of your regular rotation! What is tamale pie? It’s basically like chili sin carne with cornbread baked on top. It’s easy to make and super delicious!

If you’ve got a favourite vegan chili recipe, you can use that as the base. I used a mix of lentils, mushrooms, green pepper, corn, beans and a can of whole tomatoes. Feel free to swap out any of the ingredients and add your favourite veggies. If it’d be good in chili, it’d be good in tamale pie!

Vegan tamale pie bean filling in a pan.

So first you’ll want to fry up some onion and garlic. Soften any of the veggies that you’re using and sprinkle them with a good dose of smoked paprika, cumin, chili powder and oregano. Add tomato paste and a large can of whole tomatoes (break them up into chunks with your spoon).

Throw in the lentils and beans (use your favourite bean!) and let the whole lot simmer until it’s thick. Doesn’t take too long! While it’s simmering away, mix up your cornbread topping.

Vegan tamale pie in a pan with a slice taken out.

For the vegan cornbread, combine cornmeal, flour, baking powder, oil and plant milk. I like my cornbread to be a bit sweet so I also added sugar but you don’t have to. Pour your bean and vegetable mixture into a baking dish and top with the cornbread batter.

The cornbread batter is quite thick and not easy to spread so you’ll want to dollop small spoonfuls of it all over the bean mixture then gently smooth them together. Drop it into a hot oven for about 25 minutes until the crust is baked and golden brown.

A slice of vegan tamale pie on a plate.

Since non-vegan tamale pie recipes usually incorporate cheese in some way, I served mine with some sliced avocado, which is my favourite cheese replacer for vegan enchiladas. If you want you can also serve your vegan tamale pie with a dollop of vegan sour cream or coconut yogurt.

With a crisp green salad on the side you’ve got a well-balanced, delicious and healthy plant-based dinner!

Vegan Tamale Pie

Vegan Tamale Pie

Yield: Serves 6
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

This vegan tamale pie is an easy recipe where anything goes. A mix of beans, lentils and vegetables make up the hearty base that’s topped with a sweet vegan cornbread crust. This adaptable recipe is a great way to use up any random leftover veggies hanging out in the back of your fridge!


  • 1 tablespoon oil for frying
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 300 grams (10 oz) mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 can (170 grams / 6 oz) tomato paste
  • 1 large can (780 grams / 28 oz) whole tomatoes
  • 1 ½ cups (270 grams) cooked beans (your favourite bean)
  • 1 ½ cups (270 grams) cooked lentils
  • ¾ cup (135 grams) corn
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • Pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup (180 grams) cornmeal
  • 1 cup (140 grams) flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ¼ cups (296 ml) unsweetened plant milk
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) neutral flavoured oil
  • Optional garnishes: chopped cilantro, sliced avocado, vegan sour cream


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
  2. Heat the frying oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onion and fry until transparent then add the garlic and fry until fragrant. Add the green pepper and fry until soft. Push the vegetables to the side and add the mushrooms. Fry until softened.
  3. Add the spices and fry, stirring, for about 30 seconds to bring out the flavours. Add the tomato paste and whole tomatoes. Break them up into chunks with your spoon. Add the beans, lentils and corn and bring to a simmer. Simmer for a few minutes until thick.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the soy sauce and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Pour the mixture into a baking pan (mine measures 8 x 11 inches / 21 x 29 cm).
  5. In a bowl mix together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the oil and plant milk and mix until just combined. Be careful not to over mix it or it won’t rise well.
  6. Use a spoon to place small dollops of the cornbread mixture all over the bean mixture. Carefully spread it with the back of your spoon until it covers the bean mixture. It’s quite thick and doesn’t spread easily so just be gentle.
  7. Bake for 25 minutes or until the top is golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 767Total Fat: 47gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 40gCholesterol: 3mgSodium: 767mgCarbohydrates: 77gFiber: 13gSugar: 17gProtein: 16g
Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and is approximate only.

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  • Reply
    July 6, 2018 at 12:51 am

    Masa is traditionally in tamales. It can be made vegan. Please consider renaming this recipe, as it is misleading.
    Thank you from all of us in Nuevo Mexico.

    • Reply
      July 6, 2018 at 9:06 am

      Nope, the name is not misleading at all. Standard fine cornmeal or masa harina can be used to make tamale pie. Wikipedia can give you more info about the dish if you like:

  • Reply
    October 5, 2018 at 9:03 am

    Melissa, thanks for sharing this. I was wondering if you might have the nutritional breakdown per serving size?



  • Reply
    Mary Jean
    May 14, 2019 at 4:44 pm

    is it possible to make the cornbread mixturel without using any oil? anything to substitute?
    thank you Mary Jean

    • Reply
      November 14, 2019 at 1:01 am

      Maybe you could use applesauce for the oil replacement

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