June 20, 2020

Black Bean Tamale Pie

A simple black bean and zucchini chili topped with homemade cornbread.
Serves 4-6

Black Bean Tamale Pie! This weeknight meal is healthy and filling! Black Bean and Zucchini Chili topped with homemade cornbread. Baked to perfection! Vegan with Gluten-Free option.

Black Bean Tamale Pie! This weeknight meal is healthy and incredibly filling. A simple black bean and zucchini chili topped with homemade cornbread, then baked to golden-brown perfection! 

I’m fairly certain that I will love any recipe that includes the words ‘cornbread crust’ in the description, but this tamale pie might just take the cake. The flavor of vegetarian tamales with a fraction of the work.

Tamale Pie with Black Beans

Ingredients you’ll need for this Vegan Tamale Pie

For the black bean chili filling: 

  • Olive oil
  • Aromatics like onion and garlic cloves 
  • Green or Red bell pepper 
  • Zucchini
  • Spices like chili powder, cayenne pepper, cumin and ground coriander
  • Canned black beans
  • Canned diced tomatoes with juice

For the cornmeal tamale topping: 

  • Ground cornmeal
  • Whole-wheat flour (or use gluten-free flour for gluten free option)
  • Baking powder
  • Canola oil
  • Maple syrup
  • Unsweetened soymilk, or dairy-free milk of choice
  • Apple cider vinegar or other vinegar; you just need a splash of acidity 
  • Can of diced green chilis, mild or hot depending on spice preferences 
  • 1/2 cup corn (thawed from frozen or canned)

Black Bean Pie with Tamale Cornbread Crust

Instructions 

Make the black bean chili

Start by making the bottom layer; a simple black bean chili that comes together in just 15 minutes. 

Prep all of the vegetable ingredients first. Chop the onion, zucchini, bell pepper and garlic. Heat the olive oil in a large cast-iron skillet or stock pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until softened. 

From there, stir in the zucchini and bell pepper and cook another 5 minutes until tender. Sprinkle in the spices along with the drained and rinsed black beans and tomatoes with their juices. 

Just like regular chili, you can season until your heart’s content. I use the usual suspects: chili powder, cayenne, cumin and coriander but feel free to turn up the heat with chopped jalapeños or other spices.

If you plan on using the same pan then you’ll need to choose a large skillet. I like my 12″ cast-iron skillet but any oven-safe option will work. 

Vegan Black Bean Tamale Pie

Make the cornmeal crust

Now comes the best part– the cornbread crust. Essentially, tamale pie is just chili and cornbread combined together in one pan. And for me, it’s not chili unless I’ve got a side of cornbread. I’m using my favorite cornbread recipe here that’s only 7 ingredients and requires just one bowl.

While the chili is cooking, mix up the cornbread filling and set aside. If you cooked the chili in an oven safe skillet, like a cast-iron then you are ready to go. Otherwise, you can pour the bean mixture to a casserole dish or other oven-safe skillet

Top with the cornbread filling, then place in the oven and cook until hot and bubbly. 

Pie goes in the oven, delicious dinner comes out. How great is that? If you decide to use a casserole pan or baking dish for this instead of a skillet, make sure your chili is fairly saucy. It will dry out as it cooks in the oven and you want enough moisture to create the best part of this meal —> the thin layer of soggy cornbread that’s been baked in chili juice. 

The top layer is slightly crunchy, the underneath is perfectly soggy. The texture is so perfect. Good luck not picking off the cornbread topping as you dish this one up!

Tamale Pie with Black Beans

Shortcut Options

For an easy weeknight shortcut, you can use any box mix that you’d like for the cornbread topping. If using a boxed version, then I highly recommend adding in the canned chilis and cheddar, either regular or dairy-free cheese to elevate the boxed version. 

Or, alternatively you can use any chili recipe and top with this homemade cornbread topping. 

What to top this vegetarian tamale pie with? 

You can top this pie with whatever you’d like. I usually go with avocado slices, fresh cilantro, salsa and thinly sliced scallions. 

Tamale Pie with Black Beans

More One Pot Dinner Recipes:

If you try this recipe, let me know! Leave a comment, rate it, and tag your Instagram photos with #delishknowledge . I absolutely love seeing your creations. Happy cooking! This recipe was originally posted in 2015, updated in 2021 based on user feedback.

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vegan black bean tamale pie

Black Bean Tamale Pie

  • Author: Alex Caspero
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4-6 servings 1x
  • Category: dinner, entree, pie, healthy
  • Method: oven, stove top
  • Cuisine: southwestern, mexican
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

Black Bean Tamale Pie! This weeknight meal is healthy and filling! Black Bean and Zucchini Chili topped with homemade cornbread, baked to perfection! Vegan with gluten-free option. Originally posted in 2015; updated in 2021. 


  • Author: Alex Caspero
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4-6 servings 1x
  • Category: dinner, entree, pie, healthy
  • Method: oven, stove top
  • Cuisine: southwestern, mexican
  • Diet: Vegan
  • Author: Alex Caspero
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4-6 servings 1x
  • Category: dinner, entree, pie, healthy
  • Method: oven, stove top
  • Cuisine: southwestern, mexican
  • Diet: Vegan
Scale

Ingredients

Black Bean Chili Filling:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (use more if you want more heat)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 15. oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15 oz. diced tomatoes with juice Vegan Cornmeal Topping:
  • 3/4 cup ground cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup cup whole-wheat flour (use gluten-free flour blend for gluten free option)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 cup canola oil or olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened soymilk or other unsweetened non-dairy milk
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 4oz. can diced green chilis
  • 1/2 cup corn (thawed from frozen or canned)

Instructions

  1. Make the black bean chili layer. Heat a large oven-safe skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil and sauté the onion for 5-6 minutes until translucent. Add a pinch of salt and the garlic, then stir together.
  2. Add the rest of the vegetables: bell pepper and zucchini along with the chili powder, cayenne pepper, cumin, and coriander. Cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the beans and tomatoes with juice to the skillet.
  3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  4. Make the cornbread filling. Whisk together the dry ingredients: cornmeal, flour, baking powder in a large bowl. In a separate bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together the wet ingredients: oil, maple syrup, soymilk and apple cider vinegar.
  5. Add the wet to the dry and mix until combined. Add in the green chilis and corn, mix again then pour the cornmeal batter over the filling and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

Notes

I used a large cast iron skillet for this dish but if you don’t have a skillet that large, use a casserole dish instead.

For a cheesy cornbread topping, stir in shredded cheddar cheese (either regular or dairy-free) to the cornbread mixture.

Once it’s baked, enjoy as is or top like you would your favorite chili!

did you make this?

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Meet Alex Caspero

Alex Caspero is a Registered Dietitian, Plant-Based Chef and Yoga Instructor. She aims to cut through the nutrition noise by providing real-life, nourishing tips for body and mind. Learn more about Alex.

28 comments
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    1. Ali
      January 13, 2022 AT 8:52 am

      Made this and it’s a definite do-again. I really liked the subtle heat/spice. My son did not like it, but hubby did!

      1. Alex
        January 13, 2022 AT 12:07 pm

        Glad to hear!

    2. Jennie Lemire
      October 8, 2021 AT 8:37 am

      I have made this several times, have substituted a corn bread mix if needed, but the recipe works great on its own. Love to top with sour cream. Best part (after flavor) is one dish!

    3. Vicky
      June 5, 2021 AT 1:01 pm

      This was delicious! I made it in a 10” skillet and didn’t use quite all of the topping, and it turned out perfect! I did add about 1/2 cup cheese to the cornmeal mixture and 1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt before baking. Thank you for sharing!

    4. Vicky
      June 5, 2021 AT 1:00 pm

      This was delicious! I made it in a 10” skillet and didn’t use quite all of the topping, and it turned out perfect! I did add about 1/2 cup cheese to the cornmeal mixture before baking. Thank you for sharing!

    5. Catherine
      January 19, 2021 AT 11:25 am

      This looks amazing. Plan on making it tomorrow tonight. What size casserole dish would you suggest if you want to bake in that?

      1. Alex
        January 19, 2021 AT 1:17 pm

        Hi Catherine, I make this in my large skillet, but if you don’t have that then I’d recommend a 9×12″ casserole dish; I find that this dish is better with a thinner layer of the cornbread topping on top. A smaller pan works, but the cornbread topping ends up being too thick.

    6. Kaci
      August 2, 2020 AT 3:15 pm

      This is like a 4.5/5, realllly good and so easy. My biggest complaint that didn’t get it to a 5/5 is the cornbread needed a little something extra, its was kinda bland. Of course, with the filling on the bottom it was a delicious combo, but if you got a bite that was mostly cornbread, it lacked something. I think maybe a little more maple syrup and some salt would do the trick. Definitely making this in the future again!

      1. Alex
        August 2, 2020 AT 5:23 pm

        Thanks for the feedback Kaci! I’m redoing the recipe based on similar feedback. Thanks!

    7. Jon Nelson
      May 6, 2020 AT 7:23 am

      My vegetarian son, who usually only gives a response of “good”, labeled this “very good”. We did agree that next time we make this we will use two cans of beans and two cans of tomatoes.

    8. Rachel
      April 30, 2020 AT 7:57 pm

      Good recipe but the pan size if 12′ in diameter worked fine. I used some Masa with the cornmeal turned out great.

    9. Corinna
      April 14, 2020 AT 7:46 pm

      Just made this for dinner. Probably the best thing I’ve had during quarantine! Will be making again, adding to the weekly rotation!

    10. Christian
      December 17, 2018 AT 1:42 pm

      This was so easy to make and satisfied my tamale craving. Great creation!

      1. Alex
        December 17, 2018 AT 2:04 pm

        So glad you liked it! Thanks Christian!