Vegan Tamale Pie (Amy’s Kitchen Copycat!)

GFGluten FreeGRGrain FreeNFNut FreeVVegan

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This Vegan Tamale Pie is loaded with fresh veggies, beans, and hearty spices – plus there’s a fluffy “tamale” layer on top! Inspired by the Amy’s Kitchen Tamale Pie.

Every once in a while I have a very specific craving – enter this Vegan Tamale Pie! Tex-Mex spiced beans and veggies are nestled in a savory tomato sauce, then topped with fluffy masa dough that’s finished off in the oven to create the *ultimate* hearty and delicious meal. 

This recipe is easy enough for a weeknight dinner, but cozy enough for a weekend or special main – just the way I like it! It’s packed with veggies and plant-based protein, too.

Vegan Tamale pie on white plate topped with avocado, salsa, and cilantro

INGREDIENTS + INSPIRATION

This recipe is entirely inspired by the Amy’s Kitchen “Tamale Pie“. Never heard of it? You’re probably in the majority here, but this convenient freezer meal was a staple in my childhood  – and honestly, it was really good! So good that I still experience random cravings for it, so I knew I had to recreate it for my blog (and my childhood nostalgia).

The pie itself is made of a bean and veggie filling that’s coated in a spicy tomato-based sauce, then topped off with a tamale-inspired crust. The filling itself is very Tex-Mex inspired, with zucchini, corn, and a handful of fresh cilantro!

Ingredients for tamale pie on kitchen countertop

Apparently “tamale pie” is an actual thing that exists outside of the Amy’s freezer lineup, too. That being said, a lot (read: all) of the tamale pie recipes I’ve seen have a cornbread topping or cornmeal crust. I just gotta say – that’s not really a tamale pie, that’s a cornbread pie – okay?! Craving = not satisfied.

So, I decided to go a little more traditional and use Masa Harina for a creamy and fluffy corn topping instead that’s more reminiscent of an actual tamal. Plus, it makes this recipe naturally gluten-free! Masa harina is a very finely ground corn flour that is seasoned with a touch of lime – you can most likely find it in either the baking section or the international section of your local grocery store.

HOW TO MAKE VEGAN TAMALE PIE

Side-by-side photos of cooked filling next to photo of pan topped with masa before baking

I used my Le Creuset braiser for this recipe because it can go directly from the stove to the oven – but a large cast iron skillet will work as well! If you don’t have an oven-save pan, you can also prep the filling on the stovetop, then transfer to a baking dish to finish off the tamale “top” in the oven 🙂

  1. Sauté the onion, garlic, and spices together until fragrant
  2. Toss in the additional veggies, then cook until the zucchini is tender. Add the beans and sauce, then simmer.
  3. Whisk the masa “topping” together, then spread it over the sauté pan
  4. Bake in the oven until the masa is set and fluffy
  5. Serve and enjoy!

spoon scooping serving of pie out of dish

You can serve this tamale pie however you’d like – I personally love mine with some fresh cilantro, sliced avocado, and salsa on top! A dollop of vegan sour cream or a sprinkle of vegan cheese wouldn’t hurt either 😉

COOKING TIPS + FAQ:

  • Can I freeze this recipe? Yes! I would recommend baking the casserole first, then storing it in the freezer. Then all you need to do is let it come to room temperature and warm it back up!
  • How can I add more protein? The beans in this recipe are a great source of plant protein and fiber, but you could bulk it up even more by sautéing some vegan ground beef with the onions in step 1 of the recipe
  • Can I make this recipe ahead of time? You can cook the filling portion of the recipe up to 2 days ahead of time – just store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. I wouldn’t make the tamale topping ahead of time though.

If you’re looking for more cozy and hearty Tex-Mex recipes, you’ll also love this Creamy Enchilada Casserole, this Taco Pasta Salad, and this Southwestern Black Bean Casserole!

Finally, if you make this recipe and decide to share it on Facebook or Instagram, don’t forget to tag me @FromMyBowl + #FromMyBowl! I love seeing your delicious recreations 🙂

***PS*** For general life knowledge, “tamale” is the English word for the Spanish tamal (singular) or tamales (plural). It works in this recipe because this is a very non-traditional dish, but if you find yourself enjoying the authentic Mexican recipe, it’s a tamal. The more you know! 🙂

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Vegan Tamale Pie (Amy’s Kitchen Copycat!)

This Vegan Tamale Pie is loaded with fresh veggies, beans, and hearty spices – plus there’s a fluffy “tamale” layer on top! Inspired by the Amy’s Kitchen Tamale Pie.

  • Author: Caitlin Shoemaker
  • Prep Time: 10 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 Minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4 to 6 1x
  • Category: Main
  • Method: Stovetop, Oven
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegan

Ingredients

Scale

For the Filling:

  • 12 tablespoons avocado oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 35 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 bunch cilantro, chopped (stems included; reserve some leaves for garnish)
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 zucchini, diced
  • 1 cup corn kernels (thawed if frozen)
  • 2 15 oz. (425 g) cans Pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 14.5 ounce (425 g) can tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided (add some with onion, rest with tomatoes)

For the Masa:

  • 2 cups (248 g) masa harina
  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil (optional, see note*)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric (optional, for color only)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. Prep: Preheat the oven to 375F. If your pot is not oven-safe, set a 9×9″ baking dish aside.
  2. Aromatics: Warm the oil in a large heavy-bottomed sauté pan or cast-iron skillet over medium high heat. Add the onion along with 1/2 teaspoon salt and sauté for 3 minutes. Then, add the garlic, cilantro, chili powder, cumin, and oregano to the pan. Sauté for 1 minute, until the garlic is fragrant.
  3. Add the Veggies: Add the bell pepper, zucchini, and corn to the pan along with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Reduce the heat to medium heat and sauté for 5 to 7 minutes, until the zucchini is translucent and most of the liquid has evaporated.
  4. Make it Saucy: add the pinto beans and tomato sauce to the pan and mix well. Bring the dish to simmer and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. If your pan is not microwave safe, transfer the “filling” to a greased casserole dish now. Smooth the top of the filling in either dish and press it down a bit with a spatula.
  5. Make the Masa: combine the masa, water, oil, turmeric, and salt together in a medium bowl and mix well to form a thick, smooth batter. Use a large spoon to dollop the masa on top of the casserole dish, then use a spatula to spread it out into a thin, even layer on top.
  6. Bake: Bake in the oven for 25 – 27 minutes, or until the masa is golden and set.
  7. Serve: Top as desired and serve warm. Store any leftovers in the fridge for up to 5 days. You can also freeze your leftovers for up to 2 months.

Notes

  • Substitutions: you can swap the beans or veggies for equal parts of another bean or veggie combination that you prefer! I have not tested this recipe with a flour other than masa harina.
  • Oil-Free: sauté the veggies in steps 2&3 with water or vegetable broth, adding more to the pan as necessary to prevent sticking. You can omit the oil from the masa “topping”, but it will crack more.

Keywords: vegan tamale pie, healthy tamale pie

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About the Author

Hey there, I’m Caitlin! I make easy-to-follow, wholesome, and budget-friendly vegan recipes that are mostly gluten-free and refined sugar-free. I’m also an avid yogi, love the great outdoors, am chocolate-obsessed, and enjoy eating almond butter straight off of the spoon.

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Comments

  1. Making this tonight for Cinco de Mayo! I love tamales and always loved Amy’s version! Thank you!

  2. Thank you so much! I’ve been waiting for a copy cat recipe for Amy’s tamale pie, it was my favorite! Can’t wait to try this.

  3. Good recipe. I substituted sautéed mushrooms for the zucchini which worked out great. My casserole dish was not as large as the one you used, so topping took longer to bake. Next time I will use a longer, flatter container.

    1. This recipe was good. I couldn’t find masa harina in the store so we used corn meal… next time I will have to use masa harina. Almost tempted to try this with putting corn bread on top!
      Any recommendations for giving it a little more of a spicy kick?

      I loved all the vegetables in this recipe. Truly delicious.

  4. Yet another recipe you’ve absolutely killed. It was impeccable – savory and very filling. I followed the recipe to the T, other than the masa. My grocer was out, so we used cornmeal. It was so good, though! The only difference is we did two cups, but only 1 1/2 cup of water. Highly recommend this recipe!

  5. This was really delicious! Next time I will use a bigger casserole dish though… I used a ~7×9 dish and the filling dribbled over the side and into my oven while it was baking so I had to pull it out a few minutes early.

  6. Another great recipe Caitlin! I cooked this according to the directions and it came out great. It was full of flavor and filling.

  7. This is so good! I meal prepped it for my dinners this week. Added some soyrizo for extra protein. My cute omni husband loved it A LOT and plans to cook for himself with meat.

  8. I made this exactly as the recipe is written (ie no edits) and it is truly outstanding. Super easy and so cozy and delicious. Absolutely would recommend!!

  9. This was awesome! Followed the recipe exactly and topped with avocado. I will definitely make this again!

  10. I made this for my family for dinner, and it tasted exactly how I remember the frozen ones tasting (except with an even better texture). Thank you for reviving this lost treasure!