Tamale Bites

by on March 10, 2006
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Tamale Bites

A recent post at Vegan Lunch Box actually had me out looking to buy a Twinkie pan! Jennifer, inspired by a tip from a reader, made vegan corn dogs for her son using a Twinkie pan. This, I thought, was brilliant. After all, if you can put a veggie dog inside of corn bread, you can also put other, possibly healthier, things inside. The possibilities are endless!

Well, maybe not endless. After all, there are only so many foods that go with corn bread, and of those foods, only a few are both healthy and tasty. But the idea is a good one–a hand-held food that kids like and that travels well. I started thinking of the things my daughter E. likes best–lasagna, spaghetti, macaroni and “cheese,” burritos–and figured that only one option really fit: Mexican-style beans in corn bread.

The only problem was that I didn’t have a Twinkie pan (am I the only person in the US who hasn’t ever had a Twinkie?) And none of my local stores had one either. I finally found a silicone pan that looked promising; it had nine 3×1-inch rectangular molds, and while they were smaller and less rounded than the Twinkie molds, I thought they would do. So I bought it, and Tamale Bites were born:

I had a lot of batter and filling left over, so I got out my cupcake pan. I made a few using the same technique as the “bites,” and then just for fun I mixed the batter and the beans all together:

Tamale Muffins

They were good, but you wouldn’t want to bite into one expecting blueberries!

I served these with salsa for E., while D. and I had them with a Mexican eggplant dish that came out spicier than I intended. They were great, and E. decided to take a couple to school for lunch today.

We decided that we’ll definitely make these again, with a few changes:

  • less corn bread and more filling
  • a little more seasoning in the filling
  • for E.–refried beans instead of black

I have to say that E. is very interested in the veggie dog version, so I expect I’ll be making up a batch of corn dogs soon.

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

1 SusanV August 1, 2009 at 8:43 am

These comments were posted before the blog was moved to Wordpress:

Randi said…

Hi Susan! I am such a dork that I bought a Twinkie pan online at Bed, Bath, and Beyond. One question though….generally when you “oil” pans, what kind of oil do you use? Which tastes the best in food and is the healthiest? Thanks!

11:13 AM, March 10, 2006
SusanV said…

Hi Randi! That doesn’t sound so dorky to me–I would have bought one online too if I hadn’t been in such a hurry to get one. I wonder how many sales that blog has inspired. 🙂

For oiling, I do one of two things: for the silicone pan, I sprayed it with canola oil spray (because I read that was okay for silicone). However, I’ve heard that the cans of spray leave a film, so I don’t recommend using them on good non-stick pans or bakeware. For them I use plain canola oil.

To me, canola oil is the healthiest and best for coating pans. It doesn’t have any flavor to affect the taste of the food, and its Omega-3 fatty acid profile is good.

11:26 AM, March 10, 2006
Alanna said…

GREAT idea — who’d guess something soo healthful would come from a Twinkie?!!

12:22 PM, March 10, 2006
KaiVegan said…

Hi, Susan.
I couldn’t seem to hide beans in anything (even falafel)… my 8 year old can detect them miles away. I made stuffed cornbread one time and I thought it was so good but she just didn’t like it. Today, I made a curry dish that she said smells so good, but she wouldn’t eat it because it has chickpeas and yams. She tasted the sauce and really liked it though, so I guess I’ll make the next one with cauliflower, green beans and potatoes instead which she would happily eat.
Sigh, the joys of motherhood.

This is a really neat creation though! I’ll see if I could find those pans here, too.

1:19 PM, March 10, 2006
Virginie said…

Thank you for the recipe. I like the cornbread one with the agave nectar and I’m sure we can vary using lots of differents fillings.

1:57 PM, March 10, 2006
Harmonia said…

Very interesting, indeed!

2:18 PM, March 10, 2006
Courtney said…

Susan! These look great! I am going to out to buy Twinkie pans this weekend!
Thanks for yet another great recipe…

5:18 PM, March 10, 2006
SusanV said…

Ak–I know! It’s a miracle. LOL

kaivegan–I can certainly sympathize. But at least you have one daughter who likes falafel, according to the really cute photos on your blog. 🙂

Virginie–please let me know if you use any other good fillings. I’d really love some more options.

Hey Courtney–I’m so glad you like the idea!

I appreciate everyone’s comments. Thank you all for “dropping by.”

9:39 PM, March 10, 2006
Nupur said…

mmm…delicious! I don’t have any suitable pans at all…but could one pour the filling into a gratin dish, then pour the cornbread mixture on top and make some sort of corn pone?

4:27 AM, March 11, 2006
karina said…

Tamale Bites! What an inspired idea!

7:44 AM, March 11, 2006
Dreena said…

That’s a great idea, Susan, and these look super! Very “fun” food!

8:07 AM, March 11, 2006
Cate said…

These look great. I didn’t know they made twinkie pans, but rest assured, you’re in good company. I’ve never had a twinkie either. A Hostess Cupcake or two though…

8:09 AM, March 11, 2006
EatPeacePlease said…


9:46 AM, March 11, 2006
Bryanna said…

I have to look for those pans, Susan! I think I have a better chance of finding them in Canada than the Twinkie pans. The silicone pans, or the corn stick pans, which I think would work well for “corn dogs”, too. I don’t want to order corn stick pans mailorder because they are cast iron and the shipping would be awful! Anyway, thanks for another great idea.

3:01 PM, March 11, 2006
SusanV said…

Nupur–I think that sounds like a great idea. I don’t see why it wouldn’t work.

Thanks, Karina and Dreena! (Hey, that rhymes!) 🙂

Hey Cate, I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who never had a Twinkie. I don’t think my daughter has had one either–though I’m sure if someone offered it to her she’d jump on it. Such a sweet tooth!

Bryanna, I looked at the corn stick pans too, but they seemed so shallow. I was hoping to be able to use whatever I bought for the corn dogs too, but the corn stick pans didn’t look like they’d work. I bought skinny veggie dogs to try in these silicone pans but haven’t gotten around to it yet.

9:31 PM, March 11, 2006
Goldie said…

I just made these and yum! I made it simle, I just mixed the beans with a jared salsa and a can of corn. I also put pure maple syrup instead of the agave since I did not have any. I got a pan at Target for $15.00 and it is the mini loaf kind. I hope my kids like them but if they don’t than more for me! Thanks for sharing!

6:13 PM, March 13, 2006
Anonymous said…


I finally got a chance to make them. They were great!! I used a large muffin pan. They will be great to microwave for my afternoon snack at work.


6:06 PM, April 02, 2006
cosmicvegan said…

Holy Cannoli, Batman! This stuff rocks!

YUM! I have been vegan for 11 years, but gave up on good/any cornbread YEARS ago. Being from the South, that hurt! Tonight, I decided to make black bean soup and to give cornbread another whirl for the first time in at least 3 years. I found your recipe here (left out the bean stuffing, which looks promising for future efforts) and changed the following things:

*halved the nectar and replaced it with 1 T. raw sugar (I HATE sweet cornbread! – and will drop the sugar alltogether for the next batch unless someone advises me it won’t rise well or something);
*used 1 T. flax seeds, as I didn’t have any ground flax seeds;
*used about 7 jalapenos b/c I am a fire eater;
*used all whole wheat flour

They turned out fabulous and I am so jazzed that I now get to enjoy cornbread again – and such a healthy version of it, too!!! Thank you, thank you, from my partner and me! Yay!

5:42 PM, November 12, 2006
Anonymous said…

This looks so good! Are the flax seeds required? (I don’t have any and want to make it NOW)

6:53 PM, January 12, 2007
ashleykimball said…

Ahh Susan I’m in love with you!! lol, j/k. Your food is so amazing, I don’t know how I just now discovered this website. These bites are perfect for taking along in my lunch. The cornbread is the best I’ve never had, btw, pre-veg or not.
Please never stop cooking or taking brilliant pictures!! xoxo

6:29 PM, January 18, 2007
Anonymous said…

Dear Susan!,
I enjoy vegan cooking too, and your site is an inspiration for me. Keep up the great job,


4:57 AM, January 26, 2007
Tejal said…

hello~ if you are looking for the perfect pans read this. I bought a set of 4 mini bread loaf pans from Jo-Ann Fabrics, Christmas 2005. The pans worked perfectly for this recipe and I agree with less cornbread and more, spicier filling. I served the bites with a roasted corn, tomato, and guacamole salsa. Delicious!

7:47 AM, January 31, 2007
katie said…

yum! i made these for dinner tonight with some chipotle black beans leftover from a few nights ago and was very, very, very happy with the results. i served them alongside a red pepper soup and have packed salad-and-tamale-muffin lunches for tomorrow!

…and i have officially decided that this is the best way EVER to use up leftover beans of any variety. so tasty and SO clever! (i wonder what else i can use to stuff corn muffins?)

8:28 PM, August 21, 2007
Anand said…

Nice, reminds me of the cornbread recipe that uses flax meal in the book:

Eat, Live, Love: The Great Tasting, Low Carb, High Fiber, High Protein, Super Healthy Recipes that You’ve Prayed For


10:25 PM, March 22, 2008
Jeff El-Hajj said…

Great recipe. I made it in a meatloaf tin and it is just as good.

10:31 PM, June 08, 2008
Chelsea said…

I made this tonight to pack in my lunch for the coming week. WOW! They are delicious! I’m so impressed with the cornbread recipe… I’ve failed so many times trying to make a healthy version of cornbread, but this is better than any butter-laden cornbread I’ve ever had.I tweaked the recipe and experimented a little bit with fillings. I also made muffins because I’m cheap and don’t have any special types of pans. 😛

For my my filling, I used my favorite “taco” recipe. I threw together 1 can black beans, 1 can refried beans, about a cup of sauteed red onion, 1/4 cup salsa, and my own blend of taco seasonings (cumin, red pepper, oregano, garlic, onion, salt, chili powder, and a bit of cayenne). I cut some slices of vegan cheese into quarters and layed a piece on top of the filling in each cup before topping with the cornbread mix.

The result was delicious! I highly suggest adding in a little bit of vegan cheese. It made for a moist, gooey (in a good way!) middle that just melts in your mouth. Thanks so much for the recipe Susan! BTW, do you think I could freeze these in the future so I can make bigger batches for packing my lunch?

8:23 PM, October 04, 2008


2 Anonymous December 4, 2009 at 10:23 pm

I decided to make this for my lunch today, since it is pouring and I was stuck in my apartment due to cell towers being replacedonvthe roof!! 5 hours of etrapment!!!
I am gluten sensitive, so I used my own cornbread recipe and cut everything down to 1/4 the total recipe…
It was so good!!!! Oh, I also used the jarred red peppers and added sone roasted garlic. Yum!! Thank you for this recipe!!
(p.s. I baked this in this cool mini loaf pan I have that has 6 wells… I think wiltons manufactures it? It looks like you used a financier mold and I don't like using mine since it is difficult to clean :o)


3 Jess May 17, 2010 at 1:46 pm

I made these last night, so I could eat them for breakfast. They are quite tasty! I used a different cornbread recipe, but I doubled the vegetables in the filling, so I might try them again with the one here, with the leftover filling.

I made them in standard muffin cups, and I found that 1 Tbs of filling is the perfect amount. I accidentally mashed all the beans, so the filling was a paste. This ended up working quite well, since I could shape the paste into flat ball, so the filling stayed perfectly in the center of the muffin.


4 Kylie July 10, 2010 at 10:49 am

Is there any cooking difference when you make them in the muffin pans? I do not have a twinkie pan, but would like to try the muffin version


5 SusanV July 10, 2010 at 11:03 am

Not really. Just bake until a toothpick comes out clean. It will probaby be around the same time, depending on your oven.


6 Connor March 10, 2011 at 8:52 am

i dont know what twinkies are, but i know i need this. I dont think i can get twinkie pans in the uk though 🙁


7 SusanV March 10, 2011 at 8:54 am

Try muffin pans or any small baking pans. They don’t have to be rectangular.


8 Get Skinny, Go Vegan. March 10, 2011 at 9:25 am

These are too cute. Love muffins with a little something inside!!
Also, love that you don’t put in added oils!!!!


9 Alisa Schnackel March 22, 2011 at 8:39 pm

OMG, I wanna try that! I’m a vegan who loves mexican food. I will try it with habeneros, Mmmmmmm


10 Sarah October 28, 2011 at 2:18 pm

Hi Susan,
This looks delicious! I was wondering if you have the nutritional information for this recipe? Thanks!!


11 Heidi December 25, 2011 at 6:51 pm

Will these still taste good cold? I’m trying to make some healthy snacks for my friend’s long drive from home back to college.


12 Susan Voisin December 25, 2011 at 7:03 pm

I think they will.


13 Amy February 2, 2012 at 8:22 pm

I made these to go with your ‘Nava’s Big Pot of Really Good Chili’ recipe for dinner tonight. I omitted the filling and just made plain corn muffins following the recipe. I put a little maple syrup on them for the kids and they gobbled these right up. What a treat! Such a surprisingly moist fat-free muffin. Thank-you!


14 Angie March 19, 2013 at 3:01 am

Thank you SO much for resharing this recipe. It’s the perfect type for us – we both love beans and cornbread – and now there’s a great recipe for both! Thank you Susan for sharing all your hard work!


15 Lana June 30, 2013 at 2:33 pm

Another personal chef friend put a link on FB for your blog and I love it! I cook twice a month for a client who is vegan and I find it very challenging to keep her menu options fresh, especially since I must freeze the food.

Of the seven options I am sending her for this week, six of them are from your recipes! I had such fun reading through them.

Rest assured I will be using your site in the future.



16 Lydia November 6, 2014 at 1:57 pm

My intention was to prepare these bites to accompany last night’s soup supper. Since I do not own a Twinkie pan, I planned to substitute a muffin pan; but as I read Susan’s comments (less cornbread, more seasoning…) I decided to throw caution to the wind and improvise! I used more beans (about half as much more) and added more spice: chipotle, cayenne, Mexican oregano, smoked paprika. I poured 1/3 the batter into a well-seasoned, heated cast iron frying pan. Then I spooned the bean mixture as evenly as possible on top and poured the remainder of the batter over all and baked as directed. Results were amazing – gorgeous and delicious! No longer a tamale ‘bite’ though, more like a tamale pie.


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