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Hello! I’m Anjali. I’m a board certified health coach, author, wife, mom and food lover from the SF Bay area (now living in Seattle, WA!); with a passion for delicious food and a desire to make healthy eating easy, tasty and fun! Learn more about me here and stay for a while!

Anjali Shah

Sweet Corn Tamale Cakes With Black Bean Salsa

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These sweet corn tamale cakes are a healthy copycat makeover of the classic Cheesecake Factory recipe! They’re easily made gluten free, are rich in flavor, and are served with a light and refreshing black bean salsa. Perfect for an appetizer or light dinner!

sweet corn tamale cakes - cheesecake factory corn cakes - served on a white plate with black bean salsa on the side

While my whole family loves Cheesecake Factory’s corn cakes, I don’t love the giant portions and the ridiculous amount of calories each of their dishes has. So I was determined to make over their sweet corn tamale cakes into a healthier, but still amazingly tasty, kid-friendly version!

Latest Recipe Video!

These tender, crispy corn cakes are like bringing Cheesecake Factory to your kitchen – but in a much healthier way! I guarantee they actually taste just as good as the Cheesecake Factory version – crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and topped with black bean salsa, pico de gallo, avocados, cilantro and sour cream (or Greek Yogurt!)

We love these sweet corn tamale cakes and we eat them at least once a month! They’re great for an appetizer, snack, party dish, or light meal.

How to make Sweet Corn Tamale Cakes

Recipe Ingredients and Notes

ingredients for sweet corn tamale cakes

For The Corn Cakes

  • Quinoa: I used organic, white quinoa and cooked it in a mixture of water + vegetable broth to bring additional flavor into the quinoa.
  • Eggs: As a binder for these tamale cakes! For an egg-free version, you could probably also use a flax egg.
  • Corn: Because you can’t make corn cakes without corn! Frozen & thawed, canned or fresh would all work here.
  • Scallions: To give these griddle cakes an added bite.
  • Cheese: For creaminess – I used low fat mozzarella, but you can use any favorite shredded cheese you like!
  • Flour & Milk: Whole wheat flour or gluten free flour instead of all purpose flour + milk helps to bind these griddle cakes together along with the egg.
  • Spices: Hot sauce, salt & pepper bring flavor to this sweet corn cakes recipe!

For the Salsa

  • Black Beans: To give the salsa some heartiness, protein and extra fiber.
  • Tomatoes: I used small cherry tomatoes and cut them in half, but any tomatoes would work here!
  • Jalapeno, Cilantro, Red Onion: For added spice and brightness in the salsa.
  • Bell Pepper: I like the way the bell pepper and jalapeno pair together, but you can omit this if you don’t like bell pepper in salsa!
  • Lime Juice, Salt, Pepper: For acidity and flavor – don’t skip this!

Optional Toppings

You can load up your tamale cakes with any of your favorite toppings! We love using:

  • Prepared salsa, tomatillo salsa, or pico de gallo
  • Avocado or guacamole
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Sour cream or Greek Yogurt
  • Extra hot sauce or southwestern sauce

Tools and Equipment You’ll Need

Step by Step Instructions

Step 1: Mix quinoa, water, and broth in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 15 min. Fluff with a fork. Combine quinoa and remaining cake ingredients except oil in a medium bowl.

patty ingredients mixed in a bowl

Step 2: Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Spray with olive oil cooking spray. Scoop a generous 1/4 cup of the quinoa mixture at a time and drop onto skillet, flattening into pancake shape with back of spatula (makes 8 cakes).

Step 3: Cook the cakes until they’re browned on one side, about 5 min. Flip carefully and cook about 5-10 min longer.

Step 4: Make the salsa — Mix together all salsa ingredients in a large bowl and set aside.

salsa ingredients mixed in a bowl

Step 5: Serve these sweet corn tamale cakes with the black bean salsa and any of the optional toppings you like!

sweet corn tamale cakes - cheesecake factory corn cakes - served on a white plate with black bean salsa on the side

What makes these sweet corn cakes healthier than the Cheesecake Factory corn cakes?

  • Low in Calories: You can enjoy four of these corn tamale cakes for about 500 calories. In comparison, just three of the Cheesecake Factory corn tamale cakes has over 1300 calories!!
  • High in Protein and Fiber: You will get 16 grams of protein and 10 grams of fiber for 2 griddle cakes, and 32 grams of protein and 20 grams of fiber for 4 cakes!  
  • Vitamins and Minerals: In addition to the other good stuff in these griddle cakes, there are also lots of other nutrients. Magnesium, Manganese, Phosphorus, Folate, Copper, Iron, Potassium, and more!

Recipe FAQs

Are these tamale cakes kid friendly?

Kids will go wild for these incredible griddle cakes! They may not love the spicy salsa on top, but you can leave that part off for them. The corn is a subtly sweet flavor that most kids enjoy. The crispy texture is appealing to most kids, and they may even ask for seconds! My kids call them corn pancakes and love having them for a special breakfast or brunch!

How to Store and Keep

To Store in the Fridge: Cool the griddle cakes after cooking them. Once cooled, you can place them in an airtight container and refrigerate them. They will last 3-4 days in the fridge. 
To Freeze: To freeze the griddle cakes, lay them on a baking sheet and freeze for 2-3 hours. After they have frozen solid, remove them from the baking sheet and put them in a freezer container or bag. They will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.

How Do I Reheat Corn Cakes and Keep Them Crispy?

If you’re reheating from frozen, first thaw the cakes in the fridge overnight. To get the crispiest griddle cake after you reheat it, I recommend warming them in an oven, toaster oven, or heating them in a skillet.
To reheat in the oven: Place the corn cakes on a baking sheet and heat at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes.
To reheat on the stovetop: Spray a large skillet with olive oil cooking spray. Add the cakes and cook on both sides until they are warmed through.
To reheat in the air fryer: Add the griddle cakes to the basket, so they aren’t touching, and heat them at 325 degrees for 5-10 minutes or until hot all the way. 
I don’t recommend reheating in the microwave as it won’t make your cakes nice and crispy!

Top Tips For Making Sweet Corn Tamale Cakes

  • Use a measuring cup or large cookie scoop to make the griddle cakes uniform in size. 
  • Don’t forget to spray the pan with cooking spray, so the cakes don’t stick when you try to flip them over. 
  • Flatten the cakes out slightly, so they resemble a pancake. This allows them to cook evenly and gives you the best result possible. 
  • For faster prep, use a food processor to help you chop up all the ingredients for the salsa and the cakes!
  • You can make the black bean salsa the night before to save time. You can also batch cook the griddle cakes and freeze them so you can use them anytime!
sweet corn tamale cakes - cheesecake factory corn cakes - served on a white plate with black bean salsa on the side

Check Out These Other Delicious Appetizers and Side Dishes!

If you have tried these Sweet Corn Tamale Cakes or any other recipe on my blog, then please rate it and let me know how it turned out in the comments below! You can also FOLLOW ME on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, INSTAGRAM, and PINTEREST to see more delicious, healthy, family friendly food!

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5 from 5 votes

Sweet Corn Tamale Cakes With Black Bean Salsa

These sweet corn tamale cakes are a healthy copycat makeover of the classic Cheesecake Factory recipe! They're gluten free, rich in flavor, and served with a light and refreshing black bean salsa. Perfect for an appetizer or light dinner!
Prep Time40 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 276.4kcal
Author: Anjali Shah

Ingredients

Corn Cakes

  • ½ cup quinoa
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup reduced sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 large egg beaten
  • ½ cup frozen corn kernels thawed
  • 2 scallions finely chopped (¼ cup)
  • ¼ cup shredded low fat mozzarella cheese
  • ¼ cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 Tbsp 1% milk
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • tsp hot pepper sauce I used Tobasco
  • tsp ground black pepper
  • olive oil cooking spray

Salsa

  • 15 oz black beans, rinsed and drained 1 can
  • cups halved grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 1 jalapeño pepper seeded and finely diced
  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • ¼ cup diced red onion
  • ¼ cup chopped red bell pepper
  • Lime juice to taste
  • tsp salt
  • tsp ground black pepper

Optional Toppings

  • Prepared salsa
  • Sliced avocado or prepared guacamole

Instructions

Corn Cakes

  • Mix quinoa, water, and broth in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 15 min. Fluff with a fork.
  • Combine quinoa and remaining cake ingredients except oil in a medium bowl.
  • Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Spray with olive oil cooking spray. Scoop a generous 1/4 cup of the quinoa mixture at a time and drop onto skillet, flattening into pancake shape with back of spatula (makes 8 cakes).
  • Cook the cakes until they’re browned on one side, about 5 min. Flip carefully and cook about 5-10 min longer.

Salsa

  • Mix together all salsa ingredients in a large bowl and set aside. Let marinate for 5-10 minutes.

Serving

  • Serve two corn cakes with ¼ of the black bean salsa mixture and any of the optional toppings you like!

Video

https://youtu.be/mPcSBShBCl8

Notes

Top Tips For Making Sweet Corn Tamale Cakes
  • Use a measuring cup or large cookie scoop to make the griddle cakes uniform in size. 
  • Don’t forget to spray the pan with cooking spray, so the cakes don’t stick when you try to flip them over. 
  • Flatten the cakes out slightly, so they resemble a pancake. This allows them to cook evenly and gives you the best result possible. 
  • For faster prep, use a food processor to help you chop up all the ingredients for the salsa and the cakes!
  • You can make the black bean salsa the night before to save time. You can also batch cook the griddle cakes and freeze them so you can use them anytime!
Nutrition Facts do not include optional toppings.

Nutrition

Serving: 2corn cakes | Calories: 276.4kcal | Carbohydrates: 45.9g | Protein: 16.1g | Fat: 4.2g | Sodium: 175.9mg | Fiber: 10.5g | Sugar: 1.1g

Posted In…

Appetizers ·

Appetizers are the perfect complement to my favorite entrees and dinner party menus! You can also make a small batch for a snack or turn them into a complete meal.

These dishes are great for entertaining or making a casual day feel like a special occasion.

 

40 responses to “Sweet Corn Tamale Cakes With Black Bean Salsa”

  1. Such wonderful flavors in these sweet corn tamale cakes! They sound amazing paired with the black bean salsa and I love the texture.5 stars

  2. These look absolutely incredible, so many delicious ingredients! And I’m a believer that everything should be served in the form of little cakes, so this is another one to put on that list 🙂5 stars

    • Hi Carla! I think so! It’s worth a shot – maybe try baking them at 400F for 10 minutes on each side and see how they turn out? Let me know how it goes!

    • Hi Amy! You need the flour as a binding agent, but if you don’t want to use the flour because you are looking for a gluten free option — you can use quinoa flour, or gluten free oat flour, or any other gluten-free flour. Hope that helps!

  3. These look excellent! I found them thanks to the Earthbound Organic Farm newsletter and I’m glad I clicked! You should try these “veganized” with non dairy milk and a flax egg. Up’s the nutritional content, lowers the fat, eliminates the cholesterol, and lowers the calories as well. Can’t wait to try them!

    • Thanks Kristen!! Oh and great tips on the vegan substitutions — I’ll definitely have to try that soon! 🙂

  4. These were delicious! However, the nutritional info seems really high to me–2 cakes with 344 calories? Is there any way you could check it or see if the serving size was supposed to be for 4 cakes instead of two? Thanks–we loved these!

    • Thanks for asking Erika! You’re right – I think somehow my nutritional information for this recipe got miscalculated. I have updated the nutritional info in this post and I’m adding it here. So 2 cakes + 1/4 of the salsa recipe ends up being: 276.4 Calories, 4.2g Fat, 175.9mg Sodium, 45.9g Carbs, 10.5g Fiber, 1.1g Sugar, 16.1g Protein. Hope that helps – so glad you liked this recipe!

    • Aw yay, thanks Parita! I love, love, love quinoa – stay tuned for many more recipes with it as the star – I’m always looking for new ways to use it as well!

  5. This looks amazing and I can’t wait to try it! The only issue is that I avoid milk products. Is there something I can substitute for the milk and cheese?

    • Hi Tracey! I’d recommend trying unsweetened organic soy milk and no cheese (I don’t love non-dairy cheeses, but if you have one that you like – definitely try it). The cheese isn’t essential though, because the egg will bind the cakes together. Let me know how it turns out!

  6. Another great recipe!! I’m especially digging the fiber-licious black beans. Yum!!

  7. That looks delicious! Great use for quinoa. Have you ever tried Organicville’s sriracha? It is truly delicious and is gluten free, preservative free, and vegan!

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