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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 (Cheesecake Factory Copycat!)

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This delicious sweet corn tamale cakes recipe is a healthy copycat makeover of the classic Cheesecake Factory dish! They’re packed with flavor, easy to make, and have the perfect blend of wholesome ingredients. Served with a light and refreshing black bean salsa, this recipe is perfect for an appetizer or light dinner!

Sweet corn tamale cakes (Cheesecake Factory corn cakes copycat) served on a white plate with black bean salsa on the side.

While my whole family loves Cheesecake Factory’s corn cakes, they’re not exactly the most budget friendly or healthy dish. So I decided to make over these sweet corn tamale cakes into a healthier, but still amazingly tasty version that’s a real treat for the whole family!

These tender, sweet 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 – with a crispy texture on the outside, soft on the inside, and topped with black bean salsa, pico de gallo, avocados, cilantro and sour cream (or Greek Yogurt).

One of the best things about this recipe is that it’s simple and straightforward, making it a great choice for first-time cooks or busy parents! It’s also really easy to make gluten free, so you can adapt it for different dietary needs.

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

So, why not give this corn tamale cakes recipe a try? It’s a delicious and healthy alternative to traditional tamales, and it’s sure to become a new favorite in your household!

Latest Recipe Video!

👩🏽‍🍳 Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Plant-Based: This sweet corn tamale cake recipe is a fantastic plant-based dish that is sure to delight vegans, vegetarians, and meat-eaters alike. The use of quinoa, corn kernels, and black beans makes it a wholesome and nutritious main dish.
  • Versatile: This Cheesecake Factory copycat recipe is incredibly versatile. Serve it as an appetizer, a main dish, or a light dinner. You can also add your favorite toppings like prepared salsa, sliced avocado, or even a dollop of sour cream.
  • Simple Ingredients: The recipe uses simple, wholesome ingredients that are easy to find in any grocery store. From quinoa and corn kernels to fresh cilantro and red onion, each ingredient adds to the overall flavor and nutritional value of the dish.
  • Better Than Fast Food: This recipe is a healthier alternative to fast food options and tastes even better than Cheesecake Factory sweet corn tamale cakes. It’s packed with protein and fiber from the quinoa and black beans, and it’s lower in sodium and sugar.
  • Family Friendly: These corn tamale cakes are a hit with the whole family. They’re fun to eat, and kids love the sweet and savory flavor combination. Plus, they’re a great way to sneak some extra veggies into your child’s diet.

🥘 Ingredients

The main ingredients of this dish are quinoa and corn kernels, which are both excellent sources of fiber and protein. The cakes are served with fresh salsa made from black beans, tomatoes, and jalapeno pepper, providing a burst of freshness and a hint of spice.

Making these quinoa and corn griddle cakes will be a breeze, as the ingredients are easy to source and may already be part of your pantry staples. Here’s what you need:

Ingredients for sweet corn tamale cakes recipe on a white background.

For The Corn Cakes

  • Quinoa: Quinoa adds a great texture to our sweet corn tamale fritters, and it’s also a wonderful source of protein and fiber. It’s a versatile grain that’s easy to prepare and blends well with other flavors.
  • Water & Reduced Sodium Vegetable Broth: These form the liquid base for cooking our quinoa. The vegetable broth adds a subtle flavor to the quinoa, making it even more delicious.
  • Egg: The beaten egg acts as a binder in our quinoa corn tamale cakes, helping to hold all the ingredients together during cooking.
  • Frozen Corn Kernels: Thawed corn kernels add a sweet, crunchy bite to these cakes. Corn is a classic ingredient in tamale cakes, bringing a touch of sweetness that balances out the savory elements.
  • Scallions: These finely chopped green onions add a mild, fresh onion flavor to our cakes. They also add a nice pop of color!
  • Low Fat Mozzarella Cheese: This cheese adds a touch of creaminess to the cakes without adding too many calories. It also helps to bind the ingredients together.
  • Whole Wheat Flour & Milk: These two ingredients work together to create a light, fluffy texture in our corn cakes. We use whole wheat flour instead of regular flour for a healthy dose of whole grains.
  • Salt, Hot Pepper Sauce, Ground Black Pepper: These seasonings bring out the flavors of the other ingredients and add a hint of heat to the cakes.

For The Salsa

  • Black Beans: Rinsed and drained black beans add a hearty, earthy flavor to our salsa. They’re also a great source of protein and fiber.
  • Grape Or Cherry Tomatoes: These add a burst of fresh, juicy flavor to our salsa. They’re also packed with vitamins and antioxidants.
  • Jalapeño Pepper: This pepper brings a spicy kick to our salsa. Remember to remove the seeds to control the heat level.
  • Fresh Cilantro & Lime Juice: Cilantro adds a fresh, citrusy flavor to our salsa, and lime juice adds another layer of tangy freshness. Both of these ingredients brighten up the salsa, and are classic ingredients in Southwestern cuisine.
  • Red Onion & Red Bell Pepper: These add a sweet, slightly sharp flavor to our salsa. They also bring a beautiful pop of color.

Optional Toppings

  • Prepared Salsa: This adds an extra layer of flavor and spice to our sweet corn griddle cakes. Choose your favorite kind!
  • Fresh Avocado Or Prepared Guacamole: These add a creamy, rich element to our dish. Avocados are also packed with healthy fats and fiber.

🍲 Ingredient Substitutions

  • Quinoa: You can replace quinoa with an equal amount of bulgur wheat or brown rice. Both options are healthy and provide a similar texture.
  • Corn Kernels: Frozen sweet corn kernels can be replaced with fresh sweet corn kernels. If it’s not corn season, canned whole kernel corn is also a good option.
  • Whole Wheat Flour: If you don’t have whole wheat flour, all purpose flour would also work. You can also try oat flour or corn flour for a gluten-free option. Corn flour also adds a nice flavor to the sweet corn cakes.
  • Milk: Any plant-based milk like almond milk, oat milk, or soy milk can be used in place of 1% milk.
  • Black Beans: If you don’t have black beans, kidney beans or pinto beans would work well in the salsa.
  • Red Onion: Shallots or green onion can be used as a substitute for red onion.

🔪 How To Make Sweet Corn Tamale Cakes

Ready to make this copycat Cheesecake Factory sweet corn tamale cakes recipe? Here’s how to whip up these delicious corn cakes that the whole family will love! For more detailed instructions and nutrition facts, see the recipe card at the bottom of this post.

Prepare The Quinoa: In a small bowl, mix quinoa, water, and broth, then bring to a boil in a saucepan. Cover, reduce heat and let it simmer for 15 minutes. Once done, fluff it with a fork.

Combine Ingredients: In a large mixing bowl, combine the fluffed quinoa and rest of the ingredients, excluding the oil.

patty ingredients mixed in a bowl

Drop Mixture Onto A Skillet: Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat and spray with olive oil cooking spray. Scoop a generous 1/4 cup of the quinoa mixture at a time, drop onto the skillet, and flatten into 3-inch patties using the back of a spatula.

Cook The Corn Cakes: Cook the cakes until they’re golden brown on one side, about 5 minutes, then flip carefully and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes.

Prepare The Salsa: Combine all salsa ingredients in a large bowl and set aside. Allow it to marinate for 5-10 minutes at room temperature.

salsa ingredients mixed in a bowl

Serve the Dish: Serve two sweet corn cakes with ¼ of the black bean salsa mixture. Feel free to add any of your favorite things as optional toppings! Enjoy your sweet corn tamale cakes appetizer.

Sweet corn tamale cakes (Cheesecake Factory corn cakes copycat) served on a white plate with black bean salsa on the side.

💭 Expert Tips

  • Use A Food Processor: For this quinoa and corn griddle cake recipe, a food processor can be a real time-saver. It will help you chop up all the ingredients for the salsa and the cakes quickly and efficiently.
  • Flatten Your Cakes: Make sure to flatten the cakes out slightly so they resemble pancakes. This allows them to cook evenly and gives you the best result possible.
  • Prep Your Pan: Don’t forget to spray your pan with cooking spray before adding the cakes. This will ensure your cakes don’t stick when you try to flip them over.
  • Prep The Salsa Ahead: You can make the black bean salsa the night before to save time. Just store it in an airtight container in the fridge, and it’ll be ready to serve when you need it.
  • Get Creative With Toppings: Feel free to get creative with your toppings. Fresh pico de gallo, tomatillo cilantro cream sauce, a tomato salsa, or remoulade can add a fun twist to this tamale cake recipe.

📖 Variations

  • Southwestern Style: Give this sweet corn cake recipe a southwestern twist by adding a tangy southwestern sauce. To make the sauce, combine mayonnaise, white vinegar, water, and a few spices in a small bowl. Drizzle this sauce over your corn cakes for a flavorful kick.
  • Double Corn Cakes: If you are a corn lover, double the amount of corn in this recipe. Use a cup of corn instead of half, adding both whole kernel corn and pureed corn. This will give your sweet corn cakes an extra corny flavor and a slightly chunkier texture.
  • Spicy Corn Cakes: For those who love a bit of heat, add a spicy remoulade or a dollop of spicy salsa on top of the tamale corn cakes. This will give a nice contrast to the sweet cornbread-like base and make each bite exciting.
  • Mini Tamale Cakes: For a fun appetizer or snack, make mini corn tamale cakes. Instead of forming the mixture into 3-inch patties, make smaller, bite-sized cakes. Serve them with fresh pico de gallo and a dollop of sour cream for a delicious treat.

🍽 Serving Suggestions

These sweet corn tamale cakes are versatile and can be served as a main dish or an appetizer, as well as paired with a variety of dishes. Plus, they’re made with everyday ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry, making this recipe a convenient choice for a weeknight dinner. What’s best is that they’re a healthy copycat makeover of the classic Cheesecake Factory recipe!

Here are some of our favorite serving suggestions for this delicious dish:

  • Salads: These tamale corn cakes can be served alongside a fresh and tasty feta salad. Try pairing them with a southwestern-style salad, a black bean and corn salad, or a simple green salad for a complete meal.
  • Mains: Tamale corn fritters can be served as a side dish for your main course. They pair well with vegan black bean tacos or this vegan black bean soup. You can also serve them with a dollop of sour cream and fresh pineapple pico de gallo for added flavor.
  • With Dipping Sauces: While these Cheesecake Factory corn cakes copycat are delicious on their own, they can be taken to the next level with a variety of dipping sauces. Try them with a tomatillo salsa, vegan bbq sauce, mustard bbq sauce, a salsa verde sauce, or a tangy southwest sauce for an extra burst of flavor. 

🙌 Dietary Adaptations

This sweet corn tamale cakes recipe is already full of wholesome ingredients and is very close to being vegan, dairy-free, and gluten-free. However, with a few simple swaps, we can make it fit these dietary adaptations. 

  • Vegan And Dairy-Free Option: The main ingredients that need to be replaced to make this recipe vegan and dairy-free are egg, mozzarella cheese, and milk. For the egg, you can use a flax egg (1 tablespoon flaxseed meal + 2.5 tablespoons water) or a commercial egg replacer. Replace the mozzarella cheese with a dairy-free cheese of your choice, or simply omit it. You can also use nutritional yeast for a cheesy flavor without the dairy. Use plant-based milk like almond milk or soy milk instead of 1% milk. 
  • Gluten-Free Option: This recipe calls for whole wheat flour, which contains gluten. To make it gluten-free, you can use a gluten-free flour blend or corn flour, which will also enhance the corn flavor of the cakes.

🫙 Storage Directions

  • To Refrigerate: After enjoying your sweet corn tamale cakes, store any leftovers in an airtight container. They’ll keep well in the refrigerator for about 3-4 days. 
  • 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.
  • 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!

❓Recipe FAQs

Can I use a food processor to prepare the ingredients?

Yes, you can definitely use a food processor to chop up all the ingredients for the salsa and the cakes. This is a great shortcut that can save you a lot of time during prep.

What’s the best way to shape the corn cakes?

I recommend using a large cookie scoop or a measuring cup to ensure the cakes are uniform in size. Once you’ve dropped the mixture onto your skillet, flatten them out slightly with the back of your spatula. They should resemble pancakes. This helps them cook evenly and gives you the best result possible.

Can I make these corn cakes ahead of time?

Yes, you can prepare the black bean salsa the night before to save time. As for the cakes, you can batch cook them and freeze for future use. This way, you’ll always have a quick and healthy meal ready to go. Just remember to thaw them in the fridge overnight before reheating.

Sweet corn tamale cakes (Cheesecake Factory corn cakes copycat) served on a white plate with black bean salsa on the side.

🍛 More Delicious Appetizers And Side Dishes!

Love this vegetarian appetizer recipe? Please leave a 5-star rating 🌟 in the recipe below and/or a review in the comment section further down the page!

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🎥 Watch How to Make It
Sweet corn tamale cakes (Cheesecake Factory corn cakes copycat) served on a white plate with black bean salsa on the side.
Print Recipe
5 from 25 votes

Sweet Corn Tamale Cakes

This delicious sweet corn tamale cakes recipe is a healthy copycat makeover of the classic Cheesecake Factory dish! They’re packed with flavor, easy to make, and have the perfect blend of wholesome ingredients. Served with a light and refreshing black bean salsa, this recipe is perfect for an appetizer or light dinner!
Prep Time40 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time1 hour
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Diet: Vegetarian
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 276.4kcal
Author: Anjali Shah


Corn Cakes


Optional Toppings

  • prepared salsa
  • sliced avocado or prepared guacamole


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.


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


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


  • 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. 


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

50 responses to “Sweet Corn Tamale Cakes (Cheesecake Factory Copycat!)”

  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!5 stars

    • 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!5 stars

    • 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!!5 stars

  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!5 stars

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