Tacoma Vegetarian Tamale Casserole

I’ve been making some variation of this for my friend L since we were undergrads. Now that we’re both out of school and she’s the mother of an adorable toddler I still make a casserole for her whenever I visit. Watching him gobble it up alongside his mom fills me with joy.

This thing is incredibly forgiving. Have some leftover roasted red pepper scraps? Go ahead and throw them in! Out of onions? It’ll be fine without them! Whatever flavor of tomatoes you have in stock will be fine. Out of milk? Just use the fluid drained from your canned goods or substitute some broth. This is a flexible midwestern casserole, not fancy French baking. It’s incredibly forgiving.

I’ve also made this for omnivores who like a little meat in their casserole. As a Texan, I can vouch that it’s fantastic with a pound or so of leftover pulled brisket instead of the fake meat. You can also substitute 1 lb of ground beef, ground pork, or even rotisserie chicken. For meat eaters, think of this casserole as a delicious way to use up all your leftovers.

The best news is that much any good casserole, you can make it in advance and bake it later. It’ll be perfectly fine in the fridge for up to 3 days before baking, and can survive covered in a freezer for up to 3 months before being thawed overnight and baked.

Tacoma Tamale Casserole - Vegetarian Version


  • 3 boxes vegetarian Jiffy Cornbread mix
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk (or alternative milk of your choice)
  • 6 tbsp butter, softened
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced (2 tbsp)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp smoked hungerian paprika
  • ½ tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • ½ tsp fresh black pepper
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 lb breakfast sausage flavored veggie crumbles OR 1 lb Beyond Meat bratwurst
  • 1 can corn, drained
  • 1 can green chilies
  • 1 can Rotel tomatoes (or other seasoned diced tomatoes), divided


  • Preheat your oven to 400F.
  • Pour 1 tbsp olive oil into a large skillet over medium-high heat. Saute the onion until it’s barely beginning to brown. Add the frozen breakfast sausage flavored veggie crumbles OR the filling from two Beyond Meat Bratwurst, Cook over medium heat until cooked through and brown.
  • Add the smoked Hungarian paprika, chili powder cumin, oregano, pepper, and salt. Stir and keep cooking for another 2-3 minutes until everything is well mixed and deliciously fragrant. Take it off the heat.
  • Butter up a 9×13 baking dish.
  • Mix your 3 boxes of vegetarian Jiffy cornbread mix, 4 eggs, 1 cup of whole milk, 6 tbsp butter, and 6 cloves of minced garlic. Drain the juice from your Rotel tomatoes and continue stirring until there are no lumps. Save the tomatoes themselves for the next step.
  • Spread ⅓ of the mix in a thin layer over the bottom of your buttered baking dish.
  • Sprinkle the fake meat mix on top of the cornbread mix.
  • Next layer on the green chiles, spreading them thin
  • Then add the drained Rotel tomatoes in a thin, even layer
  • Finally add the drained yellow corn, once more spreading it thin over the whole casserole.
  • Once all your layers are in place, gently spread the remaining ⅔ of the cornbread mix on top. Moisten your hands and gently press the cornbread mix down until it’s spread in an even layer that covers all the filling.
  • Bake at 400F for 30-35 minutes, or until the cornbread is cooked through and golden brown on top.
  • Let cool for 10 minutes before slicing.

    Gosh, that looks like a lot of casserole! If you can’t eat it all in a few days, the good news is that it both freezes and reheats extremely well!

    Cut leftovers into 3×4 rectangles and freeze individually. When you’re craving more, put 1 serving per person in the fridge overnight to thaw. Arrange on a foil lined cookie sheet and bake at 350F for 15-20 minutes, or until warmed through and once more crispy on top.