Sweet Corn Tamale Cakes (Copycat Cheesecake Factory)

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Sweet Corn Tamale Cakes may be small in size, but they pack quite a punch of sweet and spicy flavor. The batter is so easy to make and it fries to golden perfection in minutes. Don’t forget the sauces and toppings, either. Crunchy, creamy, smooth, and spicy textures put these crispy tamale cakes over the top!

Titled Image: Sweet Corn Tamale Cakes Copycat Cheesecake Factory


Sweet Corn Tamale Cakes

If you’ve never been to the Cheesecake Factory, you’re missing out!

Besides the obvious dessert menu, there are so many appetizers and entrees to choose from — truly something to satisfy everyone.

Honestly, sometimes I want to go just for some of their famous brown bread!

While I’ve already shared some of my other favorites like Chicken Piccata, Crispy Crab Bites, and Bang Bang Shrimp, it was time to try out more of their tasty starters.

I can’t begin to describe the combination of flavors and textures in these crispy little cakes.

A little sweet, a little spicy, and a whole lot of savory. Whenever I make them, they’re gone in a flash!

ingredients for Cheesecake Factory sweet corn tamale cakes

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

  • Cornmeal & All-Purpose Flour – These form the base of the dough for this sweet corn tamale cakes Cheesecake factory recipe.

    Be sure to use cornmeal, which has a coarser texture than corn flour.
  • Frozen Corn – Be sure to thaw the kernels before folding them into the batter. This makes it easier to incorporate and ensures they’ll cook evenly too.

    Canned corn will work in a pinch, but be sure to drain it and consider rinsing to reduce saltiness.
  • Milk & Egg – These both add moisture to the batter and help bind everything together.

    While not required, it can help to bring these to room temperature ahead of time.
  • Peppers – Add red and green bell peppers for color and texture, plus jalapenos for heat.

    Remove the ribs and seeds from the jalapenos before finely dicing. You’ll also want to wear gloves or wash your hands really well with soap before moving on.
  • Vegetable Oil – Use this for frying sweet corn tamale cakes. Canola oil is the best substitute.
sweet corn cakes batter in mixing bowl

Tips and Tricks to Make Perfect Tamale Cakes

  • Wait until the oil is hot before frying.

If it’s not ready, your Cheesecake Factory sweet corn tamale cakes will simply soak up the oil and turn out soggy and greasy. Yuck!

There’s an easy test to see if frying oil is hot enough. Place the end of a wooden spoon into the oil.

If bubbles form all around it, it’s ready to go! You can also toss in a single corn kernel and see if it pops.

Prefer something more accurate? Use a kitchen thermometer to test the temperature — it should be between 325 and 365°F.

  • Fry corn cakes in batches.

Crowding the pan will also cause them to soak up the oil because it will lower the temperature of the oil. 

Fry a few at a time so there’s plenty of space between each, then wait for the oil to get hot again before adding the next batch.

  • Drain after frying.

Once sweet corn tamale cakes are golden brown on both sides, carefully transfer them to a plate lined with paper towels.

Let them sit for just a few minutes while you fry up the next batch — long enough to drain the excess grease but not so long that they start to soften.

  • Adjust the level of spiciness.

Tone things down by using fewer jalapenos and a mild salsa verde, or crank things with more peppers and a hotter salsa!

A sprinkle of cayenne either in or over the cakes will add plenty more heat too.

  • Customize with more ingredients.

I say cheese makes everything better, so why not add some shredded cheese to the batter?

Cheddar is a classic go-to, or try something extra melty such as Monterey Jack.

Diced tomatoes and chopped scallions would be tasty too, especially if you’re not a fan of cold pico de gallo on hot cakes.

adding bell peppers, corn and spices to tamale cakes batter

Prep Ahead

  • Thaw frozen corn
  • Chop peppers and cilantro
  • Prepare toppings

Kitchen Tools You Will Need

frying sweet corn tamale cakes in a cast iron skillet

Serving Suggestions

The sweet corn tamale cakes at Cheesecake Factory are served in a corn husk boat of salsa verde and topped with sour cream, pico de gallo, cilantro, and avocado.

I like to add some Southwest ranch dressing as well, but you can leave it off or try regular ranch if you prefer.

You can certainly recreate this fancy presentation, or simply dish up the tamale cakes with your choice of toppings.

Serve as an appetizer or alongside other Southwestern favorites like air fryer egg rolls or pasta salad. The flavors go well with a variety of Mexican classics too!

fried sweet corn tamale cakes in a cast iron skillet

Storing and Reheating Sweet Corn Tamale Cakes from Cheesecake Factory

Once cooled, transfer leftovers to an airtight container and refrigerate. It’s best to store sweet corn tamale cakes separately from toppings so they don’t get soggy.

Enjoy within 2 to 3 days and reheat in the oven or air fryer to get them nice and crispy again.

You can also freeze leftover corn cakes! Wrap in plastic, then store in a freezer-safe storage bag or container for up to 3 months.

Thaw in the refrigerator before reheating.

Cheesecake Factory Sweet Corn Tamale Cakes FAQ

Do tamale corn cakes taste like tamales?

While the flavors can be similar, the texture is quite different. Tamales are somewhat dense and firm, with a variety of fillings inside the steamed masa.

Instead, corn cakes are light and crispy from frying with sweetness from whole corn kernels and diced bell peppers.

Can I make sweet corn tamale cakes ahead of time?

You can mix the batter and refrigerate it until you’re ready to fry the cakes, but they have the best texture when they are fried just before serving.

If you want to make a large batch, it’s best to freeze them for later. The longer they sit in the refrigerator once cooked, the softer they’ll become.

Are Cheesecake Factory sweet corn tamale cakes gluten-free?

The restaurant version of this dish is gluten-free according to their website. However, this copycat recipe is not gluten-free as it contains all-purpose flour.

close up of sweet corn tamale cakes

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cheesecake Factory copycat sweet corn tamale cakes on a serving dish

closeup of sweet corn tamale

Sweet Corn Tamale Cakes (Copycat Cheesecake Factory)

Donna Elick
Sweet Corn Tamale Cakes are deliciously crispy flavor explosion! Easy to make, serve this copycat appetizer with all your favorite toppings.
5 stars from 3 reviews
Tried this recipe?Please comment and review!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Mexican
Method Stovetop
Servings 6 -8


For the Tamale Cakes:

  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup frozen corn, thawed
  • 1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup diced green bell pepper
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeds removed and finely diced (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro or, optional
  • 3 Tablespoons Vegetable oil, for frying

For Serving:

  • Sour cream
  • Pico de gallo
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Salsa verde
  • Southwest ranch dressing
  • Diced avocado


  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk or heavy cream, melted butter, and egg. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
  • Fold in the thawed frozen corn, red bell pepper, green bell pepper, jalapeño pepper (if using), and chopped cilantro (if using).
  • Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Spoon about 1/4 cup of the tamale cake batter onto the hot skillet, using the back of the spoon to spread it into a round shape. Repeat with the remaining batter, leaving space between each cake.
  • Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown and crispy. Remove the tamale cakes from the skillet and place them on a paper towel-lined plate to absorb any excess oil.
  • Serve the tamale cakes warm, topping each one with sour cream, pico de gallo, chopped cilantro, salsa verde, southwest ranch dressing, and diced avocado.

Donna’s Notes

You can adjust the level of spiciness by adding or reducing the amount of jalapeño pepper in the tamale cakes or using a milder salsa verde.
Thaw the frozen corn before folding it into the batter to ensure even cooking and incorporation.
Feel free to customize the tamale cakes by adding additional ingredients such as shredded cheese, diced tomatoes, or chopped scallions.
Make sure to heat the vegetable oil to the proper temperature before frying the tamale cakes to achieve a crispy texture.
Cook the tamale cakes until they are golden brown on each side, ensuring that they are cooked through in the center.
Use a paper towel-lined plate to drain excess oil from the tamale cakes after frying.
Serve the tamale cakes warm for the best flavor and texture.
Top the tamale cakes with sour cream, pico de gallo, chopped cilantro, salsa verde, southwest ranch dressing, and diced avocado for added flavor and freshness.


Serving: 1 | Calories: 351cal | Carbohydrates: 44g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 49mg | Sodium: 288mg | Sugar: 10g | Fiber: 4g | Calcium: 75mg | Iron: 2mg

All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.

Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Sweet Corn Tamale Cakes Copycat Cheesecake Factory - PIN

Originally published February 2024

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  1. 5 stars
    oh my stars! this recipe was an absolute breeze to make and the outcome was pure bliss. donna and chad from The Slow Roasted Italian never disappoint!

  2. 5 stars
    made these tamale cakes last night and they were a hit! i added some shredded cheese to the batter for extra flavor. donna’s recipes never disappoint!

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