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Tamale Harissa Pie (with Low Carb Version)

Tamale Harissa Pie (with Low Carb Version)
Home » Diet & Health » Low carb Mexican recipes » Tamale Harissa Pie (with Low Carb Version)

It’s true that not everyone in your family or friend circle will view a low carb diet as their lifestyle of choice, and if you are the cook it can sometimes be difficult to please the range of tastebuds.  Some recipes, like this tamale harissa pie, are readily adaptable to low carb cooking.  Just place the cornbread topping on half of the casserole and you’ve got two dishes in one pan, one which is low carb and one which isn’t. 🙂

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Piece of tamale pie with cornbread topping
Piece of tamale pie with cornbread topping

How to adaptTamale Casserole to Low Carb

I’ve been playing around with our no-sugar product line of low carb sauces (Romesco, Harissa and Smoked Tomato Mustard). This Harissa Tamale Pie was an old tried and true recipe that was updated and improved by adding harissa.

Slice of tamale pie with cornbread topping
Slice of tamale pie with cornbread topping

To adapt the recipe for those on a low carb diet, I simply left out the can of corn in the filling and added the cornmeal topping to only half of the casserole. I had a brief twinge of carb-envy watching my mom eat the cornmeal-topped recipe, but it quickly disappeared as I finished off my “topless tamale harissa pie”

Tamale harissa pie, 1/2 with cornbread crust
Tamale harissa pie, 1/2 with cornbread crust

For a step-by-step video of this dish, check this out:

Low carb Mexican Casserole vs. Tamale Pie
Watch this video on YouTube.
Watch the Step by Step Video for More Details

About Harissa Sauce

I used our award-winning  Harissa sauce from HeathGlen, but there are other versions of harissa in various gourmet-type stores.  They all taste quite different.  

I have found that many of the harissa pastes are extremely spicy and it masks the complexity of the unique flavor profile. I prefer one that is robust, but that uses a variety of chili peppers ranging from sweet and fruity to hot and pungent.

If you want to make your own harissa sauce, click here for a harissa recipe you can make at home.

Harissa Tamale Pie – Low carb version

Slice of tamale harissa pie with cornbread crust
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Servings 6
Calories 521


  • 2-3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups butternut squash peeled and cubed
  • about 1/2 tsp salt
  • about 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 1 ½ cups diced sweet bell peppers any color
  • 1 lb Italian or Andouille sausage
  • 15 oz can of black beans rinsed & drained
  • 15 oz can diced tomatoes fire roasted if possible
  • 2 Tbsp harissa spice blend or 1/4 cup harissa paste
  • 1 Tbsp smoked chile peppers or just ancho powder
  • 1 Tbsp chipotle spice
  • 1 cup Monterey Jack cheese shredded
  • 1 box cornbread mix Jiffy corn muffin mix
  • about 1/2 tsp salt
  • about 1/4 tsp pepper


  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees and spray a 9 x 13 casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Add about 2 Tbsp oil to a large skillet or dutch oven and heat over medium-high until hot.
  • Add the cubed squash to the skillet, along with the salt and pepper. Saute the squash about 7-8 minutes, or until softened and lightly browned.
  • Add onion and bell peppers to skillet and saute until softened, about 3 minutes. Add sausage to pot or skillet and cook until no longer pink, breaking it up with the spatula to combine with the vegetables.
  • Add the black beans, tomatoes, harissa, and spices. Stir everything together thoroughly and cook for another 3-5 minutes. Sprinkle cheese on top and let it melt into the mixture.
  • Pour the sausage-vegetable mixture into the casserole. For the half of the pie that is non low carb, prepare the cornbread mix according to the package instructions and then spread it over half of the casserole mixture, as evenly as possible. The cornbread mixture will be lumpy and difficult to spread evenly. Just do your best – it's rustic!
  • Cool slightly before cutting into squares for serving.


** Note that the nutritional analysis is for the low carb version and does not include the cornbread topping.


Calories: 521kcalCarbohydrates: 30gProtein: 23gFat: 35gSaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 74mgSodium: 760mgPotassium: 871mgFiber: 9gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 6355IUVitamin C: 67mgCalcium: 226mgIron: 4mg
Did you make this recipe?If you tried this recipe, please give it a 5-star rating! To do this, just click on the stars above. And don’t forget to tag me at @dorothy_stainbrook_heathglen, if you share a picture on Instagram! You can also tag me at #heathglen!
Harissa Sauce from HeathGlen
Harissa Sauce from HeathGlen

Online Diet/Health Coaching:

Although I am not currently taking clients for diet & health coaching, I have been a coach for many years with the online service called It is a great platform for all kinds of coaching – anything from specific diets, writing a blog, getting up early, or getting rid of that pesky procrastination.  

There are some wonderful coaches and the testimonials will tell you what you need to know.  Contact me at [email protected] to get a referral to some of the tested, experienced online coaches on

If you’d like to start with a plan for a low carb or keto lifestyle, check out this detailed guide in ebook form. It may be all you need to lose weight on this lifestyle. Or it may be used as a supplement to one-to-one coaching.

Recipe Rating

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Friday 14th of February 2020

Good grief, my first comment is from 5 years ago! I think I'd better make this casserole again, it was very good and I have some harissa to use up.

dorothy stainbrook

Friday 14th of February 2020

Haha yes I saw that! I upgraded the recipe a bit (just finished eating the last bit of it). It is really filling so the servings are probably more like 8 than 6. Also mine ended up really spicy, which I liked, but just beware that all chipotle spices vary in their heat level. Mine vary year to year based on the summer soil conditions. Thanks for the comment Beth! Let me know how it turns out.

Beth Camero

Monday 9th of March 2015

Don't forget to leave the cheese out, too, if you're being strict Slow-Carb. Love your harissa sauce, by the way!

dorothy stainbrook

Monday 9th of March 2015

Thank you Beth! It’s true, a strict 4-hour body approach would not allow the cheese. Low carb approaches in general can allow some cheese so I guess you could say this is a cross between slow carb and keto.

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