Mexican Sweet Corn Cake

Happy (almost) Cinco de Mayo!  I am very much in the spirit of the festivities because I just got back from Puerto Vallarta.

My husband and I spent our honeymoon in Cancun 8 years ago and decided we’d head back south for our anniversary this year.  Honestly it was one of the most relaxing trips we’ve done because we didn’t do anything but sit here:  

And down there:

Lots of sunsets and beachcombing

and plenty of virgin daquaris and pina coladas (aka tropical smoothies in grown-up cups)

And of course eating.  Why is it that all-inclusive resorts are always on the beach?  They should be in locations where after you stuff your face for the 400th time, you can slip on a parka and elastic waisted snow-pants.  But I digress.  One of the yummiest things I ate the whole trip was this bowl of deliciousness.  Basically it’s a bowl of hot, bubbly, melted cheese topped with grilled peppers, mushrooms and chorizo.

It’s served with fresh warm flour tortillas and you just pull a gooey forkful out and stuff it on the tortilla.  Oh my gosh, amazing.  I gotta re-create that one.

I have to say though, the best part about this trip was that we were 100% unplugged.  No cell phones, no computers, no internet.  I had no idea how therapeutic that could be!

A few weeks ago we got an email requesting a recipe for a sweet corn cake, and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since.  In Brazil, I often ate these wrapped in corn husks like a tamale and I’ve loved it ever since.  If you don’t know what this is, it’s not actually cake-like as the name suggests.  It’s more of a…corn mush? lol  A lot of chain restaurants, like Chevy’s, serve it as a side.  Have you guys had these Sweet Corn Tamale Cakes at The Cheesecake Factory?  (If you haven’t, you need to drive there right now, order them, and eat the whole plate yourself.)  These taste really similar.  It’s very soft, sweet and buttery- almost like a dough.  I’ve made recipes for “Spoon Bread,” “Corn Pudding,” and “Tamale Cakes” and they all taste very similar, but have slightly different consistencies (at least the specific recipes that I make).  A common one starts out with a Jiffy mix.  This is probably the softest of the bunch- the corn pudding I make is closer to a soft cornbread, where this is more of a cornmash.  It’s kind of hard to explain until you eat it!

Grab a hand mixer and beat up a stick of butter (yeppers, a whole stick) some masa harina, and a little water.  Masa harina is a corn flour often used in latin cooking.  You can find it in the latin foods aisle of most grocery stores.

Honestly, you could probably just dump all the ingredients in this recipe in the bowl at once- but I went ahead and put the rest of the dry ingredients (corn meal, sugar, baking powder, and salt) on top of the butter mixture and just whisked them a little right in the bowl before beating them in with a little milk or cream.

Cutest whisk ever, right?  Some sweet ladies from church brought that to me for my birthday last week.  I whisk with love.

Lastly, in goes the corn.  Use fresh, frozen corn.  It doesn’t even have to be thawed. I pulsed it in my food processor until it was roughly chopped.  If you don’t have a food processor, you could have at it with a sharp chef’s knife.

If your corn is frozen like mine, it will harden up your butter, which is why it looks crumbly. Totally fine!

Pop it in an 8×8 pan to bake.  This recipe calls for a waterbath- which is no biggie.  Just place you 8×8 inside of a 9×13 and put a little hot water in the 9×13.  Honestly I don’t know if it’s necessary, but I went with it.  It bakes for about an hour and when it comes out it’s really important that you let it sit for at least 10-15 minutes to sort of set up.  Most restaurants scoop it with an ice cream scoop, but I have serious issues scooping things with an ice cream scoop that aren’t ice cream.

It’s super soft, buttery and sweet.  You can serve it as a side dish- or it even bulks up a meatless meal served with grilled veggies and pico de gallo.  I love getting a bit on my fork along with a little avocado, pico, and some savory meat.  It might seem like a strange combo, but it’s so, so yummy.  You get sweet, savory, smooth and crunchy all together.  Love it.


Did you know you can browse our Recipe Index by ethnicity?  And Latin is by far our largest category!  If you’re looking for something fun to make for Cinco de Mayo, check it out.  You’ll find everything from yummy drinks, to easy appetizers, to great main dishes.  Even dessert!

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Meet The Author

Sara Wells

Sara Wells co-founded Our Best Bites in 2008. She is the author of three Bestselling Cook Books, Best Bites: 150 Family Favorite RecipesSavoring the Seasons with Our Best Bites, and 400 Calories or Less from Our Best Bites. Sara’s work has been featured in many local and national news outlets and publications such as Parenting MagazineBetter Homes & GardensFine CookingThe Rachel Ray Show and the New York Times.

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Questions & Reviews

  1. i love this! it’s my favorite thing at chevy’s! so happy this is a gluten free version!
    pleeeease recreate that cheesy dish!

  2. I have been making this for my family and friends for years after I had it at Chevy’s. Its a HUGE hit and I always end up having to email the recipe to them….One thing that I do different though is instead of using the frozen corn and water I omit both ingredients and use a can of creamed corn. Now I am craving some. Maybe I will add it to the menu for tomorrows Cinco De Mayo party 🙂 Oh and a trip to The Cheesecake Factory to try the Sweet Corn Tamale Cakes!

  3. WOW. The Chop House chain has a sweet for tamale cake dish. Has avocado on top along with some other toppings that I can’t remember. There’s are formed into 4 rounded patties on a plate. I’m so excited to find a recipe for this! Can’t wait to try this at home!

  4. I LOOOOOOOOOOVE this stuff!! I’ve been making it off for years now and I think it tastes just like the Chi-Chi’s stuff! Now I just need to make the Enchiladas Cancun knock-off recipe I found and I won’t be so sad that Chi-Chi’s went belly up.

  5. Thank you sooooooo much for this recipe and whoever requested it!! I have been looking for a recipe like this for years!! I cannot wait until I can go home from visiting my hubby in Korea to try it!!!

  6. Yum, I should try this soon! I’m a lifelong fan of tamales and those corn things from The Cheesecake Factory are good, too. Last week I made corn pudding but I doubt my husband would mind if we had this sometime soon! My corn pudding (the recipe is from my very southern grandmother) is nothing like cornbread though, it has lots of eggs and just a tiny bit (as in a couple tablespoons) of flour or cornstarch. The kind with cornbread mix makes me sad 🙁 I’ve tried two recipes of the kind with cornbread mix and even though I called it something other than corn pudding, my husband wouldn’t eat more than a couple of bites. It’s like gummy corn bread. I’ll bet THIS recipe is great though with the masa harina!

  7. Where did you stay in Puerto Vallarta? It looks heavenly and maybe, just maybe I will get to go there someday!

  8. A vacation sounds great! Glad you had such a nice time. Your photos really make this tasty recipe sound and look even better than your descriptions (if that is possible!). Love the mexican-themed plates/bowls and things. Looks beautiful!

  9. For your bowl of melty cheese cravings google queso flameado – that’s what we call it around these parts. It’s generally served in a hot skillet as an appetizer at Mexican or Tex-mes restaurants.

  10. That’s it. You just reached superhero status. First of all, you know what Chevy’s is (Oh, how I miss that restaurant here in the South).

    Secondly– I have been looking for a recipe for this for YEARS. I attempted it ONE time years ago and ended up LITERALLY exploding a glass 9×13 pan all over the kitchen that my siblings were in (thankfully no one was hurt). Never put a glass pan over a pot of boiling water, even if all the recipes say to…

    Seriously, OBB… you can’t top this one in my book. 🙂


  11. I love this stuff! Every time we go to Chevys I am stealing everybody’s serving! I always say I’m going to figure out how to make it, thanks for taking the guess work out of it!

  12. Cheesecake Factory’s sweet corn tamale cakes are deeeevine! Except I ask them to put the cilantro on the side (of course) and then my daughter takes care of that part of the plate.
    Did you leave the boys at home so you could really relax?

  13. I loved eating sweet corn cakes when I lived in Monterrey, Mexico. Can’t wait to try.

    Be sure to add this recipe to your “gluten-free” listings, as I’m a GFOBBA (that’s Gluten-Free-Our-Best-Bites-Aficcionada)! I was recently diagnosed with Celiac disease–which is a total cruel irony since I love baking–but I’ve happily adapted many of your recipes. And many are naturally gluten-free (like swiss meringue buttercream? it’s changed my world!)

    Major props for all you do. Keep the goodness comin’!

  14. Ahhh I went to that exact resort for our honeymoon a year ago!! 🙂 #countrymusic #leatherskin #tequila

  15. I love Cheesecake Factory’s sweet corn tamale cakes! I will definitely be making these tomorrow!! Thanks for another great recipe!!

  16. I bet this would be fabulous with some fresh avocado. This is why I love Mexican food. It’s not fussy or complicated, just a really simple way to showcase wonderful flavors. I really really wish I was in Puerto Vallarta right now!!

  17. There is something about the color of the serving plates, the freshness of the avocado and the sweet softness of the corn that made me get all warm and fuzzy inside on this grey day…thanks for sharing the recipe and the lovely, awesome, please take me there photos!

  18. Sweet corn dishes are among my favorite! This looks absolutely fabulous and is on my “must try list”. 🙂

  19. Congrats on your anniversary! Oh I am so jealous! I have been longing for a vacation where I can do nothing but relax for a long time! This Mexican Sweet Corn Cake reminds of Sweet Corn Spoonbread we have a lot here in the south. I’ll have to make this soon to compare the two.

  20. Oh choriqueso! How I miss you. My husband and I were just in Mexico City and went to the western coast (Ixtapa & Zihuatanejo) and had plenty of choriqueso. (He’s a native from Mexico City.) We actually brought back some of those little clay pots (cazuelitas) AND some queso oaxaca so we could make choriqueso at home. I believe you can find queso oaxaca at some of the Latin markets and I highly recommend making this artery clogger at home. 🙂

    1. ooh, I’m glad to know what everything is called! I’m still having artery-clogging dreams about it 🙂

  21. funny i have a corn recipe.. that calls for jiffy corn bread, sour cream, cheese and corn i’m gonna try this weekend

  22. YUMMY!!!!! Thanks for the recipe. Where did u stay in Cancun?? I’ve been looking at resorts in Cancun…I need a vacay!!!!!! Your resort looks fab and so does the food!!!

    1. We stayed at the JW Mariott in Cancun- and loved it. Beautiful resort with great restaurants. I’d recommend it!

      1. Oh, I just realized I didn’t specify in my post…this recent trip (and the photos) are from Puerto Vallarta. Our trip before this was to the Mariott in Cancun (my fave!)

  23. I know where I am going for my anniversary in a couple years…that place looks AMAZING! Thanks for sharing the pictures! Amazing food and a beach? For me it doesn’t get much better than that!

  24. I love the idea of this- easily made with on-hand ingredients (I keep Masa around) and very authentic. Thanks!

  25. So you said tamales. I love them. I totally need to know how to make those, so you should figure it out and teach me. lol I always heard they are very labor intensive, but they’re so yummy! lol I love that you said “tropical smoothies in grown-up cups” LOL Makes me feel so much better about my occasional “tropical smoothies in grown-up cups” when we go out to eat. 😀