Today’s Cheesy Sloppy Joe Tamale Cups are going to be an instant favorite with your family. Packed with bold flavors and textures, every bite is pure delight.
Welcome to another edition of Progressive Eats, our virtual version of a progressive dinner party where each course is held at a different home. This month’s theme is different ways to utilize a traditional muffin pan hosted by Liz of That Skinny Chick Can Bake. This is such a great and creative theme – thanks for picking it Liz! I decided to take two of my all-time favorites – Sloppy Joes and Tamale Pie and do a mash up, then assemble and bake them in a muffin tin. These Cheesy Sloppy Joe Tamale Cups are amazing. What a fun treat – and one your kids will love!
Traditional Sloppy Joes are fairly mildly flavored, perfect for picky eaters. But when I decided to merge this with the flavors of tamale pie, I added Mexican seasonings including chile powder and chipotle to take these in a more savory direction with a touch of sweet heat. You can easily go with the regular sloppy joe flavors and it will be just as good. You can also amp up the heat factor by adding chopped jalapenos or some hot sauce.
One of the tricks to getting moist and tender corn muffins is to give the cornmeal and flour blend time to fully absorb the liquids – this can take anywhere from 2 to 3 hours or up to overnight if you want to start this a day ahead. The meat mixture can be made ahead and reheated as well. This gives you the option to have most of the ingredients pre-made and you can pull dinner together really quickly.
These were baked to a lovely crispy exterior thanks to the USA pan I used. They transmit the heat so effectively that they bake almost like cast iron. The edges look a bit too dark, but that is actually the honey in the batter caramelizing on the outside.
The muffin part has a lovely chewiness thanks to the sugars, and the filling perfectly balances each bite for pure perfection. With the firmer exterior I was able to eat these with my hands which makes them even more fun for children and those of us who have never left our child-like natures behind! 🙂
The next time you decide to make Sloppy Joes, make a double batch and freeze the leftovers. Then the filling is ready whenever you want to make these fun, individual serving Cheesy Sloppy Joe Tamale Cups, giving you a delightful change of pace dinner or lunch!
You’ll love all the muffin tin recipes from this incredibly talented team that puts a really fun twist on mealtime! Be sure you check out all the links below the recipe.
How to make Cheesy Sloppy Joe Tamale Cups:
- Make the corn muffin batter and let rest 2 to 3 hours or overnight
- Make the beef filling by cooking the meat and vegetables together, then stir in the chili sauce and BBQ sauce; keep warm over low heat
- Add remaining ingredients to the muffin batter and stir in corn kernels
- Put a little of the batter in the bottom of each muffin tins followed by some of the meat mixture, and finally more of the batter to cover
- Bake for about 25 minutes, topping with the cheese in the last 5 minutes; cool for 5 minutes in the tins then transfer to a cooling rack for a few minutes before serving
What is corn flour?
Corn flour is a very finely ground form of corn meal. It becomes the texture of regular flour but with the concentrated flavor of corn. It is also gluten-free making it an excellent option for your gluten-free baking.
When choosing the type of barbecue sauce, you’ll be using for this dish, pick one that is more savory to offset the mild sweetness of the cornmeal muffins. I made the mistake of selecting a very sweet version and had to do a lot of tweaking of the seasonings in the filling to get mine closer to the flavors I was looking for.
Key Ingredients for this Recipe
- Gluten-free flour blend or all-purpose flour
- Yellow cornmeal
- Baking powder, baking soda, and salt
- Corn kernels
- Shredded cheddar cheese
- Ground beef
- Onion, celery, carrot, and red bell pepper
- Ground cumin, chili powder, chipotle powder
- Chili sauce (such as Heinz brand, which is gluten-free)
- BBQ sauce (such as Stubb’s, which is gluten-free)
Kitchen Tools I Use to Make This Recipe (affiliate links)
- Chef’s knife
- Cutting board
- Large mixing bowl
- Large skillet
- Spring-loaded ice cream scoop
- Muffin tins
- Cooling rack
Use a gluten-free flour blend while making the corn batter and be sure that the cornmeal you use is guaranteed gluten-free. I used Bob’s Red Mill brand of yellow cornmeal which is made and packaged in a dedicated gluten-free facility.
Cheesy Sloppy Joe Tamale Cups (Gluten-Free)
Today's Cheesy Sloppy Joe Tamale Cups are going to be an instant favorite with your family. Packed with bold flavors and textures, every bite is pure delight.
- 1-3/4 cups gluten-free flour blend or all-purpose flour
- 1 cup medium ground yellow cornmeal
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
- 3 tbsp honey
- 1 large egg
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup frozen whole kernel corn, thawed
- 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese, for topping
Sloppy Joe Filling
- 1/2 to 2/3 lb low fat ground beef, crumbled (or a combo of beef & pork)
- 1/2 lg onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 stalk celery, trimmed and finely chopped
- 1 carrot, trimmed, peeled and finely chopped or grated
- 1/2 red bell pepper, stem and seeds discarded, finely diced
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ancho chile powder or chile powder
- 1/4 tsp ground chipotle powder, optional
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1/3 cup prepared chili sauce (such as gluten-free Heinz brand)
- 1/3 cup gluten-free BBQ sauce such as Stubb's brand, or your favorite
- Water, if needed
- Prepare the Corn Muffin Batter: In a large mixing bowl, stir together the gluten-free flour blend and cornmeal. Pour in the buttermilk, stirring until thoroughly moistened. Cover and let the mixture rest in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 hours or up to overnight.
- Make the Beef Filling: While the corn muffin batter is resting, cook the meat filling. In a large skillet, cook the meat, onion, celery, carrot, and bell pepper together over medium heat until meat is browned, stirring regularly and breaking up the meat into very small pieces. Drain off accumulated fat. Sprinkle with the seasonings, stirring to distribute. Stir in chili sauce and barbecue sauce. Once the beef is cooked through, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook at a low simmer to help blend the flavors, about 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. If the sauce is too thick, thin with a little water. Keep warm over very low heat.
- When Ready to Bake: Set an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 375F. Butter 12 to 18 muffin cups thoroughly with softened butter.
- Remove the rested cornmeal mixture from the refrigerator and transfer to the bowl of your stand mixer. Add the butter, honey, egg, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Beat for 1 to 2 minutes to thoroughly mix the ingredients together. Add the corn kernels and stir just to evenly distribute them in the batter.
- Use a spring-loaded ice cream scoop to add about 1 tablespoon of the cornmeal batter to 12 of the buttered muffin tins. Top with about 3 tbsp of the meat mixture, then add another 1 to 2 tablespoons of the cornmeal batter on top. Don't fill more than about 3/4 full. Pour any remaining cornmeal batter into extra buttered muffin cups; you can serve them alongside the tamale cups.
- Bake the Sloppy Joe Tamale Cups: Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, sprinkle the tops with the shredded cheese, return to the oven and continue baking another 2 to 4 minutes or until the tops are golden brown and the cheese is melted.
- Place the muffin tins on a cooling rack and let rest 5 minutes. Then carefully transfer the muffins from the tins to the rack to cool for another 10 to 15 minutes. You need the muffins cool enough so they will not break apart when you serve them. It is fun to watch the delight on your family's faces when they discover the surprise filling inside! Serve warm with salad or slaw, and sliced tomatoes.
Concept initially from BHG
Cornbread recipe adapted from King Arthur
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 661Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 33mgSodium: 548mgCarbohydrates: 127gFiber: 5gSugar: 12gProtein: 22g
This recipe is part of our monthly progressive dinner party, #ProgressiveEats. See the links below for more inspiration and great recipes!
Muffin Pan Madness Recipes
- Cheesy Sloppy Joe Tamale Cups from The Heritage Cook
- Ham and Greens Corn Muffins from All Roads Lead to the Kitchen
- Ham Mashed Potato Breakfast Cups from Jeanette’s Healthy Living
- Spicy Pepperoni Pinwheels from Pastry Chef Online
- Vegetarian Meatballs with Spicy Moroccan Sauce from The Wimpy Vegetarian
- Lemon Poppyseed Cupcakes from Spiceroots
- Pina Colada Cupcakes with Rum Buttercream Frosting from Creative Culinary
- Vanilla Buttercream Topped Cocoa Cupcakes from That Skinny Chick Can Bake
- Vanilla Pear Brioche Bread Pudding from The Redhead Baker
If you love this recipe, be sure to follow me on social media so you never miss a post:
| Facebook | Pinterest | Instagram | Twitter |
Create a New Tradition Today!
This post was first shared in May 2016. The article was updated in 2020.
Barbara | Creative Culinary
What a fun idea Jane. Funny how much we loved sloppy joe’s when my kids were still at home but I haven’t made them since they grew up and moved out. I’m totally craving your version right now!
Thanks Barb – we don’t have them often either, but every once in a while we get a craving. This was so much fun to combine two of my favorites!
Jeanette | Jeanette's Healthy Living
I love this idea Jane – so creative! My boys would love these – just printed out the recipe to make for them 🙂
I hope you guys love them too. Feel free to make changes – an asian-seasoned version would be so much fun!
Love the flavors and creativity in this dish. Sloppy joe tamale! YUM all the way!
Thanks Anshie, I’m wondering why I never thought to combine the two before, LOL!
susan / the wimpy vegetarian
What a creative, delicious muffin this is!!! I absolutely love everything about it, Jane.
Thanks so much Susan – they were fun to create and make! Can’t wait to make your falafels!
These look SO much better than the sloppy joe’s of my childhood! Love the flavor profile and they baked up perfectly in your muffin tins!
Thanks Liz – the caramelization was a delightful surprise when I made these. I agree that these were so much better than the ones my mom made us when we were kids. Yea!! LOL
This is such a creative recipe – and I am a huge fan of the “all in one” concept of these hearty muffins. I bet my son would die for these. I’ll see if he wants to help me make them (but with ground turkey, instead!)
A turkey version would be fantastic Michelle and they are a ton of fun to make. If he can’t take a long stint in the kitchen, make the filling a day ahead and then the batter and muffins the next day. These are definitely best eaten the day they are made so invite some friends over! 🙂
Loving this mash-up, Jane! And yes to the added spices *and* to eating with my hands! #perpetualkid! =)
I love bumping up the flavors and getting creative – such fun!