Tamale Pizza

I love Rancho Gordo beans and am always looking for new uses for leftovers. This Pizza Azteca recipe provided a masa crust that sounded perfect; however, it did not use beans. Don't leave out the beans! I used Rancho Gordo's Midnight Black Bean, but I imagine that others would be quite tasty as well. The final product is like a tamale elote (corn) crossed with a black bean papusa. It's a vegetarian celebration of beans, corn, cheese, squash, and masa dough with a kick of jalapeño and salad greens dressed on top to make it a full meal. Filling and delicious!


-30 minutes total to cook (a 15 min. pre-cook + 15 additional min.) @ 450°F. 

-15-20 min. to make dough and blacken the corn (do the rest of the prep while dough cooks and pre-cooks)

Jump to Ingredients List

About Masa Dough

Masa is the flour used to make corn tortillas. It is finer than cornmeal and made from grinding up dried corn that has been soaked in calcium hydroxide, or pickling lime. This process is called nixtamalization. Nixtamalization allows the flour to form a dough and also makes protein and the niacin in the corn accessible for digestion. A deficiency in niacin can cause a potentially deadly disease called Pellegra. In other words, niacin is a pretty important nutrient. 

Making the Masa Dough

The masa flour dough is really easy to make, and you don't have to prep it ahead of time. You will probably want to set the oven to preheat to 450°F before you get started. First, cut the corn off a cob. Reserve 1/2 cup for the dough and blacken the rest to use as a topping. (To do this, grill the corn on med-high in a cast iron pan, stirring frequently, for a few minutes until it chars just slightly.)

Pro Tip: Blacken the corn before making the dough. This will preheat and flavor the skillet a little. And unless you have two skillets, well, it's going to be difficult to blacken the corn while the skillet is in the oven. 

Pour 2 cups of masa flour into the mixing bowl, then add the warm, salty water about a third at a time. Mix the dough thoroughly by hand with each addition of water. Add the corn before you're done. Work the dough until it forms a soft ball. You can add a little more flour or water if the consistency doesn't seem right. It should be soft yet hold together. 

Forming and Pre-cooking the Crust

Grease or oil a cast iron pan. They press the masa dough into a deep dish pizza shape, as uniform in thickness as possible. The edges won't rise or otherwise change in appearance, so form the edges however you want them to look.

You will then need to precook the crust for 15 minutes at 450°F. You can prep the toppings while it cooks. I defrosted some Rancho Gordo beans I had frozen, but you can use canned in a pinch. Cut or grate your cheeses, and slice the veggies you plan to use. 

Topping the Pizza

Once the crust has pre-cooked for 15 minutes, remove the skillet from the oven. Top with queso fresco, then a layer of beans, then cheddar cheese, and sprinkle with the blackened corn. On top of that, arrange jalpeños, green and yellow squash, and red onion. Then return it to the oven to cook for an additional 15 minutes. Cook until the cheese fully melts to your liking. The crust should then be done.

The Tomatillo Dressing

While the pizza finishes cooking, you can make the dressing. Blend the tomatillos, lime juice, garlic, and as much jalapeño as you see fit in a food processor. You can make more than you will use for one sitting, like I did, or see the ingredients list for a suggested one-time use amount. 

I then stirred together a couple tablespoons of the tomatillo puree with a couple tablespoons of creme fraiche. Sour cream will work just as well. You can also cook the tomatillos, if you'd prefer. Personally, I like the bite of the raw tomatillo here. Add salt and pepper to taste. 

Dressing the Pizza after Cooking

Go ahead and layer on the avocado slices as soon as the pizza is out of the oven. You can even cook the avocado on the pizza, if you'd prefer. (For this pizza, I didn't want the avocados quite that creamy.) Let the pizza cool a couple minutes before attempting to remove it from the skillet. To remove it, scrape a metal spatula around the edges to ensure it's loose. Then tilt the pan and use the spatula to guide it onto the cutting surface.

Top the pizza with tomatoes and arugula, baby romaine, or greenery of your choice. My cilantro had already bolted, so I sprinkled the flowers over the top (rather than chopping the leaves in with the tomatillos). The flowers look nice and have a slightly subdued cilantro flavor, but if cilantro tastes like soap to you, then by all means leave all forms of it out! Finally, drizzle the tomatillo dressing over the top. 

Now, you're ready to cut your tamale pizza. Enjoy!

Masa Dough Ingredients

-2 cups masa flour (I used Maseca)

-2 cups warm water

-1/2 tsp salt (dissolved in the warm water)

-1/2 cup raw corn (use rest of kernels from ear to blacken for topping)


-queso fresco

-cooked Rancho Gordo beans

-cheddar cheese


-small yellow squash

-1/4 cup blackened corn (whatever is left from ear)


-red onion

-cherry tomatoes

-arugula, baby romaine, or other greens

Tomatillo Dressing (makes a generous amount)

-8 tomatillos

-3 cloves garlic

-1/4-1/2 jalapeño 

-juice of 1/2 lime

-mix 2 Tbsp. tomatillo mixture (above) with 2 Tbsp. creme fraiche or sour cream

For a smaller serving, try: 1-2 tomatillos, 1 small garlic clove, squeeze of lime + equal parts creme fraiche or sour cream

Other Toppings to Try

-Go vegan by substituting vegan cheese (or leaving it out)

-Ground beef

-beans cooked with pork

Special Equipment

-Robin & Field Pizza Blade

-cast iron skillet

-metal spatula

-food processor for tomatillo dressing