Frito Chili Pie is a fall comfort food classic. Crunchy, salty corn chips and melty cheese transform chili from ordinary to extraordinary. If you’ve never tried Frito Pie, get ready for a new dinnertime favorite. This recipe comes together quickly and easily, and can be customized to meet your family’s tastes. Once you add Fritos to your chili, you might never eat it any other way!
Reasons you’ll love this recipe:
- Adding crunchy Fritos to a bowl of chili is a complete game changer.
- Frito chili pie combines so many flavors and textures. It’s crunchy, spicy, cheesy – it’s got it all!
- This recipe comes together quickly and easily and is made in one pot!
- It’s equally delicious on a chilly fall night as it is for a Sunday afternoon football game.
- If you have non-chili fans in your family, this recipe just might convert them.
Frito Chili Pie
Something magical happens when you add Fritos to a bowl of chili. That chili takes on a whole new life. The salty, corn chip crunch that the Fritos bring is the perfect compliment to a bowl of chili.
Truth be told, I never liked chili until I tried Frito chili pie. My Aunt Kathy made it for us once when I was a teenager, and it forever changed my mind about chili. It’s that good! So if you’ve never tried it, I can’t wait to introduce you to the culinary delight that is a big bowl, or plate, of chili smothered in Fritos and cheese!
How To Make Frito Chili Pie
Let’s discuss the ingredients you’ll need to make this recipe, talk possible substitutions, go over the steps you will take to make it, and answer some of the common questions about this recipe. If this helpful information isn’t of use to you and you just want the printable recipe, scroll down to the bottom of the page and you’ll find it there.
- Ground beef – I prefer a lean ground beef for this recipe, around 90% lean. That said you can use whatever type of ground beef you like. You can substitute ground turkey if you like, though I do find ground beef gives superior flavor.
- Onion – A white or yellow onion will work in this recipe, and sometimes I’ll even use the pre-diced frozen onions.
- Garlic – Fresh garlic is always best, but I don’t hesitate to use jarred or frozen garlic if that’s what I have on hand.
- Kidney beans – Take note that you add the kidney beans WITH the liquid in the can, so don’t drain!
- Tomato paste – Any tomato paste will work in this recipe.
- Rotel – I typically buy the original or mild Rotel, as those are what my family likes. That said, feel free to use other varieties as well.
- Chili powder – Any chili powder will work. My personal favorite chili powder for any and everything is Gebhardt. If you like your chili super spicy, feel free to increase the chili powder.
- Salt – You can use table salt, sea salt or kosher salt.
- Sugar – There is a very small amount of sugar in this recipe to help balance the flavor, but you can leave it out if desired.
- Cumin – If you are one who has strong negative feelings about cumin, it’s okay to leave it out.
- Fritos – I prefer the original shape and flavor of Fritos for this recipe, but whichever kind you prefer will work.
- Cheddar cheese – If possible, grate your own cheese. The pre-grated cheese is packaged with anti-caking agents to prevent it from becoming a big ball of cheese in the package. Unfortunately this doesn’t help in the melting department. Freshly grated cheese gets a gold star in this recipe.
Steps To Take
This recipe comes together quickly and easily.
To begin, you’ll brown your ground beef, with the garlic and onion added in. Once the beef is cooked, drain of the fat and return it to the pan.
Next add the beans, tomato paste, rotel, chili powder, salt, sugar and cumin. Stir all of this together and let it cook on medium low heat, uncovered, for approximately 20 minutes.
When it’s time to serve, there are a few different ways to do this. Some people throw the fritos and cheese into the pan, give it a stir then dish it out. Others add their chili to individuals bowls and top it with the cheese and Fritos.
We like to add our Fritos to our plate or bowl, add the chili, then top with cheese and any other toppings we may be adding. There is no right or wrong here! However if you like the crunch from the Fritos, then I recommend adding them to individuals servings.
Another fun way to serve this is to make a walking taco, or walking Frito chili pie, version. Open up individual bags of Fritos and add a scoop of this chili, as well as some cheese, to each bag!
To store your chili, keep it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days, or in the freezer up to three months. I do not recommend storing it with the Fritos in it, at least if you enjoy the crunch the Fritos provide. The chips will soften in the chili, so if you store it with the chips in it, they will lose the crunch.
I have found this recipe reheats wonderfully in a pot on the stove, or by individually microwaving portions in the microwave. You can easily make this a day or two in advance, then heat it up and serve with Fritos, cheese and other toppings when you need it.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Is this chili spicy? I’d say this is a fairly mild chili. If you’d like a little more heat, add more chili powder, add pepper or add cayenne pepper for some real kick. You could also add jalapenos if you like.
Is this a thick or a saucy chili? This is a thick chili, as I have found that works well with the Fritos. However if you would like a bit more liquid in your chili, feel free to add a 15 ounce can of tomato sauce to the recipe.
Can this chili be made without meat? Yes, you can absolutely turn this into a meatless Monday dish. Replace the ground beef with additional beans. Approximately 14 ounce cans of pinto beans, black beans, garbanzo beans, cannellini beans or more kidney beans can replace the ground beef.
What toppings can I put on this? Diced onions, diced jalapeno peppers, sour cream, sliced green onions, diced tomatoes and chopped bell peppers all make great toppings!
More Ground Beef Recipes
If you love recipes with ground beef, here are some additional recipes I recommend!
Frito Chili Pie
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 medium onion diced
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 14 ounce can kidney beans undrained
- 1 5.5 ounce can tomato paste
- 1 10 ounce can rotel
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1 9.25 ounce bag of Fritos chips
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- In a large skillet or pot, brown the ground beef, onion, and garlic on medium heat. Drain off excess fat.
- Add kidney beans, tomato paste, rotel, chili powder, salt, sugar, and cumin to ground beef. Stir to combine. Turn heat down to medium low. Allow the mixture to simmer uncovered for 20 minutes.
- Pour a bag of fritos onto a serving dish, or pour a single serving of fritos onto each plate or bowl. Serve the chili over fritos , sprinkle with shredded cheddar cheese, and use desired toppings.
chopped bell peppers. To store your chili, keep it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days, or in the freezer up to three months. I do not recommend storing it with the Fritos in it, at least if you enjoy the crunch the Fritos provide. The chips will soften in the chili, so if you store it with the chips in it, they will lose the crunch.