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Oct 26, 2019

Frito Pie Chili

Frito Pie Chili, old-fashioned ground beef chili with beans topped with lots of Fritos, melty cheese, and a sprinkling of diced onions. 

Frito Pie Chili

It's been a long time since I've had one of my favorite comfort foods, Frito Pie Chili. It's a combination of old-fashioned thick chili with beans topped with a handful of Fritos, cheddar cheese, and diced red onions.

I'm a big fan of chili of all kinds, including this slow cooker chicken chili, Chili Mac and Cheese, and Chili con Carne, but sometimes, there's nothing like the ground beef and bean chili of our childhoods, topped with Fritos.

Ashley of Cheese Curd in Paradise decided to host a virtual Chili Cook Off, which gave me the perfect excuse to revisit this childhood favorite.

Frito Pie Chili in the pan

Key Ingredients for Frito Pie Chili

  • Ground beef. I used 85% lean ground beef, but you can choose your favorite percentage. 
  • Tomato sauce.
  • A can of Ro-Tel, which is a mixture of tomatoes and diced chilis. It's the stuff that is famous for mixing with Velveeta for cheese dip. You can usually find it in the same section with canned diced tomatoes. 
  • Herbs and spices: Oregano, cumin, and chili powder. 
  • A can each of pinto and kidney beans, drained and rinsed. 
  • Some corn meal mixed with water, to thicken the chili. 
  • About 4 cups of Fritos or 8 mini-bags of the chips. 
  • Cheddar cheese and diced onions for topping. 

Frito Pie Chili with the Frito bags

Frito Pie Chili Variations

Making this Frito pie chili is pretty easy, and you can pretty much improvise with the ingredients. You can add some green or red bell peppers to the ground beef mixture as you are cooking it. You can also add some corn kernels to the chili. 

If you really want to get in the way back machine, make some "walking tacos," by slicing open individual bags of Fritos and spooning the chili into the bags. Top the chili with some cheese and diced onions, and eat the chili straight from the bag. 

I'm pretty sure the chili tastes better this way! 

Frito Pie Chili in Frito bags

This chili is so hearty. The added corn meal also brings back memories of the thick chili you might add to a hamburger or hot dog.

This chili would also be wonderful with tortilla chips (even Doritos), but there is something about Fritos that just brings out the nostalgia.

Frito Pie Chili on a fork

This chili is such a portable and delicious snack. I think it would be so cool to line up a bunch of Frito bags which have been sliced open on their sides next to the hot chili, some grated cheese, and diced onions to create a Frito Pie bar.

You could also have some sour cream and diced avocado on hand to top the chili.

Frito Pie Chili in a bowl

I'm old enough to remember when Fritos were the only corn chips I was exposed to, and chili and beans were served right out of a can. 

Our taste buds and knowledge of flavor profiles have evolved. But still, sometimes there is nothing like the comfort food we grew up with. 

Just fill an individual bag of Fritos with the chili, add some cheese and onions, stick in a plastic (gasp!) fork, and enjoy!

For another great recipe using Fritos, be sure to also try slow cooker cheesy chicken and Frito casserole

Frito Pie Chili in Frito bags

Welcome to our #ChiliCookOff! 

We have delicious recipes from across the country to get your chili making to the next level of delicious!

Frito Pie Chili Recipe

Frito Pie Chili Recipe
Yield: 8 servings
Frito Pie Chili, old-fashioned ground beef chili with beans topped with lots of Fritos, melty cheese, and a sprinkling of diced onions.


  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (14 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (10 ounce) can Ro-tel
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Mexican oregano
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 (14 ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (14 ounce) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup corn meal
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 8 individual bags of Fritos, or 4 cups of Fritos
  • Grated cheddar cheese, diced red onion, and sour cream for garnish


How to cook Frito Pie Chili Recipe

  1. Brown the beef with the garlic until the beef is lightly browned.
  2. Add the tomato sauce, Ro-tel, salt, oregano, cumin, and chili powder.
  3. Simmer the ingredients, covered over low heat, for 30 minutes.
  4. Add the beans and cover and simmer over low for 20 more minutes.
  5. Whisk together the corn meal and warm water. Add the mixture to the chili, stir, cover, and simmer over low for another 10 minutes.
  6. Serve the chili in bowls topped with the Fritos, cheese, and onions.
  7. Alternatively, spoon the chili into 8 bags of Fritos that have been split open. Top with the cheese and onions.
Chili pie, Frito pie, chili
Main dish

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Created using The Recipes Generator

This recipe was adapted from The Pioneer Woman

Frito Pie Chili with melty cheese

Would you like to comment?

  1. It's the Fritos. I put some on my chili this week as well, and the cheese. There are so many kinds of chili this would not work out with, but this is one that does (and mine too). And I just can't imagine having it without. But Fritos are magic- I remember being a kid and smashing the chips to load into my brown bag lunch sandwich just before eating. Magic enough that it made bologna the food of kings. #GoFritos!

  2. I remember making those walking frito chili bags for my older kids when they were young and then I forgot about them. We do still crunch up corn chips, Fritos if we have them, into our chili instead of crackers.

  3. My one friend's favorite way to eat chili!!! One of these days, I'm going to make it especially for her!!!

  4. Yum! I totally love chili and Fritos! I could go for a bowl of this right now!

  5. Man it's been far too long since I've had frito pie!

    1. I totally was in the same boat with you until now!

  6. This is a favorite of my kiddos! They love to eat the meal right out of the bag!

  7. Just made these for neighborhood sit around the fire evening in Arizona. Surprised no one knew about this childhood classic. Top with cheese, green onions, sour cream, jalapenos, as options.


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