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Jan 28, 2024

Slow Cooker Cheesy Chicken and Frito Casserole

This slow cooker cheesy chicken and Frito casserole is an easy and tasty weeknight meal that everyone will love. 

Slow Cooker Cheesy Chicken and Frito Casserole on a blue plate.

With just a tiny bit of heat and spice, this Tex-Mex inspired casserole is both kid- and adult-friendly and completely satisfying. This comforting casserole takes very little hands on time to make and the resulting dish is wonderful. 

January 29th is National Corn Chip Day so I'm pretty sure you want to celebrate, right? 

Slow Cooker Cheesy Chicken and Frito Casserole in a blue pan.

While tortilla chips will do for celebrating this holiday, when I hear "corn chips," I always think of Fritos, the O.G. crunchy, salty, classic American snack. Don't get me wrong. I love Tortilla chips, especially homemade, and they are a great vehicle for delivering amazing tasty toppings and dips. However, Fritos, for me, with their unique flavor, stand on their own. 

There's just something decadent about Fritos that calls my name, which is why I can't keep them in my house, except for special occasions like making Walking Tacos, topping Chili Gumbo,  adding to a Chex Mix for a party, or for making this delicious cheesy chicken casserole. 

Slow Cooker Cheesy Chicken and Frito Casserole with a salad on a blue plate with the serving dish in the background.

P.S. Evidently, Fritos were originally created in 1932 in San Antonio Texas! And... it's the same inventor/company that came up with another magical snack, Cheetos, in 1948. 

Ingredients in this Frito Casserole:

Fritos: I used the Original version. Because you are slightly crushing them, I imagine that the "Scoops" will work too. I haven't tried the other various Frito flavors such as BBQ, Chili Cheese, Jalapeño, or Flamin' Hot, but they might be fun to play with too  

Ro-tel Diced Tomatoes and Green Chilies: I used the Original version but feel free to play with some of the other Ro-tel flavors. 

Canned Black Beans: I recommend Bush's black beans because they hold up well to the slow cooker and stay firm. 

Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs: They stay moist and shred beautifully. Just sprinkle them with salt and pepper before adding them to the slow cooker. 

Mexican Cheese Blend: This is typically a four-cheese blend that may include manchego, Oaxaca, cheddar, monterey jack, asadero, or other cheeses. I like the Cacique or Tilamook blends. 

Corn Kernels: You can use either canned or frozen. 

Instant Tapioca: To help thicken the sauce. You can usually find it in the pudding section of the baking aisle. 

Ground Cumin: It has a nice warming flavor without bringing too much heat. It's often used in curries.

Fresh Cilantro and one fresh jalapeño, halved and seeded: The jalapeño is optional, but I love the subtle flavor it adds. 

Slow Cooker Cheesy Chicken and Frito Casserole with a Frito Bag in the background.

Process for Making this Casserole:

First, drain the tomatoes and the beans and place them in a 6 to 7 quart slow cooker. Stir in the tapioca, cumin and jalapeño halves. Place the chicken thighs into the mixture, cover, and cook on low for four to five hours. 

Next, remove the chicken from the slow cooker and cut it into bite-sized pieces. Add some of the crushed Fritos, shredded cheese, and cilantro into the mix in the slow cooker and then add back the chicken. 

Finally, top with more cheese and crushed Fritos and serve it directly from the slow cooker. 

For a make-ahead option, transfer the mixture to a 9x9 inch shallow casserole and refrigerate. When you are ready to serve, top the casserole with more cheese and Fritos and bake in the oven until heated through.

Slow Cooker Cheesy Chicken and Frito Casserole in a blue casserole dish.

Reheating Leftovers:

Leftovers keep well in the refrigerator. To reheat individual servings, place them, uncovered, in a 375 degree F oven or toaster oven for about 20 minutes. This will re-crisp the Fritos on top. 

Serving Suggestions:

I served this casserole with a salad. My favorites include mixed greens, peach, and corn saladkale Caesar salad, or a simple green salad. 

Slow Cooker Cheesy Chicken and Frito Casserole on a plate with a salad and bread.

This is one of those dishes where you think you've put too much on your plate and won't be able to finish, but you end up devouring it all. It's so simple but so surprisingly delicious. 

More great recipes using corn chips from the Sunday Funday group:

Slow Cooker Cheesy Chicken and Frito Casserole on a plate with a salad.

Slow Cooker Cheesy Chicken and Frito Casserole

Slow Cooker Cheesy Chicken and Frito Casserole
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Author: Karen's Kitchen Stories
Prep time: 30 MinCook time: 4 H & 30 MTotal time: 5 Hour
This slow cooker cheesy chicken and Frito casserole is an easy and tasty weeknight meal that everyone will love.


  • 2 10-ounce cans Ro-tel diced tomatoes with green chiles, drained through a colander.
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons instant tapioca
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 fresh jalapeño, halved lengthwise, seeds and stem removed (optional)
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • Salt and pepper for sprinkling the chicken
  • 4 cups corn chips, gently crushed into smaller pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded Mexican cheese blend (you can add extra on top if you like)
  • 1 8-ounce can corn kernels (can substitute about 1/2 cup thawed frozen corn
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro


  1. Add the Ro-Tel tomatoes, black beans, tapioca, and cumin to a 6 to 7 quart slow cooker. Stir to combine.
  2. Place the jalapeño halved into the mixture.
  3. Trim any obvious excess fat from the chicken thighs and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Place them on top of the tomato and bean mixture, cover, and cook on low for 4 hours.
  4. Remove the chicken from the slow cooker and place it on a cutting board. Cut and shred into bite-sized pieces. Remove the jalapeños and discard.
  5. Stir 1 cup of the Fritos into the tomato mixture, and then stir in 1 cup of the cheese, the corn, and the cilantro. Add the chicken back into the slow cooker and gently stir.
  6. Sprinkle the top with the rest of the cheese and then the rest of the crushed Fritos. Cover and heat through for about 10 minutes.
  7. Alternatively, heat your oven to 350 degrees F while you are slicing the chicken. Once you have stirred in the chicken, transfer the mixture to a 9 inch by 9 inch shallow casserole, sprinkle the top with the cheese and the Fritos, and bake until the cheese has melted and the mixture is bubbly and the Fritos are crisp, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Nutrition Facts



Fat (grams)

35 g

Sat. Fat (grams)

9 g

Carbs (grams)

59 g

Fiber (grams)

9 g

Net carbs

50 g

Sugar (grams)

5 g

Protein (grams)

45 g

Cholesterol (grams)

170 mg
chicken, Fritos
main dish, casserole
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Recipe adapted from Slow Cooker Revolution Volume 2: The Easy Prep Edition from America's Test Kitchen. 

Would you like to comment?

  1. I know my family would love this casserole Karen.

  2. What a delicious and easy casserole, Karen! I just happen to have a package of deboned chicken thighs in my freezer so I'll be making it this week. Perfect comfort food for our chilly weather!

  3. We love these flavors, what a fun recipe!

  4. Why haven't I thought of making a casserole with frito as yet? Such a quick, easy and filling meal.

  5. Those Fritos have found their perfect home as a topping there.


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