Easy Frito Pie

updated Dec 15, 2021
Frito Pie Recipe

Cheesy corn chip-topped chili is a weeknight dinner win.

Serves8

Prep10 minutes

Cook30 minutes to 35 minutes

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Frito Pie
Credit: Photo: Danielle Acken | Food Stylist: Aurelia Louvet

On weeknights when I just need an easy dinnertime win, I choose from a short list of family favorites. Among the contenders are classic mac and cheese (from a box or homemade), Instant Pot spaghetti, and Frito pie.

Despite its name, Frito pie requires no pastry crust or decorative pie dish. Rather, it’s a hearty, warm bowl of cheese-and-chip-topped chili, served straight from the cast iron skillet it bakes in. Here’s how to make a crowd-pleasing Frito pie to the delight of even the pickiest of palates.

What Is Frito Pie?

Frito pie is essentially corn chips topped with chili, cheddar cheese, and onion. Purists may eschew other toppings, but if you’re OK with straying from the classic, avocado, pickled jalapeños, and sour cream are all tasty options (more on that below).

The exact origins of Frito pie are fuzzy. It’s claimed by both Texas and New Mexico, but it seems it’s the Texas high school sports stadiums where the corn chip and chili concession built a loyal following.

Credit: Photo: Danielle Acken | Food Stylist: Aurelia Louvet

How Do You Make Frito Pie from Scratch?

You may have seen this dish divided into individual Frito bags (hence the moniker “walking taco“), but I prefer the ease of serving Frito pie family-style from a cast iron skillet. Here’s how to make it.

  1. Brown the meat and onion. Sauté onion until soft and brown, then add ground beef, ground turkey, or plant-based ground beef.
  2. Add tomatoes, beans, and seasoning. Once the meat is brown, stir in diced tomatoes, pinto beans, and red enchilada sauce.
  3. Layer cheese and Fritos. Add a layer of shredded cheese, then top with a bag of corn chips and finish with the remaining shredded cheese.
  4. Bake. Bake until the chili is bubbling and the cheese melts.
  5. Serve with toppings. Spoon into serving bowls, add toppings, and enjoy.

What Are the Best Toppings for Frito Pie?

Top each serving of Frito pie with your favorite chili toppings. Choose from chopped raw onion, diced avocado, pickled jalapeños, sour cream, fresh cilantro, and sliced scallions.

Frito Pie Recipe

Cheesy corn chip-topped chili is a weeknight dinner win.

Prep time 10 minutes

Cook time 30 minutes to 35 minutes

Serves 8

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1

    medium yellow onion

  • 2 cups

    shredded sharp cheddar or Mexican-style cheese (8 ounces)

  • 2 (about 15-ounce) cans

    pinto beans

  • 1 (about 15-ounce) can

    diced tomatoes

  • 1 tablespoon

    vegetable oil

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt, divided

  • 1 pound

    lean ground beef, ground turkey, or plant-based ground beef

  • 1 (about 15-ounce) can

    red enchilada sauce

  • 1 (9.25-ounce) bag

    corn chips, such as Fritos

  • Topping options: chopped raw onion, diced avocado, pickled jalapeños, sour cream, fresh cilantro leaves, sliced scallions

Instructions

  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F.

  2. Prepare the following, arranging each in a small pile on a large cutting board as you complete it. Chop 1 yellow onion (about 1 cup). Shred 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese on the large holes of a box grater, if needed.

  3. Drain and rinse 2 cans pinto beans. Drain 1 can diced tomatoes.

  4. Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a large cast-iron or oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and 1/2 teaspoon of the kosher salt. Cook until the onion is softened and browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Add 1 pound lean ground beef and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Cook, breaking the meat into small pieces, until browned and no longer pink, 5 to 6 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat.

  5. Add the tomatoes, beans, and 1 can red enchilada sauce, and stir to combine.Sprinkle evenly with half of the shredded cheese. Top with 1 (9.25-ounce) bag Fritos, then sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

  6. Bake until the chili is bubbling and the cheese is melted, 20 to 25 minutes. Garnish with desired toppings.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The chili mixture can be made up to 3 days in advance and refrigerated. Rewarm in the skillet before topping and baking.

Storage: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days.