What was once country fair food is now king of game day eats. Authentic, Texas-style Frito Pie is all things cheesy, salty, crunchy, and best of all, easy. Quick-cooking ground beef becomes chili right before your eyes and it’s positively perfect for topping off a giant bowl of Fritos and smothering under a melty layer of Cheddar cheese.
Finish it off with diced onions, pickled jalapeños, or a dollop of sour cream, and watch the crowd go wild!
Sure — you could use canned chili to make Frito Pie at home, but if you’ve got 30 minutes, you’ve got enough time to make it extra special and exponentially better! Serve it at your next game day party or as a quick and easy weeknight dinner.
WHAT IS FRITO PIE
Frito Pie is not really a pie at all — it’s really more of a make-shift casserole than anything else. It consists of 2-3 layers, the fist of which is Frito Corn Chips. A ladle of chili is poured over the Fritos and the whole shebang is topped with grated Cheddar cheese and diced onions.
This American classic was often served in an actual bag of Fritos at state fairs and high school concession stands, but these days, you’ll likely find it properly contained in a bowl.
WHO INVENTED FRITO PIE?
The chili served over Fritos is traditionally a Texas-style chili (no beans, of course), which comes as no surprise seeing as how this dish originated in the Lonestar state and is considered true-blue Texas food. However, like most food origins, the beginning of Frito Pie has been disputed many times over.
New Mexico claims it was Teresa Hernandez who first served the dish at her Five and Dime store in the 1960s. However, Fritos corn chips were the brainchild of San Antonio native, Charles Elmer Doolin. And, the oldest written recipe using these particular corn chips with chili was actually published by Daisy Doolin (Charles’ mother) in Texas in 1949; she was assisting her son’s company in a campaign to “get people cooking with corn chips.”
The latter seems to be the more likely story of the two, but even still, there is a third claim that says it was actually the Frito-Lays corporate test kitchen that developed the recipe.
Regardless of who invented it, the dish rose to stardom when the corn chips came equipped with a printed recipe on the bag that read, “Heat can of chili, pour into bag of Fritos, and sprinkle with grated cheese, and chopped onion.”
As mentioned earlier, the dish takes a more sophisticated approach these days, now eaten out of an actual bowl rather than a plastic chip bag. If you want to refine the recipe even further, ditch the can of chili and make your own.
HOW TO MAKE FRITO PIE CHILI
- Brown the beef.
- Add chili ingredients and simmer.
- Add cornstarch and simmer 10-15 minutes more.
- Serve chili over Fritos and top with Cheddar.
BROWN THE BEEF
Brown the ground beef over medium-high heat, breaking it apart with a wooden spoon or utensil. Once it is cooked through, remove it from the heat and spoon out any excess grease.
ADD REMAINING CHILI INGREDIENTS
Return to the heat and stir in chili spices, canned tomatoes, beef broth, and tomato paste. Bring the mixture to a simmer.
THICKEN AND SIMMER
Make a cornstarch slurry by combining cornstarch and water. The cornstarch will help to thicken the chili. Add the slurry to the pan, stir, and allow to simmer 10-15 minutes more.
ASSEMBLE THE FRITO PIE
Lastly, add a generous handful of Fritos to a bowl, ladle over a spoonful of chili, and top with shredded cheese and other desired toppings!
WHAT GOES WITH FRITO PIE
Frito Pie is a meal in-and-of-itself. Sides are not necessary…at all. However, if you’d like to spruce it up with an onslaught of toppings, more power to you.
FRITO PIE TOPPINGS
- Shredded Cheddar
- Sliced Jalapeños (fresh or pickled)
- Chopped White Onion (finely diced)
- Sour Cream
- Diced Avocado
5 MORE GROUND BEEF RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE
- Doritos Casserole
- Tater Tot Casserole
- Beef Empanadas
- Ground Beef Stroganoff
- Homemade Hamburger Helper
Authentic Frito Pie is all things cheesy, salty, crunchy, and best of all, easy! Quick-cooking chili is served over Fritos and topped with melty cheese.
- 2 pounds 80/20 ground chili beef
- 2 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes (fire-roasted, if you can find them)
- 2 cups unsalted beef broth
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon corn starch
- 4-5 cups Fritos Corn Chips (use Original Fritos not Frito Scoops)
- 2 cups freshly grated Cheddar cheese
Place a large pan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef, break it apart, and cook for about 10 minutes (or until completely cooked through). Cut the heat and carefully spoon out a good majority of the excess grease, making sure to wipe the sides of the pan if there are any drippings.
Turn the heat back on, and add the spices, tomatoes, broth, and tomato paste to the beef. Stir and allow the mixture to come to a simmer. Reduce the heat as necessary to maintain a constant simmer.
In a small bowl, whisk together corn starch and 2 tablespoons cold water and stir it into the chili to thicken.
Allow the mixture to simmer for 10-15 minutes more, stirring often.
Add Fritos to a bowl, ladle over a generous cup of chili, and sprinkle with cheese. Add any additional desired toppings, serve, and enjoy!
Source: Wikipedia | Frito Pie