Main dish Soups Tex-Mex

Frito pie with one-hour Texas chili

Frito pie with one hour Texas chili DSC1022

When my grandparents were in graduate school at the University of Kentucky, they were—of course—homesick Texans. But they soon figured out that they could feel a lot closer to home if they indulged in that Texan classic, Frito pie.

Frito pie—if you are a deprived soul that has never eaten one—is simply a pile of Fritos topped with chili, cheese, diced onions and sometimes, if you’re feeling flush, pickled jalapenos and sour cream. In Texas, it’s a mainstay at Friday-night football games, county fairs, school-cafeteria lunches, church youth-group suppers and yes, even at home.

Typically, it’s served in the bag—you just open up an individual-sized Frito package, ladle on the chili and dip in with your spoon. Though I find when you’re eating it at home, a bowl is an acceptable vessel for serving it as well, though some people may argue that is just a bit too fancy for this humble dish.

Frito pie with one-hour Texas chili  | Homesick Texan

Now, as my grandma recalls, Fritos weren’t widely available in Kentucky in the late 1940’s—it was still mostly a Texan brand. And forget about even finding that other common ingredient for Frito pie—canned Wolf Brand chili. But they had a Texan friend at school that on trips back home to Corsicana would load up his car with bags of Fritos and cases of chili and bring these treasures back to Lexington. A Frito pie feast would then ensue.

I think those of us who are no longer in Texas can relate to filling our suitcases with beloved foods unavailable in our new home. Fortunately, however, Fritos are now found everywhere so if I get a craving I don’t have to go far. But canned chili? I don’t even bother with the stuff they sell in New York City as it’s always made with beans and without heat or flavor. Nope, when I make my Frito pies, I instead top it with a chili made from scratch.

Frito pie is a simple dish, which means I don’t want to spend too much time in the kitchen putting it together. And sure, my usual Texas chili is an all-day affair, slow-simmered cubes of beef richly flavored with a variety of chilis and spices. But for Frito pie, I instead make a one-hour chili from coarsely ground beef. And while it might not be as complex as my other chili, I find that it’s still spicy enough to be a fine complement to a pile of corn chips.

Frito pie with one-hour Texas chili  | Homesick Texan

When was the last time you had Frito pie? I have to admit that I don’t eat Frito pie nearly as often as I should. But I think my grandparents definitely had the right idea, as tucking into a bowl with friends is a superb way to celebrate home.
Would you like more Homesick Texan? Well, I’ve started offering additional recipes for paid subscribers to help with the costs of running the site. While I’m not taking anything away, if you’d like to support Homesick Texan and have access to exclusive, never-seen-before subscriber-only posts, please consider becoming a member; annual subscriptions are as low as $25. Thank you for reading, your consideration, and your support!

Frito pie with one hour Texas chili DSC1022
5 from 2 votes

Frito pie with one-hour Texas chili

Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 8
Author Lisa Fain


Ingredients for the one-hour Texas chili:

  • 6 dried ancho chiles, stems and seeds removed
  • 2 dried morita chiles, stems and seeds removed
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 medium-yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, diced minced
  • 4 pequin chiles
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • Pinch ground clove
  • Pinch ground allspice
  • 5 cups water
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons corn meal or masa harina (optional, but will thicken chili if needed)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice

Ingredients for the Frito pies:

  • 4 cups of Fritos
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, for serving
  • 1/4 cup of diced onions, for serving
  • Sliced jalapeños, for serving


  1. In a large skillet, heat the ancho and morita dried chiles on medium-high heat for a minute, turning once. Fill the skillet with water, and just as it begins to steam, turn off the heat and let the chiles soak until rehydrated, about 30 minutes.

  2. In a Dutch oven, heat the vegetable oil on medium low and while stirring occasionally cook the onions until translucent, about 5 minutes. Throw in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Place the cooked onion and garlic into a blender. Turn off the heat.
  3. Drain the chiles from the soaking water and add them to the blender along with the chile pequin (you don’t need to pre-soak these little chilis). Add the cumin, oregano, clove, allspice, and 1 cup of water. Blend until smooth.
  4. Blend the ground beef with the salt and pepper, then form the meat into little balls, about the size of a 1/2-inch marble. (This does not need to be perfect, so don’t spend too much time doing this. The purpose is to emulate chili chuck, a very coarse grind of beef sold in Texas)
  5. On medium heat, cook the beef while stirring occasionally, until lightly browned all over, about 10 minutes. Add the chile puree and the remaining 4 cups of water, heat on high until boiling and then simmer uncovered on low heat for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  6. After 45 minutes, taste and adjust the seasonings adding more salt as desired. Also, if the chili isn’t thick enough for you, slowly stir in the masa harina. Add the lime juice and then cook for 10 more minutes.

  7. To make the Frito pies, divide the Fritos between 4 to 8 bowls and ladle over them the chili. Top with the cheddar, diced onions, and jalapeños.

  1. Melissa

    The title alone put a smile on my face. When my dad was in charge of feeding us girls, he would usually make frito pie. I think I may have to have some soon.

  2. Girlfriend, you just made my mouth water. I tried explaining frito pie to my British husband, and he just couldn't wrap his head around it. I think it's time for me to grab a multi-pack of fritos and go to town.

  3. SCTacoLady

    I made frito pie this last weekend. I used Gordon Fowler's chili recipe from Saveur magazine. It was great and I had leftovers to freeze for a really quick dinner later.

  4. DessertForTwo

    Ohh, comfort food at it's finest. I love it. My mom used to cut open small bags of Fritos (one for each person) and ladle in the chili. It was heavenly. Thanks for reminding me I need to cook this soon! I love your 1-hr chili recipe! 🙂

  5. Californiacountry

    I love Frito Pie and am now lucky enough to have a Sonic in my town so I can have someone else make it for me if I want. My friend from Houston makes a Frito Pie Salad kind of thing that I also love. It is ground beef mixed with queso poured over lettuce, tomatoes, onion and Fritos.

  6. I blaspheme Frito Pie by making it with vegetarian chili, now. But mmm, so good. I think it requires copious, egregious, in fact, amounts of cheese. I never did the whole 'in the bag' thing, but then my mom wouldn't buy the little bags, so maybe that's why. I always remember that when my mom would make 'chili dogs' at the community pool in summers, we would eat frito pie because we weren't hot dog fans.

  7. Lisa Fain

    Amber–Yes, it is!

    Melissa–What a cool dad!

    DessertForTwo–I love it in the bag, too–hard to find those individual one in my part of NYC, though.

    SCTacoLady–I'll have to check out his chili recipe.

    Californiacountry–Apparently, there's now a Sonic just 8 miles from NYC. Will have to visit!

    Anna–I'd rather have Frito pie than a chili dog, any day!

  8. Rapunzel210

    My mother (a homesick Texan) made something she called Taco Pie out of leftover chili, fritos, and shredded cheese that she'd bake in the oven, in a cast-iron skillet, until the cheese melted. Sometimes we'd eat it over salad or just next to it–or all by itself! The cheese and fritos kind of mix together and and caramelize. It's awesome!

  9. indosungod

    Nothing compares to carting a suitcase full of food stuff in making you feel you are bringing a piece of home with you. Lentils, spices, dals of stuff travels transatlantic with us every time after a visit.

    I made your Mexican Rice (with puy lentils) served with mangoes and avocado and it was just delicious. Thank you.

  10. Great post Lisa! I can think of at least three restaurants here in Austin that have Frito Pies on the menu! It's just wrong to have them out though-it's definitely a home-made thing! I use Lady Bird Johnson's chili recipe from one of Robb Walsh's books-I think it has a whopping 6 ingredients.
    (This post also makes me miss James Coney Island in HOU-they serve FP's too)

  11. Kim West

    I just made this last night. "Chili night" at my house = frito pie all the time. I usually make it once a month. My kids don't know that there is another way to eat chili.

  12. The only time I've had Frito pie was on my first (and tragically only) trip to Texas. Unfortunately, it was a Friday during Lent and I didn't realize it was going to have chili on top. Now I'll have to try it.

    And I would like to thank Texas for giving the world the Frito.

  13. heather @ chiknpastry

    i've seen similar versions around – definitely looks good and easy! i remember eating lots of fritos growing up, so i could definitely get behind this.

    did i post back to tell you i made the mexican hot dogs? i did a "two-way" and made those and chicago dogs. they were awesome! loved the mayo on top 🙂

  14. Celeste

    This was served at our dorm cafeterias at Purdue University in the 80s. It was called Texas Straw Hat and was always served on a plate. I had never had it before or since…but that may be about to change! Thanks for a great memory.

  15. I LOVE Frito Pie! My husband, a native Californian, had never had it before I married him. He loves all the Texas foods I've brought into his life. I lived in Texas for 37 years before moving to Arizona years ago, which is where I met my husband. Poor guy was raised by California hippies who ate health food, so his childhood was void of most things yummy. He now begs for me to bring home Fritos when I grocery shop. We are never without them. We always have the makings for Frito pie on hand!

  16. -Bethany-

    Holy crap. I haven't had Frito pie in forever. I used to make it in college. Fortunately, I do have a can of Wolf brand chili hiding out in my cupboard. I don't know if I can handle this "one hour chili" business. If you know someone in the military, bases usually carry regional items. My dad is in the army, so I've been able to get Dr. Pepper and Wolf brand chili as far north as DC. Haven't tried anywhere near NYC though.

  17. Kelly @ EvilShenanigans

    When I was a kid I used to look forward to football games at the high school simply because of the Frito-Pie. I still enjoy one, from time to time, and they always take me back!

  18. Gabriela

    I love Frito Pie, as a homesick New Mexican in college I'd make it for my beau's roomates on Superbowl. They all thought it was the best Superbowl food they'd ever had! My mama's recipe calls for a bowl o' fritos topped with a laddle full of fresh cooked pinto beans, another laddle full of New Mexican red chile with pork (chile without beans!), garnished with onion, lettuce and tomatoe! P.S. My friend from Virginia say she grew up calling it "Taco in a bag".

  19. Lisa Fain

    Rapunzel210–That's how my grandma makes it, too. She bakes it until the cheese melts.

    Indosungod–Thank you! I love the multicultural tone of Mexican rice with puy lentils!

    Frank–The famous Pedernales River Chili! I've never made it, but I should. Though I always wondered why there was tomatoes in it as I was taught that tomatoes are as about as welcome as beans in your chili.

    Kim West–Your kids are very fortunate!

    Heather–So happy you liked the Mexican dogs!

    Deanna–Oh, no! Well, you'll definitely have to try it again.

    Celeste–What a fun name!

    Cookie–Poor guy, indeed! Thank you for introducing him to some proper grub!

    Bethany–Ha! One hour is indeed a long time to wait, especially if you have a can on hand. They don't sell it here, sadly.

    Kelly–Yes! We ate them every Friday night–definitely the highlight of football games for me.

  20. I think it's always a good idea to travel with one empty suitcase just for food supplies! I've never done a comparison, but I bet this is better out of the bag.

  21. trinalozoya

    It has been AGES since I've had Frito Pie! I might have the fixings (with Wolf Brand, rather than homemade chili) in the pantry. If so, that's for dinner. If not – tomorrow I'm walking down the street to the Chili Parlor for lunch!!

  22. Mmmm, mmm. This is my very favorite thing to order at either Cowgirl Hall of Fame or R.U.B. here in NYC. But I haven't been to either in a while, so maybe it's time for a trip. Thanks for making my mouth water!

  23. Cook in a Bar

    Frito pie is one of our family favorites. In fact, it was the first thing my mother learned to make when she was married. She made it one night and my father loved it, so she made it the next night, and then the next night. On the fourth night, my father suggested they have something else. Thanks for sharing!

  24. The Runaway Spoon

    Back when my friends were going through second (or third) rounds of new babies, my favorite dish to deliver was chili, fixin's, mini bags of Fritos and instructions. Everyone loves chili, dads can manage to serve it right, and the older kids got a kick out of eating dinner from a frito bag. I haven't made a frito pie in awhile, but now I feel one coming on.

  25. Bravo! Love the Frito Pie, although my middle age has caught up with me and should I indulge, I must chase it with a handful of Pepcid or TUMS. Regardless, I think I know what my weekend splurge will be now! Hmmm, and washed down with a Negro Modelo or Tecate!

  26. physicschick

    I love love love Frito pie. My granny would layer it in a big metal pot and bake it. But I love it straight from the bag with hot chili and nacho cheese in the cool air at Friday night football games.

  27. Oh my word. I haven't had Frito pie in *years* but now I have a craving.

  28. Tatersmama

    Ahhh… I just spent 3 weeks in California, and never did manage to have a Frito Pie! That sucks, now doesn't it? Sadly, a bag of Fritos here in Australia would set me back almost $12, so I guess I'm just going to have to buck up and pay it – or go hungry. 😉

  29. Farmer Jen

    Haven't had frito pie in years! Thanks for the idea and memories.

  30. I make the Pedernales River Chili recipe from Jane Butel's "Chili Madness" cookbook and eat it using Fritos Scoops as spoons. Does this count, sort of? I'm from the Midwest and haven't been to a restaurant that serves Fritos Pie the authentic way.

  31. I don't make Frito pie since I can't eat very much since my stomach surgery. But I love chili and know I would love this. But the mention of Corsicana made me remember a gift I got one Christmas in San Antonio. the only really good fruitcake ever made comes from there.

  32. My family loves Frito pie, an anomaly found in this house due to King of The Hill. We just had to know what Frito pie was all about. This chili recipe will have me appreciating the wonder that is Frito pie all the more.

  33. AnonymousHungryCommenter

    Looks like more than an hour. I want it now!

  34. "Friend, how long's it been since you had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili? Well, that's too long!"

    Makes my mouth water just thinking about good chili – especially way out here in North Carolina! When I go home in June to visit I am taking an empty trunk so I can fill it up for the return trip!

    Thanks for the memories – Suzie

  35. Ahhh… I can remember eating these right from the bag at the softball field after a game when I was in high school. Needless to say, I have not seen them in Vermont, but did get to enjoy one on a trip to Santa Fe where they were advertised everywhere. Thanks for bringing all my Texas food memories back to me!

  36. Little Warrior's Mom

    I was eating some of this recently and my Dad (born in '29) told me about the "tamale pie" they used to serve in the school cafeteria at Center High School (East Texas). It was basically frito pie, but instead of fritos, there was a thick layer of grits. I need to try that …

  37. Charlotte

    I grew up eating Frito Pie which we could get just about everywhere including the Dairy Queen. For a quick meal when my husband is traveling I make it using Hormel hot chili…not as good as Wolf brand, but not too bad. I just pile it all together in a bowl and put it in the microwave, then I finish it off with a big squirt of ketchup!

  38. alexisfromtexas

    To hell with Weight Watchers today – I've got to have some Frito Pie! It's been too long (like the old Wolf Brand Chili commercials)!!!!

  39. monicaj66

    It is a tradition at our house to eat frito pie the night before school starts. Don't really know how the tradition got started but now I fear the school year wouldn't go well unless we had our traditional bowl of frito pie to start us off.

  40. Anonymous

    When I was a kid in Junior High. There was a joint across the street from our school that served lunch, candy, cokes. All the stuff us kids strive for. But one of their specials was called the Mustang Special. It was a frito pie, but it had shredded lettuce on top. It is awesome. The lettuce is great with it. Try it!

  41. Lisa Fain

    Lisa–I always carry an extra bag when I go home.

    Trinalozoya–Well, then it's been too long!

    Cook in a Bar–What a great stoy!

    Aaron–It is indeed time for a trip!

    The Runaway Spoon–What a great idea!

    Leslie–I hear you about the after-effects of indulging. I drink a shot apple cider vinegar and that always cures all heartburn.

    Physicschick–It must be a generational thing because that's how my grandma makes it as well.

    Andrea–It's been too long!

    Tatersmama–$12? That's insane! If you can find corn tortillas you might be better off making your own.

    Farmer Jen–You're very welcome!

    Gregg–That's a perfect use of Fritos Scoops.

    Lindie–Yes! Those fruit cakes are world famous.

    Sarah–King of the Hill is such a great show!

    Hungry–Be patient!

    Suzie–I love those ads!

    Martha–Yep, they were always found at school games.

    Little Warrior's Mom–I should write about tamale pie, I have a few recipes for it. So good!

    Charlotte-I didn't know they had it at Dairy Queen.

    AlexisfromTexas–That's the nice thing about WW, at least you can indulge yourself every once in a while. Enjoy!

    Monicaj66–What a wonderful tradition!

    Anon–I bet the shredded lettuce gives it a cooling crunch. I'll definitely have to try that!

  42. Lea Ann

    Oh yum! We used to make that in College, except we were lame and used canned chili. I'm surprised Fritos are that old!

  43. Elizabeth

    As a former homesick Texan (we moved back to the Hill Country last year) I used to crave Frito pie. The Walmart where we lived in north Georgia started carrying Wolf Brand Chile. You may want to check out yours – they may order it for you.

  44. HoneyHoneyNY

    I adore Frito Pie. I didn't grow up in Texas, but from the first bite I had on a childhood trip through Texas, I was in love. I used to pester my mother to buy a bag of Fritos every time she made chili. I still make it myself from time to time. I ate a bowl of it last week for lunch. Crunchy salty spicy love.

  45. CentralTexan

    Wish I had a nickel for every Frito pie I've eaten at Texas high school football/basketball games! I'd have lots of nickels! Frito Pie–YUMMMM!
    Lisa, you have Corsicana roots–that's close to my Wortham roots. Small World! I always enjoy your recipes, but the stories that go with them really make them special. Keep it up!

  46. Right here in Texas Frito Pie is a favorite…it is so worth it to make your own chili to make it even tastier! I love to freeze a few packages of chili and it's a quick and easy dish for lunch or supper!

  47. Your recipes always make me so happy and CRAVE Texas. I am a Homesick Texan in Chicago and describing Frito Pie to people here makes me laugh because they don't quite get it, but always end up thinking it sounds delicious. I am making this next weekend for some friends. Yum!

  48. Kathryn Magendie

    YES! Frito Pie! I used to eat years back and every so often I have to have it — even if it's a vegetarian version (okay, I have family and friends in Texas and Louisiana and they force meat down my throat when I visit *laugh*)

    Wish I had some now – *sigh*

  49. Anonymous

    We usually make this with Wolf Brand Chili, but occasionally with homemade. In addition to the chili, cheese and Fritos, we also usually include chopped lettuce, tomatoes and avocado and sometimes pinto beans and/or canned kernel corn and frequently top with sour cream. Cilantro is sometimes good with it, too. If dieting, I like to use a low fat homemade chili as a topping for the salad ingredients. Sadly, of course, I have to go a bit easier on the Fritos then, too, or use baked tortilla chips. I signed on here as Jade once but don't remember password and don't understand the new sign on so will just go with anonymous for now.

  50. Westex BBQ

    Frito pie, all time classic comfort food. Try it with a melted mix of 1lb velveeta and 1 can of Rotel as one of the layers between the fritos and the chili, add some diced japs with the onions and top it all off with shredded jack. I have turned on several 'Lawn guylanders' to this ol' Texas goodness.

  51. Anonymous

    YUM! This homesick Texan approves. Its been too long, Partner. Thanks for the Corsicana (my hometown) shout out – home of Wolf Brand Chili, but you have a typo and spelled Corsicana wrong 🙁
    LOVE your blog and all your recipes!

  52. Allison

    I have often eaten my chili with fritos, but have yet to try eating it out of the bag itself. I guess I'm always afraid that it might be too hot? I may have to just give up that fear though.

  53. The Nervous Cook

    I love this post so much — and so does my Okie-in–New York husband!

  54. Pandora'sMusings

    I used to come home from late night rehearsals in high school and indulge in a big bowl of frito pie before knocking out in corn/chili induced slumber.

    This is seriously one of the best comfort foods out there, hands down.

  55. Oh wow! Every time I get your blog posts I think that you must really miss us here in Texas! I'm in the hill country and the wine cocktail Bell Mountain makes, Vina Rita Margarita, would go perfect with this!!

  56. Wolf Brand Chili… man, you just made my mouth water! I was thrilled when I finally found Ro-Tel up here in PA (although about 3 times the price as it is in TX), but if I found Wolf Brand Chili here, I'd be in high heaven.

    I will definitely have to figure out how to make this chili!

    — another homesick Texan

  57. Helen in CA

    What if I can't find the morita & pequin chiles?

    'Cause this sounds Really Good!

  58. I love Jesus

    Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh I live all the way here in United Arab Emirates and guess what? they have fritos! time to go to spinny's!!!! woo hooo! The memories!!!! I'll be making this soonish!!! no one does food, like TEXANS!!!!! NO ONE!

  59. Lisa Fain

    Lea Ann–I think most people make it with canned chili. And yep, Fritos were introduced in the 1930s.

    Elizabeth–I'll do that!

    HoneyHoneyNY–Crunchy, salty, spicy love indeed!

    Central Texan–I think we'd all be rich! And sadly, I don't have Corsicana roots–my grandparents' friend did.

    Leah–I agree! And that's a great tip about freezing packages of chili!

    Karee–I think Frito pie and queso are two things that strangers just don't get. Until they try it, of course!

    Kathryn–I'm sure your vegetarian version is delicious!

    Jade–It's so good when topped with all those extra vegetables!

    Westex BBQ–Oh, my–now that's decadent!

    GLory–Oops, thank you!

    Allison–I've never had a problem with the bag being too hot.

    The Nervous Cook–Excellent news!

    Pandora's Musings–I agree!

    Karen–I do miss y'all!

    Jenn–I should write the people at Wolf Brand a letter and let them know that they need to increase their distribution as their chili is missed!

    Helen–I'd use chipotles and maybe a 1/4 teaspoon (or more to taste) of powdered cayenne pepper.

    I love Jesus–Good to know!

  60. Texan Teen

    new to your blog, it's amazing!

    ahhh i love Frito pie… i haven't had it in the longest time ever!

  61. Lisa, which do you think came first? Chili cheese fries or Frito pie ? Just curious.

    I'll be sure to try this real soon, as it sounds absolutely scrumptious. This could become another guilty pleasure as well.

    btw, do you think this would work with Bugles ?

  62. growler

    Lisa: Supposedly (according to the ConAgra site) Wolf Brand Chili is available at Targets in the area. I assume the easiest for you to get to would be the awful hellhole that is the Target in Brooklyn; though if you have a car, or access to one, there's a few just across the river in Jersey that are a lot more pleasant.

  63. What A Dish!

    Oh man, I LOVE Frito Pies and I'm not even close to being from Texas!! Lol! I like to use homemade chili now too on them- tastier and not as salty.

  64. When I was a kid in Slaton TX…my dad who worked on the railroad would stop in Floydada at the twin coney and brought home the most marvelous chili dogs (in hamburger bun) does any one remember this and is the place still there? Your chili recipe made me remember this place! thanks!!!

  65. Texan in Vancouver

    Great post! I would add that for those so inclined, Trader Joe's sells organic fritos which are out of this world. They're great in frito pie and every other way, too.

  66. Marianne

    Never had Frito Pie, but I think it's on the to-try list for sure.

    But this is a belated thank you for all the wonderful recipes you post, and I've tried a lot of them. Your recipe for Carnita's is wonderful, and I make it for myself from time to time. The only problem is I eat it all, and then end up in a coma on the couch saying "WHY, did I eat the whole thing?" LOL. Thanks to your recipes I can approximate some of the food I love, while living in a small town in Florida. There just aren't that many choices for eating out here. But I can cook, and I do.

  67. ATexanDon'tYaKnow

    I'm a "Homesick Texan" living in Minnesota. I tried to explain Frito Pie and they looked at me like I was on drugs!! I will have to make this and share it with my friends. : )

  68. Hi! I had to smile when I opened your blog today. My DH just came in and asked me to make some of my "mama's" chili today so we could have some Frito pie. Yum. 'Couse we're from TX!

  69. Class factotum

    I love Frito pie. When I was a lifeguard in San Antonio when I was in high school and college, I would get Frito pie (in the bag) for lunch from the snack bar.

    There is a little shop by my house now (I live in Milwaukee) that sells Frito pie. I have been telling myself for two years that I am going to get some, but I have yet to get it. Maybe because I know it won't be as good as that Texas pie was 27 years ago.

  70. We're Homesick Texans in Louisville — have been here three years and will probably be here three more. Your grandparents would be amazed to know that we can now get Blue Bell and Shiner here in Kentucky!

    We did, however, run into the unfortunate argument of some locals that chili is supposed to have beans and be served on top of spaghetti (Cincinnati-style). My husband not only gave them an entire lecture on the history of chili con carne, but then had them all over for a good pot o' red. We had Frito Pie makings available for those who couldn't imagine having chili without a starch underneath. We, of course, were just happy to have Frito Pies because it is comfort and home in a bowl.

    Thanks for all the great posts and ideas. We love your slightly fancy-pants version of King Ranch Casserole (the only one I make now), and we've used your Dr. Pepper rib recipe as a starting point to for a great braised beef rib. Can't wait for the next great idea!

  71. Tasty Eats At Home

    You've just reminded me that it's been WAY too long since my last Frito Pie. Sonny Bryan's around here has a great variation – a BBQ frito pie. It's amazing. Anyway, I'm definitely putting this on the list to make soon!

  72. Steff @ The Kitchen Trials

    Frito Pie makes me happy. Thank you for sharing this and making me smile.

    And now, I need to work some Frito Pie into my very, very near future.

  73. Sarah: I moved to Louisville from western Kentucky in 1987. Quite frankly, I was probably just as shocked (not to mention disgusted) to learn about the whole chili on spaghetti thing. The first time I heard about it, I thought they were joking.

    And I think we started getting Blue Bell here right about the time you moved here.

  74. Anonymous

    We're homesick in CT, and the other Texas (or at least San Antonio) classic using Fritos is the bean burger- cheez whiz, crushed up fritos, chopped white onion and refried beans on a patty with a toasted bun. Yum!

  75. Love this! My kids (2 West/1 East Coast) love frito pie. How could I raise three kids and not serve frito pie? It is one of the easiest and best quick meals ever! Thank you for the reminder. Personally, I love mine with jalapenos and sour cream…. Yummy!

  76. Screwed Up Texan

    I almost stopped going to Sonic when I discovered they stopped selling Frito Pie.

  77. Thanks for this article! After inspired shopping this weekend, I introduced my Central NY co-workers to the Frito Pie concept at lunch today. Yum!!!

  78. It is kinda the perfect food… (eco-friendly if you eat it in the bag!) With a side of mac and cheese it it the perfect meal!

    I grew up eating it at Friday night football games. Me in my band uniform, eating Frito pie with a plastic fork. Might be an all-time favorite memory.

    Fast forward to feeding my vegetarian kids Frito pie in Colorado…always eaten in bags, and we used Wick Fowler's chili mix with veggie ground meat. Sacrilegious, I know, but they didn't know the difference. Lots of cheese and white onion.

    Thanks for the memories!

  79. Texan in Bavaria

    ohhh, that looks so good. They don't have Frito's in Germany, or Wolf Brand but luckly my husband is in California right now and has added this to his list of what to bring back from the States.

  80. Growing up in the heart of Dallas…who DIDN'T take a tour of the Frito Lay plant ?…..not many I bet

  81. Weekend Cowgirl

    Frito Pie- my favorite food! This recipe looks great and is faster than mine so I will be trying it out very soon!

  82. Thanks for posting your 1-hour chili recipe. When we moved to Hawaii, I had a difficult time finding a butcher who would do the coarse-grind chuck for me, but finally found one about 20 minutes from my house–Yay! My husband and I have this ongoing "discussion" about chili since I grew up with Dad, a Real Texan, making beefy homemade chili, and he grew up with his Midwestern mom making tomato-laden junk she called chili. Smile. I give him the concession of one can of Ro-tel in our chili when he's watching and zero tomatoes when he's not.

    Frito pie ranks among the favorites when my children were growing up in Lubbock, Texas, my home town. Guess what we're having for lunch tomorrow? Thanks again from another homesick Texan!
    Shirl in Hawaii

  83. mmmmmmmm…frito pie. my mom's version was baked and oh so tasty. fritos, wolf brand chili, a can of diced tomatoes, and a mashed up can of tamales (very important), all mixed together and then covered with cheese. i have to make it without the wolf brand now, i'm in california, but it still makes me feel like a little kid whenever i eat it.

  84. Mike: I lived in Houston during my elementary school years, and one year, my class took a field trip to the Frito-Lay plant in Houston. The one memory that still stands out in my mind was seeing giant logs of Frito dough (for lack of a better term) just before they were turned into Fritos.

  85. Dude! I ate these all the time in middle school here in Arizona, though they were called Traveling Tacos. A local joint here sells them as Chilitos, as well, though its more of a skimpy taco salad w/ fritos.

    I had no idea they were a traditional family meal – this is amazing! I've gotta start these up this summer at the pool where I work. Can you make 1-hr chile in a crock pot?

    BTW: This is an awesome blog, I'm an avid reader and I can't wait for the new recipe book.

  86. Anonymous

    Grew up in Waco, where my mother fixed frito pie (in a pie pan –we thought Fritos were a great crust). Then in college at Southwestern U. in Georgetown, had my first Frito Pie in the bag at the Dairy Queen. Thought I'd died and gone to heaven. Thanks for the memories.

  87. frito pies remind me of my high school cafeteria, although I'm sure a good homemade version suchy as this is a trillion times better

    will have to try it for sure!

  88. you said the magic word when you said wolf brand chili. Im down to two cans and I am hoarding them for a bad day!!! LOL that is my comfort food, and I always make people bring them to me when they visit!

  89. frances g.

    my husband sent me this recipe a while back and i was skeptical. fritos? really?! i'm a big girl and i admit when i'm wrong. i made frito pie tonight for dinner and it was delicious. my husband described the chili as a high-brow version of a chili burger/dog/fry chili with tons of flavor. he was surprised to hear it really only took an hour of simmering. i couldn't find chile pequin, so i used chile de arbol, which added nice heat. i'm adding this recipe to our dinner rotation — it's fritolicious! thanks for sharing. 🙂

  90. Just after I moved to Colorado, we were discussing having a chili potluck at the office. I volunteered to bring some Texas red (of course) and the fixins for Frito Pie.

    One of my coworkers curled her nose and hollered, "Ewww! You make a PIE out of FRITOS? Are they in the crust of what?" One of the literal LOL cultural confusion moments I've experienced here.

  91. I have never had frito pie but, ironically I am living in Kentucky (Louisville) and have seen it on the menu of a few places here! I will have to try it in honor of your grandparents!

  92. I remember back to my little league baseball days. They used the small individual bags of Fritos. They would cut a slit in the bag along one edge and then add chili and cheese. Great stuff.

  93. Stephanie

    Just found your blog from a google search! I, too, am a homesick Texan – originally from San Antonio but now living in California. I sympathize with the "no good Mexican food" feeling, and definitely no good Tex-Mex outside of Texas.

    Anyway, the point of this comment was to say – I introduced my California boyfriend to Frito Pie at a Super Bowl party this year. He didn't believe me that such a thing existed, but now he's a convert!

  94. Anonymous

    my grandmother made a different version that some might like–I just made it after returning to Ohio from a 3-week trip back home.

    very fast and easy

    make 1 pound taco meat–whatever recipe you prefer

    a bag of fritos

    cheddar cheese and Mexican farmer cheese or Velveeta cheese if you prefer

    chopped fresh green or sweet onions

    optional: chopped fresh jalapenos, tomatoes

    shredded lettuce

    fresh salsa and sour cream

    How to make:
    layer fritos in the bottom of a casserole dish–don't measure, just shake a bunch in

    next layer-1/2 of the taco meat

    a bunch of cheese

    repeat layers: fritos, taco meat, cheese

    finish off with another layer of fritos and cheese if you are as greedy as my kids are for salt and cheese, plus the last layer of fritos stay very crispy

    bake in 350 degree oven until cheese melts

    serve each person some pie

    they can top with fresh chopped onions, fresh chopped jalapenos, fresh chopped tomatoes, shredded lettuce, fresh salsa, sour cream…whatever they want

    Rosemerry–homesick for Texas in Ohio

  95. When my little brother played T-Ball in the 70's, I worked the concession stand where we made lots of Frito Pies served in the Fritos bag.

    I just told hubby about how it seems that Fritos are harder to find outside of Texas — neither of us knew that haha. And of course now I must make Frito Pies soon, since I "put the craving" on him LOL

    When I was a kid, and we flew to visit Grandma in New England, we had to leave room to bring steaks and fruit, since Grandma said the steak and fruit up there was awful and cost more than our good stuff. We'd bring back lobsters and maple syrup 8^)

  96. I too am a homesick Texan, living in Springfield, Missouri. & I got a wonderful Christmas present from my local chain of grocery stores. They now carry Wolf Brand Chili! Helps with the homesickness so much.

  97. Tejana Mama

    I just happend upon this site, looking for a good recipe for sour cream chicken enchiladas, and the Frito pie recipe just jumped out at me. I am taken back to the West U. Little League field in Houston – eating Frito pie after our softball games were over (and of course watching and flirting with the boys!). As a homesick Texan in Seattle, I sure am glad to find your site.

  98. Stephanie

    OMG! I learned to make Frito Chili Pie as a layered casserole when I was 8 years old and a Campfire Girl. It went with me through the years and it was a staple of the menu for camping trips. The now adult children of our regular camping partners who are from Long Island still tell stories of their crazy 'aunt' making this.

  99. Anonymous

    We Tennesseans do the frito pie as well; in fact, we have a regional restaurant chain more or less dedicated to it–called Petro's. I grew up eating their layered chili cups (fritos on the bottom, meat-and-bean soup, cheese, green onions, salsa, and so on). Apparently they got their start during the World's Fair when it came to Knoxville. I no longer live in Tennessee (one could say I'm a homesick Tennessean) and I definitely miss those fritos. Chili doesn't seem to be such a big thing up here in New England.

  100. Do you happen to have a recipe for *real* Fritos? I am craving Frito Pie now, but I'll never find Fritos here in Germany and any good Texan knows that tortilla chips are a poor substitute. Thanks for keeping my belly happy! 🙂

  101. I think if I ever findmyself in a situation where I have to pick my last meal it will be a huge helping of frito pie with wolf brand chili without beans huge glass of dr pepper or big red and I'm set..lucky enough for. Me they sell wolf brand chili in alabama

  102. Lisa, please help, I've done it wrong. After spending forever making meat-marbles, the end product feels like a batch of the world's blandest meatballs in a tasty spicy sauce. I get the feeling I wasn't supposed to end up with a meatball stew? Where did I go wrong?

  103. Lisa Fain

    Mijke–Maybe adjust the spices. Did you add some masa harina to make the gravy thick?

  104. I added cornmeal but it seemed like the meatballs were the problem. Maybe I made them too big. (I also neglected to buy Fritos and lime, so there were several things missing…) Have you got a photo of this chili without the toppings?

  105. Lisa Fain

    Mijke–I don't have a photo. The meat should be about 1/2 inch wide. And chili is definitely improvisational, so season to taste. If you made the balls too large, perhaps breaking them with a spoon so they're better integrated with the meat will improve the taste.

  106. Brian Link

    Thanks for this post! I've been trying to relocate a junk-food favorite from my youth, "The Chili Frito" from the chain "Taco John's". They don't make it any more, but they still serve their red chili in various locations, none of which are close to me.

    I've been using Hormel chili as a stop-gap. My wife has discovered a great recipe for Skyway Chili, created by some obsessive beer-blogger who's gone through, at this date, 28 successive attempts to duplicate the recipe. It's great for Coney Island hot dogs and chili 3-way, but the only thing it shares in common with Southwestern chili is the name "chili".
    Gonna give your chili recipe a try tomorrow. Thanks!

  107. Making frito pie this morning. My daughter's school (in New Jersey) is having a heritage luncheon today. The kids are supposed to bring something that reflects their ethnic heritage. We decided to go with her Texan heritage!

  108. Margo Haynes

    Lisa I was 80 in late October and I remember my daddy making the chili pie with the Canned Wolf Brand Chili. However back in the 40’s the canned Wolf Brand Chili was not made with ground hamburger meat it was made with with real chunks of beef and no beans! Today’s Wolf Brand Chili is a perfect example of when something is already good you do NOT mess with it. However today, like you I prefer my own homemade chunky beef chili simmered all day on the stove!

    • Lisa Fain

      Margo–Thank you for sharing your memory with me! I didn’t know that it was originally made with chunks of beef. That’s a big difference than what it is today!

  109. My “frito pie” is made like my elementary school used to make it. Serve the chili over a rice pilaf with fritos and melt the cheese. Super yummy. Kind of a beans and rice thing but with fritos and cheese too. I prefer my chili with beans though. 😀

  110. 5 stars
    Oh, holy cats, we made this chili tonight and it is OUTSTANDING. We can always count on you for terrific recipes, and this was particularly excellent. Poured over Fritos with cheese, sour cream, onion, and jalapenos, out of this world. And we’re not pining away for Texas food–we’re IN Texas, and this beats anything we can get locally, I swear. Thank you so much.

    • Lisa Fain

      Nina=-Thank you for the high praise! I’m so thrilled that y’all enjoyed the Frito pie!

Leave a Reply to The Nervous Cook Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.

Recipe Rating