Fritoque bean and corn chip casserole DSC6957

Fritoque, bean and corn chip casserole

My first encounter with fritoque was in Robb Walsh’s “The Tex-Mex Cookbook.” He described it as a bean and corn chip casserole that was popular in San Antonio in the 1940s. The dish, which is a simple layering of cooked beans, crushed tortilla chips, and cheese, is baked until it’s melty and hot. To serve, you top it with sliced jalapeños.

His version had the casseroles baked in individual dishes, which calls to mind another dish that begins with “frito,” and that would be Frito pie. While fritoque (pronounced free-toe-kay), used beans instead of chili (and I assume the name came from the Spanish word for beans, frijoles), the combination of protein, chips, and cheese is indeed very similar.

Walsh said that he’d learned about fritoque in Arthur and Bobbie Coleman’s “The Texas Cookbook,” which was published in 1949. Curious to learn more, I decided to head to the source and see what they had to say.

The Colemans were a San Antonio-based couple who wrote about a myriad of Texan topics, but Texan cuisine seemed to be their greatest passion. After “The Texas Cookbook” was published, they also had a column in “The Dallas Morning News,” and while both their book and their newspaper stories covered a range of favorites, they seemed particularly fond of beans.

In their book, they explain fritoque was popular around San Antonio during this time. It was on the menu at San Antonio’s The Original Mexican Restaurant, and the Colemans wrote that each household also had their own interpretation of the dish.

For instance, recipes from the 1950s that appeared in the Texas press were similar to the Colemans’ version, as they called for chips, cheese, and either chili or beans, or perhaps a combination of the two. However, in the book “Fritos Pie: Stories, Recipes, and More,” Kaleta Doolin, daughter of Fritos founder Charles Elmer Doolin, shares her mother’s recipe, which was a baked creamy turkey casserole with Fritos. Fritoque was indeed a versatile dish.

So, what came first—fritoque or Frito pie? Mrs. Doolin’s recipe is from 1932, so it appears that a dish known as fritoque precedes Frito pie by a few years, as the latter’s first appearance in the press was in a 1946 edition of “The Electra (TX) News,” in which a Mrs. E.R. Graham shared a recipe to the Electra Home Demonstration Committee.

Fritoque, bean and corn chip casserole | Homesick Texan

Today, most serve Frito pie as an un-baked layered dish with chips, chili, and toppings all assembled before eating. Though my grandparents used to prepare Frito pie as a casserole, so perhaps you could argue that a baked Frito pie is simply fritoque by another name.

But enough about its history—how does fritoque taste? To me, it reminds me of sloppy nachos with its tangle of spicy beans, crisp chips, and gooey cheese. It’s the sort of quick and easy Tex-Mex concoction that’s equally welcome on a busy weeknight or after a late-night out with friends. It’s also a solid choice for game day.

To prepare fritoque is quite simple: You layer your Fritos or broken tortilla chips into a skillet, top with spicy pinto beans or black beans (or even chili, if you prefer), shredded cheese, then broil until bubbling and hot. Top with pickled jalapeños and serve with guacamole and sour cream.

Fritoque, bean and corn chip casserole | Homesick Texan

While fritoque may no longer known by name, its flavors, textures, and comforting essence will be familiar to all who love Texan cuisine. Soulful, satisfying, and good.

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5 from 1 vote

Fritoque, bean and corn chip casserole

Author Lisa Fain



  • Turn on the broiler and place a rack 6-inches from the heating element.
  • Place the chips along the bottom of a 10-inch cast-iron skillet or 9-inch baking dish. Layer on top the beans, then evenly cover with the cheese.
  • Place under the broiler for 1-2 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Serve immediately topped with pickled jalapeños with guacamole and sour cream on the side.


You want to use beans that have been seasoned, so if you're using canned pinto beans, taste and add salt, chili powder, and whatever you like to make them flavorful. Ranch style beans are excellent, as are seasoned black beans. You could also use chili, too. 

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5 from 1 vote (1 rating without comment)

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  1. Wow, the only thing I can say is that I’m hooked. I wanna taste it NOW! Looks absolutely incredible! Such a filling and affordable recipe. A great combo of flavors. I’m planning to make this for lunch in a couple of days. My family is going to go nuts over this dish.
    Thank you for sharing such a fantastic recipe with us Lisa. I love your blog so much. Look forward to your new awesome ideas. Keep the great recipes coming!

    1. Lisa Fain says:

      Ann–It’s definitely a crowd pleaser! Thank you for the kind words and enjoy the recipe!

  2. To paraphrase the late Waylon Jennings, in a G-Rated fashion, “Don’t y’all think this pickled jalapeno… er, stuff… has done got out of hand?” As one who dices and consumes the “Texas Trinity” (aka tomatoes/onions/freeeeeesh jalapenos; aka pico de gallo to the better-informed) by the bucket-load, I’ll concede that pickled jalapenos have their place. On ballpark nachos. On anything else is sacrilege. (and, before anyone calls me out, yes, technically pico de gallo does has four staple ingredients, not three; cilantro is an herb, however, which I’ll argue makes it a seasoning like other herbs — only not in dried form like most — thereby making pico de gallo a true trinity; we Texans do like to make our own rules, after all). And for the love of Goliad, leave the pickled jalapenos to the concessions already.

    1. Lisa Fain says:

      GD Slade–Pickled jalapeños have a longstanding tradition in both Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine and are a welcome hit of brightness and heat to many dishes. Though I reckon pico would be good on fritoque, too. To each their own! As you’ve noted, Texans indeed like to make their own rules!

  3. Jay Francis says:

    Robb first noticed the “fritoque” as a menu item for The Original Mexican Restaurant in San Antonio. But early on, we didn’t have a recipe. Eventually, he hit paydirt and found some sources for the recipe. A few years back, I was perusing an old cookbook in a second hand store. This particular book was a collection of “newspaper food critics favorite recipes” and I came across another mystery dish from years past called The Enchilada Puff. I followed the instructions diligently as it looked to be a kind of enchilada casserole, lasagna like. It wasn’t that great, as the chips lost all their crispiness and just became a soft mess. Flavor was good. It’s the kind of recipe I call “historically significant”. Here it is, along with my original notes:
    “Enchilada Puff Pies
    Every once in a while, when going through old cookbooks, I come across an interesting recipe from a past era. I was very interested in figuring out what “fritoque” was (it showed up on the menu of The Original Mexican Restaurant in San Antonio).
    Recently, in a resale shop, I came across a cookbook from the fifties that had the following recipe from Janet Christensen of The Boston Herald Traveler:
    1 lb. lean ground beef
    1 cup chopped onion
    2 8-oz. cans of tomato sauce
    1 2 ¼-oz. can sliced ripe olives
    ¼ cup water
    1 ½ tsp. chili powder
    1 tsp. salt
    ¼ tsp. cinnamon
    6 eggs, separated
    2 tbs. flour
    1 cup shredded Monterey Jack, Cheddar or Swiss cheese
    2 cups corn chips, coarsely crushed

    Brown the beef and onion lightly in a skillet. Pour off the fat. Stir in the tomato sauce, olives, water, chili powder, ½ tsp. salt, and cinnamon; bring to a boil.

    Beat the egg whites until stiff, moist peaks form.

    Beat the egg yolks with the same beater until thick and lemon colored. Blend in the remaining salt and flour. Fold in the cheese.

    Fold in the egg whites lightly.

    Cover the bottoms of 4 individual baking dishes with corn chips; spoon on beef mixture. Pile egg mixture on the meat; sprinkle with paprika.

    Bake at 350 F for 20 minutes or until the topping is puffed and golden.

    Serve immediately.

    1. Lisa Fain says:

      Jay–You are such a font of Tex-Mex information! Thank you for sharing this recipe. I look forward to making them!

  4. Priscilla says:

    Nachos on steroids!!!!!!! Yum!!!!

    1. Lisa Fain says:

      Priscilla–An apt description!