Frito Pie with black bean chili. Basically, a casserole of chili topped with a layer of Fritos that are covered in melted cheese and all your favorite chili toppings. A bowl of chili with cheese nachos baked on top. This is the ultimate Superbowl recipe, Frito Pie is one of my guilty pleasures, and I can’t remember the last time I ate chili without Fritos and cheese.
The Frito Lay headquarters is right down the street from where I live in Dallas, so Fritos and chili are a big deal here. Often, I will simply put the Fritos in the bottom of the bowl and spoon the chili over the top. Top the bowl with cheese, onions, and jalapeños and that’s good Texas grub. For this casserole, I spread the chili in an even layer, then build a layer of nachos, made out of Fritos on top.
In the pictures, I made the black bean chili Frito Pie casserole topped with only Fritos and cheese. But don’t hold back, any type of nachos you like are great on top of the layer of chili. I love to garnish the Frito pie with guacamole, pickled jalapeños, diced onions, salsa, and sour cream, just to name a few.
Black Bean Chili
The base of the Frito Pie is really easy to make chili with two main ingredients; beef and black beans. Thick and hearty, this is a great chili con carne all on its own, but extra fun with a layer of Fritos nachos on top. I make my own spice mix, however, there are plenty of good store-bought mixes. The store-bought spice mixes aren’t as good as making your own from scratch, but they work.
These are the spice mix ingredients for Frito pie:
- Chili Powder, Red Pepper Flakes, and Cayenne Pepper: In the USA, chili powder refers to Ancho chilies. This is a very mild, dark brown chili powder, not to be confused with cayenne or other hot chilies. Since there is ½-cup in the Frito pie, you want to make sure it’s mild, the heat comes from the cayenne pepper and red pepper flakes.
- Ground Cumin: One of the most recognized flavors in chili. Ground cumin’s warm and Earthy nuttiness is what gives the Frito pie its distinctive flavor.
- Paprika: Adds a mildly spicy, sweet, and beautiful color to the chili.
- Oregano: The oregano adds a subtle Earthy aromatic hint of flavor to the chili. It’s a great compliment to the Fritos and cheddar cheese.
- Lime Juice: A squeeze of fresh lime juice adds a touch of acidity to the chili. You wouldn’t know it was there, but the tartness of the lime is what sets apart a good chili from a great chili.
Frito Pie Garnish
- Fresh or Pickled Jalapeños: like your chili and Fritos with a little extra kick? I prefer pickled jalapeños, but fresh is nice as well.
- Sour Cream: Adds a nice creaminess to the chili and helps cool things down a little. Remember, the Frito pie is basically nachos, anything good on nachos is good on Frito pie.
- Diced Green Onions or White Onions: Always good on chili, they add a nice crisp crunch, pungency, and freshness.
- Crisp Bacon: I mean, yeah, bacon. I love the crispy bacon crumbles sprinkled over the top of a bowl of chili just before eating. It’s a great compliment to the Frito casserole.
- Diced Avocado or Guacamole: The flavor of cumin and avocados go together really well. The creamy texture is perfect with the crunchy Fritos and melted cheese.
Here is my recipe for Frito Pie
- 2 Pounds Ground Beef
- 2 Cups Onion 1/2-inch dice
- 4 Teaspoons Garlic Crushed and chopped
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1 28-Ounce Can Tomatoes Crushed
- 2 14-Ounces Cans Black Beans Drained and rinsed
- 1 Lime Juice Only
- 1/2 Cup Ancho Chili Powder
- 1 1/2 Teaspoons Paprika
- 1 Tablespoon Oregano
- 2 1/2 Teaspoons Ground Cumin
- 1 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
- 1 Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
- 2 Teaspoons Salt
- 2 Cups Water
- 4 Cups Fritos Corn Chips
- 8 Ounces Cheddar Cheese Shredded
- 1/2 Cup Pickled Jalapeños Optional
- Sour Cream Optional
- Dice Onions Optional
- Guacamole Optional
- Pickled Jalapeños Optional
- Cilantro Optional
- In a large heavy-bottomed pot with a lid over medium-high heat, add the ground beef, olive oil, and onions. Saute until the beef is completely brown and the onions are soft.
- When most of the moisture from the beef has reduced, add the garlic to a hot spot in the bottom of the pot, cook for 1-minutes, then stir into the beef.
- Add all of the spices and stir completely coating the beef mixture. Then add the tomatoes, water, and black beans. Bring to a bowl, then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for one hour.
- Preheat oven to 350°F
- Pour the chili into an ovenproof 9x13-inch casserole dish. Sprinkle the top with half of the cheese, cover the cheese with all of the Fritos, then cover the Fritos with the remaining cheese. Top the cheese with a few pickled jalapeños
- Bake for 10-15 minutes until the cheese is melted. Serve hot with your favorite garnishes.