by Sarah on February 3, 2012

What the what? Oh come now, Frito Pie is all over the internets, surely it was just a matter of time before the old UC got her hands dirty with this one. Besides, the “BIG GAME” is coming up, and while you are all glued to the telly you’ll need some nice tasty junk food to eat.

I’ll be out, enjoying the traffic-free roads, crowd-free grocery stores and maybe getting a pedicure.

Frito Pie is sort of a misleading term.  There’s Fritos all right.  But it’s not a pie. There’s nothing that resembles a pie.  No crust.  No filling.  No round Pyrex dish holding it all together.

No.  It’s just a mess, really.  A tasty mess that includes a base layer of Fritos corn chips.

Of course, things go on top of the Fritos.  One constant is chili.  It can be a meat chili, a vegetarian chili, canned chili, 3-alarm chili.  Whatever you like.  I made a quick skillet chili for this Frito Pie though, so maybe you’ll want to try it. It was pretty, pretty, pretty good.

I made it with lean beef but again, you can choose turkey or even those weird soy fake meat thingys.  There’s enough onion and spice that I bet it doesn’t matter all that much.  I bet buffalo would be really good.

After all the ingredients are in the skillet, I turned it to low and walked away for 30 minutes.  That gave the chili time enough to thicken up a bit and develop some flavor.  And time for me to shower!  TMI.  Sorry.

I had an internal struggle whether or not to include beans.  Given that I had 3 hungry men to feed, I added a can of black beans (and I’m glad I did—they ate every scrap, I barely got a serving), but pinto beans, kidney beans, or even no beans would be great too.  Put the beans in right before serving or they break up and get gross.  Just heat them through.

Serving in the chip bags is a fun idea but in truth makes them a little hard to eat with this size bag.  Maybe go with the tiny lunch bag sized ones for the “BIG GAME” and put in less toppings.  Otherwise just pour the chips into a bowl.

For the “BIG GAME” you can just put the stuff out for everyone to take their pick of toppings, or do it yourself. Spoon on chili, some shredded cheddar or Jack cheese, avocado or guacamole, salsa, cilantro and sour cream. Whatever your crew likes!

It’s kind of like nachos but with Fritos and chili.  So, better than nachos is what I mean.

Frito Pie with UC's Skillet Chili


  • For Skillet Chili:
  • 1 lb ground beef (or turkey, chicken, or TVP)
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 Tbsp mixed chili powder
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire
  • 1 14 oz can whole or chopped tomatoes with juice
  • pinch sugar
  • 1 can black, pinto or kidney beans
  • salt and pepper, chili flakes if desired
  • For Frito Pie:
  • 4 bags Fritos (Snack Size) or 1 regular bag, divided
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar or Jack cheese
  • Chopped avocado, cilantro, sour cream, salsa, hot sauce, lime, guacamole


  • Over medium heat, sauté the onion, and jalapeño in the vegetable oil.
  • Lower the heat to medium low and add the garlic and dry spices. Toast the spices and garlic for about 2 minutes.
  • Add meat and raise heat to medium. Let meat begin to brown.
  • Add Worcestershire and salt and pepper.
  • Add tomatoes (if whole, smash with spoon a little to break them up) and a few chili flakes, if desired.
  • Add a pinch of sugar.
  • Turn heat to low and leave chili to cook uncovered for 20-30 minutes.
  • Add the drained and rinsed beans and heat through.
  • Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.
  • To assemble Frito Pie:
  • Cut bags lengthwise and open.
  • Spoon in chili then add cheese.
  • Add any other desired condiments.
  • Eat out of the bag.

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