Dish of the Week: Frito Pie

From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. Find other dishes of the week here.

This week, we're covering a Texas classic: Frito Pie.

Frito pie is popular Southern dish made with chili, cheese and Fritos.

According to NPR, it all started when Charles Elmer Doolin was looking for a corn snack to sell at his San Antonio confectionary during the Great Depression. Since tortillas got stale, Doolin sought another solution. That's when he met a Mexican man selling little bags of corn chips at a gas station. They were "little fried things", or fritos. He went on to buy the patent, perfect the recipe with his mother, and Fritos were born.

Though some say the Frito pie was created at a diner in Santa Fe, others claim Doolin's mother, Daisy Dean Doolin, came up with the pie recipe as a way to further market Fritos.

Either way, we're happy it was born -- and we're sure most Texans would agree.

Often served inside Fritos bags, add-ons include onions, salsa, sour cream, beans, and jalapeños, to name a few. This recipe, adapted from The Pioneer Women, takes a simple, beefy chili con carne and throws it in a Fritos bag with some good ol' cheddar. Feel free to top it as you please.

Frito Pie

Ingredients 2 lbs ground chuck 3 cloves garlic, minced 1 can (12-14 oz) tomato sauce 1 can (10 oz) Ro-tel (diced tomatoes and chilies) 1/2 tsp salt 1 tsp ground oregano 1 tbsp ground cumin 2 tbsp chili powder (plus more to taste) 2 chipotles en adobo, finely chopped 1/4 cup masa (corn flour) or regular corn meal 1/2 cup warm water Individual bags of Fritos Grated sharp cheddar cheese Optional: diced onion, sour cream, jalapeños


Brown ground chuck with garlic in a pot over medium-high heat. Add tomato sauce, Rotel, salt, oregano, cumin, chili powder, and chipotles. Stir in 1/4 - 1/2 cup warm water, cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for about an 30-45 min. Mix the masa with a little bit of water until pasty. Add to the chili and stir to combine. Simmer for a final 10 to 15 minutes. Set aside.

Serve by slicing the Frito bags open lengthwise. Pile in chili and cheese and add toppings as desired.

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Brooke Viggiano is a contributing writer who is always looking to share Houston's coolest and tastiest happenings with the Houston Press readers.
Contact: Brooke Viggiano