Frito Pies

If you have ever been to a high school basketball game anywhere in Oklahoma (and many other places)  and had the pleasure of dining in the concession stand area, I bet you have had a Frito Pie.   They are a guilty comfort food that reminds me of my youth.

Back in the day, the chili came from some mom’s kitchen, not from an industrial sized can.   The cheese, too, was freshly grated and was not a liquid, day-glo, nuclear-colored concoction.

The recipe was simple.

Split the side of a Frito bag, carefully pour in hot chili (with or without beans—sometimes this was available on request), add a bit of grated cheese, garnish with chopped onions, jalapenos, or pickle relish.   Tuck in a plastic spoon and present to your concession stand patron.

I was unaware that Frito Pies were a regional favorite until we visited Santa Fe a few years ago.  Apparently Oprah had just made a big visit and had made a HUGE fuss over “discovering” Frito Pies.   Who knew?   I thought everyone knew about them.

(I would assume that most everyone is aware now because I think they made her favorite list or something.)

I had been planning this post since this Oprah discovery, but it had fallen to the bottom of my saved drafts.

Then Food & Think ran “Frito Pie and the Chip Technology that Changed the World.”

And, let’s just say I have been trying not to ingest too many of these at all the ballgames this season.

Both of these things prompted me to revisit the lowly corn chip and I was re-inspired to present my Frito Pie manuscript here.

Really, on a cold night in an Oklahoma high school gymnasium, what could be better?



We are continuing with our 2012 Clean Out so here is a super easy recipe for chili.  (The hamburger came from the freezer and the rest of the ingredients came from the pantry.)

Whatever’s In the Pantry Chili

1 lb. hamburger, browned and drained if necessary
1 can chili beans
2 c. V-8 juice
2 T. chili powder
1 t. coriander
1 t. Mexican oregano
1/4 c. dehydrated onion flakes

Combine all ingredients in a large skillet or sauce pan.    Stir and heat to boiling.   Reduce heat and let simmer for 30 minutes.

Chili spices.

This is a great chili for impromptu Frito Pies.


20 comments to Frito Pies

  • Liz

    I never heard of these till my daughter was in girl scouts. They were called walking tacos…such a fun and delicious idea (especially with quality ingredients :)).

    • Eliot


      I have never heard of walking tacos, but I like the name! 🙂 Quality ingredients is the key to an old-fashioned Frito Pie. None of the runny cheese will do! Thanks for commenting.

  • Funny what is commonplace for some is unheard of by others. I have had these a time or two-pretty tasty and easy to prepare. However count me out of canned cheese-yuck! Frito pie-I am remembering the old Frito Bandito commercials when I was a kid!

    • Eliot

      I will always associate these with the concession stands of my youth when I don’t think liquid cheese was even available. (I remember Frito Bandito, too.) 🙂

  • Oprah apparently isn’t as cool as we are. Because everyone knows all of the cool kids are eating Frito Pie!

    I love how you dish yours up in the frito bag!

  • Those just make me chuckle–I love that they’re self-contained in the bags. Never had one, can you believe it? They look great!

  • Oh yes, Frito pies such a great junk food delight! We have these sans the bag and put the Fritos in a bowl topped with chili.

    • Eliot

      The bowl is definitely better for home dining. I wouldn’t recommend walking around on the carpet with an open bag of chili-topped chips. Could be kinda messy.

  • I am so jealous to have not been to a basketball game in the US – remind me to eat this because it looks junkie, delicious and mouthwatering 😀

    Choc Chip Uru

  • We grew up on Frito Pies as well and I figured everybody knew about them. Now you got me craving one. Thanks for sharing.

    • Eliot

      That’s what I thought too. I actually asked a colleague in Chicago if they had ever heard of them (and this is A.O.—After Oprah), and she said no. I can’t believe that so many people grew up without this treat!

  • The Frito Pie is a staple in Texas, as Fritos were invented here. I remember when any self-respecting school cafeteria manager offered these on the menu. Thanks to some politicians believing that we were all getting fat at school, Frito Pie in school cafeterias are a thing of the past. We still serve them that way at Friday night football games, though. Nice post!

  • You’ve really got me wanting one of those now instead of that stupid Lean Cuisine I brought for lunch. Can’t stop thinking about it. 🙁

  • I’ve never made these but have had them at fast food places-omgosh, I heart them so much I wish hey had less calories and more nutritional value so I could justify eating them every week. I should make them at home b/c at least that would be a teeny bit healthier. You’re making me drool!