Frito Pie

Also known as a “walking taco,” this winning combo of corn chips and chili is best served right in the bag.

  • Serves


  • Cook

    2 hours


By Farideh Sadeghin

Published on February 8, 2024

Texans and New Mexicans have locked horns for decades over who can lay claim to the irresistible creation that is Frito pie. Daisy Dean Doolin, the mother of Frito-Lay founder Charles Elmer Doolin, is often given credit for creating the dish as a way to use up leftovers in Texas in the 1930s, while a woman named Teresa Hernandez lays claim to inventing it at a Woolworth’s in New Mexico in the 1960s. The dish can also be found across the Midwest, where it’s sometimes called a “walking taco.” Whatever you make of its contested origins, there’s no debate about Frito pie’s appeal. Preparing it is as simple as topping a pile of corn chips with chili, cheddar, onions, sour cream, and sliced jalapeños. You can also go meatless by making it with vegetarian chili. Either way, serve it right inside the Fritos bag for the easiest, most festive presentation.


  • 3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 large white onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp. ground cumin
  • 2 tsp. sweet paprika
  • 1½ tsp. dried Mexican oregano
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 2 lb. ground beef
  • 1 cup light beer
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • One 15.5-oz. can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • One 14.5-oz. can tomato purée
  • One 7-oz. can diced green chiles
  • Kosher salt
  • Six 3.5-oz. bags Fritos
  • Grated cheddar cheese, thinly sliced jalapeños, and sour cream, for serving


Step 1

In a large pot set over medium-high heat, add the oil. When the oil is hot and shimmering, add half of the onion and cook until soft, 4–5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes, then stir in the chili powder, cumin, paprika, and oregano. Cook until fragrant, 1–2 minutes, then stir in the tomato paste. Cook for 2 minutes, then stir in the beef and cook, using a wooden spoon to break up the meat into smaller pieces, until brown, 5–7 minutes. Stir in the beer and cook until reduced by half, about 2 minutes, then stir in the broth, beans, tomato purée, and green chiles. Turn the heat to medium-low and simmer until thick, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and keep warm.

Step 2

When ready to serve, slash open the bags of Fritos. Top each with some of the chili, then garnish with the cheese, jalapeños, sour cream, and remaining onion.

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