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close up photo of Frito Pie Casserole on a spoon

Tailgater Frito Pie With Cowgirl Chili

Jenny from Not Entirely Average
America's favorite snacking chip breaks free of the school lunchbox when it meets chili con carne in Tailgater Frito Pie With Cowgirl Chili.
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Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 5 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Tex Mex
Servings 8 servings
Calories 1262 kcal


Ingredients for Tailgater Frito Pie With Cowgirl Chili

    for the Frito Pie

    • 8 cups Fritos corn chips
    • 8 cups Cowgirl chili or your favorite homemade chili or canned chili
    • 2 cups cheddar cheese shredded
    • 1/2 cup white onion diced

    for the Cowgirl Chili if not using your own or canned

    • 2 large Vidalia onions rough chopped
    • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
    • 5 cloves garlic minced
    • 2 pounds ground beef
    • 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
    • 1 tablespoon cumin
    • 1 tablespoon sweet chili powder
    • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
    • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
    • 2 (14.5) ounce cans diced tomatoes
    • 1 (14.5) ounce can baked beans
    • 1 can tomato paste
    • 1 (12) ounce can amber beer or ale *if you prefer a sweeter chili, substitute 6 ounces of red wine in lieu of the 12 ounces of beer; allow the wine to cook off for 3 to 4 minutes, cooking out alcohol to leave behind its sugars
    • 1/4 cup Fritos corn chips pulverized to resemble corn meal

    optional toppings

    • sour cream
    • additional shredded cheddar cheese
    • shredded Pepper Jack
    • cooked pinto beans
    • cooked black beans
    • diced tomatoes
    • sliced jalapeño peppers
    • green onions
    • enchilada sauce
    • guacamole


    The Method

      for the Frito Pie

      • Pre-heat oven to Broil.
      • Place the corn chips into a large casserole dish or oven-proof serving platter. Ladle the Cowgirl Chili on top of corn chips leaving some corn chips exposed around the edges. Sprinkle with Cheddar cheese and the diced onion.
      • Place under the broiler element for 3 to 4 minutes or until cheese begins to melt.
      • Remove from beneath broiler and top with desired toppings.

      to make the Cowgirl Chili

      • Sauté diced onions in hot oil in a large Dutch oven or stockpot over medium heat, about 8 minutes or until translucent.
      • Add minced garlic, and sauté 1 minute. Move onion mixture to the outside edges of the pan and add beef. Cook, breaking up the beef for 6 minutes or until meat is crumbled and is no longer pink. Drain, reserving 2 tablespoons drippings in Dutch oven; return beef mixture to Dutch oven.
      • Stir in 1 tablespoon salt, 1 tablespoons sweet chile powder, 1 tablespoon ground cumin, 2 tablespoons smoked paprika, and 2 tablespoons granulated sugar and cook 2 minutes stirring constantly to avoid the sugar burning.
      • Stir in baked beans, diced tomatoes, and tomato paste.
      • Add 3/4 cup beer and 1 cup water; simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add remaining 3/4 cup beer and 1/2 cup water; simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
      • Add ground Fritos and cook 10 minutes to allow chili to thicken.


      Make Ahead: make chili up to 3 days ahead and refrigerate in a container with a tight-fitting lid until ready to use. Remove chili from refrigerator 30 minutes before assembling pie.
      To Freeze: 
      freeze before baking; assemble in a baking dish with a lid or cover tightly with aluminum foil and freeze up to 3 months.
      freeze after baking; allow the casserole to cool room temperature before transferring to a freezer-safe container with a tight-fitting lid and freeze for up to 3 months.
      To Reheat:
      To cook whole pie from frozen, bake in 350 degree F oven. Add 30 – 45 minutes of oven time to your dish.
      To reheat leftovers which have been refrigerated, bake in a hot 350 degree F oven for about 20 to 25 minutes. Watch to ensure your corn chips do not begin to burn.
      Single portions may be microwaved on medium power for about 90 seconds to 2 minutes.


      Serving: 1servingCalories: 1262kcalCarbohydrates: 105gProtein: 49gFat: 76gSaturated Fat: 27gPolyunsaturated Fat: 15gMonounsaturated Fat: 26gTrans Fat: 2gCholesterol: 154mgSodium: 3149mgPotassium: 1801mgFiber: 19gSugar: 15gVitamin A: 2639IUVitamin C: 14mgCalcium: 538mgIron: 14mg
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