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Frito Chili Pie: Essential Comfort Food or Crime Against Nature?

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  • Jim White
    Club Member
    • Sep 2019
    • 561
    • Gainesville, FL
    • I cook on a 15-year-old Kamado #9, a huge beast nearly 6 feet tall and with black ceramic tile on the outside. I of course love smoked meats of all kinds, but also like quick cooks like chicken portions, pork tenderloins and fish. Really into cooking of all kinds. Just added an outdoor fire pit that has grilling capability and limited Santa Maria-style grill raising and lowering.

    Frito Chili Pie: Essential Comfort Food or Crime Against Nature?

    Growing up in the 60's in Oklahoma, Frito chili pie was something I encountered from very early on. Back then, it was almost always encountered as a casserole. I'm pretty sure that I often gravitated toward it at church potlucks, because at least most of the time, it would be one of the choices most likely to actually have flavor. Of course, now and then someone would make it with canned chili and the choice wouldn't be so great, but that's life at potlucks.

    Fast forward about five decades, and I found myself gravitating back toward Frito chili pie. We spent many years going to horse shows where our daughters both competed fairly seriously. At the shows, you're at the mercy of the very few food vendors around and the quality can vary greatly. We wound up at several national-level shows in Fort Worth where one of the very best horse show food vendors is Stubby's Cinnamon Rolls. Stubby's serves much more than cinnamon rolls, although those are indeed killer and are a must for one or more breakfasts during show. But Stubby's makes a killer Frito chili pie (at least when we are on the level of horse show food vendors). The picture is a little blurry, but here's a shot I found from back in 2012 at Paint Worlds in Fort Worth:

    Click image for larger version

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    As an Oklahoma native, I claim Frito chili pie as an Oklahoma comfort food. I have a friend here in town who also comes from Oklahoma and she agrees. But I've heard folks claim it's a Texas thing. What say you?

    I made a big pot of chili today from the last of the brisket from earlier in the week. I went easy on spice, because I wanted to share with my friend and she's breastfeeding an infant, so it was mild today. I went with commercial chili powder. I added beans, because my wife insists.

    Here's my bowl tonight. Pure heaven:

    Click image for larger version

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    Much to my surprise, my wife, who usually scoffs and makes bad jokes about Frito chili pie, actually joined me tonight and went full pie. She even said it was good. I just don't know what this world is coming to.

    So my question, beyond the one above about origins, is whether Frito chili pie is indeed a wonderful comfort food or if it is an abomination that does a huge disservice to the concept of chili? Of course, I know that everyone in The Pit agrees about what goes into chili and that there are no controversies. Also, for those of you who indulge, what are your go-to ingredients? One bowl at a time or casserole? Inquiring minds want to know.
  • Huskee
    • May 2014
    • 15153
    • central MI, USA
    • Follow me on Instagram, huskeesbarbecue

      Want a free bottle of whiskey? Check out my link to Flaviar.com, you join with it, we both get a $50 bottle free.

      Smokers / Grills
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      • PBC
      • Grilla Silverbac pellet grill
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      • Instant Pot 6qt
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      • Favorite summer beer: Leinenkugels Summer & Grapefruit Shandy, Hamm's, Michelob Ultra Pure Gold
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      About me
      Real name: Aaron
      Location: Farwell, Michigan- near Clare. (dead center of lower peninsula)

      • Healthcare- Licensed & Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) for MidMichigan Health, a University of Michigan Health System.

    Lol! Funny post.

    Mine is usually just chili, LOTS & lots and more lots of cheese. Then more cheese. I like the idea of making it a complete health food dish by adding jalapenos and onions though. Must try that. Then I can surely have seconds, might even lose weight. That might even remind me to brush my teeth.


    • lemayp
      Club Member
      • Jan 2016
      • 212
      • Chesapeake Va
      • Weber Smokey Joe
        Weber 22" with Slow 'N Sear
        Pit Barrel Cooker
        Engelbrecht Braten Campfire
        Maverick ET 733
        Thermapen MK4
        Favorite Beer - Bells Two Hearted

      I'm all for fritos added to a bowl of chili. Then again, I can turn a bag of fritos into dinner...


      • 58limited
        Club Member
        • Dec 2018
        • 935
        • SE Texas
        • "Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." ~Benjamin Franklin

        I like it.


        • rickgregory
          Founding Member
          • Aug 2014
          • 782
          • Seattle, WA

          Now I kinda want this. Tonight.


          • Jfrosty27
            Club Member
            • Mar 2020
            • 891
            • Muskego, WI
            • Current cookers:
              Rec Tec RT700 "Bull" pellet cooker
              Smokin-It model 2 electric smoker w/ Maverick 732 temp monitor and cold smoking kit
              Weber Genesis 3 burner gas grill w/ rotisserie
              Charbroil Grill2Go gas grill
              Weber 22" Performer Deluxe kettle grill w/ThermoPro TP-20S temp monitor
              Weber Smokey Joe
              SnS Deluxe
              The Orion Cooker convection cooker/smoker (two of them)
              Blackstone 17" griddle
              Joule Sous Vide circulator

              Favorite beer: Anything that's cold!
              Favorite cocktail: Bourbon neat

            Oh for sure this is just wonderful. Yum, Yum, Yum thanks for sharing. Now, how do I make that as well as you? Maybe if I got in the car now........


            • jhapka
              Club Member
              • May 2019
              • 211
              • Grand Rapids, MN
              • 26" Weber Kettle w/ SnS XL
                Pit Barrel Cooker
                Fireboard and Pit Viper fan w/ Adaptors for both

              I think I heard that frito chili pies are a thing in New Mexico when I lived in Arizona. Does anybody else know Taco in a Bag? Snack size Doritos bag with a scoop of taco seasoned ground beef dumped in and lettuce, taco sauce, cheese, olives, lettuce, etc... Popular in small town Northern MN in my experience


              • Jim White
                Jim White commented
                Editing a comment
                I think I've also seen descriptions of variations of that as street food in Mexico City.

              • Mosca
                Mosca commented
                Editing a comment
                Traveling taco.

              • jhapka
                jhapka commented
                Editing a comment
                OK sounds like it’s pretty ubiquitous. Sometimes things you think are everywhere turn out to be regional
            • Hulagn1971
              Charter Member
              • Dec 2014
              • 1019
              • NC, The Triad
              • WSM 22.5", Pitmaster IQ110, Weber 22.5" Kettle with SNS, Weber 14" Smokey Joe.

              Jim White thanks for your post. I'm now starving. Also HUGE thanks for not deveining those jalapeno slices and leaving the seeds in as well. Flavor always wins!


              • HouseHomey
                HouseHomey commented
                Editing a comment
                Veins and seeds GASP!!!
            • RonB
              Club Member
              • Apr 2016
              • 12871
              • Near Richmond VA
              • Weber Performer Deluxe
                Pizza insert
                Smokenator 1000
                Cookshack Smokette Elite
                2 Thermapens
                lots of probes.

              I don't believe I've ever had the chance to have a taste....


              • Panhead John
                Panhead John commented
                Editing a comment
                Oh great! Just what we need, a Fritos vs Tortilla Chips controversy! Thanks a lot Red Man

              • ecowper
                ecowper commented
                Editing a comment
                I don't see how it can be a debate.

              • wu7y
                wu7y commented
                Editing a comment
                "Velveeta cheese" is an oxymoron. Not saying it can't be good but an oxymoron none the less.
            • Texas Larry
              Club Member
              • May 2017
              • 1505
              • Wilson County, TX
              • Kamado Joe Big Joe 2
                Weber 22” Premium/SNS
                Weber Jumbo Joe/SNS
                Thermoworks Smoke
                Thermoworks 2K Thermocouple
                Thermoworks Dash
                Too many gadgets, accessories, and tools
                Favorite beer: Alaskan Amber

              Oh, yeah, probably a crime, but essential comfort food nonetheless!


              • mnavarre
                Club Member
                • Jan 2018
                • 570
                • San Diego

                The thing about Frito pie/Frito boats is you can't use the good chili. The chili has to be able to be easily mixed into the bag of Fritos (which is the proper serving vessel), so ground beef chili is what you need. Open bag of Fritos, dump in a bunch of chili, try to get more chili in the bag, top with finely grated cheddar unless nacho cheese is available (use both if possible), top with onion and pickled Jalapeño, add hot sauce to taste and/or tolerance. Grab a spork.

                Bonus points for using the chili cheese Fritos.


                • Cheef
                  Cheef commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Yep walking tacos were a big deal 20 years ago. We still have it 3 or 4 times a year here at the house.

                • Mr. Bones
                  Mr. Bones commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Oh, Hail Yasss!!! Do it up Right, amigo! :
                  If'n Fritos sells other varieties of chips rather than Chili Cheese, reckon I ain't been made aware of that fact lol!

                • klflowers
                  klflowers commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Yeah, I have had it in the Frito bag. I ended up wearing a lot of it because, well before the Frito pie, there were a lot of Bud's involved if I remember correctly...
              • Michael_in_TX
                Club Member
                • Dec 2018
                • 466
                • Texas Gulf Coast
                • Grills:
                  Weber 22" Kettle Premium w/Slow N' Sear 2.0
                  Pit Barrel Cooker
                  W.C. Bradley & Co. Char Kettle CK-115 ~1980s Vintage Grill (inactive)

                  Thermopop (Instant Read)
                  Thermoworks Smoke

                Wow....I have not had this in years.....perhaps twenty years. But growing up in Texas, it was a once-a-week staple of the grade school cafeteria, without question. If we didn't have this little virus thing going on, very little would stop me from driving to the grocery store right now, picking up some Fritos, Wolf Brand Chili, and some shredded cheddar cheese.

                Might have to do this tomorrow. (Oh wait...Tropical Storm.) Thursday then!


                • 58limited
                  58limited commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Yeah, that stupid little tropical storm is messing with my plans too.

                • Oak Smoke
                  Oak Smoke commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Yep, Fritos and wolf brand were the way to go when I was growing up. They served them in the frito bag at the concession stand at high school football games.

                • JonnyB
                  JonnyB commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Friday night football would not be the same without frito pie, at least in Texas. I live in Tennessee now and it's never been a staple at high school games here. We tried to get the booster club to sell them when my wife and I were president and treasurer, but no one seemed interested. In hindsight, I think we should have just added the item without asking. I still keep a bag of fritos and cans of Wolf Brand (no beans) in my pantry and we have it about once or twice a month still!
              • Cheef
                Banned Former Member
                • Oct 2015
                • 677

                Jim White now we need to call on your talents to adapt this cherished comfort food to a place in the smoker. I'm thinking a bit of time in the smoke to melt that Cheese and add that flavor would over the top what is already setting at the peak.


                • Jim White
                  Jim White commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Maybe so. Although the beef in this case was brisket from the smoker. The tradeoff is that you don't want to let the Fritos get too soggy. I put the Fritos in the bowl, top with chili and cheese and then nuke. Then top with onion that has been presoaked in ice water and the thin jalapeno slices and eat right away.

                • Cheef
                  Cheef commented
                  Editing a comment
                  I'm thinking go hamburger in the smoker to get it cooked. Maybe add and toast up the corn chips to add a bit of smoke. Pile it all up, top it with cheese and melt it down in the smoker one more time just for giggles.
              • BFlynn
                Charter Member
                • Oct 2014
                • 849
                • Third Coast

                Frito pie is delicious!
                Although, I think some Texans may argue with you about it's origins

                Regardless of where it came from, it's a winner.


                • Panhead John
                  Panhead John commented
                  Editing a comment
                  You know....most Texans are pretty introverted when it comes to anything chili related.
              • glitchy
                Club Member
                • Jul 2019
                • 687
                • Central IA
                • Weber Summit Charcoal Grill
                  w/ Big Joetisserie, SnS LP, and Vortex
                  Weber SmokeFire EX4
                  Weber Q1000
                  Fireboard 2 Drive
                  Anova Precision Sous Vide

                Is chili itself really that bad? I suppose some is how you make it, but really versus eating a ribeye or burger or replacing fries for a side with a cup of chili, your probably trading a lot of extra red meat for tomato, onion, tomato juice, maybe beans. The Fritos are not good, but at least it’s corn.

                However, I do like my Frito pie with lots of cheese and sour cream




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