What Is a Fritos® Pie?

Amber Eberle

Fritos® pie is a dish traditionally consisting of chili, cheese, onions, and Fritos® brand corn chips. The recipe is popular in the United States, especially in the southern region. Over time, many variations of the recipe have developed, including the addition of toppings such as sour cream, tomatoes, or even mustard. Fritos® pie is typically served as a casserole, but some people choose to serve portions in a single serving bag of Fritos®.

Cheddar cheese is often used in a Fritos® pie.
Cheddar cheese is often used in a Fritos® pie.

Fritos® pie is said to have originated in 1932. After Elmer Doolin and his family developed Fritos® corn chips, his mother began creating recipes that used the chips. One of her creations was Fritos® pie. Daisy Dean Doolin shared her recipe and it became very popular among her friends and family. Eventually, the recipe became very popular with the public. It is now a dish that is recognized by many people.

The chili used in a Fritos® pie can be from a can or homemade. The onions are usually finely diced before being placed on top of the food. Grated cheddar cheese is often used, although some people prefer to use melted processed cheese. When eating a Fritos® pie, the Fritos® corn chips should be moistened by the toppings, but not mushy.

Many people prepare Fritos® pie as a casserole. This version is usually made by first placing a layer of Fritos® on the bottom of a baking dish. The chili and cheese are then added, and another layer of Fritos® may be added to the top before the dish is baked in the oven. The other toppings are added just before eating, at the table. Many families use this recipe on a regular basis due to its ease of preparation, as well as the low cost of the ingredients.

One variation of a Fritos® pie is served in an opened, single serving bag of Fritos® chips. When making the dish with a Fritos® bag as the serving dish, the chili and cheese are mixed with the Fritos® and toppings are then added inside the bag. This type of serving is popular at fairs, sporting events, and other public gatherings. A few fast food restaurants also have a version of the dish on their menus.

Over the years, many home cooks and chefs have modified this recipe. Some people use battered and fried onions as a substitute for raw, diced onions. Other toppings that have become popular include salsa and pickled jalapenos. Variations also include versions that can be prepared in the microwave.

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Discussion Comments


@Scrbblchick -- I had to laugh at your post. I can respect honesty. I can make a tasty veggie version that does cut down on the fat and calories quite a bit, and if you're really concerned about your diet, I'd recommend it, but if, as you said, you're only eating it once a year, then go for it.

Frito pie is just one of those dishes that works. Every element is tasty on its own, but still complements all the other elements when they are added. I like using chopped green onions in my recipe, along with refried beans. That adds a hearty aspect if you're not using meat.


I generally use Doritos or tortilla chips, but Frito pie is one of life's great sinful luxuries. It's delicious, along with having a huge number of calories, fat grams and sodium levels. Still, as an occasional treat, it's delicious.

I fix it for New Year's Eve, when I know I'm going to have a crowd ready to dig in. That way, no one person eats too much of it. You can lighten it up by using a vegetarian chili, lowfat sour cream, etc., but it's never going to be a healthy dish. But as I said, I only eat it once a year, if that. And if I'm going to the trouble to make it, I'm not using lowfat anything.

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