Frito Chili Pie (Walking Taco Casserole)
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Frito chili pie is a tasty Tex Mex casserole with hearty chili, cheese, and crunchy corn chips. Make this walking taco casserole for dinner or fun, easy party food!
Perfect Portable Meals
Want a quick bite to eat, but there’s no time for a sit down meal? There are some fantastic Mexican and Tex Mex foods that are easy to grab and go.
Things like burritos, beef empanadas and elote (an authentic Mexican street corn recipe) are all easy to eat on the run.
But possibly the perfect grab and go meal is walking tacos. This is a simple meal of thick, hearty chili added into a bag of Fritos corn chips and eaten with a spoon.
Frito Chili Pie vs. Walking Tacos
Did you know that Frito chili pie is essentially the same thing as a walking taco?
The ingredients are identical; chili, diced onion, corn chips and shredded cheddar cheese. The only difference is, rather than eating the chili directly from a bag of corn chips, Frito chili pie is served on a plate. It’s also baked in a casserole dish, which is why it’s also called a walking taco casserole.
Actually, the popular street food has other names as well.
When it’s made with a hearty chili like con carne, or with chunks of meat instead of ground beef, it’s known as Texas chili pie or Texas Frito pie. Because it’s a staple food at Texas football pep rallies, some Texans know it as Pep Rally Pie.
Another name for the portable version is taco in a bag. But when all is said and done, chili, cheese and corn chips by any other name is still a delicious Frito chili pie.
And if you were a fan of the late Anthony Bourdain, you may know that after sampling the dish in a New Mexico diner, he called this dish delicious, but also “crap in a bag”! (source).
Ingredient notes and substitutions
- Thick Chili
If you plan to carry the meal around walking tacos style, you’re going to need a thick, hearty chili, which is exactly what you’ll get with my recipe for chili con carne. If you’d rather not make the chili, you could use canned chili, either with or without beans.
I would avoid using a thin consistency chili. Even though the chips do soak up some of the liquid, the extra mess isn’t worth the trouble.
For a tasty change of flavor, you could use white chicken chili. Or, if you like spicy chili, I recommend making Dave’s recipe for 5 alarm chili.
Topping Ideas for Walking Taco Casserole
The idea behind the walking taco is to keep the ingredients simple so it’s easier to eat. However, if you’ll be serving it on plates at the table, there’s no reason you couldn’t add toppings to the frito pie.
Add any of your favorite taco toppings onto your walking taco casserole. Shredded lettuce, authentic refried beans, diced tomato, and sour cream or avocado crema are delicious options that work well.
I would avoid using liquid condiments like salsa, but homemade pico de gallo or even mango pico de gallo would be fantastic!
Frito Chili Pie FAQ
Can I freeze walking taco casserole?
The casserole won’t freeze well with the Fritos baked in, but you could certainly leave them out when you make it, then serve them on the side.
This post was originally published on Kevin is Cooking July 6, 2018. The content was updated and republished August 12, 2021.
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Frito Chili Pie (Walking Taco Casserole)
- 9.25 oz Fritos corn chips (or 4 cups)
- 3 cups chili con carne
- 1 small onion (diced)
- 2 cups cheddar cheese (shredded)
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- In a 13×9″ casserole baking dish evenly distribute the corn chips.
- Pour the chili con carne on top and evenly distribute.
- Sprinkle the diced onion and cheese over and bake for 10-12 minutes until heated through and cheese has melted.
- Serve with optional toppings like chopped cilantro, sour cream and pickled jalapeños.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
Excellent recipe; a keeper. The liquid from the chili soaks into the Fritos while it’s in the oven and takes the edge off the Frito taste and gives it this whole different, mellower flavor – I didn’t expect that and it was so good! Instead of soaking the peppers, I ground them to a semi powder in my coffee/spice grinder, then added all that to the liquid – I used water and chicken stock.
I make another TexMex style casserole by layering choriqueso with rice and beans. It’s similar, and everyone loves that, but this is just as good, if not better. Thanks Kevin.
Yeah, comfort food!
You bet and thanks for the casserole mention. I’ll have to try it myself Dabney!
Oh my gosh, my Mom used to make this when I was a kid. This brings back such good memories. I am going to make this today. So easy and so good.
I love how food can do that, thanks Debbie!
we making it tonite (lots of it) to surprise the family gang
Oh I love all your recipes. Thank you
Thanks so much, I appreciate the kind words, Michelle!