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Happy Easter everyone! To celebrate this holiday, I would like to call attention to that time honored tradition that is being served on Sunday dinner tables across the nation at this very moment. I’m talking, of course, about… Frito Pie!

Oh I kid you not. Ever since I was reminded about Frito Pie on an episode of King of the Hill, I’d been wanting to try it. Yep, I had never had this delicacy before… you would have expected it to make an appearance on Cheap Eats sooner. But I never had the correct combination of required ingredients from the admittedly simple recipe.

So I went to the grocery store a week back with the express purpose of buying all the ingredients. It wasn’t hard, and luckily Fritos were on sale. $1.25 for a 10 ounce bag.

A word on Fritos… to this day, they’ve stuck with the basic ingredients. It is just Corn, Corn Oil and Salt. That’s it. At least for their original flavor. There are tons of different varieties including Chili and Cheese and Lime and Chile as well as all sorts of shapes like Scoops and Twists.

Side note: I saw this “survival” type show on Discovery where the guy took along a couple of Fritos (not a bag but like 4-5 chips). He didn’t eat them though… instead he used the oil in them as fuel to help get his fire going to cook his Desert Rat. Or is that Dessert Rat. Yum.

Back to the pie. So apparently, this is a “tradition” from Texas which isn’t a stretch since Frito-Lay is based there. Frito-Lay is pretty serious about the usage of their chips in pies… they even have a website devoted just to Frito Pie. The recipe I used is just a basic one, but I’d think even with other additions it would come in under $3 for a good sized pie.

Frito Pie

1 can chili (homemade OK too) — $0.99
1 1/2 cups fritos – $0.45
1 cup shredded cheese — $0.25
1/3 cup chopped onion — $0.20
optional parsley sprig — negligible

Total: $1.89

Preheat the oven to 350°F or so. Spread out about 1/2 the chips on the bottom of a glass pie plate dish or baking dish. Spread about 1/2 the onion and half the cheese on the Fritos. Top with all the chili. Then put the remaining cheese, onion, and Fritos on top of that.

Bake it for about 17-20 minutes and serve it hot. Instant trailer cuisine.

I took them sort of literally with the word “pie” and used a pie shaped glass baking dish. You know, I have to say that I really liked this Frito Pie. It’s great because the Fritos are kinda crispy still and the chili and cheese go really well together. I used Dennison’s Chili that had a mix of meat and beans.

A bit salty overall. I wouldn’t recommend eating this as a meal (which is exactly what I did… had a bit ‘o indigestion afterwards). But as a tailgate snack it’s great. If I had ‘em in the house I might have thrown some chopped Anaheim Chiles or Black Olives on top.

I used mozzarella cheese instead of the cheddar that was called for (got that free from my parents) so everything was really bound together well. Interestingly, after it cools a little you can actually get a spatula and cut up wedges of this stuff almost like a real pie.

I am pretty damn impressed with Frito Pie. I think I’ll do this every Easter.

Price: $1.89
Cheap Eats Score: 8/10

23 Responses to “All I Want For Easter Is Frito Pie”

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  1. g Says:

    There’s a restaurant near me where you can actually order Frito Pie. It’s good stuff, although ordering it kinda defeats the whole cheap eats idea.

  2. Abi Says:

    Oooh. I used to live in Texas (the Rio Grande Valley) and I ate Frito Pie occasionally at school carnivals. I prefer mine with shredded (finer than grating) cheddar and jalapenos. Yum. Oh man, I am going to make some tonight.

  3. Cheap Eats Editor Says:

    thanks for commenting… i must admit that i was a bit miffed that no one commented on Frito Pie! I thought this would be a slam dunk home run. I guess cause i posted it on a sunday…

    g – I didn’t know it was an actual menu item!

    abi – jalapenos sound good… yes i would like to try cheddar next time instead of the moz that i used.

  4. Shane Brimble Says:

    I saw this post and it inspired me to make this, I’ve been living off of Frito pie for three days straight. Where I’m from they called it a walking taco actually, thanks for all the cheap easy recipies their getting me through college.

  5. el-e-e Says:

    Ooh, Abi, me too — Frito Pie is school carnival food! (Panhandle of Tx, myself)
    This picture is delicious-looking, but ours was always served IN an individual-sized Frito bag, which tastes even better.

    Just discovered your site by accident, and hooray!

  6. Cheap Eats Editor Says:

    shane – A walking taco? That’s kinda funny. You know what, this frito pie lasted me quite a long time, I underestimated how potent it was… i was thinking i was going to eat the whole thing myself in one sitting.

    el-e-e – thanks for stopping by… so they actually serve it in a bag? Do you eat it with your hands or with a fork? I actually have no idea how it is supposed to look normally, i just put it in a glass pie plate because it’s called frito PIE.

  7. Mona Says:

    I came across your blog through a Google search for “tic tacs recipes”. (Needless to say, I’m getting desperate when I search for ways to make food out of Tic Tacs, but I digress.) The picture of the Frito Pie grabbed my attention – it looked oddly familar and then I realized that it’s also a “walking taco” to me. They used to serve these at school, and it was pretty much everyone’s favorite day to buy lunch.

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane – and the good recipe idea! Now I won’t have to resort to living on Tic Tacs!

  8. Cheap Eats Editor Says:

    mona – tictac recipes? I know I reviewed the Lime Tic Tacs, but I don’t remember making a meal of them! So this walking taco thing… they used to serve it at school? wow…

  9. TroyzWife Says:

    This brought back childhood memories! We would eat this for dinner several times a week from the softball concession stand. An individual bag of fritos was opened and chili was poured in with cheese sprinkled on top. They were called “Pepper Bellies”

  10. ali Says:

    i was born in oklahoma, and when i was 9 we moved to the texas panhandle. frito pie is just something that we used to eat growing up, it’s very inexpensive, but really “sticks to your ribs”! one ingredient that we put on it that really makes it have an interesting flavor is plain ol’ yellow mustard! you HAVE to try it!

  11. Tropicbabs Says:

    I just made “pepper bellies” yesterday and I also learned about them from the snack bar at the softball field 20 some years ago. Fun to hear different difinitions, “walking taco”, “frito pie”……..I found this website to learn more about the origin of “pepper bellies” as a friend today asked me “why are they called pepper bellies?”. I have a few friends that are vegetarians, I’m sure they would this.

  12. Justin Says:

    I assume the name “Walking Taco” came from the fact that you eat it in the frito bag, and with a plastic fork, you can walk around and eat it, and not make a mess! I had a variation of this before at a party, but the host jsut called it “frito stuff in a bowl”… so yeah.

  13. Cherish Says:

    I grew up in Houston and my family’s version actually is much simpler. We use Hormel Chili (No beans), Fritos (derr), and cheese. We heat up the chili, pour it over a bowl of fritos, then sprinkle cheese: Voila!

  14. Sibyl Jynx Says:

    I was born in Houston as well, *winks at Cherish*, and also moved all around TX and the southwest and my family did the same thing. My father brags that he survived almost solely on that during college in the 70′s.

    However, when I make it now to feel more health conscious, I make my own vegetarian chili (check out Rachel Ray’s Veg Head Chili for a cheap and tasty chili great by itself, on hot dogs or atop Fritos!) to top the Fritos.

    During elementary school in TX they would use the individual serving bags, pour some chili on, sprinkle cheddar cheese and hand you a spork! Made at home I use a spoon.

    One of my favorite winter snacks now that I live in the snowy midwest, reminds me of heat, sun and home.

  15. Marie Says:

    I was looking for the frito pie recipe and came to your site. Absolutely beautiful photo! I never would’ve thought to use mozzarella. But I’m going to try it tonight. Thanks :)

  16. jason Says:

    still doing this every easter? its that time again…

  17. Carolyn Says:

    I live in Oklahoma and you can order Frito chili pies at the local Sonic drive-in’s…and Ali is right, they are so, so good with mustard!

  18. Gon Says:

    frito pie another version
    fritos big grab bag
    small wendys chilli
    1/2 garden salad chopped fine
    2 heaping spoons of mayo
    2 teaspoons of tiger sauce
    ouions chopped fine
    tony s cajun seasoning to taste mix all togather and have a feast

  19. Trent Says:

    Did the concession stand that sold pepper bellies years ago happen to be the softball field in Ballwin, Missouri? We used to eat them there as a kid growing up, served warm right out of the bag.

  20. Imperfectly Says:

    OMG – we used to eat the individual fritos bags with chili and cheese – they were also called Pepper Bellies – at our schools in Lancaster California. Wow. I thought the lunch lady was just creative.

  21. Kevin Says:

    Wow, the radio show Im listening to is talking about this and I remembered eating pepper bellies when I was a kid, so looked it up. I ate them at Park View Little league in Lancaster, California also!

  22. Tiffany Says:

    I really like the “optional parsley sprig”. Classy.

  23. Eric Says:

    I’ve been dying for a Sonic Frito Chilie Pie since I left KS in 1971.
    Thanks from Ohio




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