Chili with Fritos

When I was young, I skied every winter weekend (and often during the week after school). Whenever I headed to the lodge for lunch, I enjoyed a bowl of chili topped with plenty of shredded cheddar cheese and a side of french fries. I absolutely love dipping french fries in chili.  It may not sound appetizing, but try it because I think you’ll like it!

I’ve never made chili from scratch because I figured it wasn’t worth the effort. I assumed my son wouldn’t like it (he’s a picky eater) and wasn’t sure my daughter would either (not picky).  Over the years, I’ve saved several chili recipes, however many of them call for pork or sausage or cubed beef; over one dozen ingredients; vegetable prepping, and long cooking times on the range top or in a slow cooker (amazingly enough I still don’t own a slow cooker).   

My kids went to sleepaway camp this past summer and when they arrived home, they kept talking about an awesome chili they made and ate in cooking class. The details were that it was served in a bag of fritos, topped with shredded cheese and eaten with a white plastic fork. They raved that it was the best chili they had ever eaten (mind you it was their first and only experience). I was especially surprised that my son enjoyed the chili but the amazing thing about sleepaway camps is that the directors and counselors (and indirect peer pressure) have a special way of convincing kids to do and try new things – in a way that a parent cannot, no matter how much we urge. 

IMG_8217In early September the camp mailed us a newsletter with the infamous chili recipe. It appeared to be the easiest ever recipe with 9 ingredients, no prep time and about 45 minutes cook time. Forget about how easy this recipe is. This is one of the best-tasting chilis ever!  It’s straightforward and not fancy but flavorful. The can of Ro*Tel adds so much flavor and eliminates the need to prep vegetables. The Fritos added the perfect crunch and contrast in texture. I cross-referenced the recipe online and found that the camp recipe is slightly adapted from Ree Drummond’s (The Pioneer Woman) Frito Chili Pie recipe.  

Chili with Fritos.  This is a simple, quick and flavorful chili recipe. It’s perfect on a cold day! The recipe can easily be halved or doubled.

Serves 6 to 8;  NO Prep time; Cook time 45 minutes


  • 2 pounds ground chuck
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 – 12 to 14 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 – 10 ounce can Ro*Tel Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies
  • 1 teaspoon ground oregano
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • 2 – 15 ounce cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • Fritos, individual bags or about 1 cup per serving
  • Sharp cheddar cheese, grated

Cooking Directions:

  1. In a large pot over medium-high heat, add the ground chuck and garlic. Cook until the beef is browned and cooked through.
  2. Add the tomato sauce, Ro*Tel, oregano, cumin, chili powder and salt. Cover, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes.
  3. Stir in the beans (drained and rinsed), cover and simmer for an additional 20 minutes.
  4. If the chili appears to be too thick, thin it out with water as needed (about 1/2 cup).

Serving the chili:

Open the Frito bags or place Fritos in a bowl. Ladle the chili (about one cup) over the fritos and top with shredded cheese. Serve immediately and enjoy!!


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