Frito Pie Taco Bake is the stick-to-your-bones dinner that will warm the coldest of hearts this fall. Quick, super easy...and did I mention all that cheese?!
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I was inspired to put my own spin on this classic Frito Pie Casserole when I came across a very bare bones version (I'm talking canned chili here, people!) in an old church cookbook from Kansas that I found at the rummage sale at our church. It's simple and easy to make, and while it's not a particularly fancy recipe, it's a total crowd pleaser that the whole family will love!
Tips for making Frito Pie Taco Bake Casserole
- Draining the fat after browning the meat with the veggies will cut down on the overall greasiness of the meat.
- I baked this in a 10 inch pie plate (like this one!). You could also use a 9 Inch Baking Dish, as long as it has high sides.
- The other option is to make it a one-pot meal by using an oven-safe pan and transferring it to the oven when the time comes.
- Feel free to get crazy with toppings. Whatever you like on your tacos would taste fantastic on this as well! I topped it with plenty of shredded cheddar cheese before adding Fritos (which are dangerously addictive, by the way. Don't say I didn't warn you!) and a little more cheese on top of the Fritos, for good measure.
Ingredient information that's helpful to know:
- Ground beef: I use 80/20 ground beef for a little added flavor, but you can always go with a leaner fat ratio if you want to lighten this up. You could also substitute with ground turkey or ground chicken.
- Peppers and onions: If you're making this for kids, you can totally mince the peppers and onions nice and small. I did this, and my kids ate it happily.
- Seasonings: The flavorings in this are rounded out by salt, pepper, garlic powder, chili powder, cumin, and smoked paprika. If you want it to have a little kick to it, use Ancho Chili powder instead of regular chili powder.
- Beans: Kidney or Pinto beans work best for this — be sure to rinse and drain them well!
- Cheese: I used sharp cheddar, but a Mexican Blend cheese works well too!
- Corn Chips: Fritos are my chips of choice, but generic brands works well too. I went with the smaller ones for easier eating.
What is Frito Pie?
Frito Pie, also called Frito Casserole or sometimes even a taco bake recipe, consists of chili topped with cheese and finished off with Fritos corn chips — plus any other toppings that your hungry heart desires. For my version, I put together a super quick homemade chili in a skillet before transferring it to a baking dish.
Can you make this ahead?
Yes — prepare it up until it's time to bake, then cover and chill until it's time to cook and eat. Pull it out of the fridge 30 minutes before cooking and keep an eye on the temperature — you may need to add a couple of extra minutes to the baking time (you want it to be hot and bubbly throughout).
What goes well with this Frito pie recipe?
I added some chopped scallions after it came out of the oven because they look pretty and taste great too, but you can totally be creative with your toppings. Lettuce, tomato, cilantro, salsa, sour cream, guacamole — truly the possibilities are endless!
Can you freeze this?
Yes! I would recommend preparing the dish up until it's time to bake, then top it with the cheese and corn chips once you're ready to finish and eat it. Be sure to thaw completely before baking.
Leftovers and storage:
Leftovers will last up to 3 days covered in the refrigerator. Reheat individual servings in the microwave.
Ingredients you can prep ahead:
- Chop onions
- Chop peppers
- Rinse and drain beans
- Shred cheese
- Wash scallions
- Large saute pan
- Wooden spoon
- Chef's knife
- Cutting board
- Measuring cups
- Measuring spoons
- Deep Pie Plate or 9 Inch Baking Dish
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Frito Chili Pie Taco Bake
- Cooking spray
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 medium green pepper, diced
- 1 pound ground beef, 80/20
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper, you can substitute with cayenne pepper if you prefer the chili to be spicier
- 1 8 ounce can tomato sauce
- ¼ cup water
- 1 can kidney or pinto beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
- 3-4 cups fritos corn chips
- 1-2 scallions, chopped
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and spray well with cooking spray.
- Add onions, peppers and ground beef to the pan and saute for 5-7 minutes until the beef in browned and the vegetables have softened. Use the spoon to break up the ground beef and stir everything periodically. Drain the grease.
- Add chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, garlic powder, salt, pepper, tomato sauce, water and beans and stir well to combine.
- Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for 10 minutes stirring often.
- Transfer to a deep dish pie plate or a 9 x 9 inch baking pan.
- Sprinkle with 1 ½ cups shredded cheddar.
- Top with Fritos and then sprinkle on the remaining ½ cup shredded cheddar.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Sprinkle with chopped scallions and serve immediately.
- This will last up to 3 days covered in the refrigerator and reheats well in individual servings in the microwave.
- Make this ahead up or freeze- prepare up until it's time to bake and fully that before baking.