Some folks claim that Frito pie was invented at the Woolworth’s dime store on the Plaza in Santa Fe. The claim is disputed by other pretenders to the throne, and there is no reliable provenance that establishes the claims of anyone. The Woolworth’s store is long shuttered; it has been supplanted by the Five and Dime that tries hard to be a realistic facsimile. The important thing to know is that the Five and Dime continues to sell Frito pie, and the tourists love it.

Not everyone thinks it is good stuff. Anthony Bourdain visited Santa Fe a couple of years ago to tape a segment for his television show. He made hurtful comments including the assertion that the chili came from a can. That offended the owners of the store who insisted that the chili was made fresh every day. They wrote to the editors of the local newspaper demanding that Bourdain make a public apology. To my knowledge, Anthony Bourdain never responded. Probably not a big deal. The dish remains as popular as ever with tourists wandering the Plaza.

The original (??) recipe for this delicacy is quite simple: Tear open a bag of Fritos. Ladle in some chili. Be careful not to overflow the bag as it can get messy. Top with cheese and onions. Stick a plastic spoon in the opening of the bag and serve with a good supply of napkins. Delicious. Just be sure to have a roll of Tums at the ready.


Frito Pie


  • bag(s) Fritos (original style preferred)
  • hot chili (see previous post)
  • grated Cheddar cheese
  • scallions, chopped (use regular onion if you prefer)
  • cilantro leaves, chopped (optional)


  1. Open the bag. You may chose to tear off or cut off the top of the bag. Alternatively, cut or tear an X-shaped hole in the side of the bag, folding back the flaps to make an impromptu bowl.
  2. Ladle in enough chili to cover the corn chips. Sprinkle on generous amounts of cheese, scallions, and optional cilantro.
  3. Eat while still hot.


Filed under Food, Photography, Recipes


  1. When I was stationed at Sheppard AFB for technical school, the “roach coach” made THE BEST frito pies!!

  2. We always made these at /girl Scout camp!

  3. Never heard of these , didn’t make it across the ocean to Europe i gather – reminds me of the Canadian dish with fries and sauce on top, Poutine?

    • I’ve never eaten poutine but it must be good given its popularity in Quebec. Texas chili and Frito corn chips (commercialized tortilla chips) are both favorites in the American Southwest, especially during football season, so it seems natural to combine the two.

      • Hi there – poutine is apparently so good that a great friend of mine refused to share hers with the man she was out on a date with, despite the fact that she adored him, but the poutine was just too darn yummy. They got married despite this little hiccup. I have been invited over to a friends house from the American Southwest, she will be making me Posole, I will ask her about frito pie. There is also an Iranian recipe – qhoresteh qeymeh where you have a beef stew with limu omani (dried limes) and some spices and you top it off with tiny matchstick fries, or as my Iranian friends do, with matchstick crisps (or chips in the US), they soak up the gravy and the whole thing is very tasty indeed. I imagine the frito pie is a bit like that, it’s growing on me now I think about it!

  4. It is amazing, in spite of the diversity of cuisines, how similar so many dishes turn out to be. I envy your having posole. It is one of our family’s all-time favorites. Somewhere on my blog I posted a recipe. I also described how to make your own hominy with pine ash, but I don’t think you want to do that! Thanks for sharing your interesting story. I definitely plan to try poutine.

    • Wow really, you made your own hominy with pine ash? I am not getting really curious about posole, it didn’t sound amazing when my friend described it but I guess it is, and the photographs of it look great and very different to how I imagined it. She offered a choice of posole or hominy (I think, by itself with a meat side? But posole sounded more interesting), she is also going to make ceviche for us. Lucky us!
      You will laugh, but back when I was a lot younger I bought a 1967 cook book on South American Cuisine which described how to make masa harina with which you would then make your very own home-made maize tortilas, I remember thinking about doing this many many times, I do in fact remember making my own tortillas with corn and i do remember they were really friable and it was very painful all round. I don’t think I went the lime route I may have just bought the flour ready to go. Either way I never tried again. It just seemed like too little ROI. I haven’t ever had it either, I must make it point of trying some next time I get the chance!

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