This Corn Chip Chili Pie Salad is such a fun and easy meal to throw together for a crowd or an easy weeknight family dinner. With a few tweaks, I’ve made a version of healthy Frito Chili Pie (traditionally made with Fritos, chili, and toppings).
Growing up, I used to LOVE Frito Chili Pie! It is one of the dishes that brings back childhood memories of ball games, fairs, camping, picnics and the infamous school lunch. It is such a crowd pleaser with all the perfect elements – saucy, crunchy, simple, hearty, delicious, to name a few.
I really wanted to create a healthier version for my family and friends so I’ve added fresh lettuce, reduced the amount of corn chips, and added healthy garnishes such as chopped green onions, diced tomatoes and sliced avocados.
I absolutely ADORE Fritos, I’m not going to lie to you… Growing up, we always had a houseboat (my dad is an avid boater!), and every fall before we had to winterize the boat we would have a “Chili Cruise.” My mom’s entire family would come out with my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. We would make my Grandma’s chili and take one final CHILLY cruise before the boat had to hibernate for winter. That chili wasn’t complete without Fritos on top!
These days, instead of Fritos, I top my chili with these Garden of Eatin’ Organic Corn Chips. When we eat corn, we try to get Organic and Non-GMO certified because most traditional corn is sprayed with pesticides and herbicides and is genetically modified… I love these Garden of Eatin’ Organic Corn Chips because they taste exactly like Fritos, but they’re Organic, Non-GMO Project Verified, and Certified Gluten Free.
Make this Corn Chip Chili Pie Salad Grain Free
If you can’t tolerate corn and you’d like to make this Corn Chip Chili Pie Salad grain free, use my favorite grain free chips on top: Siete! They’re made with cassava flour, coconut flour, chia seeds, and avocado oil!
Paleo Chili Recipe
We’ve included a basic chili recipe below, but if you’d like to make this Corn Chip Chili Pie Salad with a Paleo chili, try my reader-favorite Five Pepper Sweet Potato Chili here! Packed with peppers and veggies, it’s the perfect Paleo chili option for this recipe.
Make this Corn Chip Chili Pie Salad Grain Free
If you can’t tolerate dairy and you’d like to make this Corn Chip Chili Pie Salad dairy free, replace the sour cream and cheddar cheese with plant based options. Luckily these days, there are so many delicious options. I love Forager Plain Unsweetened Cashewmilk Yogurt for dairy alternative sour cream and VioLife for dairy alternative cheeses.
History of the Frito Chili Pie
There is a lot of dispute of the origins of the Frito Chili Pie, with New Mexico, Texas, and Tennessee all laying claim to the origination of the dish. It can be called the “Walking Taco” because oftentimes, the Frito Chili Pie is served by cutting open a Fritos bag and layering chili, cheese, and toppings on top!
According to Eater,
As is the case with many iconic dishes, the exact where and when of the Frito pie’s invention is heavily disputed. As Houston-based food writer, author, and Texas culinary expert Robb Walsh explains, New Mexicans claim it was invented in the 1960s at a Woolworth’s in Santa Fe by a woman named Teresa Hernandez. Meanwhile, Texans trace it back to the 1930s, claiming San Antonio resident Daisy Doolin — the mother of Charles Elmer Doolin, the guy who invented Fritos — dreamed up the dish; Hernandez’s version was plain, while Doolin’s came adorned with cheese and chopped onions.
However you enjoy your Corn Chip Chili Pie Salad is up to you! For more delicious recipes, check out more recipes here!
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- ½ yellow onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 Tbsp tomato paste
- ½ tsp dried oregano
- 2 tsp cumin
- 1 Tbsp chili powder
- ½ tsp paprika
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 15-oz can diced tomatoes
- 1.5 cups dried kidney beans, soaked (or 1 can kidney beans drained and rinsed)
- 1 head Romaine lettucs
- 1 bag corn chips (we like Garden of Eatin’ Organic Corn Chips)
- Sour Cream
- 1 bunch Green onions, chopped
- Shredded Cheddar Cheese
- Optional garnishes – chopped tomatoes, sliced avocado
- Soak 1.5 cups dried kidney beans the night before (disregard if using canned beans)
- Cook the chili: Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large dutch oven on the stove top
- Add the chopped onion and saute until translucent, approx 5 to 7 minutes. Add 2 cloves minced garlic and saute 1 minute more.
- Add 1 lb ground beef and cook until the meat browned.
- Add the tomato paste, oregano, cumin, chili powder, paprika, and salt. Stir to combine.
- Add 1 can diced tomatoes, and the kidney beans. Stir together, cover and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. If the chili becomes too dry, add ½ cup water or broth at a time as needed.
- When the chili is done cooking, prepare your garnishes. Slice the green onions, and chop the romaine lettuce.
- Assemble your salad bowls by adding the lettuce, corn chips, chili, cheese, sour cream, and green onions.