Have you ever tried Frito pie or walking tacos? Some summers ago, my Texan friend asked me if I wanted to try a pop-up in Brooklyn, where we both lived. Growing up in the Northeast, I had never heard of, let alone tried, Frito pie.
I was utterly surprised and delighted when I received a bag of Fritos stuffed with chili, sour cream, corn chips, and cheese. On a hot and humid day, we sat on a grassy stretch of a park, catching up and enjoying the comforting amalgam of savory textures and flavors.
Nowadays, when I crave those familiar flavors, I reach for my trusted skillet to prepare an at-home version, walking taco casserole. Walking taco casserole has all the components of a walking taco from the bag served in a casserole dish for convenience. It’s easily adaptable so you can enjoy it with your favorite toppings.
According to Eater and Heavy Table, there is no singular, agreed-upon origin of Frito pie. However, it presumably began in Texas and later spread to other parts of the US, especially the Midwest.
Frito pie is often served as a staple concession at school events like sports games or community field days. My friend Joseph, who first introduced me to this delectable treat, recalled it being offered at school lunches, often made with Hormel canned chili and topped with sour cream, shredded cheese, and chives.
Swaps and Substitutions
- Pinto beans can be substituted with black beans if you prefer them!
- For a milder version, replace the Rotel with plain canned diced tomatoes (without chiles).
- You can absolutely substitute the ground beef for a plant-based version; just note that you may need more oil to replace the fat.
You can easily prepare this casserole ahead of time with a few simple tricks. Prepare the meat and bean filling (without the toppings) up to 2 days ahead and store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.
Just before serving, preheat the oven to 350°F. Transfer the filling to a casserole dish and top with cheese and Fritos. Bake as directed, adding 5-10 minutes extra time to warm up the casserole.
More Beefy and Cheesy Casseroles
- Cheeseburger Casserole
- Johnny Marzetti Casserole
- The Best Homemade Lasagna
- Beef Enchilada Casserole
- Beef Noodle Casserole
Saute the aromatics:
Set a large 12-inch skillet over medium heat and add the oil. Saute the garlic and onion for 6-8 minutes until soft and translucent.
Cook the meat:
Add the beef and break it into bite-sized pieces with a wooden spoon. Saute for 6-8 minutes until nicely browned.
Note: If your taco seasoning does not have added salt, add a generous pinch of salt to the meat.
Preheat the oven:
While the meat cooks, preheat the oven to 350°F.
Simmer the casserole:
Reduce the heat to medium-low and stir in the taco seasoning, scallions, and pinto beans. Saute for 1-2 minutes until well incorporated.
Add the Rotel and salsa, and simmer for 8-10 minutes, or until the flavors have melded nicely and the meat is well-seasoned. If needed, stir in additional salt and pepper to taste.
Add the toppings:
Immediately transfer the mixture to a 9×13-inch casserole dish and spread it in an even layer. Top with cheddar cheese and 2 cups of Fritos chips, plus more if desired.
Bake for 10 minutes, or until the cheese is nicely melted.
Top casserole dish with optional dollops of sour cream, pickled jalapenos, scallions, and shredded lettuce. Divide amongst serving plates and enjoy!
Love the recipe? Leave us stars and a review below!