Friday Night Lights & Frito Pie

The Texas traditions of high school football and Frito Pie are inexorably linked. Learn more about the portable chili snack that’s a Lone Star favorite.

Fall in Texas is a special time of year. It brings with it respite from the relentless heat of the summer, the promise of homecoming and over the top mums, but most importantly, fall in Texas means football. And high school football, traditionally played on Friday nights, means Frito Pie is back.


As with other great Texas food traditions like Chicken Fried Steak, the precise and exact origins of Frito Pie are unknown, lost to the ages like sparks escaping from a campfire in the West Texas desert. If you aren’t familiar with Frito Pie, a non-negotiable ingredient is nothing more than little rectangular strips of corn chip, as the name of the dish suggests. The rest of Frito Pie has little to nothing to do with actual pie, be it sweet or savory. A bag of corn chips is cut open, chili is ladled on top, and a healthy dose of cheese crowns the dish- and that’s all there is to it. Sour cream, onions, hot sauce and jalapenos are all optional extras.


Given this, I don’t think it’s a stretch to assume that Frito Pie was invented out of convenience — both for the ease of a handheld, self contained meal, and the simple assembly of a warm dish as the weather turns cool, which requires nothing more than scooping the State Dish of Texas out of a crockpot, into a waiting bag. Just make sure your don’t put any beans in your chili — that’s considered treason in this state.

It’s cheap, comforting and uniquely Texan, and it’ll keep you warm as you sit in the cold bleachers and root for the home team. And I’m pretty sure Riggins would have eaten at least one after the game…