These chili cheese fries are crispy french fries topped with homemade beef chili and cheese cheese, then baked to melted perfection. An easy and hearty appetizer option that tastes like it came from a restaurant!
French fries are great on their own, but they’re even better when you cover them in flavorful toppings. These chili cheese fries are the perfect blend of zesty chili, creamy cheese and crispy fries. The ultimate indulgence that’s always a hit with both kids and adults.
How do you make chili cheese fries?
Start by preparing your chili, whether it be store bought or homemade. Place frozen french fries on a sheet pan, then bake them until golden brown and crispy. Spoon the chili over the top of the fries, and add a sprinkle of cheese. Bake the fries until the cheese is melted. Add any extra toppings as desired, then serve immediately and enjoy.
You will get the best results with this dish if you make your own chili. I have provided my all time favorite chili recipe, which includes ground beef, plenty of spices, tomatoes and beans. This thick and hearty chili can be made in about an hour start to finish, and pairs perfectly with fries. That being said, feel free to use your favorite chili recipe, or make some chili seasoning to add some extra zip to store bought chili.
Tips for the perfect fries
- You can use any shape fry you like for this dish. I recommend a larger cut fry rather than the shoestring variety. Try using steak fries, waffle fries, or thick cut traditional fries.
- The chili can be made up to 3 days in advance. I often make a pot of chili for dinner, then use the leftovers the second day to prepare this dish.
- Skip the store bought pre-shredded cheese and grate your own cheddar. The shredded cheese that comes in bags is often coated in preservatives and anti-caking agents and does not melt smoothly.
- Serve your cheese fries right away, as the potatoes will become soft as they sit under the chili.
Chili cheese fries toppings
The best part about these fries is all the topping options! I typically add a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of green onions, but the possibilities are endless.
- Cooked crumbled bacon
- Diced red onions
- Chopped tomatoes
- Sliced avocado
- Black olives
- Chopped Cilantro
While I love this recipe as-is, feel free to change up the ingredients to customize the flavors to your tastes.
- Potatoes: Try sweet potato fries or wedges for a different flavor combination.
- Chili: You can use any type of chili you like. Turkey, beef, vegetarian, beans, no beans. They all will work just fine!
- Cheese: Instead of cheddar, try using colby jack mozzarella or pepper jack cheese. You can also use a cheese sauce if you prefer.
This is a must-make recipe for those days where you feel like a satisfying snack that’s packed with flavor.
More snacks to savor
Chili Cheese Fries Video
Chili Cheese Fries
For the chili
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- 1 pound ground beef I use 90% lean
- 1/2 cup onion finely diced
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes do not drain
- 2 8 ounce cans tomato sauce
- 1/2 cup beef broth
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt divided use
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 15 ounce can kidney beans drained and rinsed
For the fries
- 32 ounces frozen french fries
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- assorted toppings such as sour cream and green onions
- cooking spray
For the chili
- Heat the oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add the ground beef and season with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook, breaking up the meat with a spoon, for 3-4 minutes. Drain off any excess grease.
- Add the onion to the pot and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes or until softened. Stir in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
- Add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, beef broth, chili powder, ground cumin, smoked paprika, cocoa powder, brown sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt to the pot. Bring to a simmer.
- Cook for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until chili has thickened.
- Add the kidney beans and cook for another 10 minutes.
- Taste and add more salt and pepper if desired.
For the fries
- Coat a sheet pan with cooking spray.
- Cook the french fries in the oven in a single layer on a sheet pan according to package directions.
- Remove the pan of fries from the oven. Turn the oven heat to 400 degrees F.
- You can finish the fries on a sheet pan, or transfer them to a skillet for a restaurant style presentation.
- Spoon 1 1/2 cups of chili over the fries, then top with cheddar cheese.
- Return the fries to the oven. Bake for 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.
- Add toppings if desired, then serve immediately.