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Chili Cheese Fries: a simple recipe for the popular appetizer

Total time: 60 Min
Difficulty: Low
Serves: 6 people
By Cookist
for the chili
Olive oil
1 tsp
Ground beef
1 pound
onion, finely diced
1/2 cup
Garlic, minced
1 tsp
diced tomatoes, juices reserved
1 15-ounce can
Tomato sauce
2 8 ounce cans
Beef broth
1/2 cup
Chili powder
1 tbsp
Ground cumin
1 tsp
smoked paprika
1 tsp
Cocoa powder
1 tsp
Brown sugar
1/2 tsp
salt divided use
1 tsp
1/4 tsp
kidney beans drained and rinsed
1 15-ounce can
for the fries
frozen French fries
32 ounces
shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups
Preferred toppings

Is there anything better than chili cheese fries? How about homemade chili cheese fries! This easy appetizer is made with frozen fries topped in mouthwatering homemade chili and plenty of melted cheese. Salty, savory, and a little spicy, the chili tastes incredible when layered over perfectly crispy French fries, and it knocks restaurant chili cheese fries out of the park. It's a hearty, easy-to-make recipe you can put together in about an hour and is great for the moments when you're craving an indulgent appetizer or snack. Are you ready to make the best chili cheese fries you'll ever taste? Here's how to do it!

How to Make Homemade Chili 

You can make great-tasting homemade chili for chili cheese fries in no time. Heat some oil in a pot, then stir in the ground beef. Season it well with salt and pepper, and cook it for 3 to 4 minutes. Drain out the excess fat, then stir in the onions, cooking them until they become soft.

Next up, stir in the tomatoes, tomato juices, broth, spices, and sugar. Let everything come up to a simmer, then let it bubble away on the stovetop for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the chili thickens. Once the chili has thickened, stir in the kidney beans and cook everything for another 10 minutes. Give it a taste and many any necessary adjustments, then get ready to make the fries.

How to Make Chili Cheese Fries

Once you've made the chili, bake the fries according to the instructions on the package. Remove them from the oven and crank the oven up to 400°F. Generously ladle the chili over the fries, then sprinkle the grated cheese over the top of the chili. Pop it in the oven for 5 minutes, or until the cheese has melted, then take it out, add any other toppings you want, and serve.


Tips for the Best Chili Cheese Fries

– Don't forget the extra toppings! Garnish your chili cheese fries with chopped green onions, cilantro, crumbled bacon, olives, avocado, or red onions.

– Any fries work for this recipe, but thicker cut holds up to the chili best.

– You can make your chili ahead of time. It'll be ready to use for your chili cheese fries for up to 3 days.

– Grate the cheese yourself for a more even melt.

– Want to make vegan chili cheese fries? Make a vegan chili (use sweet potatoes or crumbled tofu as a substitute) then garnish it with a vegan substitute cheese.

– You can also cook the fries in your air fryer. Lightly spray the fries with cooking spray then cook them in the air fryer for 20 to 25 minutes at 400°F.

The Best Chili Cheese Fries Variations

There are loads of chili cheese fries variations to try. Swap out regular fries for sweet potato fries or jicama fries. Or make your chili with a different type of meat like turkey, chicken, or pork, or leave out the meat for a completely vegetarian chili.

You can add in different types of beans or leave the beans out if you prefer. Try a mix of different cheeses like mozzarella, Jack, or Colby. Even a cheese sauce would be great on chili cheese fries!


To make the chili, heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Season the ground beef with salt and pepper, then saute for 3 to 4 minutes. Drain off excess fat.

Stir in the onions and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until soft. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, until fragrant.

Stir in the diced tomatoes, tomato juice, beef broth, chili powder, cumin, paprika, cocoa powder, sugar, and salt. Bring to a simmer and cook for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the kidney beans and cook for 10 minutes.

For the fries, arrange the fries in a single layer on a greased baking sheet. Cook according to the instructions on the package.

Remove the fries from the oven. Set your oven to 400F.

Ladle 1 ½ cups of chili over the fries, top with cheese, and place them back in the oven for 5 minutes.

Add any additional toppings and serve immediately.


Use lean ground beef to make your chili so your chili cheese fries are less greasy.

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