This 30-minute Frito Taco Salad recipe is super, super easy and our family loves it. The kids love the beans and the Frito's and so do I. This recipe is one of those recipes that's so easy you don't need a recipe. I didn't put it on the blog for a long time because I thought everyone in America already makes American tacos. Silly me.
Apparently, it's just my family that makes them because I searched Pinterest and Google and no one has a recipe like this. Maybe people just call it something different?
Or maybe it's just from the area where I grew up in Idaho Falls, Idaho? But on the other hand, I don't think it's the area. My mother in law grew up in the same area and she never heard of them either. Help me out. Has anyone else heard of American tacos?
At any rate, we make this recipe all that time, like once every week or two? Why? Well, the first reason is probably that it's so easy. Actually, if you're really feeling lazy, you can totally use a can of chili from the store.
I think it's so easy to make my own chili - and then I know it's exactly what's in it. Plus, it really does taste better when you make it yourself. This recipe only takes about half an hour to make, and most of that time is spent just letting the chili simmer.
Here are some tips, tricks, and adaptations for this recipe:
- If you don't want to make the chili yourself, you can totally just use canned chili instead.
- You could speed up the process for this recipe by cooking big batches of ground beef ahead of time and freezing them in 1 pound batches.
- Speaking of freezing, chili freezes really well, so you could make the chili ahead of time and freeze it and then just heat it up in the pan or microwave when you're ready to eat it.
- This would make a really good meal for camping out. The one version I've seen of this recipe is where you take a small bag of Fritos and add the chili and other ingredients right in the bag. And you could make the chili ahead of time, or it would be really easy to make in a dutch oven over charcoal or over the fire. They are called "Walking Tacos."
- I recommend you don't leave out the onion. I made it the other day without onion and it was just not nearly as good. The onion not only gives it some flavor, but I think it helps with the texture and softening it.
- Choose whatever kind of onions you like for the topping, or don't have an onion topping. It's good with green onions, red onions or white onions.
- Personally, I like to blend the can of diced tomatoes. No one in our family likes big chunks of tomatoes.
- You only HAVE to simmer the chili for 20 minutes, but it is better if you simmer it for longer. It's really good in a crockpot or Instant Pot * too.
- This recipe is really good with BBQ corn chips too.
- I love BBQ Fritos with this recipe.
- I usually crush up the Fritos by hand and put on the top of everything so they stay crunchy (it just doesn't look as pretty). My husband prefers to keep the Fritos on the bottom so they get a bit soggy and absorb the flavor from the chili.
- It's really good to mix in some cheddar cheese in with the chili AND also top it with grated cheese.
- You can buy pre-shredded cheese and make the meal prep even faster.
- It's a really good meal for a big group of people because they can pick and choose what they want.
- Nacho cheese sauce can be good on top.
- You can change up the recipe and do no ground beef or no beans.
- You can make the chili in the crockpot and it gets nice and flavorful that way. Just combine all the ingredients and let simmer in the crockpot for 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low.
- You could also make the chili in an Instant Pot * and get similar results to the crockpot. Throw everything in and push the soup button and let it cook for half an hour.
- You can do individual serving bags of Fritos and let people either put the Fritos on their plate - or just let them add the chili and toppings right into the bag.
All my children but my youngest love this recipe (she pretty much doesn't like anything mixed and really doesn't like cheddar cheese, so I'm not sure she counts). I like to serve it when we have big family parties because most kids love it, adults like it and it is filling and you can choose your toppings, which is always good when you're trying to feed a big group of people.Print
Easy 30-Minute Frito Taco Salad Recipe
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 25 minutes
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 8 1x
- Category: Main Course
- Cuisine: Gluten-Free
This American tacos recipe is so fast, hearty and fresh at the same time. It's a lot less messy than regular tacos and cheaper because it uses chili with affordable beans to make it stretch farther. Plus, the corn chips are super yummy.
FOR THE CHILI:
- 1 pound Ground Beef
- 1 Small Onion (chopped)
- 1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
- ½ teaspoon Paprika
- 1 teaspoon Chili Powder
- 1 teaspoon Sea Salt
- 14 ounce can Diced Tomatoes
- 28 ounce can Crushed Tomatoes
- 14 ounce can Red or Kidney Beans (drained)
TO SERVE WITH:
- 1 bag Corn Chips (such as Fritos)
- Shredded Cheddar Cheese
- Sour Cream
- Diced, Fresh Chopped Tomatoes
- Green onions (chopped)
- Heat a large pan to medium/high heat.
- Add the ground beef and cook, breaking into small crumbles.
- When the beef is fully cooked, add the onion, garlic powder, paprika, chili powder, and salt to the pan. Stir into the seasoned ground beef and cook until the onion is softened.
- Add the diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, and beans. Stir in and bring to a simmer.
- Reduce heat to medium and cook chili for another 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sauce is rich and thick. Test seasonings and add more salt, if needed.
- Serve the chili over a bed of corn chips and top with shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, tomatoes, salsa, or green onions, as desired.
Keywords: Easy, American, Hearty, Fresh
Can. You freeze the leftovers?
You can definitely freeze the chili leftovers. Not the salad part and you don't need to freeze the chips. The cheese freezes great but I would freeze it separately.
We eat this all the time here in California. At high school football games they will open the small bags of Fritos and put some chili inside topped with cheese and a plastic fork. We call them pepper bellies or frito pie.
That's a smart idea! It sounds a lot healthier than a hot dog and that's good to hear you eat them in California.
Look up "walking taco" or "Frito pie". I grew up eating this as well and it is fairly common here in Utah, at least.
Yes! Thank you for the comment. Glad to know I'm not the only one who loves American tacos. And good to know the other names it goes by.
Hi, we make this often. I am South African but live in New Zealand. My recipe is almost identical to yours, except I usually layer the chips, then Chilli on top, then grated cheese and bake until melted. Guacamole, sour cream and salsa then go on top.
How interesting. Thanks for sharing! What do you call it?
Nachos. Which they probably are not and any Mexican is welcome to shoot me down. It's what is served in South African restaurants and Malaysian pubs etc. have been making them for years. A family standard, especially for a big crowd of teens or friends. Quick and easy. I also throw some chopped cilantro on. The best. And jalapeños.
This was a great 1 person dinner. Easy and quick.