Comfort Food Classic: Chili Frito Pie

Pure southern comfort food! Chili Frito Pie recipe on @beardandbonnet

Some days call for comfort food and for this southern girl there is no greater comfort food on the planet (in my humble opinion) than a gigantic bowl of Chili Frito Pie!

When I was growing up my aunt had a cute little cafe in downtown Birmingham, Alabama called The Cameo Cafe. Pretty much my whole family worked there – my aunt and uncle ran the restaurant. My mother waited tables and launched her bakery business there, my brother bused tables and my great aunt had a little antique shop upstairs! If I needed an immediate family fix and a feel good meal I always went there.

Pure southern comfort food inspired by my Alabama roots! Chili Frito Pie recipe on @beardandbonnet

Hands down, my favorite dish served at Cameo Cafe was my aunt’s Chili Frito Pie! Talk about hit the spot delicious; crunchy salty corn chips, homemade chili, rice and cheese – totally swoon worthy and after all these years it is still my ultimate comfort food fix when I get to feeling a bit homesick.

Over the years I have developed my own veggie loaded version of my aunt’s Chili Frito Pie that I serve my family during the cooler months of the year. My west coast take on her southern classic has layers of Mexican green rice, fire roasted chili, fresh cilantro and lots of lime wedges on the side. Go ahead, get your Chili Frito Pie on, you know you want to!

Pure southern comfort food! Chili Frito Pie with Green Mexican Rice on @beardandbonnet

Serves: 4 servings
I like to make a big batch of chili for dinner one night then use the leftovers for Chili Frito Pie a few nights later. It's two totally different meals that my family can't get enough of!
  • 2 cups corn chips, Frito's and Trader Joe's brands are gluten free
  • 1 batch Mexican green rice, recipe follows or Mexican Red Rice
  • 4 cups homemade chili
To serve
  • ½ cup cilantro leaves
  • ½ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese or jalapeño jack cheese
  • ¼ cup finely chopped onions
  • lime wedges
  • Optional, but also delicious: avocado, sour cream, green onions, pipits
  1. Divide the corn chips between 4 serving bowls. Layer each bowl with Mexican green rice, chili, and toppings of choice. Serve immediately.
Mexican Green Rice
Serves: 4
This rice is stellar on its own as a side dish, but also adds a heavy dose of flavor to bowls of chili, stews and tacos!
  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil
  • ½ cup chopped white onion
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground ancho chile
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup long grain rice
  • 1 cupvegan "chicken" broth, I use Massel
  • ¾ cup Roasted tomatillo salsa, homemade or store-bought will work
  • ¼ cup water
  • ½ cup cilantro leaves, finely chopped
  • juice and zest of 1 lime
  1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over, medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, ancho chile and salt. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the uncooked rice and cook, stirring constantly for another minute.
  2. Add the broth, salsa and water to the pan. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook for 20 minutes or until rice is tender. Remove the pan from the heat. Let the pan sit undisturbed for 5 minutes.
  3. Remove lid, add cilantro, lime juice and zest then fluff rice with a fork.Serve immediately.

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Meg van der Kruik is the writer, mother, photographer, designer, cook and creative spirit behind This Mess is Ours. After her infant son was diagnosed with a gluten allergy, she dedicated herself to learning to make meals the whole family would love. It’s a bit of a mess – cooking for a vegetarian and three meat-eaters with a range of gluten + dairy sensitivities, but she manages to bring them together every night around their little family table.