This is our Chili Cheese Fries recipe, and we tried different kinds of cheese and chili so you don’t have to! We picked a winning plate of chili cheese fries and we share it with you here.
Whether it’s game day, game night, or movie night, we found our winning combination of canned chili, canned cheese sauce and fries, and topped them just right to make this perfect appetizer.
I usually make homemade chili when we are just eating chili, and I make my own hot dog chili, too (which is different in texture and flavor than eatin’ chili) so I had very little experience with how to choose a canned chili.
As you can imagine there are only a couple of brands, but a few styles and types.
While I’ve eaten cheese fries or loaded potato skins, and an average bowl of homemade chili many times in my life, this was my first time putting together the whole enchilada…rather the whole giant, rippling plate of decadent chili cheese fries.
The experience was noteworthy because it was so indulgent: a plate that toppled over with crispy fries (one of my favorite foods ever) plus cheese doubled-up in and around this.
The chili, surprisingly, tied it all together, and no one is more surprised than I am.
I don’t really do heat-spice, but I can see why the kick of some jalapenos would really make this into something even more memorable!
Somehow, chili with beans didn’t seem right on top of chili fries, but you do you.
My homemade chili isn’t quite right on chili cheese fries, and I think it’s because my chunks of ingredients are too large and they don’t cling to the fries.
If you do want to make your own homemade meaty chili, though, it’s a simple mixture of ground beef, garlic powder, chili powder, some onion powder and tomato paste.
So my tomato, onion, and beef just tend to pool around the sides and the saucy part tends to just make the fries soggy.
That said, if you have leftover chili of your own favorite chili recipe this makes for an awesome next-day meal or snack.
So we started with these three types of chili:
- ⭐ Wolf Brand Original, Mild, No Beans – the gold standard of the canned chili we tried, though, we wish we had put a Hormel into the contest; maybe next time.
- Wolf Brand Angus, Mild, No Beans – should have tasted better quality than their original but it actually had less flavor.
- Artisan Gluten Free Homestyle Chili – actually spicier than the other two, too loose for chili cheese fries, nice red pepper flavor, though.
While I wanted to doctor up the chili a bit with a pinch of salt or cayenne pepper, I left it alone to see how it would fare straight out of the can.
This is a chili cheese fries recipe with can chili that you might really enjoy again and again.
And switching up the types of cheese, etc. will really make it your own.
In the photo you’ll see Pacific Brand Plant-Based Chili but we ran out of time to try it. If you recommend it, please let us know.
We found everything at Walmart, so if the store near you doesn’t carry the same brands, that’s okay, work with what you have available.
About the cheese
So we picked out the only canned cheese we could find at the time:
- ⭐Rico Gourmet Nacho Cheese Sauce – not too spicy, just a hint of spice and cumin—the traditional “ballgame nachos” style of cheese
- Rico Queso Blanco Cheese Sauce – very mild, good for dipping broccoli too. We used leftovers on tacos, but it was overpowered against the other flavors in this recipe.
- Rico Premium Aged Cheddar – this one tasted metallic like it had been in the can for ages, so we just tossed it in the trash immediately and didn’t use it on the fries at all.
This was my first time having creamy cheese sauce from a can this way, and while I tend to be a food snob, there IS a time and place for this kind of cheese.
Chili cheese fries are definitely one of them.
The shredded cheese layer is extremely important to this snack stack, though.
Tillamook Shredded Cheddar is CookingChew’s favorite cheese on almost everything. I wish we were endorsed by Tillamook because we would take payment in a lifetime supply of their cheese.
You don’t have to use Tillamook brand cheese, of course, but we highly recommend a shredded natural cheddar cheese as an added layer to the cheese sauce, both for taste and texture.
About the french fries
Crinkle-cut fries hold the sauces better than straight-cut fries, but really, any kind of fried potato will work:
- Steak cut fries
- Potato wedges
- Shoestring fries
- Tater tots
- Handcut homemade fries
- Sweet potato fries
- Even hot potato chips, as long as you eat them quickly
But the crispier the fries, the better, we found, both for a textural contrast and they don’t get as soggy as quickly.
Crispy french fries for this appetizer all the way, so they hold up to the layers of gooey, saucy yummy stuff on top.
About the toppings
The world is your oyster here.
If you’ve never had the wildly indulgent combination of chili, cheese and french fries together, just imagine what you’d put on any of them separately:
- Sour cream
- Chopped green onions
- Chopped white onion
- Cooked and crumbled bacon
- Chopped or sliced jalapenos
- Chopped canned chipotles
- Diced fresh tomato
- Nothing extra at all, because the rich and savory combination is already a powerful punch of flavors.
Tips for making this Chili Cheese Fries recipe
- We used canned ingredients that we weren’t familiar with. If this is a new recipe for you, be sure to heat up a bit and then taste-test them before slathering all over your plate of fries. One of the canned cheese sauces tasted too metallic and we couldn’t use it at all.
- While we heated up everything a bowl at a time in the microwave, in hindsight, we recommend keeping everything hot and letting everyone serve themselves. We tried each test plate hot, warm, and at room temperature, and we noticed the cheese and fries cool VERY quickly. If you can use a steam tray or slow cooker with the lid off for the fries, even better. Restaurants have heat lamps for dishes such as these and now we know why.
- Get your chili and cheese sauce nice and hot before pouring them on and have everyone ready to eat. We found that the eating experience degrades quickly as the finished dish sits.
- The extra layer of shredded melted cheese is a must-have. Whether you heat them up in the microwave or air fryer, I wouldn’t skimp on this part.
- Offer a topping bar for people to top their own chili cheese fries. Offer a selection of chopped green onions, diced fresh tomato, chopped jalapenos, maybe some crumbled bacon, and sour cream.
Supplies to gather
- Baking Sheet
- Cutting Board
- Measuring Cups
- Small Bowls
- Can Opener
- 2 Small Saucepans
- 2 Wooden Spoons or Spatulas
- Frozen Crinkle-Cut French Fries
- Wolf Brand Original Mild, No Beans
- Canned Rico Gourmet Nacho Cheese Sauce
- Tillamook Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
- Red Onion
- Fresh Tomato
- Green Onions
- Sour Cream
The bottom line
I’d personally call this epic Chili Cheese Fries recipe a full meal.
This is one of those easy recipes that make the whole family happy.
If you love cheesy fries, this appetizer for your next party is really good. Not good for you, but good.
So unless you are making small portions or as a side to something else, you may as well do it up right and load it up and call it a Friday Night treat!
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Chili Cheese Fries
- 32 oz Frozen Crinkle-Cut French Fries
- 1 can of Wolf Brand Original Mild, No Beans
- ½ can of Rico Gourmet Nacho Cheese Sauce
- 8 oz Tillamook Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
- ¼ c Diced Red Onion
- ¼ c Diced Tomato
- ¼ c Chopped or Snipped Green Onion
- ¼ c Sour Cream
- Bake the fries according to the directions on the package. Add five minutes to make them slightly more crispy.
- While the fries are baking, chop and dice your toppings, and set them aside.
- Heat the cheese sauce and chili in separate saucepans on the stovetop according to the given directions.
- When the fries are done baking, portion the fries into fourths. Add one-fourth to each serving plate.
- Top the fries with the shredded cheese, then place in the microwave for 30 seconds or until the cheese is mostly melted.
- Next, top with heated chili, then the heated cheese sauce.
- Repeat for each plate.
- Add all your toppings and serve hot.
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