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Chili Cheese Fries are an American favorite when it comes to comfort food. But that doesn’t mean they have to be unhealthy.
This recipe makes the best chili cheese fries. The chili is made from scratch with ground turkey, onions, tomatoes, and beans, along with plenty of seasonings. These are a perfect snack or meal to share for movie night. They are also perfect for game days.
What Are Chili Cheese Fries?
Simply put, they are cooked fries with chili poured over the top. Then you melt cheese over that and add all the chili toppings you like.
What Year Were Chili Cheese Fries Invented?
While there is some evidence to suggest that they were invented before this, the official records go back to 1975 in Michigan, with credit going to a waitress who simply combined fries and chili.
What Type Of Fries Should You Use For Chili Cheese Fries?
We live in a world of convenience. It’s easy to pick up a bag of pre-cut fries from the store and not give it a second thought. But I urge you to read the ingredient list. I have found one brand here locally that only lists potatoes and oil. But I’ve seen other brands that have crazy ingredient lists for something that should be very simple. So, while I encourage you to use real potatoes, I’m also a realist. So, instead, I recommend searching for a healthier frozen french fry at the store.
How To Cut French Fries
After washing your potato, you’ll cut it lengthwise into approximately half-inch thick slices. Then, you’ll turn those slices on their sides and cut again at about a half-inch to form a french fry.
How Should I Cut My Fries?
It’s really up to you. You can cut your potatoes into wedges, skinny fries, or any other shape you prefer. You can even use waffle fries. Just remember that the thickness will affect the baking time.
Soaking The Potatoes
If you are cutting potatoes yourself, you’ll want to soak them for a few hours in a bowl of water. You can do this the day before if you wish. Just store the whole bowl in the fridge. This removes excess starch from the potatoes, allowing them to not only cook more evenly but to also become crispier during cooking. If you leave the starch on, you’ll get a softer, sometimes gummier exterior, no matter how long you cook them for, so the choice is yours.
How To Cook French Fries
After soaking, make sure you drain the water and dry the fries off with some paper towels. Once they are dry, you can lay them out on a sheet pan and bake them in a preheated oven at 400F. for about 40-50 minutes, or until they reach a level of doneness you prefer.
How To Air Fry French Fries
If you prefer to air fry them, after drying the fries, you’ll want to air fry at 400F. for about 20 minutes. Make sure to stir them or shake the basket a couple of times during the cooking process.
What Cheese To Use For Chili Cheese Fries
While you can certainly use any cheese you prefer, I recommend one of two types.
- Sharp cheddar cheese. This often tends to add the most flavor to chili cheese fries.
- Real American cheese. These are not the Kraft slices that melt like plastic. I found mine in the deli section at the store. This will give you a much milder flavor that kids often prefer.
A third option would be a Mexican cheese blend, but don’t recommend it only because you have to buy those blends already grated at the store. Pre-grated cheeses have anti-caking agents added.
What Type of Chili To Use
Here again, you can use any chili you like. I have two recipes that I recommend.
What Else Can I Add To My Chili Cheese Fries?
Want to add even more? Try one or all of these:
- Fresh, chopped tomatoes
- Green onions
- Sweet potatoes – Sweet potato fries would be a great substitute.
- Garlic powder – Sprinkled on as garnish.
- Fresh, chopped cilantro
- Cayenne pepper
- Ground cumin
- Black pepper
What Are Chili Cheese Fries Made Of?
Cut french fries – Fresh or frozen.
Chili – Any type you like. Any type you like. A turkey version is below, or you can try this beef chili if you prefer.
Grated cheese – See notes above on which cheese to try.
Jalapeno pepper – Optional for spice.
Plain yogurt – Or Greek, or dairy-free. You can also use sour cream.
Red onion – Chopped finely for garnish/topping.
How To Make Chili Cheese Fries
Cook your fries to your liking. You can bake them in the oven or air fry them, as you wish. Then, lay them out over a parchment-lined cookie sheet.
Preheat oven to 450 ℉.
Pour the chili over the fries and spread it out evenly.
Cover the chili with the grated cheese.
Bake it for about 10 minutes in a preheated oven or until the cheese just barely starts to brown. Basically, as long as it’s melted, it’s ready.
Top that with your favorite chili toppings.
Use a metal spatula to scoop some up and serve.
If you are going to store leftovers, put them in an airtight container and keep them in the fridge for up to 3 days.
You can freeze this if you pack it without the fresh toppings. Pack it well and put it in the freezer for up to 4 months.
Thaw in the fridge for at least 24 hours if frozen.
Reheat in the oven or in the microwave. The fries will be a little soggy but will taste good.
More French Fry Recipes
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Chili Cheese Fries Recipe Cards
Turkey Chili Recipe
CLICK TO WATCH THIS RECIPE IN ACTION!
- Medium to large pot
- 1 tbsp. oil (I used coconut oil)
- 1 large red onion (chopped)
- 1 large red bell pepper (chopped)
- 6 large garlic cloves (minced)
- 2 lb. ground turkey
- 1 cup chicken broth (no sugar added)
- 2 cups fresh chopped tomatoes
- 6 oz. can tomato paste (no sugar added)
- 15 oz. can pinto beans (do not drain – no sugar added)
- 15 oz. can black beans (do not drain – no sugar added)
- 15 oz. can tomato sauce (no sugar added)
- salt and pepper to taste after cooking
Seasoning For Spicy Chili:
- ½ cup chili seasoning (see link above for recipe)
Seasoning for Milder Chili:
- ¼ cup ground cumin
- 2 tsp. ground coriander
- 1 tbsp. chili powder
- 1 tbsp. garlic powder
- 1 tbsp. onion powder
- Warm the oil in a medium to large pot. Add the onions and bell peppers and sauté until the onions are translucent.
- Add in the garlic and continue to cook and stir for about 1 minute.
- Stir in the ground turkey and cook until mostly browned.
- Add in all remaining ingredients, remembering to adjust the seasoning based on whether you want spicy or mild chili. Season with salt and pepper.
- Serve garnished with fresh chopped parsley or cilantro, if you wish.
Chili Cheese Fries Recipe
- 1 lb. cut french fries (fresh or frozen)
- 2 cups chili
- 2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese (or Mexican blend)
- 1 medium jalapeno pepper
- ½ cup plain yogurt (or Greek, or dairy-free)
- ½ cup chopped red onion
- Cook your fries to your liking. You can bake them in the oven or air fry them, as you wish. Then lay them out over a parchment-lined cookie sheet.
- Preheat oven to 450 ℉.
- Pour the chili over the fries and spread it out evenly.
- Cover the chili with the grated cheese.
- Bake it for about 10 minutes in a preheated oven or until the cheese just barely starts to brown. Basically, as long as it's melted, it's ready.
- Top that with your favorite chili toppings.
- Use a metal spatula to scoop some up and serve.