This post may include affiliate links; for details, see our disclosure policy.

Chili cheese fries are always a hit! Make a batch of baked fries and top with a simple chili, cheese sauce, and toppings.

Chili Cheese Fries

When it comes to fries, there’s nothing more epic than a platter of Chili Cheese Fries! Imagine: that combination of deliciously hearty chili, crispy potatoes, and gooey cheese sauce is comfort food at its finest. Why settle for a plate of fries when you can add chili? This spin on the traditionally heavy dish is fresher than most, featuring a black bean chili and a lighter (but just as tasty) cheese sauce. In fact, this genius way to repurpose chili can even count as dinner!

Elements in these chili cheese fries

Chili cheese fries have three essential elements: French fries, chili, and cheese: either melted or incorporated as a sauce. This way of serving fries is very popular in the US, and originated in the 1950’s with the invention of prepared cheese products. Here are the elements you’ll need:

  • Fries: make these Homemade Baked Fries
  • Chili: try Black Bean Chili, Quick Chili or any of your favorite chili recipes
  • Cheese: make the simple cheese sauce below with whole milk and cheddar cheese
  • Toppings: top with pico de gallo, sour cream, and thinly sliced green onion
Chili Cheese Fries

Time saving tips!

The elements above are listed in the order we like to make chili cheese fries. Get the baked fries started by cutting them and soaking the fries, then get the chili simmering, and make the sauce just before serving. Here are a few quick tips that can save more time when you’re prepping:

  • Make the chili in advance, or use leftover chili. This is the perfect way to repurpose leftover chili! Just spoon it over the fries with a slotted spoon to minimize sogginess.
  • Use baked store-bought fries. There are some great brands of fries on the market that are more whole food spins on this usually processed product. Find a brand with minimal ingredients, then bake them up for quick assembly.
Chili Cheese Fries

Making the easy cheese sauce

The genius part of this chili cheese fries recipe? The easy cheese sauce! Most cheese sauces require you to make a roux by heat flour and butter together first to give the sauce a thick body. But we’ve created an even easier spin that requires two main ingredients: milk and cheese!

  • This 2-ingredient sauce has a slightly lighter texture than most. It’s not as thick because it doesn’t use flour. This also makes it gluten-free!
  • Use whole milk. This makes for the richest, creamiest body.
  • Other cheese sauce options? Go to Cheese Sauce or Nacho Cheese Sauce!

Chili cheese fries…for dinner!

These chili cheese fries taste decadent: but they’re actually lighter than most recipes. In fact, you can get away with calling them dinner. Here’s why:

  • The fries are just potatoes and olive oil. This is part of a healthy diet!
  • The chili is vegetarian and made of mostly vegetables. Black beans, corn, quinoa, tomatoes, onions: all healthy, good-for-you ingredients! You can choose a meaty chili if you like, which will make this recipe heavier and more caloric.
  • The cheese sauce is minimal. Many cheese sauces pack in loads of cheese. This recipe has just enough. If you’d like to go even more minimal, simply sprinkle with a few handfuls of cheddar cheese and pop it in the broiler to melt the cheese.
Chili Cheese Fries

Variations: meaty, vegan and more

Want to mix up these chili cheese fries? Here are a few ideas for different variations on the theme:

More fries recipes

We love fries over here: and there are lots of ways to make them that are a healthy spin! Here are a few more fries recipes to try:

clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
Chili Cheese Fries

Classic Chili Cheese Fries

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 4 to 6 1x


Chili cheese fries are always a hit! Make a batch of baked fries and top with a simple chili, cheese sauce, and toppings.


  • 1 recipe Baked French Fries
  • 2 cups Black Bean Chili, Quick Chili (with ground beef or plant-based crumbles), or other favorite chili recipe*
  • ¼ cup whole milk**
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 green onion
  • Pico de gallo, for serving
  • Sour cream, for serving
  • Hot sauce, for serving (optional)


  1. Make the Baked French Fries, following that recipe. (You also can use frozen fries and skip this step.) While the fries soak, go to Step 2.
  2. Start the Black Bean Chili or Quick Chili, or use leftovers of your favorite chili recipe. Allow it to simmer while baking the fries. 
  3. Directly before serving, make the cheese sauce: In a small saucepan, heat the whole milk and the salt over medium heat. Once hot, add the shredded cheese a little bit at a time, stirring and melting before adding more cheese until all is incorporated (this should take about 3 minutes total).
  4. To serve, place the fries on a platter. Scoop out 2 cups of chili with a slotted spoon and add them over the top. Top with the warm cheese sauce, green onion, pico de gallo and sour cream. Serve immediately. 


For vegan, use Vegan Chili and Vegan Nacho Cheese.

**For the best texture use whole milk: it has the creamiest, richest body. You can substitute 2% milk, but the sauce has a grainer texture. Or for a more classic cheese sauce, go to Cheese Sauce

  • Category: Appetizer or Main Dish
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Keywords: Chili cheese fries

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

Leave a Comment

Recipe rating 5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

1 Comment

  1. The recipes sound great. I would love to have the recipe so I can try them. They are different than the usual recipes