Chili Cheese Fries

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
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These easy Chili Cheese Fries are the perfect game day or party food! They are loaded with flavor from the smoky homemade chili, crispy fries, and an irresistibly creamy homemade cheese sauce.

Why You’ll Love These Chili Cheese Fries

Chili cheese fries are kind of a big deal around here. We make them every game day! A true crowd-pleaser, this dish has a whole lot going for it. From the crispy and salty french fries and hearty chili, to the decadent homemade cheese sauce, I promise you aren’t going to have leftovers! Let’s take a closer look:

  • Big Flavor: The main thing to know about chili cheese fries is that they are so flavorful, thanks to the well-seasoned chili and gooey cheese sauce. An appetizer should wake up your mouth and make you want another bite – these chili cheese fries do exactly that.
  • Sharable: A big plate of chili cheese fries is fun to share with family and friends – everyone will want to grab some! If sharing a big platter isn’t quite what you had in mind, you can also make individual portions, with no hassle.
  • Easy: Some appetizers are all about crafting the perfect presentation, but in this case, there will be no carving of radish roses. We’re making chili, we’re melting cheese, and we’re pigging out. End of story.
  • Comforting: Did I mention the cheese sauce? Yep, just like a big old bowl of your favorite Homemade Mac and Cheese, this recipe is pure comfort food. Melty, delicious comfort food.
  • Customizable: You can shower this dish with all of your favorite goodies – bacon, jalapeño, chives – whatever you love.

(For more cheesy fries, you’ve got to try these Texas Cheese Fries! Another scrumptious dish that’s great for parties and games.)

Ingredients for chili cheese fries, measured and arranged on a work surface.

What Are Chili Cheese Fries Made Of?

Roll up your sleeves, gather these ingredients, and get ready to enjoy a great batch of fries! Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Fries: You can use homemade fries, or just grab a bag of frozen ones at the store. I usually use plain frozen French fries.
  • Cheese Sauce: Again, store-bought is totally an option, but to make this dish more special, I like to make the cheese sauce myself. It’s absolutely worth the extra work! You’ll see the ingredients below, and the recipe at the bottom of this post.
  • Chili: Any chili that you like, I love to use this Hot Dog Chili, but if you don’t like beans in your chili, try my favorite Texas Chili instead! However you can use canned, leftover, store-bought chili, or whatever you’ve got.

For the Cheese Sauce

  • Butter and Flour: We’ll be combining these to make a light roux – it’s easy, and gives the sauce a velvety thickness.
  • Seasonings: Onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder, smoked paprika, and salt.
  • Milk: I use whole milk here.
  • Cheese: Shredded cheddar – yellow or white, either is fine.

Optional Toppings

  • Green Onions
  • Jalapeños
  • Sour Cream
  • Etc.
Lifting a forkful of loaded fries from a sheet pan.

How to Make Chili Cheese Fries

Making chili cheese fries is a straightforward process, and it’s honestly kind of fun! If you have some older kitchen helpers, you can assign them tasks like measuring spices and spreading the fries out on the baking sheet. Let’s go!

  • Bake the Fries. Nothing fancy here, just bake them according to the package directions – usually this means baking in a single layer at 425°F for about 20 minutes. Flip as needed to get them crispy on all sides. 
  • Make a Roux. While the fries bake, melt the butter in a saucepan and stir in the four to make a light-colored roux. This takes about one minute.
  • Add the Seasonings, Milk, and Cheese. Stir the seasonings into the roux, and then whisk in the milk. Once it’s smooth and thick, add the cheese and stir to melt. Done!
  • Warm the Chili: Heat up the chili in the microwave, or on the stove if you prefer.
  • Assemble and Eat! Top the fries with chili, and then spoon the cheese sauce over the top. Garnish however you like with toppings, and enjoy!
A sheet pan of fries topped with chili, cheese, sour cream, jalapeno, and green onion.

Helpful Tips

I hope you’re excited to try this appetizer. Once you do, I promise you’ll be making it again and again – everyone will beg for it! And these helpful tips will make it that much better.

  • Cheese: Opt for a shredded cheese blend that melts well, such as cheddar, Monterey Jack, or a combination.
  • Chili: Ensure the chili is thick and not overly liquid to prevent the fries from becoming soggy. You can use homemade chili, like my favorite homemade Hot Dog Chili if you like beans, or this quick Texas Chili if you want no beans. You can also use store-bought prepared chili or even canned chili!
  • Fries: You can make this recipe with tater tots, sweet potato fries, or even on chips like Fritos!
  • More Sauce Ideas: This cheese sauce is also delicious over vegetables.
  • Serve Immediately: Don’t let these sit too long, or they get soggy – serve them right away. 
Close-up shot of chili cheese fries.

What to Serve with Chili Cheese Fries

While chili cheese fries can definitely work as a stand-alone main dish or appetizer, pairing them with more sides or appetizers can make your meal even better. Here are a few ideas:

  • Coleslaw: Where there’s chili, there should be coleslaw, in my book. These two dishes were made for each other! Cool, creamy slaw is great for adding contrast and cutting the richness of chili. This Spicy Mango Slaw would truly take things to the next level. 
  • Pickled Jalapeños: Fresh jalapenos would be great, but I also love the tangy, acidic flavor of Escabeche (Mexican Pickled Jalapenos and Carrots). The slightly sour spiciness of this dish will make you want to add it to everything.
  • Chicken Wings: Chicken wings, or chili cheese fries? Why not both! These super-popular appetizers go really well together, and will make you the most popular person in the house on game day, guaranteed. We love these Hot Honey Butter Chicken Wings in the Air Fryer – so good! These Lemon Pepper Wings are also super flavorful and easy!
A fork resting in a batch of homemade cheese fries with chili.

Storing and Reheating

You really want to eat chili cheese fries right away, as they will get soggy. However, if you happen to have leftovers (unlikely, but possible), store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator, to prevent them from spoiling. Stored properly, chili cheese fries will keep for 2 – 3 days.

To reheat, spread them out on a baking sheet and warm them in the oven at about 350°F until hot all the way through. The texture won’t be the same, but the flavors will still be good!

Baked french fries topped with chili and cheese.

More Tempting Game Day Appetizers

A batch of homemade cheese fries with chili, sour cream, and seasoned cheese sauce.
4.8 from 4 votes
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Yield: 6

Best Chili Cheese Fries Recipe

These easy Chili Cheese Fries are the perfect game day or party food! They are loaded with flavor from the smoky homemade chili, crispy fries, and homemade cheese sauce.
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time25 minutes
Total Time30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 32 oz frozen French fries
  • 1 batch cheese sauce, recipe below
  • 3 cups chili

For the Cheese Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 cups freshly shredded cheddar cheese, white or yellow cheddar

Optional, for Serving:

  • Green onions, sliced
  • Jalapeños, pickled or fresh
  • Sour cream

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  • Spread the French fries over a large pan and bake until the French fries are crispy about 20 minutes. (Or follow directions on package to deep fry or air fry the French fries until crispy.)
  • While the fries are cooking, make the cheese sauce. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and stir in the flour. Cook for one minute, then add the seasonings: onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder, smoked paprika and salt.
  • Whisk in the milk until smooth. Bring to a simmer and cook until it begins to thicken slightly, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese until melted and smooth. Set aside.
  • Heat the chili in the microwave until hot.
  • Spread the chili over the hot French fries, then spoon the cheese sauce over top. Garnish with desired toppings and serve immediately!

Notes

  • Cheese: Opt for a shredded cheese blend that melts well, such as cheddar, Monterey Jack, or a combination.
  • Chili: Ensure the chili is thick and not overly liquid to prevent the fries from becoming soggy. You can use store bought chili, canned chili or homemade chili. If you want to make your own chili, I highly recommend trying my Hot Dog Chili or this Texas Chili if you want a chili without beans. 
  • Fries: You can make this recipe with tater tots, sweet potato fries, or even on chips like Fritos!
  • More Sauce Ideas: This cheese sauce is also delicious over vegetables.
  • Serve Immediately: Don’t let these sit too long, or they get soggy – serve them right away. 

Nutrition

Calories: 648kcal, Carbohydrates: 58g, Protein: 16g, Fat: 41g, Saturated Fat: 17g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 17g, Trans Fat: 0.2g, Cholesterol: 53mg, Sodium: 1239mg, Potassium: 1005mg, Fiber: 8g, Sugar: 6g, Vitamin A: 1455IU, Vitamin C: 117mg, Calcium: 345mg, Iron: 3mg

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3 Responses
  1. Suzie

    4 stars
    I made this and it was really good. However, I did run into a problem: the cheese sauce was really grainy. I followed the recipe exactly. Up until I added the cheese, the mixture was very smooth, but after I added the the mixture became grainy. I even added a little more milk to try and smooth it out. Still, it has good flavor, but can’t figure out why it has a grainy texture.

    1. A woman holding a camera standing in front of some shelves.
      Jessica

      Hi Suzie! Did you happen to use packaged shredded cheese instead of shredded it yourself? Pre-shredded cheese has anti-caking agents (and starches) on it, which can overly thicken the sauce and make the sauce grainy.

Welcome!

Jessica
I'm a trial & error, self taught, sugar addict who thankfully learned how to survive in the kitchen! I am also a wife, mama of 3.