Chili Cheese Fries

No chapter about comfort food would be complete without a recipe for French fries. Sure, I’ve baked my way out of heartbreak and disappointment with cookies and puddings, but when it comes down to life’s serious bummers, French fries are the only way to go. These mouthwatering French fries have all the flavor of chili fries without the chili. Grill seasoning, smoky chili powder, and spicy chili flakes make these baked potato slices absolutely irresistible. These are totally my new favorite thing!

Note that McCormick grill seasoning has salt in it. I didn’t need more than a few pinches of additional salt for the potatoes to be super delicious. If you use a grill seasoning without salt, add more salt to your own taste.–Joy Wilson

LC Chili Cheese Fries Minus the Chili Disclaimer Note

We’ve got something of a disclaimer to issue. Despite what their name may lead you to believe, these chili cheese fries don’t actually take their demolish-the-entire-panful-while-standing-at-the-counter allure from chili. They rely instead on traditional chili seasonings. Something of an oxymoron, we know. But practically speaking, what this means is that satiety can be yours in as little as an hour–as opposed to the drawn-out, delayed gratification demanded by first slowly simmering some of your secret recipe for that spicy elixir known as chili. Though the hand-cut fries aren’t glopped with saucy meat, they are still drowned in cheese, so while there are ample crisped edges, don’t be surprised if they’re not crisp through and through. We find the occasional soggy fry to be a pleasing study in contrasts. And while you study that, we’re going to snatch the rest of the batch.

Chili Cheese Fries Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 20 M
  • 1 H
  • Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes (optional)
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 medium russet potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for the baking sheet
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon grill seasoning mix (I use McCormick)
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

Directions

  • 1. Preheat oven to 425°F (218°C). Place a rack in the center of the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and slick the paper with olive oil.
  • 2. In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch, chili powder, paprika, cumin, chili flakes if using, cayenne, and salt. Set aside.
  • 3. Rinse the potatoes under cool running water and peel them. (You can leave some skin bits on the potatoes if you want to go for a more rustic feel.) Using a sharp knife, slice a 1/4 -inch piece off each potato lengthwise. This gives you a stable base. Rest the potatoes, cut side down, on your work surface and slice them into 1/4- to 3/8-inch planks. Stack the planks in piles, 2 to 3 planks high, and slice the stacks lengthwise into 1/4- to 3/8-inch strips. Look at that! French fries!
  • 4. In a medium bowl, toss the fries with the olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, and grill seasoning. Sprinkle the cornstarch mixture over the fries and, using tongs, toss them together, making sure that every potato is well coated. Spread the fries on the prepared baking sheet in a single layer. (For the crispest results, make certain the fries don’t touch one another. If you need a second baking sheet, so be it.)
  • 5. Bake the fries, removing from the oven 2 or 3 times to toss, until the potatoes reach the desired crispiness, 30 to 40 minutes.
  • 6. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, scatter the cheese over the fries, and return them to the oven for just a few minutes to melt the cheese. Slide them onto a platter, sprinkle with chives, and serve immediately.
Hungry for more? Chow down on these:

Testers Choice

Testers Choice
Testers Choice
Brenda Carleton

Jun 12, 2012

Rather than follow the directions for slicing potatoes into 1/4″ planks, I opted to use my mandoline. These fries are very satisfying. My husband and I ate most of them straight from the pan before they even hit our plates! There is something comforting and almost primal about them. I particularly loved the crispiness and those fries on the edges that were mahogany brown. Then there were those fries that were almost in clumps due to the melted cheese clinging to them. Mmmm. What a satisfying dish. You could even just make a big old batch of these without the need for anything else. Next time I would add quite a bit more chili, but that is our taste and we do not fault the recipe for it.

Testers Choice
Caroline Chang

Jun 12, 2012

First order of business: Find russets that are more squat than elongated. This will ensure that your fries are the perfect length and not too long and floppy. My fries took a lot longer than the recommended 30 to 40 minutes–in fact, they took closer to an hour– but were well worth the wait to dip into some sour cream. I could also dial back the chili powder just a bit.

Testers Choice
Sandy Hill

Jun 12, 2012

As stated, these Baked Chili Cheese Fries were absolutely irresistible! Spicy, cheesy, smoky baked fries–what not to love! The baking just means you can eat more. The instructions were fast and easy to follow. I used McCormick grill seasoning and didn’t feel we needed any additional salt. At first, I thought two potatoes for two servings was too much, but it wasn’t. My husband wanted to know when we could have them again! I’ll definitely keep this recipe around.

Testers Choice
Tracey G.

Jun 12, 2012

These fries were so easy to make and were gobbled up in an instant. The spice mixture creates excitement but isn’t overwhelmingly spicy. I ended up using two sheet trays to bake these because it’s important to keep the potatoes in a single layer to ensure crispness. I could easily see these working well for a Super Bowl party or any kind of munching during a sporting event or movie.

Testers Choice
Susan Bingaman

Jun 12, 2012

Delicious and spicy! These Chili Cheese Fries are easy enough to make when you’re in that mood when nothing but cheesy, spicy potatoes will do. When choosing potatoes, do find ones that are a bit squatter. I found that shorter fries fit better on the baking sheet. Scattering them so none are touching will yield firmer fries. They are spicy, so if you’re worried about those with a more delicate palate, cutting back on the red pepper flakes or omitting the cayenne would probably be fine. Or just give them a big glass of milk. I didn’t add any additional salt. I used reduced-sodium McCormick grill seasoning and it provided enough.

Testers Choice
Marilee Johnson

Jun 12, 2012

These fries were so much better than I thought they’d be! I initially thought there would be too much seasoning on them, but they turned out very tasty and weren’t overpowered by the seasoning. I didn’t use the Worcestershire sauce. I “slicked” the parchment with olive oil but think I put too much on it, so I baked the potatoes a little longer than the recipe called for. They crisped up nicely and the cheese added an extra texture and flavor. My tasters loved them! Will keep this recipe for future use.

Testers Choice
Joan Osborne

Jun 12, 2012

I totally agree with the author: These are my new favorite thing. I made these for lunch when my daughter came to visit, and we both loved the cheesy, spicy goodness of these delicious, baked (hard to believe!) fries. We used the maximum amount of cheese called for and the suggested McCormick grill seasoning, which I already had on hand. As a matter of fact, I had all the ingredients on hand for these, including the fresh chives, which I had left over from some previous recipes. No reason not to make these often. Baking for 40 minutes provided the perfect crunchiness for our tastes and it was the perfect amount for the two of us.

Testers Choice
Brooke Barbera

Jun 12, 2012

The man of the house was tricked by the recipe title–he thought a meaty chili topping was involved–but was won over by the taste of these oven-baked goodies. These fries are easy to prepare, and the recipe flows well. The seasoning mix gives these fries a deep orange-red color, signaling that the spicy, snappy taste is not for the faint of heart. Truly the flavor of chili fries without the chili. Be generous with the grill seasoning. The sharp cheddar & chives even out the spice nicely. A good man-friendly recipe, for sure. (Don’t tell him they aren’t fried!)

Testers Choice
Sofia Reino

Jun 12, 2012

This is one I will be making often when we have parties over, and I will not even bother putting them on a nice platter as there is so much charm to bring them to the table in the partly browned parchment paper. Even though they do have a slight kick, my toddler was all over them, as much so as anyone who tried them. The flavors mix so very well and the cheese and chives over them could not be any better. Actually when adding the cheese I decided to leave a small tiny portion plain to try the fries without cheese. Oddly enough, even without the cheese the taste is spectacular. And I may be very wrong, but something tells me (and I will try it soon) this must be amazing with sweet potatoes.

Testers Choice
Helen Doberstein

Jun 12, 2012

Loved this recipe! My tasters were very skeptical about no chili on the Chili Cheese Fries, but all were converted at the end. It’s a daunting list of ingredients to look at, but the whole thing came together very quickly and easily. I used four russet potatoes and doubled the ingredients since there were three of us. I didn’t bother to peel the potatoes, just gave them a really good scrub. I baked them for about 40 minutes, and while they weren’t the very crispy crunchy fries I’m used to, the taste more than made up for it. The cheese makes the parchment paper a necessity. There were no fries left. That to me says success.


Comments
Comments
  1. Terri D says:

    I am curious about the addition of the cornstarch. What does it do – make the potatoes crisper?

    • Beth Price says:

      Hi Terri, I think that the cornstarch serves several purposes in this recipe. It helps the spices to be more evenly distributed and also pulls some moisture from the potatoes to help them crisp up. Please let us know if you try them, and what you think.

  2. Martha in KS says:

    Neither a dude nor a dad am I, but me doth lust over those fries.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      We didn’t mean to be exclusionary, Martha. These are definitely equal opportunity chili cheese fries. One taste and we think you’ll agree….

  3. Tony says:

    Could you fry these before putting them in the oven to melt the cheese?

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