Chili Cheese Fries

Chili cheese fries don’t always come smothered in greasy chili and gloppy cheese sauce. This easy rendition from Joy the Baker is made with chile powder and spice and a smattering of Cheddar. Less mess. Just as much flavor. 

A scattering of chili cheese fries topped with cheddar and snipped fresh chives.

Chili cheese fries. Comfort incarnate, yes?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.  Originally published October 8, 2015.–Renee Schettler Rossi

Chili Cheese Fries

  • Quick Glance
  • (2)
  • 20 M
  • 1 H
  • Serves 2
5/5 - 2 reviews
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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.

In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch, chili powder, paprika, cumin, chili flakes if using, cayenne, and salt.

Rinse the potatoes under cool running water and peel them. (You can leave some skin 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!

In a medium bowl, toss the potatoes with the oil, Worcestershire sauce, and grill seasoning mix. 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.)

Bake the fries, removing from the oven 2 or 3 times to toss them and then rearrange them in a single layer, until the potatoes reach the desired crispiness, 30 to 40 minutes.

Remove the baking sheet from the oven, scatter the Cheddar over the fries, and then return them to the oven for just a few minutes to melt the cheese. Slide the chili cheese fries onto a platter, sprinkle with chives, and serve immediately.

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    *How Much Salt To Add

    • Some grill seasoning mixes, including McCormick’s, contain salt. Always check the ingredient list on your grill seasoning mix and if you see salt, you may not need to add much additional salt to these chili cheese fries. If you use a grill seasoning mix that doesn’t contain salt, well, you’ll need to add a decent size pinch of salt to help bring out the flavors.

    Recipe Testers' Reviews

    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.

    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.


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    1. Delicious baked fries. Mine took a bit longer in the oven. Served them with ranch and ketchup, they were tasty heated up the next day as well.

      1. Thanks, Petra. So appreciate you letting us know how much you enjoyed them and that they reheated well.

    2. David, I made these chili cheese fries for football last Sunday and they were an immediate hit! So much flavor and easy to make, which then gave me an idea. Today, for football I used fresh cauliflower florets instead of potatoes. My husband almost ate the entire tray! I used a half of a fresh head to make enough florets for the baking sheet, and used a bit more olive oil on them. Oh my lord were they incredible with the deep mahogany color! My husband wants these on rotation now!

      1. 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.

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