Chili Stacks – A Quick & Easy Stacked Tortilla Casserole

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites. We participate in other affiliate programs as well. For more details, please see our disclosure policy.

Chili Stacks, a quick tortilla casserole, is an easy and economical dish to pull together. You can assemble it and cook it in less than 30 minutes!

cut side of chili stacks in pie plate

Hungry? Short on time? Not looking to go back out?

That’s when you need a quick and easy recipe that comes together with regular pantry ingredients. No need to run out to the store for ingredients, no hassle in the kitchen to whip up dinner.

Just sit down for a warm and cozy supper that almost came together on its own.

Chili Stacks – A Quick & Easy Stacked Tortilla Casserole

When I was growing up, the TV commercials told me how busy moms were, how they were looking for quick dinners that came together in minutes. 

My mom never bought into those Hamburger Helper meals. She didn’t need to. She had Chili Stacks in her recipe file.

chili stacks in granite pie plate

My mom gets a lot of the credit for this blog. She modeled good budgeting. She gave me free reign in the kitchen. She made great meals.

Chili Stacks being one that we had on repeat.

My four siblings and I didn’t mind that the menu sometimes repeated itself; these were meals that we loved, albeit circa 1978.

Things like Sauerkraut and Spareribs, Pork Chops and Curried Potatoes, Chicken Curry, and some odd chicken enchilada concoction made of processed cheese and canned chili

Some was real food; some, like those enchiladas that I requested for more than one birthday dinner, were decidedly not.

Chili Stacks are real food.

My sister and I both have fond memories of this dish, so I dug up Mom’s old recipe, made a few tweaks to it. And voila!

An easy and filling meal that comes together super quickly. I set a timer. It really took me less than 30 minutes from start to serve.

dinner plate with serving platter of chili stacks

Do you fry tortillas for enchilada casserole?

It’s important to fry tortillas for rolled enchiladas since you want them to hold their shape. An enchilada casserole, on the other hand, becomes a melange of flavors and textures, so you don’t need to fry the tortillas. Just assemble the casserole and eat!

What can I do with leftover corn tortillas?

Since this recipe for a stacked tortilla casserole only calls for six tortillas, you can do a couple different things to avoid food waste:

step by step photos of making chili stacks

How do you make a stacked tortilla casserole?

Chili Stacks come together super quickly.

  1. Assemble all your ingredients. Chop the onion, measure the spices, shred the cheese.
  2. Spray a pie plate with nonstick cooking spray and start the oven to preheat.
  3. In a large skillet or pot, cook the meat and onion until the the meat is browned and the onion has started to go clear.
  4. Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, and spices. Simmer the sauce.
  5. Place the tortillas, sauce, cheese in the pie plate, layering them until the ingredients are gone.
  6. Bake and serve with toppings.

dinner plate with tortilla casserole beans and cabbage salad

How to make this good and cheap:

Here are some of the strategies you can use to make this recipe more economical:

  • Stock up on ingredients when they are on sale. When I find regular kitchen staples on sale, I buy a lot. I’m currently using a price book to track prices and that’s saving me money. For this recipe, keeping an eye on the price of meat and cheese is key. Since you don’t need a lot of either, it makes it fairly economical from the get-go.
  • Compare prices. Keeping a price book can help you know a good deal when you see it as well as help you see patterns of which stores are best for you to shop at.

Cost breakdown for Chili Stacks

  • ground meat $3.99
  • onion $0.25
  • canned tomatoes $0.45
  • tomato sauce $0.45
  • spices $0.25
  • corn tortillas  $0.35
  • shredded cheese $1.99
  • toppings $0.75

Total cost, $8.48 for 4 servings = $2.12/serving

You can easily bring this cost down by buying the meat and cheese on sale and/or using less of both if you prefer.

How I make this recipe easy:

Having the right kitchen tools can really make your time in the kitchen more enjoyable. Over time, I’ve honed my collection so that they are perfect for my needs. Here are the tools that I use for this recipe:

chili stacks in pie plate with blue and white towel

If you prepare this recipe, be sure to take a picture and hashtag it #GOODCHEAPEATS. I can't wait to see what you cook up!
5 from 2 votes
Chili Stacks
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
30 mins
Chili Stacks, a quick tortilla casserole, is an easy and economical dish to pull together. You can assemble it and cook it in less than 30 minutes!
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: chili stacks, tortilla casserole
Servings: 4
Calories: 638 kcal
Author: Jessica Fisher
  • 1 pound ground beef or turkey
  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 14.5 ounces petite diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 6 corn tortillas
  • 8 ounces shredded jack or cheddar cheese (2 cups)
  • optional toppings: chopped fresh cilantro sliced green onions, sliced black olives
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Spray a pie plate with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a large skillet, brown the beef and onions until the meat is cooked through and the onions have turned clear, about 5 to 7 minutes.
  3. Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce and seasonings and cook another 3 minutes.
  4. Layer the tortillas, sauce, and cheese in the prepared baking dish.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes until hot and the cheese is melted and bubbly.
  6. If you like, serve wedges of the casserole with the toppings.
Recipe Notes

Promptly store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator, for up to 3 days.

Nutritional values are approximate and based on 1/4 the casserole.

Nutrition Facts
Chili Stacks
Amount Per Serving
Calories 638 Calories from Fat 378
% Daily Value*
Fat 42g65%
Saturated Fat 20g125%
Cholesterol 131mg44%
Sodium 1309mg57%
Potassium 886mg25%
Carbohydrates 29g10%
Fiber 6g25%
Sugar 7g8%
Protein 38g76%
Vitamin A 1383IU28%
Vitamin C 13mg16%
Calcium 528mg53%
Iron 5mg28%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

About Jessica Fisher

I believe anyone can prepare delicious meals—no matter their budget.

Subscribe to Good Cheap Eats
Read Newer Post
Read Older Post


  1. Cathie says

    So obviously this recipe will not serve your whole family, mine either 🙂 several pie pans won’t fit well in my oven. How do you adjust or work it to feed all your troops? Multiplying the recipe itself is no biggie, just wondering about how to cook it.

    • Carla says

      You can use a 9×13 pan and cut several of the shells into quarters to cover the ends after placing 2 slightly overlapping in the center (so 3 shells for each layer). Then just cut in pieces instead of wedges? Maybe Jessica can give advice as to if you would need to increase sauce amount.

    • Jessica says

      I would make two stacks in a 9×13 inch pan, doubling the recipe. You can also do it the way Carla suggested.

  2. Kristin says

    We do similar dish that we lays called Enchilada Pie. We put retried beans and black beans in though and enchilada sauce instead of the spices and tomato sauce. We also make it camping in a dutch oven set right on hot coals. Delicious no matter how you make it!

    • Jessica says

      Yep. There are plenty of different combinations. This one is obviously heavy on the tomatoes which is essentially how my mom made it. She used stewed tomatoes.

  3. annie says

    i have leftover chili that no one wants to finish off i;’m going to prepare this idea and freeze it before baking as an experiment. septmember is such a busy month, and i hope this will become a tasty quick main meal from the freezer.

    • Jessica says

      Sounds like a great plan!

  4. Belinda says

    This sounds delicious!! On my list to try this holiday. Thank you 🙂

  5. Dena says

    Seriously one of the best things I’ve had in a while and I’m a vegan so made it with rehydrated TVP and vegan cheese and it was still great. The flavors in the sauce are a culinary symphony. Thanks so much for your work. There’s just as much art and creativity in good food as there is in creating a painting or great piece of music.

  6. Kate G says

    5 stars
    This is a great recipe using pantry staples! I always make up two batches of the beef/tomato mixture and freeze one for later.

Share Your Thoughts